One of the most memorable moments from Revenge of the Sith was the duel on the volcanic planet of Mustafar. Two best friends fought it out, but only one came out unscathed. It also cost the life of a senator, and her twin children were hidden away from their father to ensure they couldn’t be turned like he was. It also saw the rebirth of a man who once swore a vow to
This analysis will examine the meanings behind the Mustafar duel and what led to conflicts that happened much later in the timeline.
Anakin Skywalker’s fall to the darkness was in the works; the second Sheev Palpatine got wind that the boy would train as a Jedi. The then-newly appointed Supreme Chancellor’s comment, “And you, young Skywalker. We shall watch your career with great interest”, shows there was more at play in the Sith Lord’s mind than we imagined.
Mustafar Could’ve Been Avoided
If we step back and examine the situation, Anakin’s descent started before Palpatine had even opened his mouth. Forget his attachment to Shmi. That was just one thing in a dozen that pushed him over the edge. If anything, the actual decline started when Mace Windu told Qui-Gon Jinn that young Skywalker wouldn’t be trained, despite his impressive skills.
Windu and the Jedi Council put it down to age, and you can see Anakin’s rage bubbling to the surface even as a child. If only the stuffy senior Jedi had given him a chance at the time. Perhaps they wouldn’t have had a problem with him if they had overlooked that he was “too old.” Talk about ageism. Yoda would say something similar about Skywalker’s son, Luke, who was too old to train and turned out fine.
Though Luke had his mother, Padmé’s steadfast ability to keep himself from lashing out, sure, he’d get angry, but he wasn’t like Anakin. That trait was passed over to Ben, Leia’s son.
Obi-Wan had already lost Anakin at this point. He had seen his former apprentice kill younglings and fellow Jedi on a security feed. To make it worse, he had to report the truth to Padmé what he had seen, hoping she could get through to her husband. At this time, he also revealed he was aware of their relationship. He also said he knew Anakin was the father of the senator’s unborn child.
The last thing Obi-Wan was looking for was a fight. He wanted his best friend back, but part of him subconsciously knew Palpatine had his hands on the pulse. The Chancellor could control Anakin with an empty promise. So, when Kenobi sneaks aboard Padmé’s ship for her trip to Mustafar, part of him would’ve had to consider that Skywalker wasn’t returning to them.
Anakin outright accuses Kenobi of turning his wife against him. However, he doesn’t deny killing Jedi younglings when she levels the accusation (given to her by Obi-Wan) at him. Palpatine’s push to get Skywalker on his side was just a matter of removing obstacles that stood in the way.
Palpatine Ruined Anakin’s Life
Palpatine drove Anakin’s anger due to Obi-Wan’s steadfast devotion to the Republic. Also, he used what Skywalker told him about how he felt his best friend was jealous to his advantage. The new Emperor used this to get the disgruntled Jedi Knight to turn on the one person who had always had his back.
Did Obi-Wan always agree with Anakin’s methods? No, but he always respected that Skywalker usually had a reason for his actions. This is why Captain Rex, for example, admired his general. Sure, someone Anakin’s strategies were unorthodox, but they were influential.
The Mustafar duel was just a kink in Palpatine’s plan to convert Anakin to the dark side. Though did he care if his new apprentice lived or died? No, of course, he didn’t. He got what he wanted; the Republic was now the Empire. Vader was just a tiny percentage of that plan.
The Final… Nail?
Did Anakin deserve his fate? No, he didn’t. He was robbed of a happy life. Instead, his life started horribly. It turned out even worse when he was forced to spend half of his life inside the galaxy’s most uncomfortable suit of armour.
One thing that never weaved was Ahsoka’s admiration for him. Even after discovering that Anakin was still alive, she told Ezra Bridger that her master was an incredible warrior but an even kinder man. There were very few people who saw the true Anakin. Padmé saw a tortured soul who needed love to function. Obi-Wan saw an impulsive young man with a flare for the dramatic but an even bigger heart.
Even Rex held his general in high esteem. He tells Kanan Jarrus (formerly Caleb Dume) in Star Wars Rebels that he never turned on his Jedi. Although he almost killed Ahsoka when Order 66 was issued, this is true. She could subdue him long enough to get his inhibitor chip out.
If you piece together everything, the Mustafar fight could’ve been avoided. Instead, it was a fight that determined the fate of a friendship and the downfall of a man destined for greatness. Anakin had so much potential. It is no wonder that Leia, Han and Luke feared what Ben could do if he found out about who his grandfather had been.