Anakin Skywalker

4-A7: The Caretaker Protocol Droid

It has been a while since I added a new post to my Protocol Droid series so I thought I would return to it once again. For this piece I decided to highlight another droid from The Clone Wars movie, in large part because the film is often overshadowed by the The Clone Wars animated series. Personally, I have always really liked the film, even believing (rightly, in my humble opinion) that it should be listed/ranked with the other Star Wars films. Just because it is animated does not make it any less of a Star Wars movie, but I will save that conversation for another occasion.

Previously, I brought attention to TC-70, Jabba the Hutt’s protocol droid which plays a small role as a translator in The Clone Wars movie. This time, I wanted to go from the TC-series to an RA-7 series protocol droid that also plays a minor but significant role in the film.

Masquerading as the caretaker protocol droid in the B’omarr Monastery on the planet Teth, 4-A7 is actually a spy working for the Separatist Alliance. When Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker and his padawan Ahsoka Tano, along with the clone troopers of Torrent Company, defeat the battle droids garrisoned in the monastery 4-A7 greets them with a grateful attitude. “You have liberated me from those dreadful battle bots,” 4-A7 humbly states, deflecting any suspicions that may be raised. With the Jedi inquiring about the location of Jabba the Hutt’s infant son Rotta, 4-A7 points them towards the “detention level” where the child is being held captive by the Separatist droids.

Unbeknownst to Skywalker or Tano, rescuing the child is precisely what the Separatist’s want. With Rotta in the possession of the Jedi, 4-A7 performs his true task: recording the Jedi with the Huttlet so Count Dooku can show Jabba that it was the Jedi Order who kidnapped his son. His act as caretaker completed, 4-A7 plays one final and small part in the film a short time later.

With the Separatists launching an assault on the Monastery, this time to liberate Rotta from the Jedi and the clones, Skywalker and Tano flee with the Hutt to a landing pad on a nearby plateau. There, it is Ahsoka who discovers 4-A7 as she heads towards the nearby ship. “Hey, you’re that caretaker droid, I wondered what happened to you,” she states, the droid clearly caught off-guard by her presence. As the masculine-sounding 4-A7 explains “his” desire to get away from the fight, a few battle droids walk into view and tell the “caretaker” that they are ready to leave. “His” cover blown, 4-A7 orders the battle droids to attack but Ahsoka is up to the challenge, dispatching them with ease. “Don’t you dare,” 4-A7 indignantly declares as the young Jedi turns her green blade towards the droid. But Ahsoka is not swayed. With a swipe of her lightsaber, the disembodied head of 4-A7 bounces and rolls down the ramp of the ship, the phrase “don’t you dare” slowly fading away as the caretaker’s system shuts down.


Check out these other posts about random protocol droids in Star Wars:

U-3PO: The Other Protocol Droid

K-3PO: The Dead Protocol Droid

E-3PO: The Rude Protocol Droid

TC-14: The Federation Protocol Droid

TC-70: The Hutt’s Protocol Droid

R-3PO: The Red Protocol Droid

AP-5: The Singing Protocol Droid

4A-R2: The Pirate Protocol Droid

4-LOM: The Bounty Hunting Protocol Droid

TC-326: The Military Protocol Droid

TC-326: The Military Protocol Droid

Making its only appearance in “Brain Invaders,” a Season Two episode of The Clone Wars, TC-326 is the military protocol droid which assists Anakin Skywalker when the Jedi interrogates the Geonosian Archduke Poggle the Lesser. Demanding to know how to stop an infestation of parasitic brain worms on-board his Padawan’s starship, Anakin relies on the TC-series protocol droid with masculine programing to translate what Poggle says. His attempt at a mind probe of the Archduke failing, Anakin then turns to violence and torture, Force choking the Geonosian while TC-326 stands in the corner.

TC-326

TC-326
Photo Credit – The Clone Wars Season 2, Episode 8: “Brain Invaders”

Truthfully, there is not a great deal more to say about TC-326 beyond just a handful of points. The protocol droid never shows up in another episode of The Clone Wars so far as I can tell, and even in “Brain Invaders” it only appears in the scene described above and, briefly, in an earlier scene at the beginning of the episode. What I can offer, though, is a question I have often wondered regarding the protocol droids involvement in the interrogation of Poggle: did Anakin wipe TC-326’s memory?

Moments after Anakin tortures the Archduke, we see him explain to the other Jedi present on the Venator-class Star Destroyer that he was able to extract the information from Poggle they needed. Surprised, the gathered Jedi Masters – Luminara Unduli, Ki-Adi Mundi, and Obi-Wan Kenobi – question how he was able to do this, wanting to know how he was able to get Poggle to cooperate. Unsurprisingly, Anakin ignores their questions, instead declaring that “there wasn’t time to get the rest of you” and “all that matters is he [Poggle] told me how to stop the worms.”

While this exchange is brief, with Anakin otherwise blowing off their inquiries, there is also an obvious concern among the Jedi Masters, particularly Unduli and Mundi. They know something is amiss and one can easily presume their concern was heightened by Anakin’s dismissive tone. This, then, is why I have oftened wondered whether Skywalker wiped TC-326’s memory, to ensure that the protocol droid could not be interrogated by the other Jedi about the technique(s) he used to extract information from Poggle.

This is not to suggest an answer needs to be provided regarding the memory wipe, or whether the Jedi Master’s ever investigated the matter. Some things are better left to the imagination, not needing any type of “official” explanation. For my part, I like to imagine that Anakin did not wipe TC-326’s memory. Instead, so caught up in trying to save Ahsoka Tano, his Padawan, as she fought the brain worms lightyears away, the Jedi Knight simply forgot. In turn, I also like to imagine that Unduli and Mundi did investigate, wanting to know precisely how Anakin convinced Poggle to assist them. And since TC-326 was the only witness available to them, I like to imagine TC-326 describing Skywalker’s dark actions with an emotional less, matter-of-fact tone as the two Jedi Masters listen in silent horror.

What happened after that? Well, I will leave that to your imagination.


Check out these other posts about random protocol droids in Star Wars:

U-3PO: The Other Protocol Droid

K-3PO: The Dead Protocol Droid

E-3PO: The Rude Protocol Droid

TC-14: The Federation Protocol Droid

TC-70: The Hutt’s Protocol Droid

R-3PO: The Red Protocol Droid

AP-5: The Singing Protocol Droid

4A-R2: The Pirate Protocol Droid

4-LOM: The Bounty Hunting Protocol Droid

4-A7: The Caretaker Protocol Droid

Padmé’s Pregnancy: A Private Matter

Recently, I came across an article on SyFyWire with a title that caught my attention – Star Wars: The Clone Wars Explains Why Padmé’s Pregnancy Wasn’t a Galactic Scandal. In the article, author Bryan Young goes about answering a rather straight-forward question: “When you watch Revenge of the Sith, does anyone else find it curious that no one around Padmé Amidala…seemed to wonder who fathered her child?” Admittedly, this is not a question I have never thought about, in part because I have always figured people around Padmé were just minding their own business, but also because Padmé interacts with so few people in Revenge of the Sith. Why would I be curious about this when her contact with others is so limited? Regardless, I decided to give Young the benefit of the doubt and see what he had to say on the topic. 

Immediately after presenting his question Young lands on his thesis, identifying what he believes to be “the only solution.” His solution is this: “everyone assumed Rush Clovis was the father.” Acknowledging that the Senator from Scipio who was first introduced in The Clone Wars episode “Senate Spy” is not a “household name,” Young provides a little bit of context on Clovis before launching into the meat of his solution.

Clovis and Padme
Amidala and Clovis reconnect over dinner.
Photo Credit – The Clone Wars Season 2, Episode 4, “Senate Spy”

For the sake of brevity, I won’t spend a lot of time reinventing the wheel. You can and should read Young’s piece to see why he identifies Rush Clovis as the assumed father, taking into consideration the evidence he puts forth. For my part, I will offer the cliff notes version:

Since Rush Clovis and Padmé used to have a relationship, long before she was secretly married to Anakin Skywalker, people assumed that he was the father because she rekindled her romance with Clovis, on the planet Scipio, around the time she became pregnant. Translation: Amidala rekindled things with her “old flame” and hooked up. Since Clovis also died on Scipio on this same trip, Padmé could lean into the rumors that Clovis was the father, allowing people to believe it and, therefore, deflect attention from her and Anakin. Except, no one talked openly about it out of respect for Padmé who was, undoubtedly, upset over Clovis’ passing. 

Again, you should check out what Young writes to gain a fuller picture but I think I capture the gist of his argument. One can certainly imagine people in the Star Wars universe making assumptions Rush Clovis was the father of Padmé’s child since, long before, the two had been an item AND they had been together around the time she would have become pregnant. Or, as Young puts it, “the timeline matches up pretty well, and their prior relationship was common knowledge.” He is correct, the timeline does match up reasonably well, and Young likewise makes a strong case for when the conception probably happened (when Anakin and Padmé travel to Batuu in the novel Thrawn: Alliances). Yet, while the timeline fits, the suggestion that “their prior relationship was common knowledge” does not. On this point, Young overlooks an important fact about the “prior relationship” which we learn in the novel Queen’s Shadow, an omission I found rather odd considering the research he admits putting into the article.

The Relationship: Amidala and Clovis

As Young explains it, in The Clone Wars episode “Senate Spy” Clovis is revealed as “an old flame of Padme’s” with Anakin being “shocked to learn that Padmé and Clovis had been in a relationship together before their marriage.” However, the episode does not offer any of the juicy details about their past relationship, only cryptically referring to the two as “close.” Instead, things are intentionally left to the imagination, allowing the audience and, more importantly, Anakin to fill in the gaps. The novel Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston DOES fill in those gaps, though, offering a rather clear portrait of the “prior relationship” first described in “Senate Spy.” And what do we learn it Queen’s Shadow? Namely, they didn’t actually have a romantic relationship.

Queen's Shadow
If you enjoy stories about Padmé and her handmaidens, then you should definitely read Queen’s Shadow.
Photo Credit – Disney Lucasfilm Press

I do not want to spoil Queen’s Shadow for those who have not read it, but I will say this: when Senator Clovis abruptly kisses Senator Amidala, she is not happy. Actually, she is furious, like really furious. Telling him “No” three times, Amidala forcefully reminds Clovis that they are colleagues and nothing more. While “Senate Spy” rightly suggests that they were close, a fact even the Jedi Council is aware of when asking Padmé to spy on Senator Clovis, Queen’s Shadow otherwise shatters the notion that Clovis was an “old flame.”

The suggestion, then, that people would “assume” Amidala and Clovis rekindled their past relationship years later, resulting in a pregnancy, just doesn’t hold up. Unless, that is, we are to ignore Padmé’s emphatic rejection of Senator Clovis in Queen’s Shadow, stripping away the strength she displays when Clovis makes his unwelcome move. For my part, I am unwilling to do that and believe it would be a disservice to Padmé Amidala. Instead, I find it necessary and important to lean into her actions and the conviction that she did not view or interpret their “closeness” as romantic. Their relationship was that of two colleagues who were also friends. If Padmé did not view this close partnership as romantic then I am not willing to pretend that everyone around her – Senators and Jedi alike – viewed it as romantic.

Furthermore, while Queen’s Shadow eliminates the notion that the two were rekindling an “old flame,” it is important to note that when Senator Amidala travels to Scipio years later, her disdain for Clovis is palpable precisely because of his actions in “Senate Spy.” While using her past “close” relationship with Clovis in “Senate Spy” to uncover his dealings with the Separatist Alliance – he is helping to fund a new droid factory on Geonosis – Padme is poisoned. Almost dying because of Clovis’ actions, and disgusted by his work with the Separatists, it is hard to imagine she had kind words to say about Rush Clovis in the intervening years given her reaction to him when she arrives on Scipio in the Season Five episode of The Clone Wars: “An Old Friend.”

Based on the available evidence I simply find it hard to believe or even imagine a scenario in which people assumed Rush Clovis was the father. In fact, I find it far more likely that when Padmé openly revealed her pregnancy people did not assume Clovis was the father. And, if any did, it would have been only a handful at best.

If this is the case, and we are to move past the notion that “everyone assumed Rush Clovis was the father,” then how can we solve the question which Young presents? How do we account for the lack of curiosity in Revenge of the Sith, the disinterest in her pregnancy? Well, I have a another possible solution, one that is rooted in the customs of Naboo.

A Private Matter

Death on Naboo
The Last of the Jedi: Death on Naboo offers some fascinating insight into the culture of Naboo.
Photo Credit – Scholastic

The basis for my solution comes from Star Wars: The Last of the Jedi: Death on Naboo by author Jude Watson. I will withhold all of the plot details, but in this 2006 middle-grade reader one discovers a number of things about customs of Naboo, with very specific information being shared regarding customs governing pregnancy and paternity. Seeking information about Padmé following her death, the Inquisitor in the novel, Malorum, is stymied time and again, running up against customs and the people of Naboo who are holding firm to those customs. At one point, as he is digging into the mystery of who fathered Padmé’s child, he discovers that “Naboo customs precluded any questions about the possible father of her [Padmé’s] child.” In turn, this custom is reinforced in his conversation with Padmé’s maternal grandmother, Ryoo Thule. Tracking her down, Malorum presses Ryoo to reveal what she knows about the identity of the father of Padmé’s dead child. To this, Ryoo responds, “Padmé did not share with us the father’s name…We didn’t ask. Such things are private matters on Naboo.” Even if she was curious about the child’s father, perhaps even having thoughts about who it might be, Ryoo Thule did not press her granddaughter on the matter, instead opting to respect a well-known custom among the Naboo which safeguards the privacy of expecting mothers.

As I said at the beginning of this post, one reason I had never considered the question which Young presents is because, in part, I have always figured people around Padme were just minding their own business. Essentially, “minding your own business” is what this custom from Naboo is all about as it ensures that the women of Naboo can have a baby without being harassed for information, even from their own family. If a woman chooses to share any details about the pregnancy with others, that is their right. And if a woman chooses not to share anything, they are shown respect and the matter is left alone. 

While this custom was introduced in a 2006 Expanded Universe novel, I see no reason it should not continue to be part of the fabric of Naboo’s society in the Disney canon. With this being the case, we can easily use this custom to account for the lack of interest in the father of Padmé’s child. My solution is simple:

As a Senator from a planet where it is customary to respect fatherhood as a private matter, it is reasonable to presume that some, if not many, of the individuals she knew and worked with – other Senators, Jedi, business leaders, etc. – would have been aware of this custom and acted accordingly. They would neither inquire about the father nor would they discuss the matter behind Padmé’s back as a further sign of cultural respect. And, for those who were not aware of the custom, well, this is precisely why protocol droids are abundant in Star Wars. These droids exist to bridge the cultural divide between species and planets, ensuring that one will engage with members of an unfamiliar society or species by using the appropriate etiquette to ensure cordial relations. It is relatively easy, at least for me, to imagine a protocol droid reminding its master, before meeting with the pregnant Senator from Naboo, that it would be considered rude to inquire about the pregnancy.

Anakin is the father (2)
We can re-interpret this question as Obi-Wan intentionally breaking the custom due to the gravity of the moment.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

None of this is to suggest, though, that people did not personally wonder who the father may have been. Surely, it crossed many minds, just as it crossed Ryoo Thule’s mind. Nothing about the custom removes this possibility, it cannot govern one’s personal thoughts. But it does account for the lack of open curiosity regarding the father of Padmé’s child and for our sake, that is the only thing that matters.

A Final Thought

While I may not agree with Bryan Young that “everyone assumed Rush Clovis was the father,” I am also not naïve enough to suggest my solution is the only one that works. Other solutions to this question can and do exist. For example, a case could be made that no one discussed the pregnancy because Padmé hid the pregnancy with the assistance of her loyal handmaidens. It could also be argued that the father of her child was an open secret, and rather than assuming the father was Rush Clovis, everyone assumed it was Anakin Skywalker. 

These are only a couple of other possibilities I have considered, but I do not mention them with the intentions of starting down another pathway. Instead, I do so only to suggest that, in the end, you needn’t agree with me. Other solutions are possible and, if you have one, I welcome the chance to hear it. 

For now, in my own head canon, I will continue to believe that the individuals with whom Padmé Amidala was interacting were not pressing her on the issue of paternity precisely because they were respecting a well-known custom among the Naboo, a custom which protected pregnancy as a private matter. 

4A-R2: The Pirate Protocol Droid

Given the ubiquity of droids in the Star Wars universe it should come as no surprise that some of these robots would be members of notable pirate gangs. An RA-7 series protocol droid with distinct green and white plating, 4A-R2 has the esteemed distinction of belonging to the infamous Ohnaka Gang.

Led by the fan-favorite Hondo Ohnaka, the Ohnaka Gang was first introduced along with its namesake Captain in the The Clone Wars Season 1, Episode 11: “Dooku Captured.” When we first meet Ohnaka and his predominately Weequay crew they are rummaging through the wreckage of two ships on the planet Vanqor. Count Dooku, having slipped past his Jedi pursuers, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, happens upon the pirates as they plunder his crashed solar sailer and the shuttle which the Jedi had piloted. Seeing Count Dooku approaching, Hondo is surrounded by a handful of Weequay pirates. But look even more closely and you will notice that a droid is also present when Hondo and Dooku begin speaking (see featured image).

Admittedly, it was a number of years after “Dooku Captured” originally aired that I even noticed this pirate protocol droid, 4A-R2, standing with the group. Intrigued, I scoured the remainder of the episode for signs of this green and white plated droid but could not find it hiding in the background of anymore scenes. Nor, to my knowledge, does 4A-R2 appear in the next episode, “The Gungan General,” which continues the story of Ohnaka’s gang at their base of operations on the planet Floruum.

Ohnaka with his Gang
4A-R2: pirate protocol droid and dog walker. Photo Credit – The Clone Wars Season 2, Episode 22: “Lethal Trackdown”

In fact, it is not until the final episode in the second season of The Clone Wars, “Lethal Trackdown,” that this protocol droid appears again and, so far as I can tell, for the final time. Late in the episode, Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano runs by Hondo and a handful of his gang as she chases the bounty hunter Aurra Sing. As Ahsoka passes the group, one of the Weequay pirates raises a rifle to shoot at her but Hondo intervenes, forcing the weapon to be lowered. With this action being the focus of the scene it is easy to miss 4A-R2 standing on the edge of the group. Look closely, though, and you may notice that the protocol droid is also passively active in the scene, holding the leash that is attached to one of Ohnaka’s pet massifs.

And yeah, that is it. 4A-R2 appears in The Clone Wars on two separate and equally brief occasions. Is it possible that this pirate protocol droid is hidden somewhere else in the The Clone Wars and I just haven’t found it? Perhaps. I suppose I will just have to keep re-watching episodes of the show Hondo and his gang to see if 4A-R2 is up to some really important pirate stuff like pillaging and/or dog walking.


Check out these other posts about random protocol droids in Star Wars:

U-3PO: The Other Protocol Droid

K-3PO: The Dead Protocol Droid

E-3PO: The Rude Protocol Droid

TC-14: The Federation Protocol Droid

TC-70: The Hutt’s Protocol Droid

R-3PO: The Red Protocol Droid

AP-5: The Singing Protocol Droid

4-LOM: The Bounty Hunting Protocol Droid

Fiction’s Fearless Females: Queen Amidala

Standing behind the doors leading into the royal hanger, the Queen of Naboo, surrounded by her loyal handmaidens and advisers, must make a choice. One path will keep the teenage monarch on Naboo, with her people, risking capture and death at the hands of the invading Trade Federation. The alternative path will take her off-world, traveling with the two Jedi escorting her, running the Trade Federation blockade above her world in the hopes of reaching Coruscant, the capital of the Republic, to plead for help directly to the Senate.

“Either choice presents great danger, to us all,” the Queen says as she turns her head and looks at the handmaiden standing next to her.

“We are brave, your Highness,” the handmaiden responds, calmly speaking for herself and the other handmaidens.

To be brave is to be fearless, to stand firm and unflinching when confronting danger. Either path the Queen takes includes the risk of death, to herself and her retinue, but these handmaidens will face the risk with fearless poise standing side-by-side with their monarch.

But there is something else at play here, another layer hidden in the dialogue between a Queen and her assistant. In this scene from The Phantom Menace, the Queen we see is not the real Queen. No, she is actually a handmaiden, a loyal bodyguard charged with protecting the Queen by serving as a decoy dressed in royal attire. And the real Queen, Padmé Amidala, she is the handmaiden who has spoken.

This truth will not be revealed until later in the film when standing before the Gungan Boss Nass this handmaiden, Padmé, will confidently step forward, risking her own safety, and declare that she is Queen Amidala. Even though this revelation takes place late in the movie the gravity of the revelation reverberates through the entire film. It is possible then to add an interpretation to the statement “We are brave” by considering that Padmé, as Queen-in-disguise, is using the royal “We” when she speaks. And by viewing the term through this lens one can easily believe that Padmé Amidala is not only affirming the bravery of the handmaidens, but she is subtly but confidently affirming, as the true sovereign of the Naboo, that she is fearless.

Amidala's Reveal
Stepping forward, Padmé reveals that she is Queen Amidala.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Again and again we see Amidala model her bravery, in word and deed, simultaneously as handmaiden/Queen throughout The Phantom Menace. This is obvious when she reveals her identity to Boss Nass. Begging for help as she gets down on her knees – an act of pragmatic and diplomatic submission – Queen Amidala places herself and her party at the grace the Gungans. It pays off as her act of fearless humility convinces Boss Nass that Gungans and the Naboo can be friends and allies.

The Queen’s courage is also obvious when she and her retinue travel to the planet Tatooine.

Their vessel damaged as it ran the Trade Federation blockade surrounding Naboo, the two Jedi accompanying the royal entourage must identify a location that is free from Federation control to perform repairs. Jedi Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi chooses a locale: the desert planet Tatooine. The head of the Queen’s guard, Captain Panaka, inquires how the Jedi know their Federation enemy is not present on the world to which Qui-Gon Jinn answers, “It’s controlled by the Hutts.” “You can’t take her royal Highness there! The Hutts are gangsters,” Panaka declares, immediately raising his concerns. Never-the-less, Tatooine, a lawless world on the fringe of the galaxy, remains their destination.

Upon landing in the desert Qui-Gon Jinn, accompanied by the astromech droid R2-D2 and the Gungan Jar Jar Binks, will head towards Mos Espa to seek out the parts they need to repair the damaged vessel. But as they head off Captain Panaka will stop them. With him is the handmaiden Padmé who remains silent as Qui-Gon and Panaka speak:

“Her Highness commands you to take her handmaiden with you,” the Captain explains.

“No more commands from her Highness today, Captain,” Qui-Gon responds, “the spaceport is not going to be pleasant.”

“The Queen wishes it. She is curious about the planet,” Panaka retorts.

“This is not a good idea,” Qui-Gon warns. “Stay close to me,” he tells the handmaiden as the group continues towards Mos Espa.

Padme joins the Group
The “handmaiden” remains silent while Captain Panaka and Qui-Gon Jinn discuss whether she should join the group.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

The exchange may not seem like much but it serves a clear purpose: to account for Padmé being part of the group heading into Mos Espa. Fair enough, but narratively this should not be necessary. If the handmaiden was part of the group to begin with we would think nothing of it. She would just be someone else who is seeking the parts for the damaged hyperdrive. So why bother briefly pausing the plot to account for the handmaiden tagging along with the party? Because Padmé is no ordinary handmaiden. Armed with the knowledge that “her Highness” IS the handmaiden, this exchange is no longer a narrative curiosity but a narrative necessity, a way of demonstrating, and reinforcing, that behind the veil of “handmaiden” resides a formidable monarch who is exercising her power and displaying her strengths.

Captain Panaka, as noted, expressed his reservation to the Jedi about taking “her royal Highness” to Hutt-controlled Tatooine. While we do not see it, we can presume he shared these reservations with the Queen herself. But now, in a surprising twist, the Captain has escorted the Queen, dressed as a commoner, into the hot desert to join the repair party. Why does he do this? Because “Her Highness” has issued a “command.” She has used her authority and given an order which the Captain is duty-bound to follow.

The command she has given – for a handmaiden to join the party – is a clever trick on the part of Amidala, a way to insert herself while maintaining anonymity. This does not come without risk. Captain Panaka is not wrong that Tatooine, being controlled by galactic gangsters, is a dangerous world. Qui-Gon Jinn acknowledges this as well, admitting that “the spaceport is not going be pleasant.” The Queen does not flinch. Instead, she is putting words into action, showing “We are brave” by placing herself in an unpredictable and potentially precarious situation.

Granted, this decision does seem ill-advised. Being fearless is laudable, but it is difficult to justify being reckless. “This is not a good idea,” Qui-Gon explains, a clear indication that he does not want anyone else to be put in danger, even a young handmaiden (although, for the record, I believe he knows Padmé is the Queen but that is a conversation for another time). Were something to happen to Amidala in Mos Espa – a run in with the Hutts, for example – the consequences could imperil not only her safety but the safety of the planet Naboo. So how can one justify her decision to join?

For starters, we can think about why she is joining the group. As Captain Panaka explains, the Queen “wishes” for the handmaiden to go with Qui-Gon Jinn because “she is curious about the planet.” Thus, we are explicitly told that the Queen is inquisitive, a quality which demonstrates her desire to lead effectively, gaining new insights and perspectives which will inform future decisions. Stuck on Tatooine for the time being, Queen Amidala chooses to step out of the comfort of her royal yacht so she might gain firsthand knowledge about her galaxy. Notably, this is exactly what happens when she meets Anakin Skywalker, a precocious 9-year-old boy, and is shocked by the revelation that he is a slave. The Queen was clearly under the impression that the abominable institution did not exist. In turn, after meeting Anakin’s mother Shmi, the Amidala learns that the Republic’s anti-slavery laws do not extend to every planet. A sobering truth that challenges her understanding of the Galactic Republic’s legal and moral reach, this discovery foreshadows the truth she learns a short time later about the ineffectiveness of the Senate and the Supreme Chancellor.

Padme and Anakin
Padmé meets Anakin Skywalker and learns a harsh truth: he is a slave.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Like her fearlessness, Amidala’s inquisitiveness is laudable. Yet, it does not entirely justify her decision to risk danger in the spaceport. Except, it does if we view it not solely as a pursuit for galactic knowledge. Rather, it should be interpreted as an example of the Queen’s strategic thinking. While Mos Espa is “not pleasant” and dangerous, given the situation it is also the safest place Queen Amidala can possibly be, a fact she must be aware of since she has given the command to “take her handmaiden.” Think of it like this: if the Trade Federation does track them down, discovering the royal yacht on the outskirts of Mos Espa, Amidala will not be there. Instead, the enemy will find the decoy Queen, along with the other handmaidens, the captain of the royal guard, and even a Jedi protector.

Meanwhile, Queen Amidala will be blending into the crowded streets of the unpleasant spaceport as the handmaiden Padmé. She will be fearlessly hiding in plain sight, as she does throughout The Phantom Menace, with no one the wiser.


Fiction’s Fearless Females is in it’s second year!  Yay!  The series runs for the month of March and along with myself will feature posts by Nancy and Kathleen of Graphic Novelty2, Kalie of Just Dread-full, Rob of My Side of the Laundry Room, and Mike of My Comic Relief.  Be sure to follow each of these blogs (as if you don’t already!) and to check out all of the Fearless Females in the series. Just follow these links:

The Doctor

Barbara Gordon (Batgirl/Oracle)

Dani from Midsommar

Sarah Connor

5 Fearless Cartoon Females of the 80s

Haikuesday: Luke Skywalker (ROTJ)

Hologram of Luke
Speaking to Jabba the Hutt
Bargaining for Han


Token of Goodwill:
C-3PO and R2.
Both have served him well.


Scene: Jabba’s Palace.
Main gate opens, Luke walks in.
Confronted by Guards.

Shrouded in Darkness,
Luke draws on the Force and chokes
the Gamorreans.


Threatening Jabba.
“Master Luke, you’re standing on…”
The floor drops away.


“OH NO! THE RANCOR!”
Once, Luke fought a big Wampa.
Rancors are larger…

The Rancor eats pork.
Then it turns towards Skywalker.
How will Luke survive!?!?!

First – use a large bone.
Next – hit its fingers with rocks.
Last – throw human skull.


The Rancor is dead!
But Luke is still in trouble.
Onto the Sarlacc…


The Pit of Carkoon.
Luke preps for Jabba’s justice…
…then springs to action!


A green lightsaber!
Luke built a Jedi weapon!
How’d he manage that?


Slashing and blasting.
A chaotic desert scene.
And Luke’s hand is shot!


What are your thoughts when
Luke blows up Jabba’s sail barge?
Kinda messed up, right?


Back to Dagobah:
Skywalker returns so he
can finish training.


Yoda, very frail.
Tries to avoid Luke’s question:
“…is Vader my dad?”


Obi-Wan Appears!
“From a certain point of view…”
Luke learns a lesson.


Spoiler Alert!
The Princess is Luke’s sister!
O-M-G!!! THEY KISSED!!!!!


Scene: Sullust System.
The Rebel Fleet amasses.
Luke decides to join.


Passing the “Super,”
Luke can sense a dark presence…
“Vader’s on that ship.”


Endor Excursion.
Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, Droids.
And Rebel Soldiers.


Chasing Scout Troopers
through a Forest on Endor.
Team Luke and Leia.


Captured by Ewoks.
Luke will be a main course in
3PO’s honor.


Emotional Talk.
Luke reveals truth to Leia:
Brother and Sister


Taken to Vader – 
“I know there is good in you.”
“I feel the conflict…”


Before Palpatine –
“I have been expecting you.”
Verbal sparring match.


Battle commences:
Rebels caught in an Imp trap
fight for survival.


Watching the battle
Luke is tormented by the
unfolding drama.

“You want this, don’t you?”
Luke looks at his lightsaber.
“Strike me down with it.”

Haiku Addendum:
Palpatine’s “Trap” was always
for Luke Skywalker.

“My young apprentice…”
Luke watches as the Death Star
fires on the fleet.

Filling with anger,
He can no longer resist –
Luke takes his weapon.


Red and Green Collide.
Father and Son engage in
a duel of the fates.


“Twin sister…if you
will not turn to the dark side,
then perhaps she will.”


A rage-filled assault.
Consumed by the darkness, Luke
presses his attack.


“…take your father’s place.”
The hero arrives at his
most critical point.


A farewell to arms.
Luke declares who he shall be:
“I am a Jedi.”


Baptized by Lightning.
The Son pleads to the Father.
The Father responds.


Vader is no more.
Luke burns his father’s body.
Now, the Last Jedi.


Joyful reunion.
Luke celebrates with his friends.
Saga is complete.


This post is Part 3 of 3 in a special three-week version of Haikuesday exploring Luke Skywalker in the Original Star Wars Trilogy. Check out the other two posts below!

Luke Skywalker (ANH)
Luke Skywalker (ESB)

Separatist Profile: Whorm Loathsom

I have never really spent a great deal of time discussing the Confederacy of Independent Systems on this site. While the Separatist Alliance has popped up here and there, I’ve otherwise never discussed them at length. This surprises me because I have always had a deep fascination with the Confederacy. Since encountering the organization in Attack of the Clones, my interest in the Separatists has never really ceased to expand. True, they are the “bad guys” in the Clone Wars, their droid armies – led by the vicious General Grievous  – reaping havoc across the galaxy. But while the evil machinations of Grievous, Count Dooku and Darth Sidious, not to mention others like Nute Gunray and Poggle the Lesser, drive the deadly war effort for the Separatists, it is easy to forget that they do not represent the motivations of every member of the Alliance. This is no more apparent than with Mina Bonteri of Onderon, a former Republic Senator turned Separatist Senator who was introduced in The Clone Wars episode “Heroes on Both Sides.” In the episode, Bonteri – whose husband died a year prior during a clone assault on a Separatist military installation – presents herself as an individual who has legitimate feelings of discontent with the Republic. While she is friendly with Republic Senator Padme Amidala, both of whom agree that the war should come to an end, Mina Bonteri is never-the-less fully committed to the Separatist cause of independence from the Republic.

As a result of Bonteri’s views and choices to support the Separatist cause, I am left wondering why others chose to ally themselves with the Confederacy and join the war against the Republic. This is not to suggest answers can easily be found, or even at all. Unlike Bonteri, other Separatist figures are rarely given the chance to express their deeply held or personal views regarding the Republic or even the war. Moreover, the motivations of Separatist figures, especially in The Clone Wars animated show, are often one-dimensional, tending to present Separatists as entirely “evil.”

Consider how in the first act of The Clone Wars movie – an act which introduces the effervescent Ahsoka Tano  – we are also introduced to the Whorm Loathsom, the Separatist general leading the war effort on the planet Christophsis. While his name invites us to quite literally loathe him – why would we willingly side with someone named “Whorm Loathsom”? – he is “loathsome” precisely because he is battling the forces of dynamic duo of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker. Moreover, he has pushed Kenobi and Skywalker to the breaking point, their forces having been backed into a corner and barely holding on thanks to a battery of artillery holding Loathsom’s tanks at bay. When Ahsoka Tano arrives on the battlefield, she does so during a short lull in the fight, a lull brought on by Loathsom when he chooses to disengage his tank forces to keep them out of range of the cannons. 

With the story focused entirely on the three Jedi, their bleak situation, and the cunning plan they conjure to combat the renewed Separatist assault, we are never given the chance to view Loathsom as anything but a bad guy facing off against the good guys. Now, I am not going to go out of my way to suggest that Star Wars fans should be cheering for the Separatists at the beginning of The Clone Wars film. Nor will I try to persuade you that the film should have given us more of Loathsom’s backstory. But what I will offer is a two-fold suggestion:

  1. General Whorm Loathsom is clearly a much more gifted commander than either Kenobi or Skywalker.
  2. It is worth asking why Loathsom chose to join the Separatist cause, wanting to know more about his backstory so as to better understand what led him to the point of commanding the Separatist forces during the Battle of Christophsis.

In regards to the first point, it is worth reiterating what I already said: at the outset of the film, the clone battalion which Kenobi and Skywalker command have been backed into a corner by Loathsom. For all intents and purposes, the outcome of the Battle of Christophsis is already decided, with Loathsom having effectively won the tactical engagement. Pulling his forces back because of the Republic cannons, Loathsom chooses a new strategy: advancing his forces while under the protection of a shield generator. It is a brilliant decision that immediately neutralizes the Republic artillery fire. Without any conventional answers available Kenobi, Skywalker (and Tano) must enact an unconventional plan to stop Loathsom. With some cunning and deception the Jedi and their clone forces are able to come out victorious, but not because Anakin and Ahsoka end up destroying the shield generator. This is certainly an important part of the Republic victory but it is not, in my assessment, the reason the Republic wins. Rather, it is because Kenobi is able to capture Loathsom that the battle is concluded. Even with the shield generator destroyed, had Loathsom not been captured he could have simply disengaged his forces once again and developed a new strategy.

Kenobi captures Loathsom
Obi-Wan captures General Loathsom.
Photo Credit – Star Wars: The Clone Wars

But underneath Loathsom’s prowess as a field commander is a deeper question: why is Whorm Loathsom a Separatist general? His backstory resides entirely in shadow, although a small nugget lurks within The Clone Wars when Obi-Wan Kenobi, using flattery, tells Loathsom, “…you’re a legend throughout the Inner Core.” There is no reason to assume Obi-Wan is lying and, as such, Loathsom’s “legend” as a general is a tantalizing morsel. For myself, the desire to know more about his legend burns bright, wanting to discover what sort of military campaigns he previous led. While it is unlikely his legend as a general will ever receive any serious treatment I can, never-the-less, hold out hope that it will be (maybe I will just fill in the gaps by writing some Whorm Loathsom fan fiction…). Moreover, the question regarding his decision to take up arms against the Republic, his personal motivations for doing so, persist. For whatever reason, he chose to bring his military prowess, his “legend,” to the Confederacy and, until we are given even one line (even in a reference book!) answering “why” he did so we will be left in the dark. 

This is really too bad because without a motivation for joining the Separatists, Whorm Loathsom is just another “bad guy.” Perhaps his reason for joining is actually a nefarious one and he truly is just a bad guy with bad intentions. That is certainly one option but the possibility also exists that he, like so many others, viewed the Republic as corrupt and felt compelled to act to create a more just galaxy. Or, maybe his homeworld of Kerkoidia chose to secede from the Republic and he was honor-bound to defend the planet.

But these are just guesses and, well, your guess is as good as mine.

The Fate of Master Sinube

Admittedly, writing a piece about “the fate of Master Sinube” is a rather straightforward endeavor. Barring some freak accident or a natural death, Tera Sinube – the elderly Jedi Master who assists young Ahsoka Tano track down lightsaber in The Clone Wars episode “Lightsaber Lost” – most certainly died during the Jedi Purge, his fate sealed when Order 66 was put into effect. In fact, we can probably be even more specific and say that he died in the Jedi Temple, perhaps shot by clone troopers or struck down by the blade of Darth Vader. True, he may have escaped the Temple on that fateful day, much like Jocasta Nu, perhaps fleeing individually or with other Jedi, but that also seems unlikely. No, I believe it is safe to say that Master Sinube encountered the same fate as most of the Jedi that day, meeting his end in a tragically violent way.

Sinube and Tano
Ahsoka Tano walks with Master Sinube.

Photo Credit – The Clone Wars Season 2, Episode 11: “Lightsaber Lost.”

While we may surmise that Sinube met his end on that fateful day, a question never-the-less persists in my mind: what were his final moments like? Where in the Temple was the elder Jedi and, like others in the Temple, did he put up any form of resistance? Personally, I like to believe he did. Elderly he may have been, his actions in “Lightsaber Lost” demonstrate that he was far from needing geriatric care. Master Tera Sinube most certainly did not go down without an act of resistance. In fact, we might take this thought a step further, extending the faculties of the imagination with a bold suggestion: on that horrible day, Master Tera Sinube stood his ground first against clone troopers, and then against Darth Vader.

Wisdom of a Jedi Elder

It is easy for me to believe that as the Temple came under attack, Sinube took it upon himself to safeguard Jedi younglings against the onslaught, perhaps even rallying a handful of Knights to lead the younglings away from the fray. I can picture Sinube giving orders, demanding that these Knights seek out one of Sinube’s contacts in Coruscants criminal underworld. Master Sinube was, after all, an expert on the underworld, and surely would have known a contact willing to help the Jedi flee the world. Implored by the younglings and Knights to join them, Master Sinube would have been reassuring but firm: “The Cosmic Force beckons me to return home. Go, I will hold off your pursuers.”

Clearly, there are any number of ways to imagine how Sinube’s final moments of life played out. Even as I write these words, the possibilities abound, the imagination running in numerous directions. But what my heart tells me is this: Master Tera Sinube did not even draw his lightsaber, instead leaving it confined in his cane. Wouldn’t this very contradict what I said in a paragraph about, that Sinube most certainly resisted the clones and Vader? Only if we assume that resistance must involve violence. 

A wellspring of Jedi wisdom and knowledge, thoughtful and patient in his actions (as we see in “Lightsaber Lost”), I believe Tera Sinube confronted his clone attackers that fateful day with only the Force as his ally. As the clones burst into the room, DC-15 blasters blazing away at an easy target, Sinube would move quickly, not harming but disarming his assailants. With care and precision, fully attuned to the Force, the Jedi Master systematically incapacitated the clone soldiers, debilitating but not killing, doing so with the gentle touch of the Light Side. 

Unable to break through the stalwart defense of their elderly opponent, comrades falling left and right – some getting back up to rejoin the struggle only to be knocked down again – eventually the word would spread through the Temple that the clones needed reinforcements to break through Sinube’s defense. And a reinforcement would arrive, not in the form of more clone squadrons, but the shadowy figure of a Dark Lord of the Sith. 

Vader March
Darth Vader marches into the Jedi Temple with his clone soldiers.

Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Undoubtedly, Master Sinube could sense the Dark presence within the Temple from the very beginning of the attack. Now, as the clone assault on his position waivered once again, he felt the Dark figure moving towards him, and was about to enter the room. But Sinube, I am certain, also knew from the very beginning that the Dark Lord in question was, only recently, a Jedi. When the Sith entered the room, Sinube was calm and unsurprised – he knew he was about to see the face of Anakin Skywalker.

Vader’s blue blade already ignited, the two stood for a moment looking at the other. Suddenly, the blade was extinguished and Vader moved forward until he was but a foot or two from the elder Jedi. Extending his right arm, the Sith wrapped his hand around Sinube’s neck. But before he could squeeze, Master Tera Sinube looked into the eyes of his destroyer and, with peace in his voice, uttered his final words:

“I forgive you, Anakin.”

Ahsoka Tano Sexy

If you are thinking to yourself “Wow, that is a really provocative and uncomfortably disturbing title for a Star Wars post” you would not be wrong. I have lured you into this post with this title so I can address how completely and utterly messed up it is that people do google searches for “Ahsoka Tano Sexy.” You see, every now and again WordPress will inform me of the specific search terms that were used to find The Imperial Talker. More often than not, those search terms are pretty banal and run-of-the-mill. People have found my site by googling “Padme funeral,” “Dooku’s face when he dies,” “Yularen,” and “did Luke use the Dark Side in Return of the Jedi.” But every now and again, someone will stumble upon The Imperial Talker by searching for “Ahsoka Tano Sexy” or some other combination of Ahsoka Tano and Sex. Since my site was recently frequented by another individual seeking gratification looking for “Ahsoka Tano Sexy” on the internet, I figured I should just go ahead and commandeer the search term by turning it into a title.

That some people find my site by searching for sexy images (or even stories) of Ahsoka Tano is grossly unfortunate, although entirely unsurprising. Since her introduction in The Clone Wars movie/series, there has been a trend on corners of the internet to sexually objectify Ahsoka. While the sexualization of characters in Star Wars is hardly shocking , what sets Ahsoka apart is that she is not an adult in The Clone Wars, she is still child.

ahsokaintro2
Ahsoka meets Anakin and Obi-Wan for the first time.
Photo Credit – Star Wars: The Clone Wars

A while back, I wrote a piece titled Ahsoka Tano, Child Soldier which considered the stark reality that when she is sent to the front lines of the Clone War, Ahsoka is only fourteen years old. While it is easy to view Ahsoka as older and more mature than her age, given some of the deadly situations and difficult decisions she is forced to make, the fact remains that throughout the entire animated series Ahsoka is a post-pubescent childhood who has not yet arrived at adulthood. As such, her participation in warfare is problematic in and of itself, an ethical dilemma that should have given the Jedi Order pause. Likewise, that she is a child, and is overtly objectified by pockets of Star Wars fans, is also incredibly problematic.

In many respects, the way Clone Wars era Ahsoka has been sexualized in images could easily be summed up as a Star Wars version of “jailbait.” For those of you unfamiliar with the term, or lacking a coherent definition, jailbait can be defined quite easily as the sexualized images of minors, specifically tweens and teens. Conducting a basic, safe google search of “Ahsoka Tano Sexy” will result in countless images of Ahsoka as jailbait – scantly clad, presented in seductive poses, and more. Turn off the safe search and things become even more uncomfortable.

That a subset of Star Wars fans either do not see, or willfully ignore, the inherent problem of sexualizing Ahsoka is dismaying. More importantly, it is inexcusable. There is simply no justification for a girl, a child – even a fictional one – to be treated by adults as an object of sexual desire. The American Psychological Association would agree.

In a 2007 report, the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls explored the variety of ways girls are sexualized within our society, likewise examining the myriad of consequences this hyper sexualization reaps on the burgeoning minds of girls. According to the Task Force,

Sexualization occurs when

  • a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics;
  • a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy;
  • a person is sexually objectified — that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making; and/or
  • sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.

All four conditions need not be present; any one is an indication of sexualization. The fourth condition (the inappropriate imposition of sexuality) is especially relevant to children. Anyone (girls, boys, men, women) can be sexualized. But when children are imbued with adult sexuality, it is often imposed upon them rather than chosen by them.¹

The way “sexualization” is defined by the APA Task Force is important to this conversation as a whole, but what is critically relevant is the very last sentence: “…when children are imbued with adult sexuality, it is often imposed upon them rather than chosen by them.” This is precisely what has happened to Ahsoka Tano. There is never an instance of Ahsoka being imbued with “adult sexuality” in The Clone Wars. No, in the movie/series, Ahsoka Tano is a self-assured and headstrong young girl, a Jedi padawan who is immature but never-the-less eager to learn, to act, and to adapt to the difficult situations she finds herself in.

ahsoka vs death watch
Surrounded by members of the Death Watch, Ahsoka dispatches them with ease.
Photo Credit – The Clone Wars Season 4, Episode 14: “A Friend in Need”

Moreover, and more importantly, from her first appearance in The Clone Wars movie and onward, Ahsoka consistently demands the recognition of the adults she interacts with: Anakin Skywalker (her Jedi Master), Obi-Wan Kenobi, Clone Captain Rex, Admiral Yularen, and others. She does so not by selling her looks, by being “pretty” or “sexy” but through her persistence, showing time and time again that she has the talents to succeed and a willingness to grow from her mistakes. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Ahsoka has no qualms speaking her mind and offering an unfiltered opinion, a characteristic which earns her the nickname “Snips,” a nickname which is simultaneously fun and which reminds us of her unrelenting pursuit for respect.

That Ahsoka is a child and is sexualized is disgusting. What is even more pathetic and gross is that this sexualization intentionally strips her of the qualities which make her who she is. Rather than experiencing her, and in turn depicting her, as a strong and confident young girl who serves as a role model for children and adults alike – within the Star Wars universe and among fans – she is instead utterly disrespected by individuals looking to satisfy their perverted sexual fantasies.

Thankfully, among the vast majority of Star Wars fans, Ahsoka Tano is given the respect she deserves. I take solace in this fact, reminding myself each time someone finds this site by searching for “Ahsoka Tano Sexy” that there are far more fans who seek out Ahsoka for who she is – a remarkable girl and extraordinary woman. 


References:

¹American Psychological Association, Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. (2007). Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report-full.pdf

Talkerverse: Vader Kills Maul

I have always held the opinion that Darth Maul should have survived his confrontation with Obi-Wan in The Phantom Menace, and that his story-arc should have reached its finale in Episode III. Disregarding entirely that Darth Maul DOES survive, that he was resurrected from the dead in The Clone Wars animated series and has since made appearances in a number of post-Prequel stories, my belief that Maul should have been a menacing presence in every Prequel film is built upon a rather simple premise. In short, Anakin/Darth Vader should have been the one to kill Darth Maul.

Allow me to paint you a picture with my imagination brush. Darth Maul is still alive and in Revenge of the Sith, and takes full-command of the Separatist cause after the death of Count Dooku and General Grievous. Safeguarding the leaders of the Confederacy on Mustafar, a small Jedi fighter arrives on the volcanic world and Maul goes out to meet this foe. The Sith Lord instantly recognizes the individual: it is the Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker. We know the truth – Anakin Skywalker is no more, the man before Maul is the newly minted Sith named Vader and he has been ordered by Darth Sidious, his new Master, to kill the Separatist leaders as well as Maul. It is a test for Vader: kill your rival and take his place, or perish. Vader is up for the challenge.

Darth Maul leaps into action, his double-bladed saber viciously slashing and hacking at Vader. Deflecting the violent blows with his blue lightsaber, Vader is at first caught off-guard by the rage-filled attack. Gathering himself, anger swelling within him, the new Sith Lord goes on the offensive. Now Darth Maul staggers backwards. He has fought and killed Jedi before – Padawans, Knights, and Masters – but Maul has grown complacent throughout the Clone War. He has been such a menacing presence to Jedi that he has left his flank unguarded against a Dark Side for. Darth Sidious knew this, could see that Darth Maul was in need of a true challenger. If he survives this fight, if he kills Vader, then Maul will be a newly sharpened weapon which Sidious can use.

The battle of blades comes to a momentary pause, Maul and Vader alike unable to land a killing stroke. Starring each other down, it is Maul who  speaks first:

“I sense the darkness within you, Jedi. Tell me, has my Master chosen you to test me?”

“I am no Jedi…” Vader responds with scorn “…and he is my Master now.”

Amused and laughing, Maul replies with obvious derision: “You are naïve, young Jedi, if you believe you will replace me.”

Turning his back to Vader, Maul pauses to looks out at the hellish landscape before he speaks again. 

“Do you remember what I did to your first Master? To that fool Qui-Gon Jinn?”

Anger obviously swelling within Vader, rage contorting his face, Maul confidently continues his mocking tone:

“I should have slaughtered him sooner…on Tatooine. I should have slaughtered him…and his Padawan…and you, Ani. And then…”

Reigniting his blue blade, the rage within Vader ready to spill out, Maul speaks one last time:

“….and then I should have slaughtered Amidala.”

Both hands on the hilt of his saber, Vader launches into a vicious assault and Maul greets it head-on. The clash is unlike the choreographed acrobatics of their fight from moments before. There is no twisting of bodies or twirling of sabers. Now, their battle is purely driven by a desire to destroy the other, their blades being used not as elegant weapons but as bludgeons. Hacking and chopping, deflecting and countering, the two raged-infested Sith give no ground, take no footsteps backward. They are locked in a stalemate, unwilling to give an inch, frozen in a battle of wills against the backdrop of a volcanic, smoked-filled landscape.

Frozen, that is, until Vader finally lands a blow, slicing downward across Maul’s face and chest. Staggering backwards, scars glowing from the heat of Vader’s saber, the demonic-looking Zabrak attemps to recover but Vader moves in. Sidestepping and moving past Maul’s desperate strike, Vader reverses the direction of his saber and drives it upwards into Maul’s back, the tip coming out of the Dark Lord’s chest. Lingering for a moment, Vader yanks the blade from his foe, allowing Maul – agony and the recognition of death on his face – to sink to his knees. Turning as his blade is extinguished, Vader kneels behind Darth Maul, leans in, and softly speaks:

“You have been replaced.”

Rising, Darth Vader walks around the dying Sith Lord and, we can assume, towards the facility beyond, on his way to kill the Separatist leaders within. But the camera lingers on Maul – the landscape of Mustafar behind him – and we watch as the Sith Lord slumps forward and dies.

Killing the Devil, Replacing the Devil

There is obvious religious symbolism in Star Wars and perhaps one of the most obvious forms of symbolism is in the form of Mustafar. Essentially, Mustafar is meant to symbolize Hell. When Vader travels to the volcanic world in Revenge of the Sith, he is descending to Hell, a descent which visually captures his internal descent into darkness. While his conversion to the Sith Order took place in the ecumenopolis of Coruscant, he is baptized in this Mustafarian Hell, transformed by eternal fire and subsequently reborn in his iconic suit of armor. And yet, I have always felt one element was missing on Mustafar: the Devil.

Lava on Mustafar
Mustafar = Hell
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

There is obvious religious symbolism in Star Wars and perhaps one of the OTHER obvious forms of symbolism is Darth Maul. Darth Maul looks the way he does – horned head, red and black face, intense yellow-eyes, black robe – because he is a visual representation of evil. He looks like the Devil because he IS the Devil. And, as such, I have always believed Vader should have descended into Hell with the distinct intention of killing the Devil. While his massacre of the Separatist leaders is violent and shows that he is continuing down his dark path, the added layer of Vader killing the Devil in the Devil’s own lair would have added incredible weight to Anakin Skywalker’s descent into Darkness. 

But this added weight is not solely based on Vader’s killing a character serving as an archetype and personification of evil. Killing the Devil is certainly profound in and of itself but Vader would have also been replacing the Devil, becoming the new archetype and personification of evil. It would not have been out of goodness of heart, or a willingness to safeguard the galaxy, that he traveled into Hell to vanquish the Devil. No, he would have killed the Devil precisely because he wanted to become the Devil. Only by descending into the darkness could he make his ascension, earning his title, position, and power as Dark Lord (of the Sith) by violently ripping it away from his adversary.

That is, after all, the nature of the Sith and the Dark Side of the Force.

Epilogue

Darth Sidious steps out of the shuttle, surveying the Mustafarian landscape. He can sense Darth Vader, feel the pain and agony bleeding off of the badly injured Sith. As he moves down towards the end of the large landing platform, he passes the Jedi Starfighter which Vader had taken tot he world, and the body of Maul comes into view beyond it. Sidious walks up to the body, pauses, and looks down. Reaching out with his right hand, he uses the Force to call the double-bladed saber to him. Now in his hand, he crushes it, the broken pieces falling onto the broken body of Maul. Opening his hand and a red crystal sits on his palm. Laughing to himself, Sidious closes his fist and moves on to find his new Apprentice. 

Later, after Darth Vader has recovered, and is entombed in his suit, Sidious will hand him the crystal and give him a single order: “Construct a new lightsaber.”