Episode VI: Return of the Jedi | History of Star Wars


Pierce Turner, Features Editor

Welcome to Spinnaker’s History of Star Wars! To celebrate the upcoming release of Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, we are looking back at the past seven episodes as well as Rogue One all leading up to the review of the new movie. Every day from Dec. 7 to Dec. 15 a new review will be posted. So enjoy, and may the force be with you. Always.

When it comes to the original Star Wars trilogy, picking favorites is mind-numbingly frustrating. Do you love the original and the universe it created, Empire for raising the stakes and delivering a dark chapter, or Return of the Jedi for wrapping up the story with a (mostly) satisfying ending. Episode VI does just that with one of the most memorable climaxes ever, though it is often credited as the beginning of George Lucas’ campaign to rule Crazy Town.

The opening has our heroes return to Luke’s home world of Tatooine to infiltrate Jabba the Hutt’s palace and rescue Han Solo. Here, we meet the two best characters in the history of Star Wars: Bib Fortuna and Max Reebo. Fortuna, the man with a flesh scarf who greets our favorite droids, and Reebo, the soulful blue elephant who loves music. In fact, the entire first third of the film is filled with memorable side characters. Unfortunately, Boba Fett, one of the coolest Star Wars characters, dies in a horribly pathetic way.

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“OOH CHA” Lucasfilm
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The soul of Star Wars. Lucasfilm

Roughly a year has passed since The Empire Strikes Back, and we can see just how much stronger Luke’s become. He’s calm; he’s confident, and commands the Force with no effort at all. It’s a stark difference from where we left him at the end of Episode V.

He’s a Jedi now, hence the title of the film, and his perfect hero story arc is completed by the end of the movie. After all, this was meant to be the end of the saga and everything had to be wrapped up. Han and Leia’s stories similarly come to a satisfying conclusion with them openly showing affection now instead of playing games. He loves her. She knows.

The character to get the most of the finale though is Lord of the Empire, Darth Vader. Not only is he aware of his son’s survival, he’s conflicted by it. Luke senses the good in him and truly believes he can return Vader to the light. The conflict comes to a climax when Luke is purposefully captured by Vader and brought to the Emperor (Ian McDiarmid) himself.

Do it. Lucasfilm

Meanwhile, the empire has a new Death Star and the rebellion makes one big push to blow it up again. The ground team with Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and our favorite droids are assisted by…teddy bears. Look, Return of the Jedi is an extremely strong entry in the saga and a satisfying conclusion to the original trilogy, but this aspect of the film can kiss a Wampa. The Ewok creatures bring the energy of the film to an immediate halt, and their help beating up Storm Troopers is downright stupid. Why couldn’t it be a planet of Wookies, Chewbacca’s race? Not only would that make sense, but it would actually be awesome to have big bear people fight. None of this is as bad as anything in the prequel trilogy (don’t worry, we’ll get to that next), but it comes from the same misguided brain.

However, everything that happens in the Emperor’s throne room is absolutely perfect. The Emperor tries  to use hate to turn Luke to the dark side, but Luke fights back and fights Vader. The lightsaber duel that follows is the best in the franchise. You can feel the emotion behind every swing as Luke almost gives in to his anger. He lets his emotions run so free that Vader reads his mind and learns of his daughter Leia’s existence. This sends Luke into a force-fueled rage, something Star Wars had never seen before. After everyone’s feelings are hurt, the Emperor joins in and tortures both of them. It’s a masterful climax to the film and the trilogy.

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The best lightsaber duel in the franchise. Lucasfilm

Return of the Jedi is undeniably flawed more so than its two predecessors, but when it’s good it’s damn good. Every character is given a proper ending and everything that occurred in the throne room is the best material Star Wars can offer.


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