As he crumples into the snow on Hoth, Luke Skywalker gets the message he has been waiting for since he blew up the Death Star: his Jedi training will start soon. Obi-Wan appears to him and tells him to go to Dagobah, where he will learn from Yoda, the Jedi master that instructed him. A few swipe transitions later, Luke is on his way, tumbling through the canopy of the swamp and crashing his X-Wing into a bog. As he sets up camp, he encounters the swamp goblin we will come to know as "Yoda," but Luke is unaware that he's always found the “great warrior” he seeks. He's also blind to the most important aspect of this interaction, which is that his training has already begun.
The first two scenes that Luke and Yoda share are among the funniest in the entire franchise, and, with a mere grain of subtlety, the most important. Luke is a man on a mission, a student eager to meet his teacher and learn the lessons he's been anxious to know. Standing in his way is an interruptive little grub who has decided to forage through all of his food, throw his tools on the ground, and harass his droid. These quirky attempts by Yoda to try to fluster Luke's tender nerves is the first and most important lesson. Luke says he's looking for someone, to which Yoda replies, “Looking? Found someone you have, I would say,” before cackling like a maniac. In a word, and one that Yoda will repeat throughout all of their scenes, it boils down to one important quality: patience.
When the pair arrive at Yoda's home, Luke is confronted once again by the lesson as his impatience reaches a fever pitch. Luke asks once again how far it is to see Yoda, with the tiny freak throwing it right in his face: “Not far, Yoda not far.” The wrinkled troll laughs after this line too, before delivering the thesis of the lesson again: “Patience, soon you will be with him.” Even now, Yoda flaunts the entire theme of Luke's arc and the reason he needs training in his face. Yoda literally laughs at Luke while baiting him, forcing him into a position to realize his faults.
Eventually this becomes too much for Luke, who laments that he's wasting his time by waiting. Strike three. This is when he learns the truth, the cane-cradling loony that has been pestering him since he arrived is actually the great warrior he's been sent to find. His biggest annoyance was also his target. If he hadn't let his temper and emotions get the better of him, if he had just exercised patience, he would have seen it. Yoda, speaking to an off-screen Obi-Wan, delivers the truth from the top rope: “I cannot teach him. The boy has no patience.”
Yoda goes on to break it down simply, revealing that he's been watching Luke from afar and that his impulses will always be his biggest flaw: “All his life as he looked away, to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was, what he was doing.” This is the entire basis for Luke's training with Yoda. Do not concern yourself with things beyond your control, beyond what you're able to do now with what you have. As Yoda himself would probably say, "Patient, you must be. That which you are so eager to have and accomplish will come in due time, but you must first wait."
What makes the lesson difficult for Luke to realize at first is that Yoda has spent their entire time together attempting to rustle his jimmies, pushing him off his balance in the most ridiculous ways. This is the path to learning patience, if you're an ancient wizard that has been alone in a swamp for thirty years, and it's how the absolute most important lesson Yoda teaches Luke begins, by messing with him incessantly to the point of ridicule. In a modern context, we would call Yoda's behavior "trolling," as he attempts to provoke Luke into a reaction by keeping his true intentions, and though this behavior can be taken to extremes in an online context, Yoda uses his 800 years of experience to bring it all full circle from prank to instruction.
Even as Luke prepares to leave Dagobah to save Han and Leia following a vision he has, Yoda hammers down on the lesson of patience.
“Decide, you must, how to serve them best,” Yoda says. “If you leave now, help them, you could, but you would destroy all for which they have fought and suffered.”
As we know, Luke leaves, and Yoda was right in the end. Facing Vader with incomplete training sees his hand severed, his lightsaber lost, and Han taken by force to Jabba the Hutt. Patience was needed. Luke goes on to “complete” his training by Star Wars: Return of the Jedi's end, facing Vader again and winning. But these lessons that Yoda taught him go further still, playing into his arc in Star Wars: The Last Jedi as we learn the truth behind his original confrontation with Ben Solo at the Jedi temple. Even Luke knows that if he'd exercised patience in that moment, things may have gone differently. Yoda even appears once again to troll Luke, bringing down lightning to burn the "sacred Jedi texts" in front of him.
Patience was the most important lesson of them all, and it all began when Yoda grabbed Luke's dinner and started to rummage through his camping gear, stealing his stuff and bothering him without end. Yoda was a Jedi Master, a great teacher, and a pure troll until the end, his ways both mysterious and hilarious.0comments
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker lands in theaters on December 20th.
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