Yoda originally wanted to train Leia, not Luke

As we continue to reflect on the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, I think there’s a cool little tidbit included in the book From a Certain Point of View, which was released in 2017 as a tribute to the anniversary of A New Hope.

Some of the (many) great moments in Empire come when Luke Skywalker is training with Yoda on Dagobah, but of course, the film makes it clear that Yoda was initially hesitant to train Luke. But it turns out that he was originally far more interested in training another: Luke’s twin sister, Leia Organa.

In the chapter “There is Another” in From a Certain Point of View, written by Gary D. Schmidt, we read of Yoda’s routine life on Dagobah during the events of A New Hope, feeling hopeless and like his time was almost done.

“Nearly nine hundred years, and still he wanted more time. Foolish, Yoda thought. But if he had more time, he would wish that he could have trained one more Padawan. If only he’d had the time to train her.”

The her in question there is, of course, the daughter of Anakin Skywalker. Yoda, thinking the end of his life was near, had come to regret that he never would have the opportunity to train her, thinking that she might have done something to bring her father back. But why the daughter rather than the son? Well, we read about Yoda’s thoughts:

“And there was the other Skywalker to watch over – impetuous, headstrong, unruly, inattentive. He needed Obi-Wan’s eye on him. Unlike the other, whose strength and will and clarity showed all the markings of a great Jedi.”

But Yoda assumed that he never would have the chance to train her, since he figured the end was near. But days later, after Obi-Wan Kenobi had become one with the Force aboard the Death Star, Kenobi appeared in Yoda’s hut as a Force ghost to talk with his old friend. And as Kenobi talked with Yoda, he made a request: to train another apprentice.

“Master, I want you to take on a new Padawan.” “You do, do you?” “I want you to train young Skywalker.” Yoda felt his heart thrill. He had not imagined it could have happened, but here it was. “Yes.” “You agree so quickly?” “Long have I wanted to train her.” “Master, I want you to train Luke.” Yoda looked at the shimmering face. “No,” he said. He stamped his cane on the floor. “That is not the one. Not ready is he.”

Ultimately, Yoda’s conclusion was this:

“The other Skywalker I would train. She is ready.”

But that was not the Skywalker Obi-Wan was asking him to train, and so Yoda soon agreed to Kenobi’s request, begrudgingly, telling Obi-Wan to send Luke to him. Of course, we know that wouldn’t happen for another three years when, finally, Obi-Wan appeared to Luke on Hoth and told him to go to Dagobah. Yoda’s prior thoughts about Luke were confirmed, but in the end Luke would prove Obi-Wan right and become a great Jedi. And while Yoda had thought that Anakin’s daughter might be able to bring him back, it turned out that it was actually Anakin’s son who did so.

That doesn’t mean Yoda gave up on Leia, though. As Luke rushes off to save his friends in Empire, Obi-Wan remarks that the boy is their last hope – to which Yoda responds, “No. There is another.” That other he spoke of was Luke’s sister, Leia. And The Rise of Skywalker revealed that Leia did undergo Jedi training in the year following Return of the Jedi, and had since heard the voice of Yoda occasionally through the Force.

So in the end, Yoda actually did get a chance to train Leia after all.

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