Sunday, September 20, 2020

Opinion: Palpatine's Rise And Failings Of The Jedi Order In The Prequels


Your overconfidence is your weakness…..your faith in your friends is yours.”

Emperor Palpatine was unbeatable and untouchable in Return of the Jedi when he engaged in his verbal spar with the son of the Chosen One, Luke Skywalker.

Sitting in his throne on the Death Star, which circled above Endor, Sheev Palpatine had not predicted being betrayed by his apprentice Darth Vader. 

However, he had let his guard down and the Empire’s leader was thrown down the shaft after almost electrocuting the “last of the Jedi” to death.

Luke was right to say that the “overconfidence” of Palpatine was his major weakness which cost him dearly in Episode VI.

But looking back on his rise to power, it is easy to see how he became so blinded to his ultimately fateful flaw.

Episode I and II

The Jedi’s phantom menace was Darth Sidious between Episode I and Episode III, including the Clone Wars.

Sidious is a cold, selfish, calculating and brutal villain who cared little for his subordinates, including the cowardly Trade Federation during the Naboo blockade or even his apprentices Maul and Count Dooku. 

His sole aim was to obtain absolute power and destroy the Jedi as his Empire rose.

The corruption which already existed within the Republic’s political system and the “narrow, dogmatic” view of the Jedi Council facilitated his goals in Episodes I and II.

In the Phantom Menace, Master Ki Adi Mundi said it was “impossible” that the Sith had returned after 1,000 years, believing the Jedi would have sensed it.

Palpatine himself says that the Senate is made up of “squabbling” delegates who are grounded in self-interest while power at the heart of the Republic was “bogged down in procedure."

A commission to “ascertain the truth” of the Naboo blockade was the final straw that broke the camel’s back for Chancellor Finis Valorum before he was pushed aside and Sidious took his place without any member of the Jedi Order realising.

The failings of the Jedi played a big part in Sidious’ ascension, as Luke himself says in the Last Jedi: “At the height of their powers, they allowed Darth Sidious to rise, create the Empire and wipe them out.

“It was a Jedi Master who was responsible for the training and creation of Darth Vader.”

Anakin became the “prized pupil” that Darth Sidious sought after for years after being elected as Chancellor, all the while being trained by Obi Wan Kenobi between Episode I and Episode II.

It was Palpatine’s biggest gambit after he was given emergency powers to create a Grand Army of the Republic to tackle the “increasing threat” of the Separatists.

The hidden enemy led the Senate but the public one was headed by Count Dooku, who we all know became Sidious’ apprentice after the loss of Maul.

Dooku admitted to the Padawan of his former Padawan, Qui Gonn, on Geonosis that hundreds of senators were under the influence of a Sith Lord called Darth Sidious. But Kenobi simply responded with: “I don’t believe you.”

It was the epitome of what was wrong with the Jedi and their naivety contributed to their downfall as they became distracted by the Clone Wars. 

Dooku’s revelation could have backfired on Sidious, who was lucky. 

There was clear distrust between Darth Tyranus and Sidious throughout the Clone Wars as Dooku attempted to enlist the help of Obi Wan to get rid of him. Had the Jedi listened, Sheev’s identity would have been unveiled.

Instead, Dooku travelled to the industrial works on Coruscant to deliver the Death Star plans to his master and the Clone Wars begins.

The early years of Sidious were very calculating, but also risky and interestingly enough Jango Fett’s revelation of Tyranus to Obi Wan on Kamino would be the start of the Jedi’s trail to Sidious.

The Clone Wars 

Orchestrating both sides of the Clone Wars saw many plates spin, similar to Jar Jar during a Toydarian dinner party in season three, but how difficult could it be? 

Palpatine made it look easy, but it is fair to say that the mystery of Darth Sidious started to unravel as the seasons progressed, particularly in season six, soon after he had killed Savage Opress on Mandalore and captured Maul as a play toy.

The Nightsisters, guided by Mother Talzin, were taken out as a threat to Sidious during the events of the Son of Dathomir comic, but the scent of his identity was caught by the Jedi during the pre-emptive Order 66 failings and the uncovering of the fate of Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas.

Clone trooper Fives discovered the conspiracy behind the Republic military force, realising a chip had been inserted into their minds to make them turn on their Jedi generals by the command of a sinister force, Sidious.

The early activation of Tup’s chip was a major concern for Palpatine, but the smooth politician was able to convince the Jedi that the clone trooper had been infected with a parasite and every military man would be inoculated for protection.

Jedi Master Windu and Yoda should have forensically scrutinised the Chancellor on this, but they chose not to do so. It cost them and saved Sidious.

Yoda’s journey with Qui Gon and the force spirits saw him travel to Dagobah and the SIth world, Moraband, but it all started with the search for Sifo-Dyas. 

It was the first time that the Jedi had truly begun to dig deeper into finding out how the clones came into being and put Sidious in one of his most vulnerable positions.

The Sith Lord’s anger was so fierce that he choked his own apprentice, Dooku, on Serenno for his "clumsiness" despite being light years away in the Chancellor’s office on Coruscant.

The Jedi uncovered that Tyranus was Dooku and that the Sith had ordered the manufacture of the clones, but did not investigate this avenue further.

It was a big let off for Sidious as the Sith Lord held back executing Order 66 until he had acquired the “prized pupil” of the hero of the Clone Wars, Anakin Skywalker.

Revenge of the Sith

After the death of Count Dooku, Anakin became Palpatine’s new apprentice, Obi Wan tells Padme outside her Coruscant apartment in Episode III.

That was Sidious’ intention after the Chosen One cut off the head of Count Dooku on Grievous' Separatist dreadnought when Palpatine was fake kidnapped.

It was his masterful seduction of Anakin throughout his childhood and as a Jedi Knight that led to the hero of the Clone Wars becoming the villain of the Empire.

However, the Jedi were on the case and discovered Sidious’ true identity after Anakin was told to spy on the Chancellor. This came as the council started to put the pieces together in ROTS. 

During the Siege of Mandalore, Obi Wan told Ahsoka, Bo Katan and Rex that the council believed that “Darth Sidious was the Sith Lord who orchestrated the Clone Wars and played both sides of it from the beginning”.

Ahead of the climactic duel on Mandalore, Maul said that Anakin Skywalker was the “key to everything” as the former Sith Lord believed that he would destroy the balance of the force but Ahsoka did not accept his vision of the future.

It is fair to say that Anakin was the key and when Mace Windu went to the office of the Chancellor to confront the true Sith Lord, the fate of the galaxy rested on the Chosen One’s shoulders.

Of course, Sidious had already revealed his true nature to Anakin, which meant that the Jedi were aware, but it was all part of a larger plot to turn Skywalker to the dark side.

For Sidious, who murdered three Jedi masters in cold blood within seconds, it was a high-risk move to allow himself to be at the mercy of Windu’s purple lightsaber when Anakin walked in. 

Following the duel with Windu, Palpatine bet that the boy, who he had groomed for years, would step in and save him.

This was based on the pretence that the Sith Lord could save Anakin’s wife, Padme, from “certain death” after Skywalker watched his own mother die in his arms on Tatooine. 

However, all the decades of destruction to the Republic and ascension to the seat of ultimate power in the Senate could have all fallen apart if Anakin had chosen a different path and let Windu kill Sidious.

It does not mean to say that the Republic would have survived. Heck, Palpatine says that without Order 66 there would likely be a galaxy-wide civil war “without end”.

But, Sidious’ gambit would have been shattered and centuries of Sith work would have fallen by the wayside with his death and his dream of becoming Emperor over.

Those fine margins made the difference to the fate of the galaxy in Episode III.


To conclude, Sidious won everything he sought after. He twisted Anakin Skywalker to the dark side to become his enforcer and puppet Darth Vader while carrying out near genocide of the Jedi Order and receiving “thunderous” support for his imperial vision.

However, there were moments where his “overconfidence” at luring the Tatooine boy over to the dark side - which included revealing his true identity to the Jedi council - could have cost him dearly.

The Sith code also played a factor in almost coming back to haunt him.

Maul came back from the dead to become a rival to the Republic on Mandalore with the allies of the Nightsisters and crime families.

Dooku told Obi Wan the truth about Sidious while recruiting Asajj Ventress and Savage Oppress as tools to take down the Chancellor.

In addition, Jedi council masters were on Sidious’ trail and aware of the existence of the dark lord and his true intentions with the Clone Wars during Revenge of the Sith.

Mace Windu even had Palpatine at his mercy and had Anakin not intervened, Sidious would have been destroyed.

Had Yoda, Ahsoka or Obi Wan been on Coruscant during these events things may have played out very differently. This did not happen though.

Instead, Sidious can rightly be lauded for being the ultimate mastermind who successfully orchestrated the Clone Wars and removed his rivals during the height of their power.

Emperor Palpatine maintained his phantom menace status until the shroud of the dark side suffocated the light of the Jedi. 

Follow The Star Wars Underworld on Twitter @TheSWU for more updates about this story and other breaking Star Wars news.


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