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What's the justification/in-universe explanation for this Darth Vader SE change?

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Special Edition defenders assemble!

“I have no doubt this boy is the offspring of Anakin Skywalker.”
“How is that possible?”
“Search your feelings Lord Vader, you will know it to be true.”

Yes, many Star Wars fans hate this line, but I cannot for the life of me wrap my head over these two things:

  1. What is the justification for such a bizarrely specific dialogue alteration? As we know the 2004 SE’s changes largely served the purpose of bridging continuity between the PT and the OT, (an endeavour done poorly and quite in bad taste in my and clearly countless others’ opinion) since the emperor has been altered to his ROTS appearance, you would think that a dialogue change between him and Darth Vader would reflect that film’s events, but does it?
    Palpatine tells Vader at the end of ROTS that he killed Padme, implying that her unborn child would have been killed as well, so if Luke’s birth was a truth that Palpatine had been concealing, why would he respond to Vader’s confusion about Luke’s existence by basically saying, “Well duh, how could you not have known?”
    Was Vader discovering the birth of his children part of his ridiculously convoluted plan that the prequels established?
    Before you say anything about Palpatine not actually knowing the twins were born at the end of ROTS, I know, I’m basing this argument on the assumption that in the SE, he learnt of Luke’s existence sometime before ESB.
    Which leads me to address another blinding issue with this dialogue change, why does Vader act like a a clueless idiot and why would they make his line create a direct plot-hole with the opening of the film?
    The opening crawl establishes that Vader is obsessed with finding young Skywalker, and in Vader’s first scene he refers to Luke BY NAME: “and I’m sure Skywalker is with them” so unless by the time ESB is set Darth Vader has forgotten that his name used to be Skywalker, him saying “how is that possible?” to Palpatine is one of the most bafflingly stupid changes you could make to the Vader/Luke storyline in ESB.
    (And don’t give me that shit that he was just playing dumb to hide his defiance of his master or whatever, because not only is that tonally confusing to Vader’s ESB character, but it is NOT evident that this is the case in the SE version of the film.

  2. What could possibly be the in-universe explanation for this confusing mess in the context of the ‘definitive SE canon’ or whatever Lucasfilm considers it? (I’m planning a topic on such an issue in the coming days buy the way)
    Looking back at the questions I raised in my first paragraph, how is all of this contradicting, vague retconning and flimsy loopholes explained in post film saga material and/or in-universe? (Not that it really would matter to anybody on this forum, but it’s probably worth discussing)

Bonus points if you’re a SE defender and have some convoluted argument IN FAVOUR of this SE change! 😦

George Lucas was the first Star Wars fan-editor.

My homeworld is Australia so be wary of timezones!

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Not a fan of the SEs or this change, but the usual reason given in favor of it is that Vader’s hiding information from Palpatine. He doesn’t want Palpatine to know that he already knows Luke is his son.

It raises a few more questions, though. Like, why would Palpatine care if Vader already heard about it? Or, why is the movie bringing this up when it’s never really relevant again? Plus, I don’t think that’s actually what Lucas had in mind when making the change.

But that explanation isn’t so horrible, and while I much prefer the original, it’s good enough for me. What bothers me more about the scene is Palpatine’s RotS makeup.

I wouldn’t call SE fans insane, though.

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SparkySywer said:

Not a fan of the SEs or this change, but the usual reason given in favor of it is that Vader’s hiding information from Palpatine. He doesn’t want Palpatine to know that he already knows Luke is his son.

It raises a few more questions, though. Like, why would Palpatine care if Vader already heard about it? Or, why is the movie bringing this up when it’s never really relevant again? Plus, I don’t think that’s actually what Lucas had in mind when making the change.

Yeah, agreed.

But that explanation isn’t so horrible, and while I much prefer the original, it’s good enough for me.

My biggest issue with adjusted the dialogue is that to first time viewers watching the SE edition, Vader’s line of “How is that possible?” is going to stick out immediately as an error or at very least be confusing after what the film sets up until that point. The explanation that many people give the change probably won’t be clear straight away. Not that it’s even very clear if you spend ages thinking about it. 😉

I wouldn’t call SE fans insane, though.

Noted, OP edited.

George Lucas was the first Star Wars fan-editor.

My homeworld is Australia so be wary of timezones!

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It is such an unnecessary change. The makeup for Palpatine doesn’t match Return of the Jedi either. Worse dialog as well. The son of Skywalker must not become a Jedi is better by Clive Revill.

If they had to make the change should have matched the Jedi makeup, used the original line reading and had Ian McDiarmid use the same inflection. Just so you know this is a 2004 change the original Emperor is in the 1997 version of the Special Edition. Just like Jason Wingreen is also Boba Fett not Temuera Morrison in the 97 edit of Empire.

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JadedSkywalker said:

If they had to make the change should have matched the Jedi makeup, used the original line reading and had Ian McDiarmid use the same inflection. Just so you know this is a 2004 change the original Emperor is in the 1997 version of the Special Edition. Just like Jason Wingreen is also Boba Fett not Temuera Morrison in the 97 edit of Empire.

IIRC they just pulled Ian aside one day on-set for RotS. That’s why the makeup doesn’t match.

What’s really depressing with the later releases of the OT is how little effort they put in after the 2000s.

Death of the Author

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SparkySywer said:

Not a fan of the SEs or this change, but the usual reason given in favor of it is that Vader’s hiding information from Palpatine. He doesn’t want Palpatine to know that he already knows Luke is his son.

It raises a few more questions, though. Like, why would Palpatine care if Vader already heard about it? Or, why is the movie bringing this up when it’s never really relevant again? Plus, I don’t think that’s actually what Lucas had in mind when making the change.

But that explanation isn’t so horrible, and while I much prefer the original, it’s good enough for me. What bothers me more about the scene is Palpatine’s RotS makeup.

I wouldn’t call SE fans insane, though.

That explanation doesn’t really fly for me, since it takes a spectacular amount of obtuseness for Vader to not at least suspect that the Force-sensitive teenager who blew up the Death Star named Skywalker is his kid. Acting dumb just makes him look like a buffoon in front of the Emperor. Besides, since Vader is openly calling this kid ‘Skywalker’ from the beginning in an obsessive hunt, there’s no reason that the Emperor wouldn’t know his reasons for searching. Hell, I’m sure the paperwork on the probe droid operation would have been labeled ‘The Search for Skywalker - Probable Child of the Famous Jedi of the Same Name’.

Also, the idea that Vader would have some ill-will towards Palpatine for calling Padme’s death a few hours early seems like a stretch. It’s technically true that Anakin and his anger killed her, even if the details aren’t exactly as it seemed in ROTS. The fact is that Padme eventually died at Anakin’s hand and a child exists, something that isn’t impossible so Vader’s astonishment, feigned or not, is silly.

You probably don’t recognize me because of the red arm.
Episode 9 Rewrite, The Starlight Project (Workprint V2 Released!) and ANH Technicolor Project (Released!)

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NeverarGreat said:

That explanation doesn’t really fly for me, since it takes a spectacular amount of obtuseness for Vader to not at least suspect that the Force-sensitive teenager who blew up the Death Star named Skywalker is his kid. Acting dumb just makes him look like a buffoon in front of the Emperor. Besides, since Vader is openly calling this kid ‘Skywalker’ from the beginning in an obsessive hunt, there’s no reason that the Emperor wouldn’t know his reasons for searching. Hell, I’m sure the paperwork on the probe droid operation would have been labeled ‘The Search for Skywalker - Probable Child of the Famous Jedi of the Same Name’.

Also, the idea that Vader would have some ill-will towards Palpatine for calling Padme’s death a few hours early seems like a stretch. It’s technically true that Anakin and his anger killed her, even if the details aren’t exactly as it seemed in ROTS. The fact is that Padme eventually died at Anakin’s hand and a child exists, something that isn’t impossible so Vader’s astonishment, feigned or not, is silly.

Well said NeverarGreat, you worded the issue and highlighted the cause for confusion a lot better than I did. 😃

George Lucas was the first Star Wars fan-editor.

My homeworld is Australia so be wary of timezones!

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NeverarGreat said:

SparkySywer said:

Not a fan of the SEs or this change, but the usual reason given in favor of it is that Vader’s hiding information from Palpatine. He doesn’t want Palpatine to know that he already knows Luke is his son.

It raises a few more questions, though. Like, why would Palpatine care if Vader already heard about it? Or, why is the movie bringing this up when it’s never really relevant again? Plus, I don’t think that’s actually what Lucas had in mind when making the change.

But that explanation isn’t so horrible, and while I much prefer the original, it’s good enough for me. What bothers me more about the scene is Palpatine’s RotS makeup.

I wouldn’t call SE fans insane, though.

That explanation doesn’t really fly for me, since it takes a spectacular amount of obtuseness for Vader to not at least suspect that the Force-sensitive teenager who blew up the Death Star named Skywalker is his kid. Acting dumb just makes him look like a buffoon in front of the Emperor. Besides, since Vader is openly calling this kid ‘Skywalker’ from the beginning in an obsessive hunt, there’s no reason that the Emperor wouldn’t know his reasons for searching. Hell, I’m sure the paperwork on the probe droid operation would have been labeled ‘The Search for Skywalker - Probable Child of the Famous Jedi of the Same Name’.

Also, the idea that Vader would have some ill-will towards Palpatine for calling Padme’s death a few hours early seems like a stretch. It’s technically true that Anakin and his anger killed her, even if the details aren’t exactly as it seemed in ROTS. The fact is that Padme eventually died at Anakin’s hand and a child exists, something that isn’t impossible so Vader’s astonishment, feigned or not, is silly.

Yeah, I absolutely agree with everything here, plus these reasons probably weren’t even in mind while making the change. He probably thought “Wait, I made Anakin think Padme was dead in RotS” and made the change without putting any thought into the context whatsoever.

As far as ad hoc explanations go, though, I’ve seen far worse.

Death of the Author

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If that dialogue meddling hadn’t happened this SE change of replacing Clive Revill with Ian McDiarmid would actually appeal to the vast majority of people. Even - dare I say it - hardliners like us. A great example of how so much in the SEs is self-sabotaging.

“That Darth Vader, man. Sure does love eating Jedi.”

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It’s funny, I never thought about this change as Darth Vader learning about Luke, and it’s the first time I hear the theory about him hiding what he knows to the Emperor. I always took it as Vader and Palpatine discussing the issue for the first time, like they haven’t talked in a while and Vader is like “so I learned about this Skywalker kid, is he really my son? How is that possible?”, asking for confirmation to the Emperor. I don’t know if I’m clear.

I’m no SE defender, I don’t like this change either. But I always took the dialogue this way, it’s only on the Internet when I saw people complaining about this change that I realized maybe the intent was for Vader to learn Luke’s identity in this scene.

As for the explanation of why this change was made, I think SparkySywer is right, Lucas wanted to adress the fact that Vader is supposed to believe his kid is dead in ROTS. Or he just wanted to add some pointless foreshadowing to the “I am your father” reveal with the “search your feelings” line.

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That is one of the most ridiculous. If you watch the original cut, it is clear that Vader knows who Luke is. That is never in question. Anakin knew that Padme was pregnant so knowing her baby survived should not come as a complete surprise. And it would be easy to make the connection of Luke Skywalker (A name any good spy could have ferreted out) from Tatooine (and again, a good spy could ferret out he was raised by Owen and Beru Lars outside Anchorhead). So it would be easy to put the pieces together. Vader seems to have all those pieces in TESB and in the original cut he plays dumb to Palpatine and just suggest turning Luke. The altered dialog in the SE serves no point except to point out how little Lucas has paid attention to his own films and their continuity over the years. The addition of these lines was not needed and really makes no sense as we already know that Vader knows he is after Skywalker so that bit which seems to be intended to convey to the audience that Palapatine is revealing that Padme’s child survived, but earlier in the movie we already heard him talk about Skywalker and we know he knows what that name means. So it is a really stupid change.

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I assume that Vader was playing dumb because he was plotting against Palpatine. In any case I always thought the scene was weird to begin with. Why are they referring to Luke as “the son of Skywalkwer” as if Anakin and Vader are two different people? I get that, symbolically, Anakin has “died” but this strikes me as an incredibly strange thing to say in an ordinary conversation.