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Darth Vader Fans Remain Divided by a Return of the Jedi Debate

Back when “Return of the Jedi” was the end of the mainline Star Wars story (sorry Expanded Universe), it was much easier to grapple with how Anakin Skywalker’s story concludes. However, in the years since Disney acquired Lucasfilm and the Star Wars license, the character’s legacy has gotten increasingly more complicated. He doesn’t appear in the sequel trilogy except as one of the Jedi voices who speak to Rey at the end of “The Rise of Skywalker.” He never steps in as a Force ghost to correct his grandson, Kylo Ren, and tell him that actually, maybe you shouldn’t be worshiping that burnt Darth Vader helmet after all.

For years, that didn’t seem weird. But then “Ahsoka” Season 1 came out, bringing with it a deluge of Anakin fan service. It’s exciting to see him back and interacting with his former Padawan, both in the World Between Worlds and as a Force ghost watching over her on Peridea. Still, it’s a bit strange that he’d get involved with her and not have anything to do with the sequel trilogy. Some of this can be explained away by the ambiguous nature of the World Between Worlds (Is it really him? Or is it Ahsoka’s imagination?), but no matter how much fun it is to see Hayden Christensen in action, these cameos have made Vader’s redemptive legacy more complicated.

To be fair, though, that all really started in “Return of the Jedi.” Anakin appearing to Luke as a Force ghost at all confirms that he became one with the Force in the end — something that suggests a cosmic redemption if not a moral one. Even under Lucas, the question of Anakin’s redemption was never fully clear.

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