“Always two there are, no more, no less. A master and an apprentice.” – Master Yoda on the Sith
“The Sith killed each other, victims of their own greed.” – Darth Bane in “Sacrifices”
In Part 1 of this series, I began with a simple question: How is it possible for Yoda to know about the Sith Rule of Two when the Sith have been extinct for a millennia? In answering this question, I stuck with information found in The Phantom Menace and, in the process, ran into some pretty convoluted problems.
However, The Clone Wars episode “Sacrifices” provides more context about the Rule of Two. In it, Yoda travels to Moraband, ancient homeworld of the Sith, and encounters an illusion of the ancient Sith Lord, Darth Bane, the progenitor of the Rule. You can go re-watch the scene HERE. In Part 2, then, I used the information from the Yoda-Bane encounter to, again, address our initial question.
But in doing so, a new problem popped up.
It is a portion of this conversation between Yoda and Bane that left things in a bit of a kerfuffle when Darth Bane says “The Sith killed each other, victims of their own greed. But from the ashes of destruction, I was the last survivor.” Though this is what the ancient Sith states in the episode, the Darth Bane page in the Star Wars Databank says something different about the destruction of the Sith: “After the Sith were decimated by the Jedi Knights of a thousand years ago, Bane enacted the Sith rule of two…”
So, at the end of Part 2 I left readers with a choice about the way we could interpret what Bane says. On the one hand, we could take his statement as factually true, that the Sith literally killed each other, victims of their own selfish ways.
Or, on the other hand, we could interpret Bane’s statement as metaphor, and argue that he is using figurative language to describe the Sith destruction, which allows us to link what Bane says with the Databank.
After receiving a number of comments, it became pretty apparent that the majority of readers wanted me to play with BOTH approaches.
So, that is what I have done. I pushed forward with both approaches and what follows is where I ended up with each.
Metaphorical Approach to Bane’s Statement
Approaching Bane’s statement as a metaphor makes sense if we want to link what he says with the Databank. As a reminder, it states that the Jedi decimated the Sith 1,000 years ago [prior to the events of The Phantom Menace.]
When Bane says to Yoda that “The Sith killed each other, victims of their own greed” he is being figurative, implying that the Sith caused their own downfall because of their incessant in-fighting. Constantly at odds, the Sith were unable to put up a united front against the Jedi Order which was easily able to defeat the dis-unified Dark Lords.
Or, put in simpler terms, Bane is saying that the Sith had no one to blame but themselves for their defeat.
From the “ashes of destruction,” the sole survivor of the decimation, Darth Bane, changed the Sith forever. Understanding that the Sith had caused their own defeat, Bane instituted the Rule of Two. In doing so, he ensured the self-preservation of the Sith. No longer would there be thousands (or more) of Sith Lords vying for power with one another, but instead, only two would exist to vie with one another: Master and Apprentice.
Alright, so far so good…but there is something else we need to deal with: Yoda is speaking to Darth Bane in the dead Sith’s tomb. Plus, there is a giant statue of Bane standing behind the sarcophagus of the entombed Dark Lord. Where did this tomb and the statue come from, and how did Bane’s body come to be interred inside the tomb?
How about this: let’s say Bane’s tomb on Moraband was built PRIOR the Sith destruction. Certainly, as a Dark Lord, Bane would be allowed to have his final resting place constructed before he died, like the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt, along with a magnificent statue built to stand guard over his sarcophagus.
But that still does not account for how Bane’s body came to be interred in the sarcophagus…
Hold up, after killing Bane and taking the mantle of Dark Lord for him/herself, Bane’s Apprentice-turned-Master placed Bane’s body in its finally resting place on Moraband. It was the least s/he could do for the final survivor of the “old” Sith, the one who had changed the Sith forever going forward.
Totally makes sense! Darth Bane dead, body interred in his tombbbbb wait, the tomb is located on Moraband, the ancient homeworld of the Sith. And the Jedi decimated the Sith, believing them to be extinct. So for this to work, after the Sith “extinction,” the Jedi had to not only believe the Sith to be fully eradicated, but ALSO had to stop paying attention to Moraband altogether. They had to be so convinced the Sith would never again be a problem EVER AGAIN that they literally just left Moraband alone.
Question: Are you okay with the Jedi being THAT inept? The Sith were their mortal enemies and in the wake of the Sith defeat, the Jedi just ignore the Sith home world so completely that a Sith Lord is interred on the planet.
Okay, maybe the Jedi Order IS that inept. Perhaps the Jedi were so utterly convinced that they had exterminated the Sith threat once and for all that they didn’t believe they needed to lock-down Moraband. Something about that just doesn’t feel right, but I will just roll with it for now.
Hokay, Sith decimated, Bane enacts Rule, Bane killed by Apprentice, Apprentice-turned-Master inters Bane’s body on Moraband (Jedi not watching), and Yoda knows of the Rule of Two in Episode I, how?
Once again, we have run into the very same issue we started with. The Metaphorical Approach allows us to line up Bane’s statement with the Star Wars Databank, but it does not provide any help answering that damn question about Yoda knowing about the Rule of Two. All it does it lead right back to it, and in doing so, also returns us to the initial problems we ran into in Part 1.
Problems which, you will recall, launched us on this exploration into the tomb of Darth Bane. Basically, the Metaphorical Approach pushes us back to where we started in Part 1.
Factual Approach to Bane’s Statement
Alright, no more metaphor, no more figurative speech, just pure, unadulterated truth: when Bane says the Sith killed each other, he means that they literally annihilated themselves. That would make for one hell of a movie: lots of red lightsabers, Sith lightning, Force choking, black capes, scary masks, etc. And, at the end of the final Sith showdown, literally walking through the “ashes of destruction,” Darth Bane would emerge the victor. Epic!
Now, like in the Metaphorical Approach, seeing that the greed of the Sith caused their own demise, Bane took it upon himself to alter the philosophy of the Order. But instead of re-creating the Sith in the same way, which would ultimately result in the same outcome (the Sith constantly being at odds) there would only be two Dark Lords from now on: Master and Apprentice.
Basically, both approaches come to the same point from different angles: Darth Bane and the Rule of Two.
And what about Bane’s tomb on Moraband? Easy – same solution as before. His tomb on Moraband was built BEFORE the Sith extinction, and once he was killed, his Apprentice-turned-Master interred the body in the sarcophagus.
But at this point, we begin running into the same problems as before, starting with the ineptitude of the Jedi. Again, as I already noted in the Metaphorical Approach, how do we deal with the Jedi allowing a deceased Sith to be buried on Moraband? I am still not really sure how I feel about this, but like before, we will just go with it.
Okay, so, Sith destroy each other, Bane survives, Bane institutes Rule of Two, Apprentice kills Bane, Apprentice-turned-Master inters Bane in pre-built tomb on Moraband (Jedi not watching), and Yoda knows about the Rule of Two, how?
Just as before, the Factual Approach takes us right back to where we started. We can account for what Bane says, for his tomb, for his body being interred, but we have no way of neatly answering how Master Yoda knows about the philosophy Bane instituted.
And with that said, I have to bring out conversation to a screeching halt because there really isn’t much more to say…
…except for one thing: What if we just stop assuming that everything happened 1,000 years ago? As I noted in Part 2, we have been working under the assumption that Bane lived 1,000 years ago, but what happens if we move his life back in time further?
What I will present in the Final Part of this series is this alternate approach to the way we have been thinking, an approach that will provide an otherwise simple answer to the “How does Yoda know” question.
However, it also means we will have to change how we think about ancient history in the Star Wars universe and, for some fans, particularly those who really love the Expanded Universe, this shift may not sit well with them.
Part 4, THE FINALE, will be here soon.