The folks at Lucasfilm have finally, 40 years after the release of Return of the Jedi revealed how Yoda was able to remain hidden from Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine during the rise of the Empire. According to ScreenRant, the book From a Certain Point of View: Return of the Jedi contains a story by Akemi Dawn Bowman, “The Light That Falls” which finally explains once and for all how the most powerful force user in Star Wars was able to mask himself from the Sith.
A short story in the new collection From a Certain Point of View: Return of the Jedi explains how Yoda was able to keep off the Empire’s radar.
According to the story, the cave that Yoda encourages Luke to enter in Empire Strikes Back, where he is shown his own face under Darth Vader’s mask, contains enough dark side energy to counteract Yoda’s light side energy.
Basically, Yoda was able to balance his presence with the dark side residue that existed in the cave, creating a neutral force signature that wouldn’t set off any red flags should Palpatine, Vader, or one of the inquisitors make a real effort to scan Dagobah’s chunk of the galaxy for force sensitives.
The explanation for Yoda’s ability to remain off Palpatine’s radar for so long is an example of something that was never contradicted by the higher-ups at Lucasfilm and was thus accepted as the official explanation.
It’s a cool explanation that makes sense—a positive and a negative canceling each other out—and helps to explain just why Yoda chose Dagobah as his home base while he was in exile. If we’re being honest, however, it was just as cool over 30 years ago when Timothy Zahn first came up with the concept in the novel Star Wars: Heir to the Empire.
This new “revelation” is just the most recent example of Disney deciding to cannibalize the old Expanded Universe—or Legends as it’s now known—for Star Wars lore and making it canon.
While Star Wars canon was a lot more convoluted before Disney took over, it was largely accepted that most of the story aspects created for the Star Wars novels were canon unless directly contradicted by George Lucas. The explanation for Yoda’s ability to remain off Palpatine’s radar for so long is an example of something that was never contradicted by the higher-ups at Lucasfilm and was thus accepted as the official explanation.
The truth is, many older fans have to sit by and watch movies like Rogue One rewrite a history they had already grown up memorizing…
Past examples of a post-Disney Lucasfilm re-canonizing Legends concepts include bringing Grand Admiral Thrawn back, the inclusion of E-Wings in episode 2 of Ahsoka, and, well, pretty much everything in Solo. It wouldn’t feel like such a slap in the face to old-school Star Wars fans if sites like ScreenRant didn’t act as if this Yoda revelation was the first time the issue was addressed in media outside of the main films.
Now, if Disney wants to go ahead and finally provide an explanation for why Obi-Wan Kenobi only changes his first name when he goes into hiding on Tattooine, that would be a different story.
The truth is, many older fans have to sit by and watch movies like Rogue One rewrite a history they had already grown up memorizing while sitting around like a dog under the dinner table waiting for Disney to drop them a few scraps—like naming Hera’s son Jacen after Han and Leia’s son Jacen from Legends—from Star Wars past.
It was one thing for Disney to decide to make everything but the films non-canon when they purchased Lucasfilm—it hurt, but fans could just pretend it’s a different timeline like Trekkies did with the J.J. Abrams Star Trek films—but it sends a very mixed message to fans when they just reinstate old Star Wars concepts into the current canon and pass them off as new ideas.
So now we know how Yoda hid himself from the Empire. But the truth is we’ve always known.