Rule of Two

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.”

The Sith Temple on Malachor

“Two must lift these stones, no more, no less. That is the way of the Sith.” – Maul

In the Season 2 finale of Star Wars Rebels – “Twilight of the Apprentice” – Kanan Jarrus, Ezra Bridger, and Ahsoka Tano travel to the planet Malachor in order to gain knowledge which will help them defeat the Sith and Inquisitors. As we discover in the episode, Malachor was a planet of legend among the Jedi, a world off-limits to members of the Order. And rightfully so. Arriving on the planet, the three companions discover an ancient Sith Temple hidden on the planet, along with the scorched remains of bodies and discarded lightsabers scattered among the ruins, signs of The Great Scourge of Malachor, a historic battle between the Jedi and Sith. Taking place thousands of years in the past, The Great Scourge of Malachor was first named in The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary, a small snippet in the reference book explaining that Kylo Ren’s unique, cross-guard lightsaber hails from the time period of the forgotten and catastrophic fight. And, as luck would have it, Bridger finds and briefly ignites one such lightsaber as he scours the desolate ruins.

As someone who has always been deeply fascinated by the Sith and the Dark Side, not to mention all things relating to ancient history in the Star Wars universe, “Twilight of the  Apprentice” really struck a cord with me. In turn, the more I have watched this episode, the more curious I have become by the fact that the Sith Rule of Two is a subtle, but central, aspect of the Temple structure. One will recall that the Rule, enacted by Darth Bane, holds that there can only be two Sith at a time: a Master and an Apprentice. As we learn early on in “Twilight” from Maul, himself a former Sith Lord, the Temple is bound to this central Sith philosophy. Relying on a far-to-trusting Ezra Bridger, Maul is able to open the doors of the Temple with the teen’s eager assistance. Maul could not do it alone, rather he needed a second – an “Apprentice” – to work with him. Later, the “elevators” that carry individuals to the higher recesses of the Temple are also bound to the Rule, two and only two being needed/allowed for the lifts to work. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, when the Sith Holocron that plays a central role in “Twilight” activates the Temple (we discover, as does Bridger, that the Temple is a massive superweapon), Ezra is only able to pull the Holocron away from the (for lack of better terms) “activation spot” when he recalls that he cannot do it alone. With the help of Kanan Jarrus, the two are able to pull the Holocron away, shutting down the Temple structure before the weapon can be used by Maul.

On the surface of things, the use of the Rule of Two in the episode is not very surprising. In an episode of Rebels that was a bit chaotic – not in a negative way, just in the sense that a lot happens in a short amount of time – the Rule of Two otherwise blended into the background, playing an important role at critical junctures while not being a central aspect of the show. Since Ahsoka Tano and Darth Vader have their long-anticipated showdown in “Twilight of the Apprentice,” it is hardly surprising that the use of the Rule of Two is ultimately an unremarkable afterthought in the episode. Still, during my first and subsequent viewings of “Twilight,” I have continue to be utterly perplexed by the Rule’s appearance in the episode because the Sith Temple on Malachor really should not be tied to the Rule for one very simple reason: the Rule of Two was not enacted until long after the Temple was built.

Ezra and Maul
Maul (left) and Ezra Bridger (right) walk towards an entrance to the Sith Temple on Malachor.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Rebels Season 2, Episodes 21-22: “Twilight of the Apprentice”

As I already mentioned, it is (former Darth) Maul who, early in the episode, describes this central philosophy of the Sith Order and its connection to the Temple. Maul states to Bridger, “Two must lift these stones, no more, no less. That is the way of the Sith.” While Maul is not incorrect in noting that the Sith are guided by the Rule, but again, the Rule went into effect thousands of years after the Temple was constructed. So where does this leave us? How do we make sense out of a seemingly obvious canonical contradiction in “Twilight of the Apprentice”?  I have wrestled with this for some time, allowing possible explanations for this curious connection between the Temple and the Rule to bubble up in my mind. That being the case, I have come up with a handful of possible explanations that I have decided to share…

Possible Explanations (The Operative Word being “Possible”)

Possibility #1: Darth Bane did not create the Rule of Two, instead he adopted a concept that dates back, at the very least, to the time when Sith Temple on Malachor was constructed. In other-words, as Bane sought to change the Sith Order so that it would survive, he went in search of knowledge from the ancient Dark Lords such as the female Sith who built the Temple on Malachor. Finding that Sith Lords like her and others believed a “Master-Apprentice” relationship created the strongest connection to the Dark Side (one to hold the power, the other to crave it), these ancient Sith tied the workings of their own Temples, Holocrons, Rituals, etc. to their own de facto “Rule of Two.” 

Possibility # 2: Darth Bane actually lived long before the Sith Temple was constructed. The idea that Bane lived in the very distant past is actually something I suggest in another post for a separate reason (you can check it out HERE). Basically, this possibility opens the way for the Rule of Two to have been implemented before the Temple on Malachor was constructed, thereby ensuring that the Temple would be tied to the Rule. 

Possibility # 3: When Sith Philosophy changes, such as when Darth Bane enacted the Rule, everything about the Sith changes. Admittedly, this is a rather odd possiblity as it would require some very deep, metaphysical connection between the Sith and their artifacts. This is not necessarily outside the realm of possibility, after-all we know that Darth Sidious could use the Dark Side across great galactic distances. However, I am unsure exactly how, when Darth Bane enacted the Rule of Two, this would also change the structural operations of the Sith Temple on Malachor. Would/Could Bane simply engage in some type of ritual to unify all things Sith to his Rule? Maybe? Perhaps? I dunno. It is an interesting idea but also an unnecessarily complex one that could get confusing really fast.

Possibility # 4: This is just a straight-up error on the part of the Star Wars Rebel show-runners and/or Lucasfilm Story Group. While my inclination is not to lay blame on those who work for Lucasfilm and know far more about the Star Wars universe than myself, I cannot help but wonder if the Rule of Two found its way into “Twilight of the Apprentice” without much forethought. I absolutely do not think tying the Rule to the Temple structure was nefarious or purposefully misleading. Rather, since the Rule of Two plays such a central role in Star Wars lore involving the Sith, the Rule of Two was probably just an easy tool the show-runners could utilize in the episode, especially using it with Maul as he manipulates Ezra. In fact, on this point…

Possibility # 5: …it might be that the Temple is not actually tied to the Rule of Two, or any de facto “Rule of Two.” Perhaps Maul is just lying to Bridger when he says “two must lift these stones,” doing so to convince Ezra to trust him and, more importantly, to work in tandem with him.  If so, then the use of the Rule of Two in the episode may not be a mistake. Instead, it could be an intentional plot device that allows Maul to lie his way into Ezra’s trust. Then again, even if it isn’t intentional – if the show-runners/Story Group did, in fact, make an error – I think the possibility that Maul is lying to Ezra could still work. 

And there you have it. Five possibilities that could explain why the Rule of Two is tied to the Sith Temple on Malachor. If you can think of any possibilities or ideas of your own, or if you want to offer your thoughts on my own explanations, leave a comment!

 

Intro to Sithology: The Rule of Two (Part 3)

“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.

Darth Bane Photo Credit - Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13),

Darth Bane
Photo Credit – Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13), “Sacrifices”

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?

Darth Bane's Tomb - sarcophagus and statue at the far end. Photo Credit - Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13),

Darth Bane’s Tomb (click on the pic for a better view)
Photo Credit – Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13), “Sacrifices”

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.

Moraband (ancient Sith structures in background) Photo Credit - Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13),

Moraband (ancient Sith structures in background)
Photo Credit – Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13), “Sacrifices”

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.

The Death of Count Dooku

“Kill him…kill him now.” – Chancellor Palpatine

With the recent passing of Christopher Lee, the actor who played Count Dooku (aka Darth Tyranus), I thought it would be appropriate to do a small piece on the character he brought to life in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.

After serving with the Royal Air Force during World War II, Christopher Lee went on to have a prolific acting career. During his career, he would be cast several times as a villain in different movies. While I have a fond appreciation for his roles in other films, for me, his most notable role will always be his portrayal of Count Dooku. Despite his short appearances in Episodes II and III, Lee left an indelible mark on me with his performance as the leader of the Separatist Alliance and as a Dark Lord of the Sith.

And it is that very short time in Revenge of the Sith that I want to focus on. Well, actually, I want to narrow things down even more and focus on the moment right before Anakin decapitates the illustrious Count.

The young Skywalker, standing above the Count with a lightsaber in each hand, is goaded by the “imprisoned” Chancellor Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious) to kill the defeated Sith Lord.

“Kill him,” Palpatine tells Anakin, “kill him now.”

As he commands Anakin to “kill him now” the Chancellor turns his head towards Dooku, looking down at the elderly man who is also his apprentice.

Dooku's face when Sidious says

Dooku’s face when Sidious says “kill him now”
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode II: Revenge of the Sith

Hearing his Master’s order, Dooku looks at Sidious with an expression of utter perplexity on his face. Each time I watch Revenge of the Sith, and see his face in that moment, I feel a twinge of remorse for the Count and can’t help but wonder what goes through Dooku’s mind in that instance as he hears his Master order his execution.

In that moment Dooku may have realized his Master had always been playing him, and had intended from the very beginning to discard the Count once he ceased being useful to his Sidious’ machinations. The order to execute Dooku was just another part of his Master’s grand plan, and in the moment, was also a way to groom the young Skywalker as Sidious’ new Apprentice.

Or, maybe Dooku recognized that he should have acted against his Master, that he had waited too long to challenge Sidious.  As the Apprentice to Darth Sidious, it was Dooku’s responsibility to challenge his Master and take the mantle of Master from Sidious. The Rule of Two dictates that the Apprentice must challenge the Master, but in that moment, Dooku may have understood that his hesitation had cost him his life. Focused on executing his Master’s plans to destroy the Jedi, Darth Tyranus never enacted his own plan to destroy his Master.

It is possible, though, that Dooku thought nothing at all. Perhaps hearing the order for his execution just left Dooku far too bewildered to have any rational thought. Chances are, if I were in his place, I wouldn’t be able to think rationally either.

Honestly, I think it is better we don’t actually know what Dooku was thinking. Personally, I would be disappointed if there was some “official” statement that told us what Dooku thought in that moment. It is far more interesting to imagine the possibilities and decide for ourselves what he may or may not have thought in the last seconds of his life.

Besides, Christopher Lee captured that moment perfectly, his expression allowing us to connect with Dooku on a personal level even if it is only for a second. To evoke a response from the audience is the goal of any actor, but to do it with a single look is the sign of a very talented man. Mr. Lee, and his prowess as an actor, will surely be missed.

Intro to Sithology: The Rule of Two (Part 2)

“Always two there are, no more, no less. A master and an apprentice.” – Master Yoda on the Sith

In Part 1 of this series, we began with a question which will continue to be the focus of this discussion. That question was: how is it possible for Yoda to know about the Sith Rule of Two if the Sith have been extinct for a millennia?

Specifically, this question comes from facts that are presented in The Phantom Menace. In the film, Master Yoda is aware of the Sith Rule of Two, the notion that there are only ever two Sith at a time, Master and Apprentice. However, we also learn in the movie that the Sith have been extinct for a millennia. As I explained, the assumption we were working under was that the Rule was instituted AFTER the Sith “extinction.”

Working with the information available in Episode I, possible answers are present, but these answers also create some rather convoluted problems that begin undercutting Star Wars lore. For the sake of brevity, I will let you go back and refresh your memory on these answers and the problems they cause.

In Part 1, I purposefully chose to stick only with information from The Phantom Menace. Now, moving forward, it is necessary to add more pieces to the puzzle. To do this, we need to consider an episode of The Clone Wars.

Yoda Travels to Moraband

Yoda on Moraband Photo Credit - Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13),

Yoda on Moraband
Photo Credit – Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13), “Sacrifices”

In the very last episode of The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13) entitled “Sacrifices,” Yoda travels to the ancient homeworld of the Sith: Moraband.[i] This journey occurs around 13 years after the events of The Phantom Menance.

Walking across the deserted wasteland of Moraband, a planet long abandoned because of countless wars, Yoda is accosted by apparitions of the ancient Sith, but these spirits do not stop his journey. Eventually, the elder Jedi makes his way to a large tomb located in a large valley. Entering the tomb, the Jedi Master is confronted by an illusion of an ancient Sith Lord, Darth Bane, who manifests from the sarcophagus inside the tomb.

Here is part of the dialogue between Master Yoda and Darth Bane that is relevant to our discussion…

Darth Bane: Why do you come to my tomb, Jedi?

Yoda: To learn.

Darth Bane: Do you know who I am?

Yoda: Yes. Darth Bane, the ancient Sith Lord you are.

Darth Bane: And know why I am not forgotten?

Yoda: Created the rule of two, you did.

Darth Bane: The Sith killed each other, victims of their own greed. But from the ashes of destruction, I was the last survivor. I chose to pass my knowledge onto only one, I created a legacy so resilient, that now you come before me. Have you come to be my apprentice? You must kill me to gain my place.[ii]

Master Yoda and Darth Bane, face-to-face Photo Credit - Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13),

Master Yoda and Darth Bane, face-to-face
Photo Credit – Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13), “Sacrifices”

From this short exchange, we can glean a lot of information, some of which we will carefully work through as it relates to our topic.

In The Phantom Menace, Yoda knows about the Rule of Two, but here, we find that 1) Yoda knows he is speaking to Darth Bane and 2) Bane was the Sith Lord who instituted the Rule of Two. This is rather curious and leads to another question: when did Yoda discover that Bane was the originator of the Rule?

My immediate assumption was that Yoda learned about the Rule of Two and Darth Bane in the same instance prior to The Phantom Menace. This would make sense since Bane and the Rule are intimately linked. However, this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Yoda could have known about the Rule prior to the events of Episode I, and then learned about Darth Bane afterwards.

Moving forward, then, there is other information in this scene that needs to be addressed which comes directly from Darth Bane. What the Sith Lord presents may or may not already be known to Yoda, but we viewers are certainly unaware of it.

Specifically, Darth Bane explains that “the Sith killed each other” due to their greed, and that he “was the last survivor” of the Sith destruction. Furthermore, we learn that Bane decided to pass his “knowledge onto only one [apprentice]”, and that the apprentice must kill his/her Master in order to take the mantle of Master as their own.

This is a rather short statement from Bane, but we gain a lot of insight into the Sith Order from it.

Ashes of Destruction

The point Darth Bane makes about the Sith killing each other, and that Bane was the last survivor of the Sith destruction, is the most important piece of information that we need to address at this point. Why? Because what Darth Bane says gives rise to an entirely new question:

Is the Sith destruction Bane speaks of the same “extinction” event that Ki-Adi Mundi suggests in The Phantom Menace?

As I already pointed out, the assumption we have been working under has centered on how Yoda learned about the Rule of Two AFTER the Sith “extinction.” And, as I noted in Part 1, this raises a cacophony of answers/problems.

This new question, though, raises an entirely new possibility: that in describing the self-inflicted destruction of the Sith, Darth Bane is talking about an event that happened long before the Sith “extinction” to which Ki-Adi Mundi alludes.

If this is the case, that we are actually discussing two separate historical events, then the examination at hand can effectively be ended.

TIME OUT! I just checked the Darth Bane page on the Star Wars Databank on StarWars.com and THIS is what it says over there: “After the Sith were decimated by the Jedi Knights of a thousand years ago, Bane enacted the Sith rule of two…”[iii] But this is not what Darth Bane says to Yoda. BUT THAT IS NOT WHAT DARTH BANE SAYS TO YODA! He said that the Sith were the ones who destroyed each other, and that he instituted the Rule in the wake of their self-inflicted destruction. You know, “out of the ashes of destruction” and all. He never mentions anything about the Jedi decimating the Sith.

So what in the heck is the Databank talking about?

Darth Bane Photo Credit - Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13),

Darth Bane
Photo Credit – Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13), “Sacrifices”

At this point, in this very moment, there is one, singular instance of Darth Bane appearing in the Star Wars canon…and we have been talking about it this entire time. There is LITERALLY no other information out in the canon, at this stage, that lends itself to what the Databank says.

Soooooo we have two options to make sense of this snafu.

Option one is that Bane is be speaking metaphorically about the destruction of the Sith, arguing that their downfall at the hands of the Jedi was actually the fault of the Sith Lords and their greed. In essence, the Sith were flawed, could not put up a united defense against the Jedi of old, were subsequently decimated a millennia ago, and as a result Darth Bane changed the Sith forever.

On the other hand, option two is that the Databank is wrong. This is not to say that the Databank is useless as a tool for understanding Star Wars, but rather, that the Databank should align factually with what is presented in the Star Wars canon. In the case of “Sacrifices,” what Darth Bane says is clear: the Sith destroyed each other, and from the ashes of their self-inflicted destruction, he fundamentally changed the Sith forever. If the Jedi had decimated the Sith, Darth Bane would have said as much.

Further, under this option, the Sith destruction could have been a millennia ago, or Bane could be describing a much more ancient event as I previously laid out.

And with all of that said we are, once again, at an impasse. We began with a question concerning how Yoda knows about the Sith Rule of Two, and now we are trying to figure out if an ancient Dark Lord was speaking metaphorically or factually. OI VEY!

Ultimately, the answer to HOW Bane is speaking really comes down to personal preference. Some might like the idea that he is speaking metaphorically about the downfall of the Sith, while others might see him speaking in a matter-of-fact manner about the Sith killing each other. Either way, both options, taken to their logical ends, will affect the way one thinks about a number of elements within Star Wars.

So, here is what I propose: I am going to let you choose the direction we head in. Think of it as a “Choose Your Own Adventure.” All you need to do is leave a comment down below, on Facebook, or on Twitter that says “Metaphor,” “Fact,” or, if you really want to make me work, you can ask for “Both.” Also, feel free to provide some thoughts/feedback on your choice if you feel so inclined. Whichever preference wins out, that is the direction I will head in in Part 3…so, for the sake of moving things along, give me your choice in the next few days.

The sarcophagus of Darth Bane on Moraband Photo Credit - Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13),

The sarcophagus of Darth Bane
Photo Credit – Star Wars The Clone Wars (Season 6, Episode 13), “Sacrifices”

But before we end, there is one tinnnnnny little question that I want you to think about in relation to everything else I have discussed, and which could impact the choice you make. It is this:

How was it possible for Darth Bane to be buried on Moraband and who built the giant statue of Bane that stands behind his sarcophagus?

I will address this in Part 3.


[i] Some of you might know the planet as Korriban, the name used in the Expanded Universe (Legends). I am not going to get into a debate about the name. Call it what you want, it is the same place in my mind.

[ii] Dialogue taken from Star Wars The Clone Wars: Season 6, Episode 13 “Sacrifices”

[iii] Star Wars Databank

Intro to Sithology: The Rule of Two (Part 1)

“Always two there are, no more, no less. A master and an apprentice.” – Master Yoda on the Sith

Question: How is it possible for Yoda to know about the Sith Rule of Two when the Sith have been extinct for a millennia?

This question is one that a fan of The Imperial Talker asked me to address, and I am more than happy to do so because it is a question that has bounced around my mind on a number of occasions. Plus, after diving head first into tackling this question, it dawned on me that there are a number of other things to be addressed with regard to the Rule of Two. So this will only be the first of a number of posts where I explore this question, and the Rule of Two.

Before jumping directly into answering the question at hand, a bit of context is necessary so that we are all on the same page. That said, it is essential to first consider the two scenes from The Phantom Menace from which this question is born. I have provided links for both of the scenes below to refresh your memory.

Jedi Master Ki-Adi Mundi Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Jedi Master Ki-Adi-Mundi
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

The first is a scene in which Qui-Gon Jinn explains to the Jedi Council that he was attacked by a mysterious warrior while on the planet Tatooine, concluding that the warrior was, in fact, a Sith. In response, Master Ki-Adi-Mundi, a member of the Council, exclaims that “the Sith have been extinct for a millennia.”

The second scene is at the end of the film, and depicts Qui-Gon’s funeral after he is killed. Off to the side, Master Yoda and Master Windu discuss the identity of the mysterious warrior. Master Windu states, “There’s no doubt that the mysterious warrior was a Sith.” In response, Master Yoda, agreeing with his friend, states “Always two there are, no more, no less. A master and an apprentice.”

Now, there is obviously much more happening in both of these scenes than we will be discussing here, but for the sake of staying on topic, we will skip over the other stuff this time around.

Ultimately, the question at hand is amalgamation of both of these scenes, or rather, points that are raised in each scene. On the one hand, we discover from Master Mundi that the Sith have been extinct for a millennia. But we also know, from Master Yoda, that the Sith operate in a curious way: there are only ever two Sith Lords, a Master and Apprentice. The question then, how Yoda knows about the Rule of Two, is a pertinent one. Once again, if the Sith have been extinct for a millennia, how can a Jedi know anything about this very specific Rule?

The Phantom Menace does not provide a whole lot of information to solve this conundrum. Even if we added other moments in the film, there is still not much to work with. Still, let’s play around with what we have.

We have been working off of the assumption that the Rule of Two was instituted AFTER the Sith “extinction” event. The problem, though, is that this creates a couple of convoluted problems when the moment arrives and Yoda actually learns about the Rule of Two.

On the one hand, if he discovered the information himself (let’s say he found a Sith artifact that discusses the Rule), he must have kept the discovery to himself. What would this say about Yoda? He knew the Sith had instituted a new Rule AFTER their extinction, that the Sith were still out there? Are we to believe Yoda chose to hide this information from the Council, and not use the full weight of the Jedi Order to hunt down the hidden Sith Lords?

Masters Yoda and Windu at Qui-Gon Jinn's funeral Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Jedi Masters Yoda and Windu at Qui-Gon Jinn’s funeral
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Plus, when watching the scene where Mace Windu and Yoda are conversing at Qui-Gon’s funeral, one does not get the impression that Windu is surprised by what Yoda says. Instead, Yoda’s assertion that “Always two there are…” is matter of fact, something Mace Windu already knew. Perhaps Yoda had confided in Mace Windu about what he discovered, but then all this does is forces us to re-ask the questions I just presented, with Yoda and Windu both implicated.

However, I am led to believe that what Masters Yoda and Windu are discussing is something the Jedi Order already knows about the Sith. In other words, it is common knowledge that the Sith have a Rule of Two.

On the other hand, what if Yoda learned the information from the Jedi Order, and did not independently discover the information? This lines up with the the Rule of Two being “common knowledge,” but this essentially means the Jedi did know that the Sith had survived. At best, this throws Ki-Adi-Mundi under the bus and makes him look like a fool, and at worst, it means the Jedi just stopped caring about the Sith, their mortal enemy, even though they knew the Sith were still around…

Frankly, I just don’t buy it. The Jedi might be flawed in a number of ways, but I can’t see them willfully ignoring the existence of the Sith. Besides, I take Master Mundi at his word, and trust that he is presenting the official position of the Jedi Order: the Sith are extinct.

But what if it is the official position of the Jedi Order that the Sith are extinct, but the Council is hiding the truth. Could it be the Jedi Council knew that the Sith were still alive for all those years, that they had instituted a new Rule of Two, and the Council kept this a secret? Perhaps Master Mundi was feigning ignorance, pretending to be in disbelief at Qui-Gon’s statement that he was attacked by a Sith Lord. What would this say about the members of the Jedi Council?

Master Yoda Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Jedi Master Yoda
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

I will be arguing in another post that the Jedi are victims of their own hubris, but I am not sure I believe the Council misled the Jedi Order, and the Republic, and kept the knowledge about the Sith hidden. Don’t get me wrong, I do think this is a possibility, and that this approach could potentially work. However, I feel like the way things play out in the Prequel Trilogy hinges, in part, on the Jedi scrambling at the re-emergence of the Sith, as if the Order, and the Council in particular, are unsure how to act.

Plus, I am also not willing to undermine the scheme the Sith put into play when they went “extinct.” The Sith instituted a master plan that came to fruition in the Prequels, beginning with their return in The Phantom Menace. I would suggest we let the Sith have their moment in the sun, and when they reveal themselves, they caught the Jedi off-guard and unprepared.

And with that said, where in the world do we go from here?

Well, there is actually some more information we can look at, but it doesn’t come from The Phantom Menace. In Part 2, then, we will a journey to Moraband, the ancient homeworld of the Sith and meet the Sith Lord who instituted the Rule of Two: Darth Bane.

Oh, and just FYI, things are going to get really complicated.