Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Knight In Battered Armor - Honorary Member Profile, September 2010 - Anakin Skywalker

*info for this profile is gathered from the films only

When I first got the idea for featuring honorary members each month for the Knights In Battered Armor, one of the first ones I came up with was Anakin Skywalker.  He may not be an ideal model, but for some reason I’ve looked forward to writing his profile.  I’ve talked some with other people about this profile, and already gotten differing views on his ‘qualifications.’  Chances are that some of you have your own ideas about him, and won’t change them after reading this, and that’s fine.  I’m offering a different viewpoint on a character that’s been around for more than 30 years.

Anakin’s early life is hardly what any of us would call spectacular, or even normal.  Born into slavery and raised by a single parent, Anakin made the best of his situation.  He was able to make friends and have some semblance of a decent childhood.  It wasn’t until he was nine years old that his life changed forever.

In the course of only a few days, Anakin met Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, won a podrace, and was freed from slavery.  He accompanied the Jedi Master to Coruscant and later Naboo.  He went before the Jedi Council to determine if he would be trained as a Jedi.  He participated in the space battle above the planet and struck the blow that crippled the Trade Federation’s battle droid army.  He later became apprentice to Obi-Wan Kenobi.

I can’t imagine the sort of things that went through Anakin’s mind up to this point.  Living one’s entire life knowing nothing but sand and slavery, then going through a whirlwind of experiences that could only be imagined in dreams.  Two low points I believe figure prominently are that Anakin had to leave his mother behind on Tatooine, as her freedom was not obtained, and that the Jedi Council initially denied Qui-Gon’s request that Anakin be trained as a Jedi, despite Qui-Gon’s belief that Anakin was the Chosen One that would bring balance to the Force.

We don’t see Anakin again for ten years.  Taller than his master, Anakin still bears the standard Jedi Padawan braid.  He and Obi-Wan are assigned as extra security for the Naboo senator, Padme Amidala.  After foiling an assassination attempt, Anakin escorts Padme as she goes into hiding, while Obi-Wan conducts an investigation into who was behind the assassination.

This sparks a lot of inner turmoil with Anakin.  On the one hand, he’s got his Jedi duties and responsibilities to follow.  On the other hand, he has harbored a secret love for Padme ever since they met on Tatooine, and having to be in such close proximity to the senator takes its toll on him.  During this time, Anakin has a vision of his mother suffering and goes to Tatooine with Padme.  He learns that she was kidnapped by Tusken Raiders and successfully infiltrates the camp where she is held, but the injuries she’s sustained are too serious, and she dies shortly after Anakin arrives.  Anakin, completely overcome by grief and anger, slaughters every Tusken Raider in the camp.

Have you ever been so angry you feel like you might just lose it and go berserk?  Well, Anakin did.  He suffered a terrible loss, and in his anger, he killed an entire camp of men, women and children.  Anakin would carry feelings of loss, grief and anger with him for a long, long time, and those feelings are influential in his eventual fall to the dark side.  This also caused him to lose confidence in himself, and when he learned of Obi-Wan’s capture on the planet Geonosis, he chose to respect Jedi Master Mace Windu’s order for him to remain on Tatooine with Padme, even though he knew Obi-Wan needed him.

Despite the restrictions placed on them by their respective duties, Anakin and Padme begin a secret relationship.  They do their best to keep it hidden from the people around them, but there are times when things come dangerously close to revealing the truth.

One such time is during the battle on Geonosis, when Anakin, Obi-Wan and Padme are in pursuit of Count Dooku.  Their ship is attacked from behind and Padme falls to the ground below.  Anakin is adamant about going back to help her, but reluctantly backs down after an impassioned plea (as well as threat of expulsion from the Jedi Order) from Obi-Wan.

I can only imagine how Anakin must have felt at this point in time – being torn between his duty and commitment to the Jedi, and wanting to go save the person who means most to him.  And then later, when he and Obi-Wan catch up to Count Dooku, Anakin is overcome by anger and charges in, heedless of Obi-Wan’s warning.  As a result, he is incapacitated by Dooku’s force lightning attack.

I will admit that Anakin is still very much headstrong here.  Despite getting up and saving Obi-Wan’s life, he is outmatched against Count Dooku by himself, and ends up losing his right arm above the elbow after a short duel.  Yoda arrives and is able to hold off Dooku, who distracts the small Jedi Master by causing a large metal column to fall towards Obi-Wan and Anakin and then escapes.

It’s a given that Anakin is in a tremendous amount of pain.  He gets fitted with a mechanical arm, and later on Naboo, he marries Padme even though it means breaking the Jedi Code.  However, the two would struggle to keep their illicit relationship a secret.

Fast-forward three years.  The Clone Wars rage on, Anakin has become a full Jedi Knight, and his marriage to Padme still remains a secret.

Anakin steps closer to the dark side when he executes Count Dooku.  He knows that he shouldn’t kill an unarmed opponent, but at the urging of Chancellor Palpatine, he does it anyway.  He shows remorse at what he did, but for one moment, he slipped up and allowed his anger to come through.  On the flip side of things, when Palpatine tells Anakin to leave Obi-Wan, Anakin shows loyalty to his former master and refuses to leave him to die.

Later, down on Coruscant, Anakin meets with his wife Padme and learns that she is pregnant.  Anakin is overjoyed, but Padme worries that their secret will eventually be found out.  Soon after this, Anakin begins having dreams of Padme dying in childbirth, and vows to not let that happen.

It’s at this point Anakin begins to struggle within himself on multiple fronts: (1) his vow to keep Padme from dying in childbirth; (2) being asked to be Palpatine’s personal representative on the Jedi Council after being told about the Chancellor’s fear and distrust of the Jedi Masters; (3) conversely, Anakin is essentially asked to spy on the Chancellor, reporting on his dealings, etc.

I can only imagine what Anakin is feeling or thinking at this point.  He has to be torn between what he should do; what the right thing to do is.  But there’s also his wife and unborn child to think of, as well as his dream of Padme dying.  A turning point in this struggle comes when Anakin meets with Palpatine at an opera performance.  Palpatine tells Anakin a story about a Sith Lord named Darth Plageuis The Wise, who was so powerful that he could use the Force to create life, as well as keep others from dying.  That last part is what gets Anakin’s attention and when he asks if it’s possible to learn that power, Palpatine remarks “Not from a Jedi.”

When Obi-Wan is later ordered to the Utapau system to confront General Grievous, Anakin accompanies him to his transport.  At the boarding ramp, Anakin apologizes for his attitude and behavior, and for his frustration with the Council.  The two exchange farewells, not knowing this is the final time they will meet as friends.  And for now, things seem to have calmed down for Anakin.

But that’s just the calm before the storm.  Anakin later goes to Chancellor Palpatine, and their conversation quickly turns to Palpatine’s knowledge of the Force.  Here is where Palpatine reveals himself to be Darth Sidious, prompting Anakin to ignite his lightsaber and threaten to kill Palpatine.  However, Anakin decides to expose Palpatine’s identity to the Jedi Council, as he is still concerned with saving his wife and believes that Palpatine’s knowledge (learned from Darth Plageuis) will ensure that he is successful.

Anakin’s inner turmoil only worsens, when, after delivering his information to Mace Windu, he is ordered to remain at the Jedi Temple while Masters Windu, Fisto, Kolar, and Tiin board a gunship at go to arrest the Chancellor/Sith Lord.  Anakin initially obeys the order to stay, and sits in the Council Chamber, but he eventually succumbs to the fear that if Palpatine is killed, he will lose any hope of saving Padme from death.

When Anakin arrives at the Chancellor’s office, his worst fears seem to be realized: Mace Windu is standing over a defenseless Palpatine, with his lightsaber pointed at the Chancellor.  Windu argues that Palpatine is too dangerous to be left alive, but Anakin argues that Palpatine must stand trial.  Windu considers it, but decides to kill Palpatine, and raises his lightsaber to deliver the killing blow.  Finally forced to choose between the Jedi and Padme, Anakin snaps, and in a rush of emotion, he draws his own lightsaber and cuts off Mace Windu’s sword-hand.  Palpatine quickly unleashes a barrage of Force lightning that throws Windu out the window to his death.

You’ve probably heard someone talk about how they’ll just go berserk is just one more thing goes wrong, or if such-and-such happens, they’ll snap.  Well, Anakin did.  He is horrified at what he has just done, but knows there is no turning back.  He pledges allegiance to Palpatine/Sidious in exchange for the power to save Padme from dying.

Every one of us at some point has done something we regret.  Sometimes we feel like we can never be forgiven for whatever it was we did.  Anakin is desperate to save Padme, and I understand that.  That doesn’t excuse the atrocities he later commits.  I’m speaking primarily of Anakin leading a legion of clone troopers to the Jedi Temple and slaughtering everyone inside.  Probably the most heartbreaking of this instance is Anakin finding a group of children hiding in the Council Chamber and killing each one.  Another incident is murdering the Separatist Leaders on the planet Mustafar.

Padme meets Anakin on Mustafar, saying that Obi-Wan had told her that Anakin was responsible for leading the slaughter but didn’t want to believe it.  She pleads with Anakin to come away with her, but when Anakin says he’s brought peace to the Republic, and can overthrow Palpatine so that the two of them can rule the galaxy, she realizes how much he’s changed and begs for him to stop and turn back.

When Anakin sees Obi-Wan emerge from Padme’s ship, he assumes Padme was lying and only brought Obi-Wan here to kill him.  In his anger, he Force chokes Padme, letting go only when she has fallen unconscious.

Anakin/Darth Vader accuses Obi-Wan of turning Padme against him, stating that he’s brought “peace, justice, and freedom to my new Empire.”  He offers Obi-Wan a chance to step aside, but Obi-Wan refuses, and the two engage in a fierce duel that takes them through the Separatist stronghold, up and down a river of lava, and comes to its conclusion on a riverbank.  Obi-Wan gains the advantage, but Anakin/Darth Vader at this point is extremely enraged and bloodthirsty, and foolishly attempts to leap over his old master.  Obi-Wan performs a lightning fast maneuver, severing Anakin’s left arm and both legs.

Anakin is later rescued by Palpatine and a squad of clone troopers.  He gets taken to a special medical facility, where he is fitted with that iconic black armor we all are familiar with.  After this, things calm down somewhat, or get less conflicting…call it whatever you want.

We don’t run into Anakin/Darth Vader for almost 20 years (film timeline-wise).  I don’t think many significant events occur that directly involve him until the end of the trilogy.  In “A New Hope,” there’s torturing Leia, and also the duel between him and Obi-Wan on the Death Star.  In “The Empire Strikes Back,” the torture of Han, Leia and Chewbacca, as well as freezing Han in carbonite.  In “Return of the Jedi,” nothing happens until close to the end, when Darth Vader brings Luke to the Emperor on board the incomplete Death Star II.

After bringing Luke before the Emperor, Darth Vader watches as Palpatine attempts to lure Luke to the dark side by tormenting him with thoughts of the death of his friends and the defeat and destruction of the Rebel Alliance.  Luke snaps and attempts to kill the Emperor, but Darth Vader intervenes and the two begin to duel.  During this though, Darth Vader seems to be reluctant to kill his son, as evidenced by his continued efforts to turn Luke to the dark side.  When Darth Vader discovers that Luke has a twin sister and threatens to turn her to the dark side, Luke attacks his father with anger and hatred.  Darth Vader is pushed back, and when he falls against a railing, Luke strikes and cuts off his father’s hand.

Anakin/Darth Vader lays helpless, but Luke resists the Emperor’s goading to strike the killing blow.  Enraged, the Emperor attacks Luke with Force lightning, while Darth Vader struggles to his feet and stands by his master.  As Luke cries out in pain for his father’s help, something inside Darth Vader changes; love for his son and the desire to protect him breaks through, and he turns on the Emperor.  It is in this moment that Anakin Skywalker is reborn and Darth Vader is no more.

In a final act of self-sacrifice, Anakin lifts the Emperor over his head, carries him to the Death Star’s reactor shaft, and throws him to his death.  As he did so, the Emperor’s Force lightning attack focused in on Vader, destroying his suit’s life support system and mortally wounding him.

Luke drags Anakin to a shuttle bay in an attempt to save his life, but Anakin stops him, knowing he is going to die whether or not Luke gets him on a ship.  As he nears death, Anakin asks Luke to remove his mask so that he can see his son with his own eyes.  As father and son gazed at each other, Anakin told Luke that he was right when he said there was still good in him; and to tell his sister the same.  And with those last words, Anakin Skywalker died and became one with the Force.

Luke escaped the Death Star with his father’s armor and artificial remains, which he later cremated on Endor in a traditional Jedi funeral.  Later, at the Rebel’s victory celebration, Anakin’s Force ghost appear to Luke, alongside the Force ghosts of Obi-Wan and Yoda.

* * * * *

When I first thought about making Anakin Skywalker an Honorary Member, I figured I would get a lot of flak and opposition.  Surprisingly, I’ve gotten almost none at all.

To me, when others think of Anakin Skywalker, they immediately think of someone who became Darth Vader and committed terrible crimes.  But he’s so much more than that.  Yes, he did terrible things as Darth Vader, but when I sit down and think about it, I come to the conclusion that Anakin Skywalker is a victim, in a way.  From the beginning of the Star Wars saga in The Phantom Menace to his fall in Revenge of the Sith, Anakin is carefully manipulated and lied to by Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious.  Events in Anakin’s life are caused (directly and indirectly) by the Sith Lord; even some assignments of Anakin’s before and during the Clone Wars are influenced as well.

So when someone talks about Anakin’s fall to the dark side like it was all his fault, I respectfully disagree.  Anakin’s fall was a carefully orchestrated web of lies and deception perpetrated by a man who is evil to his very core.

Then there’s my second point in my case for including Anakin Skywalker in the Honorary Member ranks of KIBA: granted, he fell to the dark side and committed terrible crimes and deeds.  But at the end of it all, when Luke was being tortured by Emperor Palpatine, Anakin was able to throw off the yoke of evil he had embraced, and return to the light, even though it cost him his life to do so.

Think about it in terms of someone coming to Christ.  If someone who has spent 40 years or so not following Christ and living life however they want (like a ‘do what feels right’ mentality), repents of their ways and gives their life to God, would you not be happy for them?  Why then should we not celebrate Anakin’s return to the light?

Anakin’s armor (both hypothetical and physical) is most definitely battered, beaten and scarred.  He fell, as all of us have or will do at some point.  He was able to rise up and stand against what he had become, even though it cost him his life.

Welcome to KIBA, Anakin.

Knight In Battered Armor - Honorary Member Profile, August 2010 - Luke Skywalker

*this profile is based off of information gathered from theStar Wars films only.

We first meet Luke when he is a young man working on his uncle Owen's moisture farm on the desert planet of Tatooine.  He yearns for a life away fromTatooine, dreaming of one day being able to attend the Imperial Academy.  His uncle does his best to keep Luke atthe farm, secretly afraid that Luke would follow in his father's footsteps.

Luke's life takes a dramatic turn when his uncle purchases two droids from passing Jawas.  He discovers a secret message to Obi-Wan Kenobi hidden in the astromech droid R2-D2.  Luke eventually meets Obi-Wan and learns that his father was not a navigator on a freighter as his uncle told him, but was in fact a Jedi Knight.

It's hard to imagine what's going through Luke's mind at this point.  Having spent his entire life believing one thing, only to have it turned upside down and inside out when he least expected it has to be shocking, to say the least. Later, Luke and Obi-Wan come across a group of slaughtered Jawas, which Luke recognizes as the ones that sold Threepio and Artoo to his uncle Owen.  He realizes that the Imperial troops that killed the Jawas would have learned who they sold the droids to and rushes home only to find the homestead burning and his aunt and uncle murdered.

What makes me curious at this point is how long Luke took to return to Obi-Wan and the droids. I also wonder at the incredible amount of turmoil and agony Luke has to be feeling at this point: being told who his father had been after spending his entire life believing that he was something else, and now returning home to find the only family he had ever known was brutally killed.  It makes one wonder what happened between that discovery, and when he finally returned to the others.

However Luke dealt with all that happened is unknown.  After this, Luke, Obi-Wan and the droids traveled to Mos Eisley where they met Han Solo and Chewbacca the Wookiee, and arranged for passage to Alderaan. Despite being attacked by stormtroopers and being pursued by Imperial Star Destroyers, they were able to make the jump to hyperspace and travel to Alderaan.

It was during this leg of the journey that Luke was first instructed in the ways of the Force. Upon reaching the Alderaan system, the group learned of the planet's destruction and were subsequently captured by the Death Star when they attempted to intercept a patrolling TIE fighter.

Here is where I feel Luke begins to show some real courage.  After Ben leaves the group to disable the station's tractor beam, Artoo discovers that Princess Leia Organa is being held in a detention block on the station.  Luke devises a plan to break her out,and things go smoothly getting into the detention block, but before Luke and the others can make it out, a squad of stormtroopers arrive and cut off their only escape.

Despite taking a detour through a garbage masher, and getting separated from Han and Chewbacca while trying to make it back to the Millennium Falcon, Luke keeps his head and he and Leia eventually meet up with Han and Chewbacca at the hangar where the ship is being held.

Now comes a third major blow to Luke.  When the stormtroopers guarding the Millennium Falcon rush towards one end of the hangar, he and the others make a break for the ship, but Luke pulls up short as he sees what attracted the stormtroopers attention: Obi-Wan Kenobi is locked in a lightsaber duel with Darth Vader.  Luke witnesses Obi-Wan sacrifice himself.  He immediately begins firing upon the stormtroopers, and only runs to the ship when he hears Obi-Wan's voice urging him to go.

At this point, Luke has had three life-altering events happen to him: the first is finding out his father was a Jedi Knight that had fought in the Clone Wars; the second was discovering his aunt and uncle were murdered; and the third was witnessing the death of Obi-Wan Kenobi.  To have just one life-changing event like those occur and yet still trudge on shows bravery and courage.  To do so after three takes much more than I could imagine.

And to top it off, Luke later takes part in a battle against the Death Star, flying a small X-Wing fighter.  He demonstrates tremendous courage, as well as strong leadership, when, after the majority of Rebel fighters are destroyed, he leads an attack run on the Death Star's exhaust port.  Despite fellow pilot (and childhood friend) Biggs Darklighter being killed, and fellow pilot Wedge Antilles being hit (not critically, but enough to make him pull out of the attack run), and with the timely arrival of the Millennium Falcon, Luke is able to fire a pair of proton torpedoes directly into the exhaust port, which begins a chain reaction that destroys the Death Star.

Up to this point, Luke has demonstrated an extraordinary amount of courage, bravery and strength. He lost four people that were dear to him; he learned that his father was a Jedi Knight and not a navigator on a freighter as he had been led to believe; he came face to face with many difficult situations and chose to take the hard path – he did that which was worth doing.

Fast forward now approximately three years.  The Rebels have established a hidden base on the ice planet of Hoth. Luke witnesses a meteor strike while out on patrol and is attacked by a wampa before he can investigate it.  He later escapes the creature's lair, but quickly succumbs to the frigid temperatures.  Shortly before losing consciousness, the ghostly form of his former teacher Obi-Wan Kenobi appears before him, urging Luke to seek out Jedi Master Yoda on the planet Dagobah.

Luke is soon rescued and taken back to the base, where he spends time in a bacta tank to heal his injuries, but he has almost no time to recover as the Empire has discovered the Rebels' location and begun their assault.  Luke leads a squad of snowspeeder fighters in a counterattack against the Empire's AT-AT walkers.

Here, Luke shows bravery and courage, when, after his ship is shot down, he single-handedly brings down one of the attacking walkers.  He later escapes the planet on his X-Wing fighter and goes to Dagobah in search of Yoda.

Here, in my opinion, is where one of the toughest parts of his journey/his life takes place. Luke crash lands on the planet, makes camp and meets a small, strange creature that seems to know more about Luke and why he's there than Luke himself does.  Luke eventually learns that the small creature is none other than Yoda, but gets frustrated when Yoda initially refuses to train Luke.  It is only after the voice of Obi-Wan intervenes that Yoda changes his mind, but things don't get any easier from here.

There were many different obstacles for Luke to overcome, and not all of them were external. He had to overcome certain qualities about himself, such as his stubbornness, impatience, impulsiveness and recklessness, and even those were not completely defeated, as evidenced in his test in the cave, where he fought an apparition of Vader, but saw his own face beneath the mask.  Later on, these failings became more evident when Luke had a vision of his friends suffering and he cut his training short to go rescue them, despite the warnings of both Yoda and Obi-Wan.

This turned out to be one of the poorest decisions we see Luke make throughout the entire trilogy. Luke is unable to rescue Leia, Chewbacca and Han, and when he faces Darth Vader in a duel, he ultimately loses his right hand and his lightsaber.  Not only did he have that pain to deal with, but this is also where it is revealed that Darth Vader is really Luke's father Anakin.  The shock Luke feels proves to be too much to deal with, and he allows himself to fall down a large shaft, eventually coming out and landing on a weather vane beneath the city.  Luke, unable to hold on for long, calls out to Leia in the Force.  She, along with Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, and the droids, rescue him in the Millennium Falcon and reunite with the Rebel fleet, where Luke is fitted with a mechanical hand to replace the one he lost.

Fast forward now about one year.  Luke has returned to Tatooine and successfully infiltrates the palace of Jabba the Hutt. After being brought before the crime lord, he uses the Force to call a blaster to his hand and attempts to shoot Jabba, but the Hutt activates a trapdoor beneath Luke that drops him into a pit with a rancor.  Luke manages to kill the rancor by closing a large door on top of its head. Outraged, Jabba orders Luke to be executed, along with Han and Chewbacca.

At the Pit of Carkoon, Luke executes an elaborate escape plan, which culminates in the death of Jabba and the destruction of his sailbarge.  Luke and the others return to their ships: Luke to his X-Wing, and Han, Chewbacca, Leia, and Lando to the Millennium Falcon.  They parts ways for a short while, as Luke intends to follow through on a promise he made to an old friend.

Luke returns to Dagobah and reunites with Yoda.  However, the Jedi Master has become frail and sickly.  Luke professes his desire to complete his training, but Yoda states that Luke doesn't need anymore training.  He adds further that there is still one thing left to do before Luke will truly be a Jedi: Luke must confront Vader one last time. Luke asks Yoda if Darth Vader really is his father, but Yoda turns away, reluctant to answer.  Luke poses the question again, and Yoda admits that Vader is indeed Luke's father and would have eventually revealed it to Luke had he not rushed off before his training was complete.  With his dying breath, Yoda reveals to Luke that there is another Skywalker, but before Luke can find out who it is, Yoda's body disappears into the Force.

Luke has had a long and difficult journey up to this point.  He has shown incredible bravery and courage.  He has also made mistakes that had terrible consequences, most notable of which was rushing off to Cloud City in the middle of his training and losing his hand to Darth Vader.  Through all his experiences since working on his uncle's farm on Tatooine, he has become stronger and more mature.

Obi-Wan's spirit appears to Luke again, outside of Yoda'shut.  He encourages Luke, saying that he (Obi-Wan) and Yoda will always be with him (Luke).  Luke is initially angry, believing Obi-Wan lied when he had said that Vader betrayed and murdered Luke's father.  Obi-Wan explains that when Anakin turned to the dark side of the Force, the good person he had been was destroyed, making what Obi-Wan said years ago true, from a certain point of view.  When Luke asks what Yoda meant by 'there is another', Obi-Wan says the 'other' is Luke's twin sister, and Luke realizes that his twin sister is Leia.

After Luke rejoins the Rebellion in the Sullust system, he accompanies Han, Chewbacca, and Leia to the forest moon of Endor, where they plan to destroy the shield generator that protects the second Death Star.  The group is captured by the indigenous Ewoks, but after a little display of the Force from Luke, they are released.  One evening, Luke questions Leia about memories of her real mother.  He reveals that Darth Vader is his father.  He also reveals that the Force is very strong in his family, saying that his father and he has it, and also his sister.  Leia is taken aback by this news.  Luke tells her of his plan to attempt to bring Vader back from the dark side of the Force, believing that there is still good in him.

Out of all the decisions that Luke has had to make, I feel that this is the hardest one of them all. It would take a lot of guts to willingly face an enemy that had beaten you once before, but in Luke's case, allowing himself to be captured and taken to Vader, then taken to Palpatine himself, he shows an amazing amount of bravery in being willing to come face to face with two of his most powerful foes.

After being goaded by the Emperor, Luke attempts to strike Palpatine down, but his lightsaber is blocked by Vader, and the two engage in a heated battle.  Luke's resolve is tested, and reaches its breaking point when Vader learns that Luke has a sister and threatens to turn her to the dark side.  Luke unleashes his fury at this, fighting Darth Vader back and eventually disarms the Sith Lord by cutting off his right hand.  Luke pauses before delivering the killing blow, realizing just how close he is to becoming like his father.  When Palpatine urges Luke on, he refuses and tosses his lightsaber to the ground.  Palpatine then electrocutes Luke with Force lightning, and as Vader watches from Palpatine's side, something inside him changes, and he throws Palpatine down a large shaft to his death.

Luke helps his father to a shuttle, but collapses just short of the boarding ramp.  At his father's request, Luke removes the helmet and looks upon his father for thefirst time.  Anakin asks to be left there, but Luke refuses, saying he (Luke) has to save him (Anakin).  Anakin says that Luke has already done that, and requests that Luke tell his sister that he (Luke) was right about him (Anakin).  Luke watches as his father passes away.

Luke gets his father on board the shuttle and takes off just moments before the Death Star explodes. He returns to Endor and burns his father's armor in a traditional Jedi funeral, then rejoins his friends to celebrate their victory over the Empire.

* * * * *

There are varying degrees of bravery, courage, heroism,etc.  When I think of Luke Skywalker, I think of a person (albeit a fictional one) who has gone through so much, suffered some devastating blows, and yet kept on going, even when the outcome was in doubt.

In 'A New Hope,' Luke lost four people that meant a lot to him: his uncle Owen and aunt Beru (killed by Imperial stormtroopers), Obi-Wan Kenobi (killed by Darth Vader in a duel on the Death Star), and his friend Biggs Darklighter (shot down above the Death Star's surface by Darth Vader).  On the opposite end of the spectrum, there were times when he stepped up above what was expected: choosing to rescue Princess Leia from the detention center on the Death Star, and leading an attack run on the Death Star's exhaust port after nearly all of the Rebellion's fighters were destroyed.

In 'The Empire Strikes Back,' I feel that Luke hits a lower point than the other two movies, referring to his decision to break off from his training on Dagobah in order to rescue Han and Leia.  His impatience and stubbornness ended up doing more harm than good: he was unable to save Han and Leia, fought Darth Vader and lost his hand in the process, and ended up having to be rescued by those he was trying to save.  Now, I'm not saying Luke didn't have his good moments.  He fought bravely during the battle on Hoth, single-handedly bringing down an AT-AT walker.  He went through training with Yoda, even though it wasn't easy.

In 'Return of the Jedi,' Luke has come a long way from the brash young farmboy he was in the first film.  With the help of his friends, he was able to rescue Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt.  He fulfilled his promise to Yoda to return to Dagobah and complete his training, although Yoda tells Luke he doesn't require anymore training, saying he must confront Darth Vader before he becomes a Jedi. The toughest decision (I think) that Luke makes is to surrender to Imperial troops on Endor and allow himself to be taken to Darth Vader and eventually Emperor Palpatine.  Luke came dangerously close to falling to the dark side during his duel with Vader, but was able to resist the urgings of Palpatine to kill Vader as he lay helpless.

Luke Skywalker has exhibited many of the traits of a Knight in Battered Armor.  He chose to stand and fight, and even though he suffered hits and losses,  he chose to get back up and keep going.  He fought for his friends and brothers in arms.  He chose to do what he thought was right; what he believed was necessary in order to bring his father back from the dark side. While I don't know if Luke was willing to sacrifice himself in order to save his father, I'd like to think that he would do so if he believed it was necessary.

Welcome to KIBA, Luke.