#also…… good to tell anakin
redcap3 replied to your post “Following this post (months later because this got buried in my drafts...”
...is it crazy I kinda want to see post-Vader Anakin being set up for a blind date?
The whole thing is Han’s idea.
When he first suggests it to Leia, he says he wants to do something nice for the old man, which as cover stories go is frankly terrible. Leia only raises an unimpressed eyebrow. It’s such a bad excuse it doesn’t even deserve a response.
Finally Han gives it up and admits that, okay, fine, he just can’t stand watching Rustbucket get flirted at every time they’re all dragged to some gala or top brass event. Anakin’s clueless act is just embarrassing, and worse, Chewie thinks it’s funny, that traitor.
Leia just goes on looking at him. Luke, though, says, “Uh, Han, I don’t think it’s an act.”
Han stares at him. “Oh come on, kid. No one is that clueless.” Then he stops to consider this, and who he’s talking to. Luke is a very friendly person, and very bad at recognizing the line between friendly and flirting. Half the Rebellion wants to date him and as near as Han can tell, he genuinely has no idea. But still... “Okay, fine, maybe some people are. But your old man was married. He managed to produce the two of you somehow. So he can’t be completely unaware of how these things go.”
Leia snickers at him. Han has the sinking feeling she knows something he doesn’t, but he knows better than to ask when she gets that look in her eye.
So he decides he’s gonna set Anakin up on a date, and Leia can laugh all she wants. He’ll be the one laughing when it works.
His first attempt is a guy named Rav who used to work maintenance in one of the hangars on Home One. These days he’s planetside on Coruscant. Nice guy, a few years older than Anakin, green eyes, a great ass. Han arranges the date at a bar so chill he frankly hates the place himself, but it seems like the kind of scene an older couple might enjoy. (Anakin’s only thirteen years older than you, a little voice in the back of his head says, but he ignores that. It’s too weird to let himself think about.) He tells Anakin that Rav wants to meet up and talk shuttle maintenance, which is such a damn obvious innuendo that he barely manages to restrain a cringe as he says it.
But hey, it works, and Anakin’s off to meet with Rav and Han congratulates himself on a job well done. Leia’s still smirking, but that’s just because she hasn’t yet learned what a great matchmaker he is.
Anakin swings back by Leia’s apartment about three hours later, early enough that Luke’s still there and Han is just a little worried. But it was only a first date, so...that doesn’t have to be bad, does it?
“How’d it go, Rustbucket?” he says.
Anakin shrugs easily and heads for the kitchen to start a pot of tzai. “Not bad. Rav’s got some great ideas for B- and Y-wing class fighters, but his views on TIEs are woefully misinformed.” He grumbles something under his breath. “I understand that there’s a need to bad mouth the enemy fighters in front of the troops, but you don’t need to buy into your own propaganda.”
Han blinks a little. Luke and Leia are snickering behind their hands, and for once, it’s real damn easy to see that they’re twins. He glares at them both.
“Well, all right, but...what about the, uh, social aspect?”
“Huh?” Anakin comes into the living room and sits in the chair across from Han and Leia’s couch. Han can never get over how the guy just...sprawls when he sits. It’s about the least Vader-like mannerism he can think of.
“Did you hit it off?” Han asks.
A brief frown crosses Anakin’s face. “I don’t know. I wouldn’t mind another chance to correct his opinions on TIEs.” Suddenly he brightens, “I did manage to get him the bartender’s number, though, and I’m pretty sure they’re going out this weekend, so I suppose that’s my good deed for the day.” He says this last very dryly. It’s something his therapist suggested, taking notice of his good deeds and letting himself be proud of them or something like that, and Anakin always snarks about it but Han is pretty sure he’s also following his therapist’s advice, so that’s something.
Anyway, that’s clearly not the important thing here. “Wait,” he sputters. “You...set Rav up on a date...with the bartender?”
Leia looks positively gleeful now and Han is pretty sure she didn’t plan this, but if it turned out she did he wouldn’t even be surprised.
Anakin, though, doesn’t seem to understand what’s got Han in such a fuss. “Sure,” he says with another shrug. “They made a cute couple.”
“I don’t believe this,” Han mutters. What kind of guy plays wingman for his own date? He scrapes a hand over his face and resolves to hold on to whatever dignity he can. “Okay, so Rav’s not your type, huh?”
Anakin only looks at him with an expression of such genuine confusion that Han can’t even convince himself the guy’s pretending. “My type of what?” he says.
A loud snort of laughter escapes Leia, and she tries to play it off as a sneeze. Han isn’t impressed.
“Never mind,” he mutters, and eventually the conversation moves on, but he knows Leia isn’t going to forget about this anytime soon.
So okay. Maybe he made a bad call with that first try. Maybe Anakin’s only interested in women? It’s a possibility. Fine. So this time Han will have to find the right woman.
He considers his options carefully. Luke and Leia’s mom was a politician and a founder of the Rebel alliance, smart as hell and also pretty damn stunning. (Leia definitely takes after her mother, he thinks, without the slightest hint of a goofy grin, no matter what Chewie says.) She must have had a terrible sense of humor though. Either that or she put up with Anakin’s awful jokes out of some never before heard of reservoir of patience and goodness. Actually, the way Anakin talks about her, that might be true.
So he’s looking for someone smart, driven, principled, but also somehow willing to endure endless terrible puns. That’s a tall order.
The first person he tries is Mon Mothma. It takes him a couple weeks to work up to asking her, because yeah, there’s nothing about this idea that isn’t awkward. But he’s got to admit, she does fit the profile.
So eventually he gets up the guts to suggest the idea of a date, and Mon Mothma laughs in his face.
Well, Han thinks, muttering to himself and wishing he could erase the last fifteen minutes of his life from existence. In hind sight, that was a pretty stupid idea. He’s never even heard of Mon Mothma going on a date.
“You’ve never heard of Dad going on a date either,” Luke says, smirking. Not for the first time, Han wonders what the hell he was thinking, making Luke his confidant in this. But he needed someone with more insight into Anakin, and he’d be damned if he’d ask Leia.
“That’s different, obviously,” Han says. “He spent twenty years inside a tin can.”
Luke rolls his eyes. “I just don’t understand why you won’t let this go,” he says.
“Because people are always flirting with him!” Han says. “And he’s always pretending not to notice. It’s infuriating.”
“It doesn’t happen that often,” Luke says, and okay, Han thinks, that’s actually true, but still. It happens often enough.
Luke sighs. “If you’re so stuck on that, why don’t you just ask one of the people who’s actually flirted with him?”
Huh. That’s not a bad idea, actually. Why didn’t he think of that.
It still takes him a while to plan his strategy, but eventually he manages to set Anakin up on a date with a woman named Meera Yasko. She’s Corellian, he’s pretty sure, but she’s also whip smart and pretty attractive. She’s some kind of attorney at a non-profit or something, and Han’s never been especially keen on people of the legal persuasion, but he figures Anakin might like that.
The old man takes a bit of convincing, but Han is a master of smooth talking (don’t laugh, Leia!) and eventually he gets them set up at a nice swank restaurant and even orders a bottle of wine for the table as a surprise.
Anakin comes back from this date a lot more excited, and Han experiences a fleeting moment of smug hope, only to have it crushed beneath Anakin’s heel when it turns out the man is excited for all the wrong reasons.
Apparently, Meera is the chief counsel at a non-profit involved in education for underprivileged youth, whatever the hell that means. They’re an interplanetary organization, too, but it’s not the organization itself that really interests Anakin. Meera has the legal background to cover all of the complicated bits about starting a foundation that Anakin doesn’t really understand (and Han understands even less, if he’s honest), and he thinks they might really be able to get this off the ground.
“Wait,” says Han. “This? What’s this?”
He expects a glare or an eyeroll from Leia and maybe Luke, but instead, they look as curious as he feels.
“Oh,” says Anakin, looking oddly shy. “Right. I haven’t told you yet. I’ve been thinking, well, they’re paying me all this money that I don’t need -” (here he raises a hand to forestall Leia’s usual protest) “- so I want to do something with it. And I thought... Tatooine’s free now, but there’s not exactly a uniform system of education, and many of the communities don’t have necessary supplies or access to training for teachers or -”
“Dad,” says Leia, “I think that’s a wonderful idea.”
As it turns out, setting up an entire school system takes a lot of work. Who knew, right? It also takes a pretty shocking amount of money, much more than Anakin’s supposedly extravagant yearly salary. That’s not a problem, though, because Meera helps him set up a fundraising program that’s frankly terrifying in its efficiency.
They spend an awful lot of time together, but it’s mostly in her office or over working lunches. Still, Han holds onto hope for a while. After all, she at least was definitely interested. He knows that. But after several months, he finally has to admit defeat. Meera and Anakin have a pretty great working relationship, and Han would even venture to say they’ve become friends, but he still hasn’t seen any evidence that Anakin ever realized she was interested, and it’s pretty clear now that she’s not thinking about him that way any more.
Still. The Padme Naberrie Educational Foundation basically exists because of Han, so he’s counting this one a win.
He keeps trying.
There’s a woman named Jasta who likes to dance and, apparently, has terrible taste in art. Not his best choice, but hey, Anakin managed to set her up with a guy they ran into at the art museum, and he seems happy about that, at least.
There’s Varin, who’s an active duty lieutenant in the Republic navy and likes to spend her leave time volunteering with animals. Anakin introduces her to the recently defected Admiral Piett, and damn if the two of them aren’t getting married about five months later. So that worked out, Han thinks, rolling his eyes. But hey, Anakin got a cat out of the deal, which apparently his therapist thinks is great for him, so...there’s that.
There’s Piett himself, which Han still thinks made sense in theory, because Anakin is clearly fond of the guy. But, looking back, he can admit that it’s pretty likely even Piett didn’t know this one was meant to be a date, and Han suspects Anakin may have agreed to the whole thing as an excuse to set Piett up with Varin.
His last attempt is a Twi’lek woman named Dinsa Atray who’s frankly just a little bit terrifying, but then so is Anakin, so Han figures it’s a good match. They actually start meeting up pretty regularly, and Han is starting to feel pretty smug about it, even though Leia still isn’t convinced of his matchmaking skills. But his illusions are cruelly shattered a few weeks later, when dramatic and disturbingly well-documented accusations of sentient trafficking and money laundering bring about the abrupt end of Senator Orn Free Taa’s political career and, eventually, the beginning of his exciting new prison career.
(“Well this was fun,” Han overhears Dinsa tell Anakin. “Let me know if you ever want to destroy a man’s life and reputation again. I’m always game.” Yeah. Maybe more than a little terrifying.)
Three years into his self-appointed quest, and Han’s sitting at the dinner table staring at an invitation to the wedding of Mon Mothma and Meera Yasko. He has to admit, he didn’t see that coming. He wonders a bit sourly if Anakin introduced them, too. Honestly at this point he wouldn’t be surprised. The universe is trolling him, clearly.
“Hey, Rustbucket,” he says, because no one’s ever accused him of quitting while he’s ahead. “Who are you bringing as your plus one?”
Leia eyes him with fond derision, and Han gamely ignores her.
“Kadee, probably,” Anakin says. “She likes weddings. Why?”
“No reason,” Han mutters.
It’s three more months before he finally gives up. But he’s not going to admit that.
“You know,” he tells Leia, “I think I can declare this operation a resounding success.”
“Really,” says Leia with a smirk. “Because from where I’m standing it looks like you set my dad up on a dozen blind dates, and he still doesn’t even realize he’s been on one.”
Han waves a careless hand. “Well, from where I’m standing it looks like Operation Get Anakin Skywalker Some Friends was an unqualified success.”
Leia’s face softens and she leans up to give him a lingering kiss. “That’s sweet, Han,” she says, and when he grimaces she laughs. “But don’t worry. I won’t tell anyone.”
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Fringilla’s Tragic Backstory
If we can talk about the tragic backstory for the villain of every piece of media I’m going to do it for Fringilla too. Because this woman has been THROUGH IT.
For @muslimyennefer, fellow Fringilla fan
TLDR: Fringilla has a classic corruption arc, comparable to the likes of Eve Polastri, Will Graham, Anakin Skywalker and Morgana Pendragon. She starts out quiet and caring and ends hardened and many might say cruel. Her treatment at Aretuza was terrible and definitely ties into her decision to cut off all ties and fully commit herself to Nilfgaard.
Let’s start out by talking about her personality when she first enters Aretuza. She is shown to be very caring and also very shy. When Tissaia states that Fringilla’s conduit moment was freezing a cat she immediately says she didn’t mean to and then later when they are working with lightning Fringilla is the first one to try and help Doralis.
She is also shown to be one of, if not the most talented mage in their class. However, she receives none of the praise that Sabrina does. In fact, Tissaia specifically sets up the first lesson so that the person who is the most successful at the spell is the one who suffers the consequences because she never tells her students about the dangers of the spell until Fringilla withers her hand.
The worst part of Fringilla’s hand? It isn’t fixed until her Ascension. FOUR YEARS LATER. Tissaia’s “lesson” (which wasn’t a lesson because the students didn’t have all the information) caused Fringilla pain and suffering for four years. Despite her hand, which must have been extremely painful judging by Fringilla’s cry when it happened, she remains the most powerful mage in her class.
You can see Fringilla’s hand both during the lightning scene and during the ascension scene.
It isn’t healed until the ball where Fringilla is dancing with King Virfuril and her left hand is no longer withered.
Once again, I ask, WHY did Tissaia have Fringilla spend four years in pain and suffering by something she directly caused and had the ability to fix?
On this same note, it’s important to note that Fringilla has a similar talent level to Sabrina, she never messes up and she always is at the top. Tissaia praises Sabrina but never does Fringilla to the same extent. In fact, Tissaia treats Fringilla similar to Yennefer where she degrades them both but there is one key difference: Tissaia wants to give Yennefer opportunities in court and wants her somewhere like Aedirn. Tissaia actively wanted to sabotage Fringilla.
When meeting with the council of mages, Tissaia pushes for Fringilla to be sent to Nilfgaard. As Fringilla is one of the most promising mages in her year, this is a very confusing choice. She outright says:
Vanielle of Brugge: King Fergus is proving to be an effective and excitable young king.
Stregobor: Horny, she means. Spending the kingdom’s money on women as his people starve to death.
Tissaia: Fringilla will be in Nilfgaard by week’s end. She will bring sanity and bread to the people.
Stregobor: Your girl is- With all due respect, [to Artorius] your niece is only capable of doing what she’s told.
Artorius: No ambitious mage wants to be assigned anywhere south of Sodden. But Nilfgaard needs correcting. Perhaps we consider sending someone there with a bit more… spine. Stregobor, did you have anyone in mind?
Tissaia chose to originally send Fringilla to Nilfgaard even though she expected Fringilla to basically rot there and have no upward mobility. Everyone agrees that Nilfgaard is a very bad place to be. When Yennefer thinks she is sent there she even tells Istredd:
Yennefer: Can your apology save me from Nilfgaard? Take me to Aedirn? Do they make me more than my blood?
Just to clarify: Yennefer should NOT have been sent to Nilfgaard and there is a whole other post to be made about elven macro and micro aggressions in the Witcher, but what’s important to understand here is that Tissaia specifically chose to send one of her most talented pupils to a kingdom with no mobility and a corrupt king.
As well, during the Ball when Fringilla sees Yennefer go with King Virfuril she looks terrified when she realizes that she is now being sent to Nilfgaard. Tissaia hands Fringilla off to her uncle Artorius Vigo and even though that shot clearly is meant to focus on Tissaia, shout-out to Mimi Ndiweni for going that hard on the acting.
So basically Fringilla was treated like shit for four years despite her talent, then used as a pawn in Tissaia and the overall Brotherhood’ schemes and she is a GREAT example of the characters that get left behind in the hero’s stories. Yes, it is an amazing thing that Yennefer gained autonomy and said fuck you to Tissaia by getting the Aedirn position but we dont often think about the characters that end up suffering becuase of these plot points such as Fringilla.
She was sent to Nilfgaard ill-prepared and we don’t know what happened there, but whatever occurred in the 50 years before Fringilla met the White Flame, it changed her enough that she was able to go from the sweet, quiet and caring girl we see in Aretuza to the hardened mage we see in Cintra.
While she was in Aretuza, Fringilla was belittled and cast aside at every turn. She was told that no matter how talented she was, she would never be supported or taken seriously. Is it any surprise that she turned away from the Brotherhood completely and rejected their beliefs? They rejected her first.
Fringilla has a classic corruption arc, comparable to the likes of Eve Polastri, Will Graham, Anakin Skywalker and Morgana Pendragon. We don’t know what caused her journey from hero to villain in canon because it hasn’t been shown on screen, but I hope they do, it would be very interesting to know!
In the meantime, I love coming up with various theories as to what Fringilla went through in Nilfgaard and have fallen deeper in love with her character than ever.
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You sometimes allow the lie --- especially when you’re after something that’s of the greater good. It’s called diplomacy.
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(you might say we are encouraged to love)
I received an ask requesting I make this response its own post in full (which of course I don’t mind doing!) so here it is:
An anon in the original post asked why, “Anakin/Vader is seen as interesting for women,” and that could be a bit of a loaded question, but I think there’s a definite rationale behind it. The way it was phrased made me think of a post I saw which addressed the fundamental split between Anakin and Vader as seen by certain audiences, why Anakin is treated by many derisively because there’s an element of the “heroine’s journey” that happens in relation to his arc and the struggles he goes through. It’s here and it’s really interesting in its entirety. “The constant barrage of degradation and trauma and unfairness of a system that benefits at your expense and refuses to validate you for it. And some of that he might have been able to reconcile by “growing up,” the same way a lot of us learn to come to terms with social fuckery, but Anakin doesn’t get the space to do that. He gets a giant bundle of unaddressed trauma and psychological issues and handed a kind of ambiguous destiny about needing to save the entire universe.” <- Imagine the burden of that, and they put it on a child and then give him zero structure to cope with it.
I’m also going to add this comment from that post because I think it’s worthwhile to note: if someone makes you angry and you show anger with your very own face you are weak, you have lost face, you have shown yourself vain and driven by a selfish, animal, irrational, feminine urge to defend yourself; but if you show anger without a face, if you show it unpersonally (the less it’s connected to direct accusation or a specific ill), especially in order to execute a role, then you suddenly appear to be the one in the position of strength, because you can no longer be directly accused of selfishness. The more you can cloak anger in the guise of necessity, the more you meet the societal expectation to be dispassionate, rational, always controlled - the more justification and legitimacy and power to you, even though this mode of anger is often more destructive than the first. This dynamic, assuming it exists as I’ve hypothesized it, is why I think Anakin codes as feminine to many, while Vader appeals to a certain masculine ideal.
Basically, the gist of it is that the emotional turmoil, the trauma, the way he’s exploited for his talents or what he can provide others, the way his agency is stripped repeatedly from him again and again tends to not be the way “male” hero journeys are told. It’s feminine coding (unfortunately) for those themes to be explored. For those emotions to be plumbed and portrayed with a substantive sense of sorrow and helplessness in the central male hero - it is not the “macho” standard. Why they thought they’d get a macho, unyielding masculine power trip from Anakin Skywalker remains a mystery to me, this is the same series where its original hero, Luke (who is his son! of course there were going to be essential parallels and contrasts between them), purposefully throws his weapon away and refuses to fight, and is characterized by his capacity for intrinsic compassion rather than any outer physical strength (even Han is much less of a “macho” guy than dudebros tend to make him out to be - not only because he’s unmistakably the person in distress who has to be rescued from capture in ROTJ, he has a lot of interesting facets that break down that ‘scoundrel’ stereotype, but I digress other than to say I love the OT, and the subtle distinctions in Luke, Leia, and Han that make them break the molds of expectation). SW fundamentally rejected toxic masculinity and the suppression of emotions from its inception, Luke’s loving triumph and role as redeemer only happens because he refuses to listen when he’s told to give up on his friends or on his belief that there’s good in his father, his softness is his ultimate strength. Anakin was never going to be some epitome of tough masculinity, and George Lucas knew exactly what he was doing crafting him in that way. The audiences who wanted Bad Seed Anakin from the beginning didn’t know how to reconcile this sensitive, kind-hearted, exceedingly bright kid, with their spawn of the Dark Side notions, and I think, unfortunately, far too many then either rejected him completely or refused to understand what the central points in his characterization are about.
The fact that this narratively would have made no sense (if Anakin had been “born bad,” then there would have been no miraculously surviving glimpse of light for Luke to save - I’ve said this before, but imagine how profoundly essential to his true self that goodness had to be for it to even exist any more at that point, after all he’d suffered, after all he’d done. the OT tells us more than once what a good man Anakin Skywalker was, it’s part of what makes the father reveal as powerful as it is - if we hadn’t heard the fragments of stories about Luke’s father, it wouldn’t be nearly as shocking, but we KNOW he was a hero, an admirable man, a good friend). I can’t fathom how tricky telling the prequels had to have been to that extent - the audience knows what will happen in the end, it’s a foregone conclusion, we know he will fall, we know Vader will be created, we know the Empire will rise (though that would have happened even if Anakin had remained in the light, which is a whole other discussion). So the question became, who is this person? What influenced him? What shaped his destiny? And that ended up being a far more complex and morally fraught and stirringly emotional story than just “badass Jedi becomes badass Sith lord.”
That talented, highly intelligent boy is taken in by the Jedi after he has already developed independent thought and very intricate emotional dimension - the argument that he’s “too old” to be trained is because he’s not malleable enough to be indoctrinated the way Jedi usually treat the children they take. They may blame this on his attachment to Shmi, but she’s not the problem (if anything, had they not been so unfeeling and rigid, and had they freed her and allowed her to at least stay in contact with her son while he was training because it was a special case - they’re the ones who stick that “Chosen One” mantle on him, you’re telling me they couldn’t make an exception? but no, because they put that weight on him and then never help him carry it and constantly undermine it and question and mistrust him - Anakin would have been stronger in his training, and he would never have fallen to the Dark Side at all. There are so many moments, over and over, where his fall could have been averted, and everyone fails him to the bitter end, when he fails himself).
And so he is traumatized, due to years of abuse and difficulties as a slave, due to having to leave his mother behind because the Jedi would not free her, due to being told to repress his emotions over and over again when he is, at his core, an intuitive and perceptively empathetic person (he wants to uphold that central tenet of his training - “compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is central to a Jedi’s life”), yet he’s made to feel he is broken/wrong/constantly insufficient. He’s wounded by abandonment issues and lack of validation and the human connection/affection he craved, and he develops an (understandable) angry streak, he’s socially awkward due to the specific constraints/isolation of a Jedi’s life and due to the fact that they tried to stamp out what made him uniquely himself, which makes him continually conflicted with a never-ending pulse of anxiety (see absolutely ANY moment where he breaks down emotionally, and you’ll see him say something to the effect of “I’m a Jedi, I know I’m better than than this,” “I’m a Jedi, I’m not supposed to want [whatever very basic human thing he wants, because they make him feel like he can’t even ask for or accept scraps of decency]” - they fracture his sense of his own humanity, Padme tries to validate those feelings but that Code is a constant stumbling block in his mind). He is troubled by fear and the constant press of grief (I would argue he has PTSD at the very least), and all around he’s met by mistrust and sabotage.
Male heroes shouldn’t be treated as infallible in their own narratives (none of them are that, as no character of whatever gender/origin is, as none of us are), but at the very least we usually see them treated with respect by others. Anakin often gets no such luxury. He’s treated the way we frequently see women treated, and that treatment comes from the same rotten core - the idea that emotions are weak, that expressing them makes you lesser, that crying is a sign of deficiency, that fragility of any kind cannot be tolerated. Anakin is even the hopeless romantic in this situation - Padme, while gracious and warmhearted, is much more pragmatic and tries to reason her way out of her blossoming love for him until she’s of the belief that it doesn’t matter anyway because they’re about to die, and she wants him to know the truth before they do. (I’d also like to note that the closest people to him all speak their love aloud when they’re at the point of death - Shmi when he finds her bound and tortured with the Tuskens, Padme in the Arena, Obi-Wan watching him burn on Mustafar, and how unbearably sad is that? even though his mother had said it before, even though he got to hear it many times again from Padme - and it’s her last entreaty to him - we shouldn’t be pushed to the brink of death to express it). Anakin is the one gazing at her dreamily and tearing up about it and professing earnest, dramatic love in front of the fireplace (idc what anyone says about the dialogue, the way he expresses himself is entirely sincere, it’s the rawness of that sincerity that I think makes people uncomfortable bc it’s unexpected), she’s the one who talks about living in reality. She, too, has been taught to guard and temper her emotions from her time as a child queen and the years she’s spent navigating the murky political waters of the Senate, but she’s become adept at it, unlike Anakin. If anything, they’re the only person the other has with whom they can be truly genuine and unafraid of exposing the recesses of their hearts, they’re the only safe place the other has, it’s no wonder they give themselves over to that, and the fact that they do is beautiful, it’s not wrong (which I have more cohesive thoughts on here and it was the underlying thesis of my heart poured into the super long playlist for them too /linking all the things). They see the joy and spirit in the other that no one else ever sees, and they make a home there.
Anakin becomes an esteemed general not only because he’s awesome in battle and strong in the Force and a gifted pilot and a skilled leader (all of which are true), but because he shows those around him respect, and great care. So, yet again, there’s a subversion of what might have been expected. No one is expendable to him. He views the Clone troops as individual human beings. He mourns their losses (many of the Jedi, with their no attachments rhetoric, allow the Clones to be used without much hesitation or thought for their status as sentient beings born and bred and programmed to die in war, but Anakin was a slave. He comprehends their status more than anyone else could). Anakin is a celebrated hero to the public, and in private is being chewed up by fear and uncertainty. Anakin is devoted to and completely in love with his wife, but has to keep it a secret. Anakin still craves freedom that even being a Jedi has not afforded him, because of their rigor. Anakin still desperately has to scrape for even the bare minimum of approval from the authority figures around him - even his closest mentor and friend, Obi-Wan, while they are irrevocably bonded and care for each other in a myriad of important ways, often doesn’t understand him and dismisses his feelings, refuses to advocate for/stand up for him when he needs it, or tells him to calm down. I’m surprised they never tell him he’s being hysterical when he gets upset, but the connotation of being told to “calm down” when angry or sorrowful or frustrated is something most women can identify with all too well. His desperate desire to protect Padme as everything begins to curl and smoke and turn to ash around him has a very clear nurturing aspect to it underneath the layers of terror and frustration and building paranoia - all he really wants is to be able to protect and care for his family, all he hopes is to save them and have a life with them away from all the war and the political in-fighting and the stifling Order. He’d quit right that second but he needs help due to his nightmares, and no one is willing to give it to him. (Except, ostensibly, Palpatine, who has been grooming him and deftly manipulating him and warping his perceptions since he was a child, all under the guise of magnanimous, almost paternal, care. Palpatine is brilliant in his machinations, perfectly cunning in his evil. He knows exactly how to slip in and break people, and he plays Anakin to the furthest extreme. I’m not saying Anakin doesn’t have choices, he does, and he makes the worst possible ones, but Palpatine pulls the strings in a way that makes him feel that he has no agency - and in truth, he does have very little agency throughout every step of his arc, marrying Padme and loving her in spite of the rules is one of the only independent choices he ever makes that isn’t an order, a demand, a fulfilling of duty - and Palpatine poises himself as the answer to all the problems, if Anakin does as he’s told. He’s been hard-wired to take orders for too long. He is so damaged by this point, and so distrusting - Hayden said something once about how Anakin is still very naive in ROTS, even after what he’s been through in the war, he’s still so young and unknowing about many things, and then his naivete is shattered by complete and utter disillusionment, and that shock is terrible and incomprehensible for him, so he clings to the one source of power he’s given, and it’s catastrophic). He is haunted by grief and impeded by fear of loss, and it drags him into an abyss. We watch all of this happen with bated breath, we see everyone fail him, we see every moment where he could have been helped, we see every path he could take if only he had the ability to stand up for himself and had been given the tools to cope with his psychological and emotional baggage, we see that he very nearly turns back, up until the death knell at the end. We know it’s coming from the moment they land on Tatooine and meet him and decide to make him a Jedi. We know, and we still hope for it to turn out differently. We know, and it still breaks our hearts.
I don’t want to make blanket statements about typical male viewers vs. typical female viewers, that’s too dismissive of a stance to take, but on a seemingly wider scale, I don’t think many of the former (especially the ones who were either older fans or who were teenagers themselves at the time) were as interested in political nuance and a tale of abiding love and a young man burdened with more than should ever have been put on his shoulders. Since the question was basically “why does he appeal to women,” (and not just cishet women) I imagine that the answer to that varies greatly depending on any one perceptive outlook, but has a similar core in each case of us wishing we could help change the outcome, even though we know we can’t, and of wanting to understand his actions and his pain, wanting to see his positive choices and his goodness validated, wanting to see him learn healthy strategies, wanting to see his love flourish, wanting to see him freed from the shackles he drags with him, from childhood to Jedi to Vader. The crush of the standards of society and expectation on him may speak to many. He is never liberated (until his final moments of free breath). His choices are either taken or horrifically tainted. His voice is drowned out by those more powerful around him. His talents and intelligence go largely unrecognized. His good, expansive heart is treated like a hindrance. The depth of his empathy and love is underestimated - and that, in the end, is important, because that underestimation, ending with Palpatine, becomes the Dark Side’s ultimate downfall and undoing. Vader may literally pick up an electric Palpatine and throw him down a reactor shaft, but that physical action is the final answer to a much more complete emotional and spiritual journey. He throws him down and the chains go with the slave master, and for the first time, certainly since before he lost Padme, his heart is unfettered, his love is reciprocated, and he is offered a true voice, a moment of his true self, a sliver of forgiveness, before being embraced again by the transcendence of the light. It is his act of rebellion, it is his own personal revolution, his final blow in the war. The entirety of the arc hinges upon him in that moment, Luke has been valorous and immeasurably valuable, but he’s done all he can do - the final choice is Anakin’s (and it’s such an interesting case because where else have we ever been able to fear and appreciate a villain, and then totally transform and re-contextualize him?). He is in that moment, indeed, the Chosen One.
All these facets are fascinating to watch unfold if you’re willing to be open-minded and heartfelt and sympathetic to the journey, if you’re willing to dig into the complex depth of his pathos.
I remember seeing AOTC as a teenager, and my love was Padme, she was where I was invested, I identified with her, I loved her kindness and her bravery and her sense of honor and justice, I loved that her femininity did not in any way diminish her and was an asset, I loved that, while she takes charge and has the fortitude to rush headlong to the rescue, while she can fight and tote a gun and blast a droid army as well as anyone, her superpowers are her intellect and her giving heart and gentle spirit. I totally get why Anakin holds onto the thread of hope she gives to him for all of those years, and why he falls in love with her as he does, but since I felt a lot of the story through her eyes, I understood why she was drawn to and fell in love with him, too. He’s dynamic and a bit reckless, he’s courageous, but he’s vulnerable and needs support, he’s deeply troubled but also radiantly ebullient at times (the scene in the meadow where she’s so touched by the carefree joy he exhibits, how it delights her and takes her aback, because she’s almost forgotten what it is to feel that, she’s almost forgotten other people could, and here he is, warm and teasing and spirited), he is often guileless, especially with her, he’s fervent and loving in a way she’s never seen or experienced, and that love is given with abandon to her. Who…wouldn’t fall in love with that? It’s a gravitational pull. AOTC impacted me in certain other personal ways as well, I was trying to understand some nascent hollows of grief (Anakin losing his mother as he does was very affecting and heartwrenching for me, at the time I’d lost my grandfather to whom I was quite close, and I’m also really close to my own mom, so his woe had an echo to me), but that vision that I specifically had of their love, the way I interpreted it (which I may not have had words for at the time, but I certainly had the emotional response) was a dear and formative thing.
I talked about this here, but to rephrase/reiterate, by the time ROTS came out, my life had shifted completely on its axis. I was still young, but my much dreamier teenage self was being beaten down and consumed by illness, and I was angry. Anger is not a natural emotion for me (guilt and self-blame tend to be where I bury anger), and I really didn’t know what to do with it. Everything felt unfair and uncertain, like there was no ground at all to stand on. I hurt all the time, literally and figuratively, I was in constant pain. I was lonely and frightened and sleep deprived and often had nightmares (this is still kind of true lol, as is the physical pain part). Padme was still my heart and touchstone - as she remains so to this day in this story - but suddenly I understood Anakin in a much more profound way, one I’ve held onto because he’s important to me and I love him. I felt his rage, his anguish, his desire to do something, anything, to somehow change or influence the situation, to rectify his nightmares, to cling to whatever might make a difference, might save him from being drowned in the dark and from losing everything that made him who he was as a person. Seeing him try and knowing he would fail was devastating, but also…relatable, in an abstract way (obviously not the violent parts, but thematically, I felt some measure of what it was to scramble up a foundation that is disappearing beneath you, that your expectations and dreams of what your life would be can vanish in disintegrating increments). All I wanted was for someone to help rescue him, because all I wanted was for someone to help rescue me. All I wanted was the hope that things could turn around - and there is hope in ROTS, despite the unending terror and tragedy, it’s never entirely gone, because Star Wars exists as a universe with the blazing stars of hope and love ever ignited at its center - but still, it was a very personally rooted emotional exploration for me, and I only started to deal with my own floundering anger when I saw how it might consume the true and loving and softer parts of me if I didn’t hold it back. (A few years later, I went through this again in an even worse way, and the source of that rage and despair was someone I cared for, and once I got through the worst bleak ugliness of it, there were a couple of stories I returned to in an attempt to gain newfound solace and comprehension, and Anakin and Padme were in there. My compassionate, hopeful heart was being torn by that fury, and I clawed my way back up from the brink of it because I knew I could die, not even necessarily figuratively, it was…a bad time, if I didn’t find my way out. Anakin’s story is a tragedy and a fable and a kind of warning - we should not deny or suppress our emotions or our authenticity, but we also cannot let it destroy us - and then ultimately his lesson is restorative, too, that we never lose the essential part of our souls, that we must allow ourselves to feel. Balance indeed).
As consistent and transparent as my love for Padme has always been, my Anakin emotions are actually so close and personal that I intentionally avoided ever exposing them for actual years, it’s like…basically in the past month that I’ve ever been truly honest about it on Tumblr, because exposing that felt like too much, but I don’t really care about keeping it quiet any more, and that’s very cathartic.
I myself am an incredibly emotional person, and I don’t believe that Anakin’s emotions are negative qualities, which I meant to underscore. In fact, his open emotions are an exquisite part of him, and it’s the Jedi who are wrong for trying to stamp that out, when his emotional abilities are part of what define him in his inherent goodness and his intellect and strength. He has an undying heart. For he and Luke both to stand as male heroes who represent such depth of feeling is really special, and vital to the story. Anakin is the most acutely human character in many respects, in his foibles and his inner strengths, in his losses and his longings and his ultimate return to his true self - that’s why we feel for him, that’s why we ache and fear for him, that’s why we rejoice for him in the end.
Other people could speak to the Vader part of it much better than I can, Vader’s an amazing and very interesting villain (the fact that, as Vader, Anakin is much more adhered to the Jedi code and way of thinking than he ever was as an actual Jedi, for example - he has an order to him, he is much more dispassionate, he is very adamant about the power of the Force - is endlessly intriguing, because he’s such a contradiction). I use this term for a different character, but I’m going to apply it here - Anakin is a poem of opposites. He is a center that can serve as either sun or black hole. He is a manifestation of love and light and heroism, he is a figure of imposing power and cold rage. He’s the meadow and the volcano. The question then becomes, how expansive are we? When we’re filled with the contradicting aspects of ourselves, how do we make them whole without falling apart? When we do fail, can we ever do anything to fix it? And the answers again will vary by individual, but to my mind - we’re infinite, and thus infinitely capable of, at any point, embracing our light, even if we’ve forgotten to have faith in it, and while we may not be able to fix every mistake or right every wrong, we can make a better choice and alter the path. The smallest of our actions can ripple and extend and are more incandescent than we know. That’s what he does, against all expectation. In the end, he is an archetype not only of a hero (be that fallen or chosen or divine), but of a wayward traveler come home, a heart rekindled, a soul set free to emerge victorious in the transcendent light.
In the final resonance of that story for me personally, I love him for being a representation of that journey, that no matter how long it takes to get there, how arduous it is - that things we lose can be found again, that with the decided act of compassion, pure, redemptive love can be held onto, that the light persists and that, even when it flickers most dimly, refuses to be extinguished, and can at any point illuminate not only ourselves, but can shine brightly enough to match the stars in the universe.
I hope this is at all cogent, here’s a gif for your patience ♥
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A sketch(I overdid a sketch but underdid a fullcolor work, what???) of Cody and Once... Obi-Wan. And a very caring clone commander. My heart ❤️ ❤️ ❤️
Fanart for @glimmerglanger ‘s amazing fic “Like real people do”
Check it out if you haven’t already. But I bet you all have, but still, LIKE I TELL YOU IT’S SO GOOD?? I CAN’T. (also!! Anakin and Ben’s dynamic there is amazing, I LOVED it, it hit all the right spots.)
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Not to be that annoying bitch but like
Vader in Thrawn Alliances uses the force to locate the Grysks….
You’re telling me Vader wouldn’t have found that skill handy to use in the Original Trilogy?
Stupid dumb giant robot spent like three years trying to track motherfckers across the galaxy.
No thoughts, head empty under that bucket helmet apparently.
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Amanda serves as many post comic roles, but my crossover default has her as an ambassador for earth (or her universes version of earth, situation depending). The position isn’t something she volunteered for, but the role had been assigned to her by the other head Guardians. With her extensive resume from centuries in the Flaxan universe, from a prisoner of war to a slave to a rebel leader, Amanda manages to make sound and morally right choices. This is not a feat accomplished by anyone else with a comparable life span. She is the only person they can sensibly trust to make the choices that not only have earth’s best interest of heart, but also the best interests of the people she encounters.
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