Sunday, April 3, 2016

[Twilight of the Apprentice Spoilers] Analysis of Ahsoka and Vader's interactions

It occurred to me during my latest rewatch of Twilight of the Apprentice that Ahsoka's dialogue with Vader changes as she slowly realizes who he is and how he no longer bears any resemblance to her old master. At the beginning of their confrontation she is more lighthearted with him, addressing him as she would address Anakin, albeit in a slightly more aggressive manner. As their conversation progresses, she gradually realizes that she is not speaking to Anakin anymore, becoming angrier and more hurt until she resolves to "avenge his death". The brilliance of the dialogue in this scene cannot be overstated. Her attitude toward him changes steadily with each exchange until she has gone from attempting to reach out to what might be left of Anakin Skywalker to vowing to kill Vader. Here's a line-by-line breakdown of their showdown:

Vader and Ahsoka's interaction begins after Vader tells Ezra, "Then you will die braver than most," and then disarms him.

Vader: Perhaps I was wrong

Ahsoka: It wouldn't be the first time.

She talks to Vader like she would talk to Anakin. Think about Anakin saying that line, and then Snips quipping back at him. The context is different, but her response isn't. Ahsoka calls him out, just like she did with Anakin so many times.

Vader: It was foretold that you would be here. Our long-awaited meeting has come at last.

Ahsoka: I'm glad I gave you something to look forward to.

Ahsoka is still being light, still trying to banter like she did with Anakin. She's angry, but she still thinks that some part of Anakin might be there.

Vader: We need not be adversaries. The Emperor will show you mercy if you tell me where the remaining Jedi can be found.

Ahsoka: There are no Jedi. You and your Inquisitors have seen to that.

She's growing increasingly frustrated. There isn't anything recognizable about the man before her to latch on to. Anakin isn't coming through like she thought he might.

Vader: Perhaps this child will confess what you will not.

This is completely unlike her master. Anakin Skywalker would never threaten a child to achieve his ends. She's rapidly losing hope that Anakin still exists beneath the guise of Darth Vader, so she makes one final, furious attempt to draw him out.

Ahsoka: I was beginning to think I knew who you were behind that mask, but it's impossible. My master couldnever be as vile as you.

Vader: Anakin Skywalker was weak. I destroyed him.

This is the final nail in the coffin. She realizes that nothing is left of Anakin Skywalker, and resigns herself to what has to happen next.

Ahsoka: Then I will avenge his death.

Then, in perhaps my favorite Vader line of the whole episode, he openly mocks her with:

Revenge is not the Jedi way.

Resolute in what she has to do, Ahsoka channels Eowyn and shoots back:

I am no Jedi.

The dialogue here seems pretty standard at first pass, but I think a deeper look reveals real nuance to Vader and Ahsoka's verbal confrontation. It might not be the most overtly emotional moment of the episode, but I think it's arguably one of the most, if not the most, subtle and meaty in terms of how these two old, estranged friends go from meeting for the first time in years to crossing blades. Ahsoka resigns herself to the reality that Anakin Skywalker has been completely consumed by Darth Vader, that he is, for all intents and purposes, dead, and she resolves to seek revenge against Vader. She is convinced that Anakin is gone until the end of their fight, after she slices Vader's mask open and, for the first time, he address her by name. Then, also for the first time, she addresses him by name. Only by literally breaking through Vader's mask does she finally reveal that Anakin is truly, literally and metaphorically, beneath it, and she is able to briefly connect with him, stating:

I won't leave you. Not this time.

But the connection is fleeting. Vader/Anakin responds with:

Then you will die.

There is so much to unpack in this episode, and I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of how complex this episode is. I look forward to discussing the episode at length during the long wait until Season 3 and can't wait to hear other analyses of these incredible moments in the Star Wars story.

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