01:45:01 – 02:00:00
In the orange glow of the planet Mustafar, Anakin Skywalker tells Padme Amidala, “I am more powerful than the chancellor. I—I can overthrow him.”
Padme, his pregnant bride, takes a step back from her husband.
“And together,” Anakin continues, “you and I can rule the galaxy. Make things the way we want them to be.” He’s smiling as he finishes this sentence.
Padme isn’t smiling. She has a look of horror on her face, and she’s shaking her head. She says she can’t believe what she’s hearing; Obi-Wan was right about Anakin—he’s changed.
Thus begins this chapter of the Sith Edition of the 15-Minute Force. The toughest breakup in the history of Star Wars (at least until we find out that Han and Leia couldn’t make it work). So, Padme now knows that everything Obi-Wan said about Anakin was the truth, and that her husband has wholly gone over to the Dark Side. She knew he had killed before, that’s true. Now she knows he’s killed Jedi and younglings. . .and, well, that’s just a bit too much, isn’t it?
Of course, Anakin doesn’t see it that way. He’s sure that Obi-Wan has poisoned her against him. I mean, what has he done that’s so bad, really? If she loves him, she should support his decisions. After all, everything he’s done, he’s done for her. Right?
It doesn’t help that Obi-Wan, who was previously a stowaway on Padme’s ship—unknown to her—suddenly appears on the boarding ramp of the shiny silver ship behind her. He is the third point in this triangle. And the fact that he reveals himself at this crucial breakup moment doesn’t go over well with Anakin. It seems to confirm that his lover is conspiring with his mentor. He begins to Force-choke his wife and the mother of his children.
Excuse me. Child. Even at this stage of the game, no one knows that Padme’s having twins, as implausible as that might seem. Luke hides behind Leia in all of the sonograms. He’s a wily little bastard, always tough to find.
Obi-Wan commands Anakin to release Padme, and he does. She crumples to the landing platform, unconscious or semi-conscious. Obi-Wan sheds his brown robe and now looks more like Luke Skywalker than Jesus. In this particular milieu, that’s a change for the better. The two men begin to circle each other like predatory cats, and they say things to each other that aren’t particularly revelatory or memorable. Blah blah you turned my wife against me…blah blah you did that by becoming an evil son-of-a-bitch…so on and so forth.
And then Anakin proclaims that he’s brought Truth, Justice and the American Way to the galaxy—okay, maybe he didn’t say “American Way,” but you get the gist—and something about his Empire. He tells Obi-Wan that if he isn’t with him, then he’s his enemy. Obi-Wan says that only the Sith deal in absolutes, and he ignites his lightsaber first. There can be no Han/Greedo style debate on this score. Obi-Wan made the first overtly agressive move here—if you discount choking Padme—prepared to do whatever he must. His young apprentice is now his enemy and was ever destined to be so.
Anakin responds in kind, and the duel begins.
It’s blue-on-blue lightsaber action here. Anakin doesn’t have his red one yet. The fight is fast and frenetic.
And we cut away from it. Master Yoda arrives at Emperor Palpatine’s office. The emperor already has two of those red-robed guards flanking his doorway. I think this is the first time we’ve seen them, at least chronologically speaking. Yoda dispatches them with ease, of course. Yoda thought Palpatine was too powerful for Master Kenobi. I guess we’re going to see if the little green one is up to the challenge.
At first blush, it seems he’s not. Emperor and psycho Jedi toad exchange dialogue and then Palpatine blasts Yoda with Force lightning that sends the diminuative Jedi flying across the room to bounce off the wall, falling to the floor with his eyes closed and garments smoking.
Back to Mustafar. Obi-Wan and Anakin are on the move as they do battle. Over a suspended walkway, through a tunnel, back into the chamber where all the Separatist leaders are lying dead…
Back on Emperor Palpatine, walking slowly across the chamber while monologuing and cackling as the evil are wont to do. His giant blue vizier guy with the head tentacles leaves the room. As Palpatine approaches the prone Yoda, hands extended as if to deal the killing blow, we see Yoda open his eyes. He has a shrewd look on his face. That look that says, ha-ha, I know more about the Dark Side of the Force than you think I do, Palpatine.
Yoda rises from the floor and then uses the Force to hurl the emperor across the room, where Palpatine executes a backward somersault and lands awkwardly in his high-back chair. “At an end your rule is,” Yoda says.
Yoda blocks the doorway before Palpatine can escape. The emperor tells Yoda that the Jedi can’t stop him, Darth Vader will be more powerful than either of them. Yoda ignites his lightsaber—green—and Palpatine does the same with his own—red. It’s Christmastime in Coruscant.
As these two begin their own laser swordfight, we cut back to Obi-Wan and Anakin—
Anakin is bending his old master back in a powerful chokehold. Obi-Wan breaks the hold and both lose their lightsabers in time-honored fashion. Then they begin Kung Fu fighting, briefly, like vampires fresh from the grave in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Only a brief interlude of martial arts, however, as both use the Force to regain their lightsabers. Anakin is now in the sub position, lying on the Separatist conference table while Obi-Wan raises his lightsaber above his head. Anakin blocks what surely would have been an incapacitating blow, if not a killing one.
Then, we’re back on the Yoda Vs. Palpatine match. The two of them are fighting in Palpatine’s luxury skybox as it rises through the ceiling into the cavernous Senate chamber, where all of the other senatorial skyboxes are arranged in ascending ranks. It feels great to actually have some action happening in the Senate. Finally.
Smash cut back to Obi-Wan Vs. Anakin, which seems like the title bout here, even though one would think that Palpatine and Yoda would be the real heavyweights. No one’s being choked or is lying on a table here. Just more fancy lightsaber work. The two seem evenly matched. An alarm of some sort begins to sound after a control board is damaged during the fight. As the two Jedi—more accurately, a Jedi Master and Sith Lord, I guess—return to the outside walkway, the magma in the background seems to be percolating more violently.
Back in the Senate, Emperor Palpatine uses his Sith powers to hurl skyboxes at Yoda. The Jedi Master hops from skybox to skybox for a few moments before returning his lightsaber to his belt loop and sending one of the skyboxes, spinning like a Frisbee, back at the emperor. Palpatine dodges the projectile. Yoda reignites his lightsaber and jumps into the skybox with Palpatine, who uses purple Force lightning on the little Jedi again. Because he is the Jedi Master all other Jedi emulate, Yoda loses his lightsaber in the attack. He holds his own against the purple lightning and then, with a look of determination on his face, turns it against Palpatine. The shock knocks both of them out of the skybox. Yoda ends up falling for some distance, bouncing off a few skyboxes on the way down. He is visibly stunned.
Back to Mustafar. Obi-Wan and Anakin decide to continue their duel while balancing on a pipe suspended above the molten lava. This is like a Jedi/Sith triathalon or Iron Man race. Next they’re going to fight while riding bicycles, I guess. They leap down to another platform that’s even closer to the geysers of insanely hot orange molten stuff and continue to duke it out.
Back on Coruscant, Yoda is crawling through some sort of cramped access tunnel. I assume he is shaken from his encounter with the evil emperor and is trying to make his escape. He produces a communicator and calls Senator Bail Organa, telling him to hurry.
In the Senate, a group of clone troopers tells the emperor that they haven’t found Yoda’s body. Then he’s not dead, the Emperor wisely determines, and then orders them to double their search. As an aside, he tells his blue-headed vizier to tell Captain Kagi to prepare his shuttle for immediate takeoff. The emperor senses that Lord Vader is in danger.
Back to Mustafar, where both Obi-Wan and “Lord Vader” seem to be in danger of being deep-fried. They continue to fight, of course. No regular breaks here. They’re obviously not Union.
That said, there follows a brief respite as the molten magma melts through the structure that they’re fighting on—which is, by the way, the same structure Anakin had been staring at earlier after slaughtering the Separatists—and drops them both into a river of flowing hot orangeness. They are climbing on the portion sticking out of the lava river, so they’re safe. For the moment, at least.
Back on Master Yoda, still crawling through Jefferies tubes. He opens a hatch, and Senator Organa is below him in his sky convertible. It is a scene reminiscent of Luke dangling from that weird antenna on the bottom of Cloud City. Yoda drops down into the passenger seat and tells Jimmy Smits that he must go into exile now because he failed in his mission. Where will he go, do you think? I hear that Dagobah is nice this time of year, if you’re into swamps and slime and stuff.
That cuts off the Yoda plot thread. We know when we will see him next. We still need to see what happens to Padme and the babies, and how exactly Anakin ends up in the black suit.
So…back to Mustafar. The tower thing that Obi-Wan and Anakin are on is steadily sinking into the lava river. At this point, I have to shut down that part of my brain that wonders exactly how hot it must be where they are, or how they are breathing the fumes that must surely be hazardous to their health.
Forget all that. Their peril is magnified by the fact that the structure they are fighting upon is approaching a lava waterfall. Yes, that is a thing here on Mustafar. A freakin’ lava waterfall. Or, lavafall, I guess. Both Obi-Wan and Anakin begin swinging on conveniently placed ropes or cables, trading ineffective blows with their lightsabers, as they approach the lavafall.
Obi-Wan leaps to relative safety on a chunk of flotsam as their structure goes over. Anakin saves himself by jumping on top of one of those droids we saw collecting molten lava for some reason earlier in the movie. The droid has a conveniently wide head, just large enough for a Sith Lord to stand on. The droid approaches Obi-Wan’s floating platform so that the two can continue to fight in what’s becoming an increasingly ridiculous duel.
On closer inspection, Obi-Wan’s platform is not floating on the lava river at all. Like the droid, it is also levitating above it. I’m not sure why or what purpose the platform served prior to this scene, but I have to correct my mistake. It’s not flotsam at all. It is a deus ex machina, which you’ll find littered throughout the Star Wars galaxy.
Our two combatants have time to exchange dialogue now.
“I have failed you, Anakin,” says Obi-Wan, while the two take a much-needed break from swatting at each other with their laser swords.
“I should have known the Jedi were plotting to take over,” Anakin says in return.
“Anakin, Chancellor Palpatine is Evil!” This was Obi-Wan, of course.
“From my point of view, the Jedi are Evil,” retorts Anakin. Or at the very least incompetent. That was my editorial intrusion.
“Then you are lost!” says Obi-Wan. The platform and droid are both moving inexplicably upstream in the lava river while this scintillating debate is going on.
Anakin glares at Obi-Wan and says, “This is the end for you, my Master,” and then he hops onto the platform with Obi-Wan.
The two begin to attack-parry-counterattack again, until Obi-Wan leaps from the platform to what seems to be a solid bank. “It’s over, Anakin. I have the high ground,” he says, which is one of those statements that only superficially makes sense, like much of the Lucas dialogue. Those guys on MythBusters disproved high-ground superiority anyway. That guy with the walrus mustache was able to hit the red-headed dude’s legs a bunch of times during their simulated lava flow lightsaber duel.
However, in this movie, the two aren’t really trading saber blows. Obi-Wan attempts to dissuade Anakin from attacking, but the overconfident young Sith Lord leaps through the air above Obi-Wan, who slices off both of his legs. Anakin slides down back towards the lava, clearly beaten by his master.
As this chapter of the 15-Minute Force concludes, a visibly distraught Obi-Wan Kenobi continues to berate his former apprentice. “You were the Chosen One!” he wails. “It was said you would destroy the Sith, not join them!”
And it is here we must leave our heroes and villains, with just one more chapter remaining to wrap up the remaining plot threads. What about Padme and the babies? What about that cool Darth Vader armor?
Patience, children. That’s coming in about a week. Until then, The Moral High Ground May Protect You Even If the Literal High Ground Won’t…And May the 15-Minute Force Be With You. Always.