At a studio, nearly thirty years ago, somewhere rather near Borehamwood, they knocked up some plywood sets and pretended they were spaceships. The time was a fair while ago, and the place quite far away, unless you are currently doing your shopping at the Tesco’s on Borehamwood high street, in which case it is next door. It took extraordinary imagination to turn that fakery into a far-off galaxy, though alien monsters might blend in easily enough around chucking-out time at Borehamwood’s rougher pubs. The movie was an inspiration to many. The plywood sets and the plywood acting encouraged countless people, all over the planet, to grab the nearest mop and to hold it like a really really futuristic hi-tech sword. So convincing was the story, that nobody thought it odd that you might fly several hundred thousand light-years in order to fight people using an upgrade of a medieval weapon with an effective range of 1.33 metres. People thought the film was pretty darn fantastic (though not quite as fantastic as the two films that went before it) and to this day, some people still dress like extras from the movie, except that their stormtrooper outfits probably fit better. And so it is that, even after all this time, you know what I am writing about, and I can continue to parody that story.
Not that recently, in the last installment, we left the story with Darth Vader performing a time and motion study on Death Star construction, whilst the heroes had escaped the clutches of both Jabba and a big mouth in the desert…
[The Emperor’s shuttle lands in one corner of a cavernous docking bay on the equator of Death Star 2.0. Inside the shuttle, the Emperor prepares to make an impressive entrance.]
Palpatine: I’m ready. Hand me my cane.
[One of Palpatine’s guards, dressed all in red, hands him his cane. Palpatine gets to his feet and takes a deep breath. He runs his finger over his teeth.]
Palpatine: (to his guard) There’s nothing in my teeth, is there?
[The guard shakes his head.]
Palpatine: No? Good. And no bogeys up my nose? (he tilts his head back to make it easier to see.)
[The guard shakes his head again.]
Palpatine: Okay, boys, you go out there and warm up the crowd. (Turns back to the shuttle pilot) And you, don’t forget that I want plenty of dry ice as I walk down the ramp. It’s showtime!
[The shuttle ramp descends, and the Emperor’s personal guards file out. After the last guard leaves, Palpatine pulls his hood up and begins to make his own way down, then stops and turns back to shout at the pilot.]
Palpatine: You’re playing the wrong music!
Shuttle Pilot: It’s the Imperial March, sir.
Palpatine: I know what it is, you fool. It’s just that everybody thinks that it’s Darth Vader’s theme. They play it everywhere he goes, and he goes out a lot more than me. Put on my new music instead!
Shuttle Pilot: Are you sure, sir?
Palpatine: Just play it, you cretin.
[Palpatine slowly steps down the ramp, accompanied by the theme from Psycho. When he gets out, he finds Vader kneeling before him, and three nerds in ‘Star Wars’ t-shirts, clapping and hooting. The hanger is otherwise empty. Nobody else has come to greet him.]
Palpatine: (to Vader) Arise my friend… and tell me why there’s nobody here to witness my historic arrival?
Vader: Master, we did find three groupies to celebrate the occasion (he gestures towards the nerds).
Palpatine: Even so.
Vader: The Death Star will be completed on schedule – I thought you’d be pleased that I didn’t interrupt the construction work, just to have them come down here and pester you.
Palpatine: Blasted efficiencies. They take the fun out of everything. At the very least, somebody could have arranged a golf cart to pick me up. (Palpatine starts to slowly make the long walk towards the hanger exit, leaning on his cane as he does).
Vader: Master… the groupies? They’ve been waiting quite patiently for you.
Palpatine: Very well, but I won’t do autographs or pose for photos.
[Palpatine walks across to the nerds, intending to only briefly engage them in conversation.]
Palpatine: (to the first nerd) Hello there, my spotty young fellow. I understand you’ve been waiting for me.
Human Male Nerd: Yes we have. But the line was much shorter than for Boba Fett. We had to literally camp overnight to get his autograph.
Palpatine: Well, I don’t do autographs.
Human Male Nerd: You don’t? But the organizers of DeathStarCon 3030 said you would.
Palpatine: The Empire doesn’t officially endorse DeathStarCon 3030. They refused to pay the royalties we asked for. Take those tee-shirts for example. (Palpatine starts to point at the chest of the male nerd he was talking to, then prefers to point at the ample bosom of the female nerd next to him.) They don’t look like official Imperial merchandise. And why do they have “Star Wars” written on them?
Human Female Nerd: It’s a film, sir, based on a factual account of the events leading up to the destruction of Death Star 1.0. You could call it a disaster movie.
Palpatine: (Pleased) Oh really, they made a film about my first Death Star? And who did they get to play me? Nic Cage perhaps, or maybe Christian Bale?
Human Female Nerd: Actually, you don’t appear in the film.
Palpatine: What? How can there be a film about the first Death Star without featuring me? I paid for the blasted thing! (Turning pointedly towards Vader) Then some idiot son of Skywalker blew the whole thing up by firing a pea shooter down an exhaust vent that had no proper safety grill over the top. (Turning back to the nerds) That is why I’m here now. I have to take care of everything personally. I’m running the whole galaxy virtually single-handedly. (He lifts his hand up and makes a fist, which he shakes.)
[The third nerd, an indescribable alien nerd, decides he cannot contain his excitement any more, and he has to join the conversation.]
Indescribable Alien Nerd: That’s so so true, your imperial majesty. Anyone would think you were vacationing during that whole sordid incident.
Palpatine: (Evil laugh) I wish I had time to vacation. No, I was taking care of business. I was restructuring the crippling debt burden I inherited from the Republic…
Human Female Nerd: And greatly increased the visibility of law enforcement…
Human Male Nerd: And… and… carbon neutrality – your policy changes transformed it from a hopeless aspiration to a viable target.
Palpatine: Yes, but what thanks do I get? Not nearly enough! So which character was the lead in this movie, this “Star Wars”?
Indescribable Alien Nerd: That would be Lord Vader, your majesty.
Palpatine: (Looks at Vader again) Oh, it was, was it? And did they present him as a bumbling oaf who was lucky to escape with his life?
Indescribable Alien Nerd: Yes, yes they did, sir.
Palpatine: Well at least they got that bit right. Oh well, I’ve enjoyed talking but really I need to take care of some more business – like getting this new Death Star finished, and doing a better job than was done with the last one! Good bye.
[Palpatine turns and walks off. Vader follows two steps behind.]
The Nerds: Goodbye, your imperial majesty!
Darth Vader: (under his breath) And Goodbye to you.
[Behind Palpatine’s back, Vader force chokes the three nerds.]
[Luke visits Yoda’s hovel on Degobah. Yoda is feeling a little poorly, so his Jedi poker buddies are also hanging around, keeping him company.]
Yoda: (to Luke) That face you make, look I so old, to your eyes?
Bora Bodur: (interrupting, before Yoda speaks) Shaddap. Of course you look old. We all look old. You just look the oldest.
Yoda: When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good, you will not.
Bora Bodur: What nonsense! I’m nine hundred and two, you whippersnapper.
Tanah Lot: I’m so old I can’t remember how old I am.
Chechen Itcha: I’m so old that nobody had invented calendars when I was born, so I can’t really say how old I am.
Sha-na-ram-a-lang-a-ding-dong: I’m so old that they didn’t have numbers when I was born, never mind dates.
Tanah Lot: I’m so old that even if I lived to the end of time, I couldn’t be any older than I am now.
Chechen Itcha: I can’t make any sense of what you just said.
Tanah Lot: That’s because you’re not old enough to understand it.
Luke: I’m not old, but I feel like I’ve spent a lifetime listening to that conversation.
Yoda: Interrupted, my train of thought is. Saying, what was I?
Bora Bodur: You were saying you look old.
Yoda: That was it, yes! (To Luke) Look I so old, to your eyes?
[Luke sighs heavily. Two hours pass in conversation about how old everyone is.]
Luke: Okay, can I just summarize? You’re all old. You look old, you smell old, and certainly sound old and I’m a lot older for listening to you. You’d probably taste old if anything was desperate enough to eat you. Can we now switch topics to what I came here to talk about?
Yoda: Like before I said, the boy has no patience.
Bora Bodur: He’s not the patient. You’re the patient.
Yoda: I said patience.
Bora Bodur: Patients? No, I can’t manage more than one at a time. I’m too old for that. Now get back into bed.
[Yoda climbs into bed. Luke tucks him in.]
Yoda: Soon, will I rest. Forever sleep, hmmm. Earned it, I have.
Luke: Master Yoda, you can’t die. My training is not complete, despite what it says on this certificate (holds up the certificate from Yodaâ€™s Jedi School). I fought Vader, but he totally won!
Yoda: Strong am I with the Force. But not that strong. Everything I could, taught you I have.
Bora Bodur: What he means is that you’ll need to pay extra if you want the advanced course. Whatever he’s charging, I’ll train you for half the price.
Luke: But I need help. I’ve come back to complete the training. And the Rebel Alliance didn’t pay me a cent for blowing up the Death Star. All they gave me was this crumby medal. (Pulls his shirt open to reveal his medal.)
Tanah Lot: It looks like that chocolate money they give kids at Christmas. That really cheap and horrible chocolate that kids throw away because they won’t eat it.
Luke: Is there chocolate in here? (Luke tries to open up his medal.)
Yoda: No more training do you require. Already know you, that which you need.
Chechen Itcha: Exactly. You should have learned your lesson. Stop wasting your money on courses. Just fight a lot, and if you don’t get killed, you’ll get better at fighting. That’s how we learned in the good old days.
Luke: Then I am a Jedi.
Yoda: Oh… (cough, splutter) Not yet. One thing remains: Vader. You must confront Vader. Only then, a Jedi will you be.
Luke: Come again? I’ve confronted him once already.
Chechen Itcha: And since when was that part of Jedi training? I never confronted him, and I’m a Jedi.
Bora Bodur: Nor I. When I was training, they made me confront a chicken. I won easily, and made a tasty meal out of it. Teriyaki, if memory serves.
Luke: Master Yoda, is Darth Vader my father?
Yoda: Rest I need. Yes, rest.
Luke: I must know.
Yoda: Your father he is. Told you, did he?
Yoda: Unexpected this is, and unfortunate. A way to predict that he might mention his being your father when you flew off to try and kill him, there was not. A family bond, mention, to someone trying to kill you, such a thing, who would do?
Chechen Itcha: (aside to Bora Bodur) Yoda manages to make even nonsense sound especially nonsensical.
Luke: Unfortunate that I know the truth?
Yoda: No! Unfortunate that you rushed to face him. That incomplete was your training.
Luke: Hold on, you only just said “no more training was required”.
Bora Bodur: He gets easily confused. Whatever you do, don’t pay for the advanced course. It’s just the same as the basic course but he makes you run longer laps around the swamp.
Yoda: Luke, when gone am I, the last of the Jedi you will be.
Bora Bodur: (outraged) Hey, what about the rest of us!?!? We’re not dead yet!
Yoda: (to Luke) The Force runs strong in your family. Pass on what you have learned.
Bora Bodur: That shouldn’t take him too long.
Yoda: (his voice growing weak) There is another… Sky… walk… er…
Luke: (turning to Bora Bodur) Is he (pauses) dead?
[Yoda farts and his blanket billows at the edge.]
Bora Bodur: Not yet. But let him have his sleep.
Luke: So what do I do now? Although I flew thirty thousand light years to get here, I didn’t plan to stay over. I didn’t bring my overnight bag or my jim-jams or anything.
Bora Bodur: Just go for a wander in the swamp. The gas it gives off will probably cause you to hallucinate, and you’ll mistake it for a vision of a dead person telling you something useful. In fact, we’d better all go out. The gases in here are more noxious than the ones out there.
To be continued, at some time, and some place.