After Anakin informs Windu that Palpatine is a Sith Lord, Mace and 3 Jedi (Kit Fisto, Agen Kolar, and Saesee Tiin) go to arrest him. After a bit of banter Darth Sidious then kills the three Jedi almost instantly.

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Why were they so rubbish?! And why was Windu so much better? They were all on the council IIRC. No wonder Palpatine was making so many funny faces.

  • 1
    Rubbish? The Jedi seemed to have the upper hand until Anakin betrayed them.
    – phantom42
    Mar 26 '14 at 16:56
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    Most of the Jedi were out playing war at the time and the Jedi had no idea how powerful Sidious was.
    – Xantec
    Mar 26 '14 at 16:58
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    I'll admit that the first part of the battle is one of the worst duels we see in the films, especially seeing Kit's poor showing - but Windu holds his own until Anakin's betrayal. Nothing can defeat the bad writing of the prequels, I'm afraid.
    – joshbirk
    Mar 26 '14 at 17:26
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    Also - if you watch the duel with Yoda, Sidious is holding WAAAAY back for Anakin's benefit. He probably could have force blasted Windu at any moment towards the end.
    – joshbirk
    Mar 26 '14 at 17:32
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    Watch "The Lawless" of The Clone Wars. Palpatine is in a class above all four of these Jedi. Even Windu. I can't go into details without a spoiler tag - but basically Yoda was probably the only person who might have arrested Palpatine in that scene. Even Windu is getting played to the end. Those Jedi aren't rubbish - they're just clueless as to what they are up against.
    – joshbirk
    Mar 30 '14 at 6:02

I'm about to express something that might upset some hardcore fans. Be warned.

Most Jedi are rubbish (by your definition of rubbish)

The stories we see about them in the movies, games and books are typically about great Jedi. We get an inflated expectation about the skill of the average Jedi from this. While a Jedi is a formidable opponent in general, there are certainly talented individuals even outside force users that can best them.

  • Grievous routinely kills Jedi with relatively primitive cybernetic enhancements and while being outnumbered by them.
  • The IG series of droids also routinely dispatch Jedi in large numbers.
  • Bounty hunters are seen to be able to best Jedi as bounties very often. Not just the most elite ones capturing Jedi.
  • Most of the Jedi are easily killed by the Clone Troopers after Order 66.

Jedi are not gods. The most powerful ones completely outclass the average ones. And even the most powerful ones can be beaten.

  • 2
    No offense, but not only does this fail to cite a single source, the supporting bullets are highly debatable as they are exaggerated AND it doesn't really answer the question at hand. Not even internally consistent since the the answer is that most are rubbish, and then admits they're a formidable opponent in general. I know an opinion question begs an opinion answer, but c'mon.
    – joshbirk
    Mar 26 '14 at 20:07
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    @joshbirk I mean rubbish here in the sense that they can't be expected to do much better than this against an opponent like Sidious. I'm challenging the supposition that the OP is making that Jedi should do better than these ones did. I don't feel that my bullet points are important enough to the answer to worry about responding.
    – DampeS8N
    Mar 26 '14 at 20:25
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    @DampS8N - the answer reads currently as "the average Jedi is rubbish", and then uses exaggeration to prove the point. All four of the Jedi in the scene are proven veterans of the war. Agen, who goes down first IIRC, is a noted swordsman. If anything, this answer borders on trolling.
    – joshbirk
    Mar 26 '14 at 20:37
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    In a general way, and like it or not, this answer just makes sense. Jedi are easily disposed of in the prequel trilogy. I know they are "caught off guard," but that is exactly what makes Jedi rubbish or, better, not outstanding. They're Jedi. They're not supposed to be "caught off guard" by clone troopers or especially by someone they're arresting as a Sith. People who get caught off guard are amateurs, not the Navy Seals or Army Rangers but everyone else.
    – FoxMan2099
    Mar 29 '14 at 3:29
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    @joshbirk Now that there are a few years behind this. I hope it is clearer to you that I am not calling Jedi rubbish in this answer. I'm saying they aren't supermen and were entirely outclassed in this fight even without Anakin there. There are people, especially other high level force users, that can best them. If being beaten by one of the best force users in history makes you rubbish, than most Jedi are rubbish.
    – DampeS8N
    Jan 4 '16 at 14:36

They were just caught completely off guard.

Windu was an awesome lightsaber swordsman and even he had his work cut out for him fighting Palpatine.

While they knew he was strong with the force they did not seem to expect him to be as fast, fierce and skilled as he was or to come at them as directly as he did.

  • 6
    Windu was once of the best swordsmen in the ranks of the Jedi at the time, and he used an extremely rare fighting style. (One which worked better against those who have given in to the Dark Side.) This goes a long way to explaining the difference between Windu doing so much better against Palpatine than the others (even besides Main Character Powers™ or being a higher-paid actor).
    – Brian S
    Mar 26 '14 at 18:25
  • The first part of the duel makes it seems like the first two Jedi who go down aren't even prepared for a fight at all, despite having lightsabers drawn. My biggest disappointment is how quickly Fisto goes down, he's quite likable in The Clone wars.
    – joshbirk
    Mar 26 '14 at 20:12
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    I suspect they felt that their numbers would intimidate Palpatine into submission and, as you said, were not actually prepared to fight. It is a wise move by Palpatine to choose his targets that order. His blitz attack was aimed at the people who were likely to die from it to reduce the odds against him.
    – Stefan
    Mar 27 '14 at 9:41
  • @BrianS If the Sith had been laying low for a long time prior, who did Mace Windu practice his saber style against to perfect it?
    – Xantec
    Mar 27 '14 at 14:02
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    They were arresting a Sith, how on earth could they be caught off guard?
    – FoxMan2099
    Mar 29 '14 at 3:31

Darth Sidious has two things going for him: Superior power and skill, and the element of surprise.

Sidious is immensely powerful and experienced in the Dark Side. Average or even above-average Jedi are seriously outclassed. Think of Dooku vs Anakin in Ep2 or Vader vs Luke in Ep5; but in this case the difference is even greater, because the Skywalkers had exceptional raw power to compensate for their lack of experience. As Stefan's comment points out, Sidious' best tactic is to dispatch the weaker Jedi immediately to allow him to concentrate on Mace. He only has to get past their guard once to bring them down, and that's exactly what he does.

Perhaps more importantly, Mace's companions are not physically or psychologically ready for a duel with Palpatine/Sidious. Consider it from their perspective:

  • They have been told Palpatine is a Sith Lord, but he is able to conceal his Force powers, and he has been ruling the galaxy for the last decade. He and the Jedi have been working together on strategy in the Clone Wars and they probably have spent a lot of time with him. It's like a senior US military officer being told the President is an evil kung fu master and has to be arrested. Even if he decides to go along with it, he's going to be a little hesitant.

  • It's highly doubtful whether they have the legal authority to arrest the Chancellor or to take command of the republic afterwards -- effectively, they are staging a coup. They may be feeling more than a little conflicted about this.

  • The Sith have been no more than a legend for a thousand years. Deep down, the Jedi may simply find it hard to believe they have returned.

  • Lightsaber duels with another Force user are very rare, and Jedi have limited time to spend on training for them. Even if they have some duelling practice, it's one thing to train against another Jedi, and quite different to face an opponent who really wants you dead.

For all these reasons, they are not prepared for Palpatine to draw a lightsaber and try to kill them, and they pay the price. OTOH, Mace himself is a lot more powerful, and after seeing his companions die he is in no doubt whatsoever about what he has to do.

Finally, out-of-universe, this is a way for Lucas to establish that Sidious is amazingly dangerous. This guy is so scary that he can cut down three Jedi like they were mannequins. It is rather clumsy storytelling, but that's the way it goes in the prequels.


I think this is only a problem of cinema language.

Here what the movie wants to present is a big duel between two exceptional swordmasters. But we have no previous experience of their skills... so... how to measure how exceptional are they?

Well... IMHO this is not the best way to do it; but if one of them dispatches three enemies on a glimpse, the first think that cames to your mind is that he's quite a champ. As the defeated are also jedi (who we tend to think that all of them are great swordmasters, althought they aren't always) the sensation is strenghted.

So within few seconds you've stated the base premise for your scene on the minds of the spectators. Two swordsmans duel, and they must be absolutely exceptional as both seems pretty even during a fight, but one of them was able to cut down several other great swordmans in the blink of an eye.

Visual language needs to be fast, and complex fighting coreographies between several fighters are difficult to build. A fight of 4 jedi against one lethal enemy would have been more difficult to film, would last longer and would, surely, given a different idea about Mace Windu's swordsplay.

I'm sure that a novel covering these events would make a very different description of the scene.

  • 1
    I would state it less diplomatically, but yes - I'm kind of inclined to agree that part of the problem with the scene isn't the actual outcome but how it is portrayed. If you look to the duplicate question, DVK's answer goes into the novelization which has better detail on the scene.
    – joshbirk
    Mar 27 '14 at 14:14

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