What Yoda Should Have Done In The Prequels

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 13.266% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

It was kind of cool when, in Attack of the Clones, Yoda whipped out his lightsaber and showed us all what a badass he was by destroying Count Dooku.
It was also totally fucking out of character.
The great thing about the original Star Wars films is that, as Saladin Ahmed noted today, characters drew strength from giving up power.  Obi-Wan sacrificing himself to help Luke escape.  Luke refusing to fight his father, setting blood lust aside to remember who he was.
Yoda was the emblem of all of that.  A little green dude.  Harmless.  “Wars make not one great.”  “Your weapons. You will not need them.”  He was not a being of power, but of wisdom, and he scorned all this violence for better solutions.  He was Obi-Wan-plus in that he didn’t need to fight; he wasn’t concerned with who could beat up who, but rather with who was doing right.
Then the prequels threw all that aside.  “Sure, wars don’t make one great,” they said.  “But that’s because Yoda is the greatest fighter of them all!  He doesn’t have to care!”  Which sends the fucked-up message that wars actually do make one great, you just have to be so good at them that you don’t worry about them at all.
Why couldn’t Yoda simply not be a fighting master?
Why, instead of having to face down Count Dooku and save his students from certain dismemberment, could he not have had his students hold back while Dooku approached him, saber in hand?  And simply said to Dooku, with sadness, “Lost your way you have.”  Talked to Dooku.  Had Dooku rage, as he would.  And when Dooku threatened to kill him, Yoda would simply say quietly, “All you will have demonstrated by slaughtering me is that kill an old man, you can. Impressed no one will be.  And one day someone stronger will kill you to take your power.  This is the path of the Dark Side.  But… there are better ways.”
And Dooku would, torn between his ambition and Yoda’s words, threaten him.  Lightsaber to the throat.  Yoda’s neck sizzling.  Yoda, closing his eyes, would take the burn and say: “Any man can kill.  Only a few can acknowledge their errors.  Only the great can rise past them.”
And Anakin, stupidly sensing a threat that his own master did not care about, leaps in and forces a duel to the death.  Robbing them of a potential ally.  Losing the information they could have gotten from Dooku.  Learning the wrong lesson: that Yoda would have sacrificed himself stupidly for nothing.
That would have been a fight worthy of a Star Wars.  Instead, we got a leaping frog, a flash of blades, and the lesson that martial victory is really what counts.

1 Comment

  1. Sol
    Oct 7, 2014

    The thing to remember is the Jedi in the prequels are fundamentally flawed. They don’t fall because Palpatine is so badass. They fall because they have lost their way.
    And this is entirely consistent with the original movies. Yoda may teach Luke how to be a Jedi, but every piece of advice he gives Luke about what Luke should do is dead wrong. Obi-Wan feeds Luke a pack of lies in the first movie, then follows Yodi’s lead in the bad advice for the next two. They might try to act like it, but they are not paragons of wisdom in any way…

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