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In Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, why did Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon take a detour to Otoh Gunga?

Shouldn't they have gone directly to Theed, the capital city?

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Traveling to Otoh Gunga seemed a good choice at the time for a few reasons;

To Hide

Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan managed to escape the Nemoidian ship but they must know that it's only a matter of time until their absence is noted and the forces on the planet are alerted to their likely presence. Their most immediate need is to simply disappear from view, forcing the searchers to spread outward from the landing sites and thus improving their chances of slipping through the droid lines.

To Seek Transport

The droid landing craft came down thousands of miles away from their ultimate destination, Theed. As a minimum they'll need to find out where the heck they are, to locate transport and possibly supplies for the journey ahead. A city would seem an excellent place to find take their bearings, literally and figuratively.

To Parley With The Gungans

Qui-Gon is well aware of Naboo's geopolitical situation. One of his key aims is to prevent the droid army from occupying the planet and to that end he and Obi-Wan are keen to speak to the Gungan leadership, both to warn them of the dangers posed by the Trade Federation's troops and also to convince them of the need to support the Naboobians militarily.

The Will of the Force

The Jedi place great stock in allowing the Force to lead them into advantageous (and highly coincidental) circumstances. When Qui-Gon rescues a local, who then offers to take them somewhere that meets their two most obvious needs, this seems like the sort of providence that Force users are trained to look out for.

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    +1, but is "Naboobians" really the correct demonym? – Ixrec May 21 '16 at 18:23
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    @Ixrec - Yes. Yes it is. – Valorum May 21 '16 at 18:23
  • @Ixrec The aircraft is referred to as having a "Nubian" design by Watto, so would you call the people "Nubians" also? Like how the Millennium Falcon is a Corellian freighter and the people from Corellia (such as Han Solo) are Corellians, too. – Kimberly W May 21 '16 at 18:52
  • @Jamil That would make sense, but this is Star Wars and they're called Naboobians – Azor Ahai May 21 '16 at 19:05
  • @Jamil - Nubia (hence "Nubian") is the name of the planetary system where the ship's engines were designed. Its passing similarity to the word Naboo is merely coincidental; starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Nubian_Design_Collective – Valorum May 21 '16 at 19:14
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From the opening crawl:

  • The Galactic Senate is debating over taxation of trade routes to outlying star systems.
  • The Trade Federation took matters into their own hands and blockaded Naboo, hoping to force Queen Amidala to submit to Federation taxation and thus bypass the Senate.
  • The Senate continues to be mired in endless debate over the alarming turn of events.
  • Supreme Chancellor Valorum, as such, took matters into his own hands as well, secretly requesting the Jedi Council to settle the conflict.

In the first scenes up to the arrival on Naboo:

  • Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi were chosen to negotiate with Trade Federation Viceroy Nute Gunray.
  • On Darth Sidious' instruction, the droid invasion commences while orders were given to assassinate the two Jedi.
  • The assassination fails, and the two Jedi escape.
  • The Jedi discover the droid army preparing to invade Naboo, so Qui-Gon Jinn states that the Royal Naboo must be warned of the invasion.
  • The Jedi stowed away on separate landers and rendezvoused planetside, saving Jar Jar Binks in the process.
  • The Jedi were about to abandon Jar Jar but then he mentioned the Gungan city he grew up in.
  • On hearing about the existence of the city, Qui-Gon Jinn decided to head there instead.

After arriving in Otoh Gunga and meeting the Gungan High Council:

  • The first thing Qui-Gon Jinn is seen mentioning on-screen is that the Royal Naboo must be warned of the invading droid army.
  • Boss Nass refused to help the Royal Naboo, who are not on good terms with the Gungans.
  • Qui-Gon Jinn thus mind tricked Boss Nass into providing a transport instead to "speed us on our way".

The above sequence of events from the two Jedi's perspective shows us why they chose to divert their course to Otoh Gunga as opposed to heading straight for Theed. Qui-Gon Jinn decided that the Royal Naboo must be warned of the hitherto unknown droid army that is imminently invading Naboo. Arriving on Naboo via one of the invading landers, it is clear that the Trade Federation's army will outpace the Jedi. After learning of the existence of the Gungan city, Qui-Gon Jinn heads there instead in hopes of finding from the natives a means to directly warn the Royal Naboo, or failing which, at least securing a transport with which he stands a better chance of arriving in Theed before the Trade Federation invaders.

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