The Untold Story Of Grand Master Yoda
Do Or Do Not. There Is No Try.
When we first met Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back, he certainly defied expectations. Like Luke, we had been led to believe the Jedi Master was an unmatched and powerful warrior. What we got was quite different. “Wars do not make one great,” he had said. It was clear that despite his demeanor and appearance, this little Jedi was much more wise and knowledgeable than he first led on. His initial act was a ruse that he quickly dropped, but he did not reveal everything in his first encounter. Like Obi-Wan, Yoda had served in the Clone Wars. Even decades later, it was clear his wisdom came as a result of years of hardship. However, it was not until the arrival of the prequel films and the Clone Wars series that fans would learn of Yoda’s many trials.
“He was wise, kind, but when I was young, he seemed happier. As the Clone War dragged on, he carried a great burden, a deep sorrow, as if he knew before anyone else that one time was ending, and another beginning.” — Ahsoka
Leading up to the prequel era, Yoda sat as the Grand Master of the Jedi Order. As such, he presided over every major choice the Order would take in its pursuit of justice in the galaxy. This dogma led the Order to work alongside the Galactic Republic, as it was the main governing body at the time. While the Republic had its share of corruption, it was largely a force for good. For many years, Yoda and his fellow Jedi flourished under this symbiotic relationship, and were able to maintain peace with little to no use of force. That is, until the Confederacy of Independent Systems rose in prominence, and sparked the Clone War.
Many stories have been told in both canon and Legends of Jedi that became disillusioned with the Order’s willingness to plunge its members into the fires of war. This divide even drove Yoda’s former Padawan Count Dooku to leave the Order and go on to become a leader of the Separatist Alliance. These things weighed heavily on Yoda and understandably so. Despite his reservations, Yoda would go on to join the fray. As the war raged on Yoda remained true to his core ideology, dispensing wisdom, and leading his troops from the front lines. In one such instance he taught his squad of clone troopers how to use their minds in battle, and not just their weapons. This lesson led them to outclass a vastly larger army of droids.
Yoda remained a champion of the Light Side through the whole conflict, but war can break even the purest spirit. Like many of his fellow Jedi, the prolonged battle slowly whittled away even Yoda’s resolve, causing him to lose sight of what was important. In this moment of weakness Yoda and the Order fell prey to the machinations of Darth Sidious, which ultimately sealed their doom. As the war came to a close, Yoda was visited by an old friend. The ethereal voice of Qui-Gon Jinn spoke to Yoda during one of his meditation sessions, and urged the Jedi to seek out the living Force.
A being as old as Yoda had many years, or in his case, centuries worth of accumulated memories, and a fair share of demons as well. At Qui-Gon’s behest, Yoda embarked on a perilous journey to seek the living Force in search for the secrets of immortality. Fans would come to know of this as Force ghosts. The adventure took Yoda all over the galaxy from his future home of Dagobah, and even to the source of midi-chlorians at the Wellspring of Life. He had learned so much the Light Side of the Force, but it was his experiences with the Dark Side that proved more formative. On the Sith homeworld of Moraband, Yoda came face to face with his inner darkness, and suffered visions of the fall of the Jedi Order looming on the horizon.
Just when victory for the Republic and the Jedi Order seemed to be within grasp, Palpatine unveiled his horrid endgame with the infamous Order 66. In an instant, Yoda’s world collapsed around him as his Jedi comrades were gunned down by their own troops. Yoda and a sparse few others survived. Ultimately, they had all failed, and the Empire rose from the ashes. The nebulous end that had haunted him in his visions had finally come to pass, and he could do little to stop it. Both he and Obi-Wan were forced into exile, where they bided their time, and patiently waited for a chance to restore peace to the galaxy. In his solitude, Yoda reflected on the Order’s failures as well as his own, focusing on getting closer to the living Force, and returning to his more peaceful roots.
“Thousands of Jedi once there were. Then came war. In our arrogance, join the conflict swiftly we did. Fear, anger, hate. Consumed by the dark side, the Jedi were.”— Yoda
By the time Luke stumbled into his home in Return of the Jedi, Yoda was a changed being, as reflected by his teachings. He preached patience and mindfulness, which were lessons Luke sorely needed, and lessons his father would have benefited greatly from. It was certainly a return to form. Underneath the wise exterior, his eccentric and playful side still lay, which was on display when he first encountered Luke. When he finally became one with the Force, he departed with a joke and the knowledge that he had served his purpose. In the end, not even death could stifle his spirit. He would continue on as a Force ghost and impart his eccentric wisdom for decades after his passing.
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Written By Micah Mitchells
Syndicated From Culture Slate