BEN: That boy is our last hope.
YODA: No. There is another.
Many fans, writers, and podcasts have debated the ethics of Obi-Wan and Yoda’s choice not to tell Luke the complete truth about his family history. Luke certainly is not happy about Obi-Wan’s “certain point of view.” In one of the iconic training scenes on Dagobah in Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, Luke has a vision of Han and Leia in danger. When he asks Yoda about it, the diminutive Jedi Master tells him that he has seen the future. This, of course, leads to Luke ultimately making the decision to rush to his friends’ aid on Bespin and postpone his Jedi training indefinitely.
Yoda – and Obi-Wan, to a lesser degree – could choose to mislead Luke in order to prevent him from leaving*. They have certainly withheld the facts before, and they could discount his vision as being just as fictional as his duel with “Vader” in the cave. The question, then, is why do the two Jedi masters let Luke leave? There are many different possibilities. Here are a several of them, with my own thoughts about their likelihood:
- They understand that Luke needs to follow his own path, regardless of the possible outcomes. The Force has long been considered a mirror of various Buddhist and Taoist concepts about choices that individuals make during the course of their lives. There are at least two instances in A New Hope when characters mention freedom of choice. Kenobi tells Luke about the Force, and asks him to come with him to Alderaan. Luke resists, and Kenobi tells the young man that he must do what he feels is right Interestingly enough, though, it is Leia who may say it best, in speaking to Luke about Han before the Death Star attack in A New Hope: “[h]e’s got to follow his own path. No one can choose it for him.” With this in mind, Star Wars fans are conditioned to believe that the characters have choices that they must make for themselves. Perhaps the Dagobah scene is one such instance. I rate this as a very likely “in universe” explanation.
- Yoda weighs the risk and determines that it is important to attempt to save the life of the only other child of Anakin Skywalker. This is pure conjecture on my part. When The Empire Strikes Back was written, viewers would assume that Obi-Wan does not know of Leia, or he would not say “that boy is our only hope.” With Yoda’s response of “no – there is another,” viewers know that Yoda is aware of another option for stopping Darth Vader – likely a hidden Jedi that Kenobi does not know about. Yoda decides that they need to attempt to save this other potential Jedi – Leia – in the event that they lose Luke in battle or perhaps to the dark side. Of course, after Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, we know that both Yoda and Obi-Wan have first-hand knowledge of there being two Skywalker children. We can also assume that despite his hermit existence on an Outer Rim dustball planet, Kenobi would know of Senator Bail Organa’s famous daughter, and be able to piece the rest together by the time of The Empire Strikes Back. Therefore, I feel that the likelihood of this option being true is exceptionally low. If Lucas had all the backstory details ironed out prior to The Empire Strikes Back, and he intended for Yoda and Obi-Wan to know the events of the prequel trilogy, I believe that this scene would have unfolded quite differently.
“Drain his gas tank, you did, yes?” “Of course not – I’m just a ghost!”
- The Jedi Masters have visions of their own, and know that Luke will not die or fall to the dark side. Both Yoda and Obi-Wan were known to be very strong in the Force. Judging just by his characterization to this point in The Empire Strikes Back, viewers can assume that Yoda is an exceptionally wise Jedi. From Star Wars: The Clone Wars, we also know that Yoda has already** had visions of the future – on Dagobah, no less. More is known of Kenobi, of course, from A New Hope. It is reasonable to posit that if Luke, barely trained as he is, is able to see the future, that surely Yoda and Obi-Wan can do so with even more clarity. They might know that all will turn out well. This is unlikely for two reasons, though. First, they probably would not argue so much with Luke about his leaving, as other courses of action would have been much more dignified. Second, the Masters clearly do not know that Luke will succeed; Vader cut Luke’s hand off and he very nearly falls to his death. Myth: BUSTED.
Yoda’s Force vision
- It merely has to be done for the sake of the story. Lucas needs Luke to face Darth Vader before he is fully trained so that he can be offered the choice of accepting the dark side. Of course, there is also the very important “I am your father” part. I would rank this as the most likely reason.
What do you think? Why do Yoda and Obi-Wan allow Luke to leave? Please comment below or reach out to me on Twitter. Until next time, thank you for reading, may the Force be with you, and remember –
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*Of course, Yoda could have also put Luke’s X-wing back in the swamp, but that’s beside the point.
** This is another situation where the timelines between what is known in-universe changes retroactively.
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