Wednesday, September 21, 2011
The Emperor was (and is) awesome
I've commented before on how much I enjoyed the expanded role the Emperor played in the Star Wars Prequels. In fact, I would say this was the high-point in these three movies. And the more I think about his plan and rise to power, the more respect I have for him as a villain. What got me thinking about this again was a conversation I had with a co-worker regarding the Clone Wars cartoon. My work buddy asked (since I am the resident Star Wars guru at work): "If the Darth Sidious is in charge of the Republic AND the Separatists, why can't he simply 'hand' the victory to the Separatists?" To which I replied. "Because he doesn't want them to win. He doesn't want EITHER side to win until the time is right and his goals are accomplished."
And that is what is so freaking awesome about his plan. By fabricating a war and essentially running both sides of it, Palpatine created an environment where he can accomplish ALL the things necessary for him to rise to power. These are as follows:
1) By giving the Republic an external threat Palpatine forces them to create (or rather 'accept') a huge military force where none existed before. So desperate is the Republic in the early days that it completely overlooks the shady origins of the Clone forces entirely.
2) Palpatine creates a crisis whereby people give him emergency powers that will only last 'for the duration of the crisis'. By prolonging the crisis, people get 'used to' him having that power. They begin not to question it.
3) People don't question that power because Palpatine can, whenever he needs to, set up an instance where only HIS foresight and action prevented a major military failure. Thus, he is regarded as a hero- becoming a 'father figure' to his people who would look to him for 'stability' during the war.
4) Palpatine weakens his enemies- and not just the Jedi. Yes, he makes sure THOSE people are at the front of the conflict and are actually being whittled down, but the Separatists themselves would likely oppose Palpatine's bid to 'unite' the galaxy. By spurring them into a war, he grinds THEM down as well. In short, he allows all his potential enemies to destroy each other. Awesome. It is even MORE awesome when you realize that almost all the people on BOTH sides of the conflict do not realize they are being used. I think that, perhaps, Count Dooku knew the plan, but I doubt anyone else did (Grievous, for instance, probably didn't).
5) Palpatine creates a permanent enemy/threat that furthers his anti-alien stance. It is uncertain (to me at least) if Palpatine really hated aliens or if he simply saw them as a way to consolidate his power. Either way, by conspiring to have the Separatists lead by non-humans, he creates a situation where other (perhaps troublesome) non-humans can be cast in a doubtful light if he so requires.
6) Palpatine sets the Jedi up. I've spoken about this before, so won't go into detail. But suffice it to say that he really worked them over. Palpatine got a bunch of them killed in combat and had the others spread out and unwittingly placed in front of the guns of troops who were programmed to be loyal to him. And when he defeated those who knew his true nature, he could spin any story he wanted about the Jedi- namely that they were trying to seize power for themselves- something which would gain a lot of traction based upon the trust the people had for him and the seeming isolation the Jedi had from the rest of the galactic public.
Seriously, that is an awesome plan. And what is more awesome is that it WORKED. For over twenty years, it worked. That's not something MOST movie villains can boast. I mean, your typical Bond villain never lives to see the fruition of their evil plans. The Emperor, in this instance, does NOT follow the 'Evil Overlord' rules set. And that is what makes him (in my book) one of the best movie villains of all time. And you know what? It is the prequels that were responsible for telling this awesome story. Say what you will about other aspects of those films, but this is one thing they really got right.