Don’t throw tomatoes at me, but my favorite Star Wars is Episode 3. I get that true fans must only love the originals, and I absolutely LOVE Han, Leia, and Luke… I just find their story a little less interesting than Obi Wan’s.
Here’s the thing: Stories that wrench my heart more than any other depict BETRAYAL.
Betrayal is so relevant, painful, mysterious and true. Being betrayed causes us to question everything we believed, whether or not our lives and actions have meaning, and why we ever try. It cuts to the heart of character and grace, and it displays the horror of human nature.
I know that’s all very dark for me to write, being the idealist that I am, but that’s why I love Episode 3… because it isn’t the end, but it is the rawest moment. It’s the moment that is least veiled and most torturous. It’s the one where poor Obi Wan discovers that a friend has not only turned against him, but has also betrayed who they both were and everything they both stood for. It’s where reality is flipped on its head, because Obi Wan has been blinded by his own idealism. He’s devoted his entire life to helping Anakin become the kind of man who might change the galaxy permanently and for good. He believed he was doing the right thing, but in Episode 3, he has to wonder whether he was merely a fool pawn.
“You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you!” he says.
That’s why I love Episode 3… because underneath all of the political manoeuvrings, battle between good and evil, and epic fights with four-armed, bionic generals… it’s really the story of personal betrayal.
And I don’t give a damn if the dialogue is chessy. I don’t care if you hate the CGI and Padme’s stupid clothes. I don’t care about how lame it is that Anakin didn’t just scramble up the hill, thus taking the high ground, and I find it really annoying that everyone has to point out that the Twi’lek chick starts acting like she’s been shot long before anyone fires at her. I don’t love Episode 3 because it’s flawless; I probably know its flaws better than most people who hate it… I just love it anyways. And I think it’s ridiculous how “true fans” pretend that Episodes 4-6 are perfect. They aren’t. They’re cheesy too. And the acting isn’t as good as you think it is. And there are really stupid-looking aliens (including the Ithorian in the bar scene), that most people just accept because they first encountered them when they were too young to be so cynical as we’ve all become.
Overall, none of the Star Wars movies are that well-executed. That’s not why we love them; we love them because they invoke story archetypes that always work unless the writer is completely incompetent. Episode 4 is about David beating Goliath and the heroe’s journey. It’s about the redemption of a dashing rogue. It’s about hope. Which is why I like it second-best. Because those are all beautiful, favored stories in the realm of literature. They just don’t get to me the way betrayal does.
Because I’ve been betrayed.
I have not beaten Goliath (although we could probably come up with some metaphors to suggest that I have).
I am not a hero. I do not trust the dashing rogue, because I’ve never seen one redeemed.
I have, however, betrayed others and been betrayed. I, like Obi Wan, have known what it is to try to believe and hope after the betrayal. I’ve been blinded by idealism and friendship, and I’ve cried out, “You were my brother! I loved you.” And the only place I find hope and the ability to forgive in that is the knowledge that the gospel is a story of betrayal, but Christ said, “Forgive them; they know not what they do.”
And, therefore, you really have a biblical duty to love and honor Episode 3 above all the others.
I’m just saying…