Thursday, August 28, 2014

101 Star Wars Variations 49: Uncle Vader

Owen Lars, hostile, dismissive and evasive.  And possibly the galaxy's best-kept secret...

The one thing anyone really knows about Darth Vader is that he makes a considerable impression.  You see him once and you never forget him.  He haunts your dreams.  He becomes inescapable.  Consequently, people tend to talk about him.  They exaggerate.  He seems like he's everywhere.

But the thing is, the man behind the myth isn't any larger-than-life than an overbearing uncle who's serving as foster father to a lonely youth looking for a little adventure.

Life on a moisture farm in Tatooine plays out in slow motion.  That's what anyone will tell you.  Luke Skywalker especially.  To him, Owen Lars is scarcely different from Darth Vader.  Luke's never even heard of this infamous Sith lord.  He knows all about the Rebellion against the Empire, or so he thinks, but he doesn't know any of the key players.  He knows his good buddy Biggs got to join the Imperial Academy.  He doesn't even know Biggs defected to the Rebellion almost immediately.  It's probably what he would do, too, if given the opportunity.

Except his uncle is always getting in the way.  And Luke is resentful.  If given the chance, he'd easily lump Uncle Owen and Darth Vader into the same menacing category.

Except Uncle Owen isn't around as much as he seems.  He's always going off on trips, saying he's looking for spare parts or whatever.  Sometimes Luke, who hates those mundane tasks more than anything, thinks the Jawas are always ripping them off, goes with his uncle, but most of the time he doesn't.  He has no idea that Uncle Owen leaves Tatooine all the time, slips into the gear and helmet of Darth Vader, and bullies the rest of the galaxy, too, getting home in time to scrounge up some junk he can present as an excuse for his absence.

Owen has good reason to play the role.  Luke's father Anakin was destined for a bad end.  He was one of those Jedi, or so he liked to think.  The one time Owen met Anakin face-to-face, he knew what would happen to his brother-in-law.  He could see it coming from a mile away, even with the glaring suns in the way, his hands thrown in front of his eyes for protection.

In a way, he feels responsible for what in fact did happen, which was Anakin dying in an ill-considered attempt to avenge the death of his mother at the hands of Tusken Raiders.  He should have looked after the unruly youth's best interests.  Well, that's what he's ended up doing for Anakin's son, who ha always been far too much like Owen's brother-in-law for his liking.  Someone has to make sure the galaxy doesn't fall apart with malcontents like that running around!

Owen found out he had a connection to the Force by accident, a development that was probably the result of his exposure to Anakin, or something like that.  That never really mattered to him.  Anyway, it certainly helped when he decided to become Vader.  As Vader, he could ensure that whatever reality Luke encountered when he finally left Tatooine would be prepared for him.  The longer he played the part, though, the more Owen got into it.  It spiraled quickly out of control.

When Luke and Vader clash in Cloud City, Owen realizes he can no longer hide the truth.  He's already faked his own death.  The only person he's hiding from now is his adopted son.  And Luke has turned out okay.  It just seems wrong to perpetuate the ruse.  He takes the helmet off in public for the first time ever.  Luke is so shocked he falls down a shaft screaming!

Owen shakes his head.  "That's what I was afraid of."

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