August 10, 2022

Anakin Skywalker’s transition to Darth Vader is something that feels inevitable in Star Wars history. It is, after all, the catalyst of the action of the original trilogy and the root of the conflict throughout the galaxy. Without Vader, there is no Empire and there is no redemption through his son, Luke. With the rise of Darth Vader being the root cause of much of the galaxy’s problems, the question has crossed countless minds: could it have been prevented?


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Although the decision to turn to the Dark Side was Anakin’s alone, the choice did not come from thin air. His natural prone to impulsivity and emotion without the support systems he needed in place made it easier for Anakin to stumble down a path of darkness. As we look into his past and what led to the most terrifying villain in cinema, Anakin’s downfall becomes even more heartbreaking as one of the greatest tragedies in Star Wars. After all, the only thing the young boy from Tatooine wanted was to help others and feel accepted.


Death Of Qui-Gon

Upon meeting Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, Anakin Skywalker’s life was changed forever. “Nothing happens by accident,” Qui-Gon said to Shmi Skywalker upon the realization that her son was Force-sensitive. Qui-Gon decides to take him on as another padawan and Anakin, who has dreamed of a life beyond the sands of Tatooine, leaps at the opportunity. Unfortunately, their time together is cut short when Qui-Gon is struck down at the hands of the Sith Apprentice Darth Maul on Naboo.

Qui-Gon’s death changes the entire trajectory of Anakin’s life. In an instant, Anakin, who the unconventional Master would have once trained, is now the responsibility of a young Obi-Wan Kenobi. Where Qui-Gon wasn’t afraid to push the rules laid out by the Jedi Council, Obi-Wan is by the book. Bound by his beliefs while still grappling with the loss of his own Master, Obi-Wan perhaps unwittingly sets Anakin up for a failure he doesn’t quite yet understand.

The Jedi Council’s Rules on Attachments

One of the cardinal rules of the Jedi Order is the forbidding of attachments. Even though some Jedi seem to skirt these rules at some point, his own Master included, Anakin is frequently reminded of the dangers of possessive relationships. This advice, as with much of what Obi-Wan Kenobi tells him, goes in one ear and out the other as Anakin chooses to follow his heart and pursue his own desires.


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The choice to leave his mother at a young age continues to haunt Anakin throughout his life. He is plagued by nightmares of her and visions of her fate. When he eventually saves her from a group of Tuskens on Tatooine, his blind anger at her dying state consumes him. Focused on revenge as he murders an entire Indigenous tribe, Anakin has begun the path to the Dark Side. In addition to his mother, Anakin is also deeply attached to his wife Padmé Amidala. His visions of her untimely death haunt him and drive him to the point of obsession, with Anakin willing to do anything he can to save her.

Ahsoka Leaving the Order

Throughout the Clone Wars series, the Jedi Order tests Anakin’s faith time and time again. Perhaps the most crucial moment was when his padawan, Ahsoka Tano, decided to leave the Order. Accused of a crime she did not commit, Ahsoka felt betrayed by the only family she knew. When choosing to part with the familiarity of her old life, Ahsoka sites the Council’s inability to trust her left her with doubt about trusting herself.

Ahsoka’s choice leaves Anakin gutted. Confessing to his padawan that he considered leaving the Order shows a moment of vulnerability from the typically headstrong Jedi Knight. Although Ahsoka stresses that the decision to part ways is not because of Anakin, he feels responsible as her Master. It is also another example of Anakin feeling betrayed by the Council. His padawan, who he has grown exceptionally close to, has left him and Anakin feels alone.

Obi-Wan’s “Funeral”

In the Clone Wars episode ‘Deception,’ Obi-Wan Kenobi fakes his death to investigate an assassination plot against Chancellor Palpatine. To successfully pull the mission off, Obi-Wan keeps his plans to go undercover close to his chest, telling only Yoda and Mace Windu of his intended plans. At Obi-Wan’s funeral, Anakin is silent. Ahsoka even states that he hasn’t spoken since he heard the news. It’s easy to draw parallels from this moment to Qui-Gon’s funeral, held just over a decade before as Anakin believes another father figure to him is dead.


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When Anakin discovers that Obi-Wan deceived him, he is furious. “You lied to me!” he exclaims to his former Master, “How many other lies have I been told by the Council?” Although Obi-Wan attempts to explain that keeping Anakin in the dark made the lie more believable to the Separatists, the younger Jedi is not convinced. While attempting to protect the man that would encourage his turn, the Council has pushed Anakin further from the Light.

Spying on the Chancellor

A key moment in Revenge of the Sith brings Anakin to the threshold of his breaking point. The Jedi Council, suspicious of Chancellor Palpatine’s unwillingness to relinquish power, asks Anakin to keep an eye on the leader. Seeking to use Anakin’s personal friendship with Palpatine to their advantage, the decision comes on the heels of denying the young Jedi the rank of Master. Anakin, feeling slighted once again by those whose validation he is desperate to receive, is not shy about expressing his feelings of manipulation to Obi-Wan.

Anakin is uncomfortable with the idea of spying on a man he considers a friend for the sake of the Jedi Order, an establishment he feels has let him down. While this action causes an inner struggle, it also unknowingly pushes Anakin closer to the master manipulator. Palpatine, always one step ahead, catches on to the Council’s plot and does his best to soothe Anakin’s concerns.

The Altar of Mortis

The infamous Mortis Arc in the third season of The Clone Wars quite literally laid Anakin’s future bare. When Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka find themselves on the peculiar planet of Mortis they find themselves challenged by three beings more powerful in the Force than they’ve ever encountered: The Father, The Son, and the Daughter. Each of the three beings represents different aspects of the Force, the Son is the Dark, the Daughter is the Light, and the Father is the balance between the two. After Ahsoka is captured by the Son, Anakin attempts to intervene to save his padawan. In his attempt to confront the Dark Side, Anakin is granted visions of his future including the imagery of Darth Vader.

The episode leaves the three characters without any memory of visiting the planet, their time spent on Mortis confirms two things: Anakin is The Chosen One and the path may be clear, but it is not written in stone. Anakin may have a tendency to disrupt the equilibrium of the Force, but he still has the ability to save himself. However, as he becomes more and more consumed by the fear of losing those he is closest to, Anakin loses the balance and is consumed by the Dark.


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