8

Consider this : Padmé Amidala became queen when she was only 14. She served two terms and then promptly became Senator. The book "Darth Plagueis" mentions that Palpatine specifically lobbied on her behalf during Naboo monarch elections. Padmé had little formal education (Legislative Youth Program, some kind of political school), no real life experience and never had to work a day in her entire life, much like many politicians today belonged to a political class with little contact with ordinary people. In movies and novelizations she was described as idealistic, passionate for democracy, brave but IMHO not very bright.

In Senate, she was one of the leaders of opposition to Chancellor Palpatine, along with Prince Bail Organa, Mon Mothma and some other Senators, the Senators mentioned also being from privileged families. Could it be that Palpatine actually wanted and created such opposition ? Neither of the Senators (especially Padmé) had much practical knowledge on how the Galactic economy works, they didn't have military experience, they didn't have technological knowledge, they didn't have a clue about problems of ordinary people. All they had were lofty political ideals and their careers as political hacks. Neither of them (again especially Padmé) could effectively gather enough support, both in population and in Senate, to challenge Palpatine. Yet, they were successful in blocking some other, maybe more talented and effective people, from leading opposition against Palpatine.

Also, Palpatine was one of very few people that knew about the secret relationship and latter marriage between Anakin and Padmé. He actually played the role of matchmaker and pushed them together when he, specifically, set Anakin as her bodyguard. With Anakin being his greatest prize, and Padmé being Anakin's greatest secret and weakness, is it possible that he (Palpatine) again just used her to effectively sway one of most powerful Jedi to his (Dark) side ?

And finally, when her usefulness was exhausted, did Palpatine simply get rid of her? (Whether Palpatine killed Padmé is whole another question, I will not dwell on that here.) But could it be that for her entire life, Padmé Amidala was just the unwitting pawn of Palpatine, used for his nefarious aims, and when he no longer needed her, he just discarded her like so many others ?

  • 9
    No, they were both pawns of Jar Jar Binks. – Bellerophon Dec 12 '16 at 19:23
  • 1
    For those who didn't quite get /u/Bellerophon 's comment (This is well worth the read!) – Edlothiad Dec 12 '16 at 19:25
  • 2
    Just about everyone in the prequels was an unwitting pawn of Palpatine. – Null Dec 12 '16 at 19:35
  • 1
    @Edlothiad What is /u/? – Bellerophon Dec 12 '16 at 19:36
  • woops, i meant @Bellerophon, sorry (^_^;), the link was from reddit so I got confused – Edlothiad Dec 12 '16 at 19:37
9

I think you give Palpatine too much credit. He's not a chessmaster planning every single move of every single pawn; he's a master of manipulating the zeitgeist in such a way to benefit himself. (You could say that his infallability in predicting the future was Imperial propaganda, propaganda he eventually believed himself to his defeat.)

Padme didn't just suddenly appear as a queen; at age 8, she'd become a "Junior Senatorial Adviser;" by 12, she was "supervisor of Theed", the capital city. She would be known by the senate and the most powerful people on Naboo, including (but not exclusively) Palpatine.

In a society where the ruling classes routinely accept extremely young members of society in leadership positions (I would not want a 12 year old as Mayor of Houston...), and as a leader of the capital city of Naboo, with connections to existing senators, her being elected to Queen isn't really any more out of the ordinary than her previous exploits.

This isn't machinations on Palpatine's behalf, but very possibly he supported her rise to power noticing she was naive and easily manipulated by dangling a "just cause" just out of her reach. Anyone would do, as long as Palpatine could manipulate the situation.

The situation with Padme, Bail, and Mon make me think of That Other Science Fiction Universe, Star Trek. The episode City on the Edge of Forever hinges on Edith Keeler, a soft-hearted anti-war activist who runs a soup kitchen. She can visualize a future where there is no suffering, no great depression, a utopia of the future, where there is no war. Unfortunately for that future, she's really good at being an anti-war activist, and successfully delays the USA's entrance into WWII to the point where Nazi Germany actually pulls out a victory condition. In order for that to not happen, Edith Must Die, and they restore the timeline by allowing her to be run down by a car.

To apply this to Star Wars, Palpatine absolutely needs those with the grandest visions of utopia to put a brake on the more hawkish amongst the Senate, while also opposing compromise measures. Government is all about compromise, about accepting the Good Enough when The Best is too expensive, too difficult, or too politically unlikely. Visionaries like Padme, however, are unwilling to allow even a little injustice, even if it benefits the vast majority of the citizenry in the Republic, and therefore exists both as a catalyst of disruption (giving Palpatine opportunities to invest power) and as a brake on actual reforms while may solve the problems the Republic is suffering, but incompletely remove it's injustices.

As an opportunist, Palpatine used Padme and Anakin's relationship, but did not cause it. He knew that he needed Anakin's power, and he knew that he needed to break him away from the cult of Jedi to do so. The best way to break somebody from a cult is to encourage a bond to something outside that cult; in this case, Padme. He's an opportunist who uses anything to push his designs forward; he didn't forsee the need for such a move, nor did he have a 1,000 step chess plan to do so. He simply used the opportunity presented to him to the fullest.

Therefore, Padme dying wasn't machinations on Palpatine's behalf, but yet another opportunistic event. Having broken Anakin's alliance with the Jedi, you're right, he didn't "need" Padme for that task anymore. But she was still useful, as her death was the catalyst that pushed Anakin fully into the Dark Side.

Palpatine is not wasteful, like Darth Vader. He doesn't strangle admirals for not intuiting that Hoth should be approached stealthily instead of with the Empire's standard bombast. Palpatine encourages crime lords when they're useful. He encourages the "right amount" of corruption to balance his throne.

Palpatine doesn't see Padme as a tool to use and throw away, but as a carefully husbanded asset. His initial investment was very small, just maybe a vote to make her Queen, but as her value to his plans increased, he was more than happy to use her... but never without extracting full value from the process.

  • 3
    As for the not wasteful part......I only say return of the Jedi where vader says "Better be sure that you are fast enough....the emperor is not as forgiving as I am" – Thomas Dec 13 '16 at 5:54
  • 1
    @Zoey Boles I agree that Palpatine was not omnipotent. But I cannot escape the thought that he purposely selected such "Edith alike" young person with full knowledge that she would not be universally accepted. Naboo had that weird tradition of selecting pre-teen girls as rulers, but even they had much older monarchs and Senators in the past. For the rest of the Galaxy, Padme was always something out of ordinary, unlike Palpatine who appeared boring, reliable and conventional. And he probably counted on that. As for relationship with Anakin, he did nudge them in that direction ... – rs.29 Dec 13 '16 at 18:32
  • ... so I doubt he didn't a have something in mind . Anyway, I agree that he didn't have ONE 1000 step plan, but he most likely had dozens of plans and backup plans . And Padme was a figure in many of them, from beginning. – rs.29 Dec 13 '16 at 18:32
  • @Thomas , The dark side feeds on terror. Additionally, I'd point out that for somebody to fail so bad as to survive reaching the Emperor, there's not much chance of survival. We're talking HUGE failures, not entering a system too close or simply entering a room too soon. Either Vader's already "punished" them, or they survive only to die at the hands of the Emperor. – Zoey Boles Dec 14 '16 at 1:35
  • @rs.29 I'm on board with that. In the storytelling style of Star Wars, however, we don't get to see how many OTHER people he groomed the same way. For every Queen Amidala, I'm sure there's 49 "Assistants to the Assistants of..." on planets all over the place. The best way to firm up his throne would be to help and encourage any "Edith"-like person he could find; every single one of them would put the brakes on the Republic; every single one would self-select out of the Empire. – Zoey Boles Dec 14 '16 at 1:37
3

Yes and No. Palpatine was adept at taking advantage of people's nature, thus requiring only minimal manipulation on his part.


Palpatine's greatest strength was not his ability to manipulate people directly, although that was obviously one of his strengths. Rather, his greatest strength was anticipating events and how specific individuals would react to those events.

In the specific case of Padme Amidala, there are indications that YES, Palpatine was manipulating events around her from the very beginning. However, except for one or two cases where he whispered into her ear, Palpatine more or less just anticipated how she would act and planned accordingly.

Prior to the events of Episode I, Amidala's predecessor King Veruna was mired by rumors & accusations of corruption. Most of the evidence against him - including the poor decisions he had actually made - was largely the result of Palpatine's manipulations and advice. Palpatine ensured that the headstrong Veruna would fall out of favor, knowing that the most likely replacement was young Padme Amidala. Perhaps he felt that the girl would be easier to control, or at least less likely to discover his machinations.

Throughout the events of the prequel trilogy, we see Palpatine manipulating events around both Anakin and Padme, taking advantage of each opportunity as it arises. It's highly likely that he hoped for the marriage, as it gave him leverage over Anakin. However, it's also likely that he simply took advantage of the relationship by influencing Anakin's dreams. Or even both.

So, yes, he was manipulating events around Padme, but no he was not normally manipulating or controlling Padme directly. He simply put her in certain situations and then had plans that took advantage of her expected behavior.

  • Your answer is also good. When I said she was his pawn, I didn't mean he controlled her directly . What I wanted to say was that Palpatine read her like open book, anticipated how she would react and used that to his advantage manipulating events and circumstances in order to make her act like he wanted . Some other person in her place would not be so predictable, and his plans would be greatly complicated . This is the reason, IMHO, why Palpaltine engineered her rise to power and eventual downfall in the end. – rs.29 Dec 13 '16 at 18:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.