One of the great things about Star Wars is that it inspires endless debates and opinions on a wide array of topics. Best bounty hunter? Most powerful Jedi? Does Salacious Crumb have the best haircut in the saga? In that spirit, StarWars.com presents From a Certain Point of View: a series of point-counterpoints on some of the biggest — and most fun — Star Wars issues. In this installment, two StarWars.com writers discuss which single moment was the Empire’s finest.
The destruction of Jedha City is the Empire’s greatest moment, says Justin.
“Power! Unlimited power!” It’s not pride. It’s a promise. Palpatine’s declaration to Mace Windu as he pummels the Jedi Master with Force lightning is a preview to his former “colleague” of the galaxy that is to come under his enlightened rule. A galaxy in which no challenge is too great, no decision is questioned, and no force opposes his will.
And make no mistake, the Empire is Palpatine’s will. Its capabilities are the personification of his power, power the Sith worked one thousand years in secret to finally acquire. And there is nothing more powerful in the Empire’s arsenal than the Death Star.
The ability to destroy a planet… Think about that for a minute. No, really think about it. A government with the power to erase an entire people, their history, everything they’ve ever been or hope to be, all in the blink of an eye. It’s terrifying. And for an Empire ruled through fear, it’s perfect.
Which is why the successful test of the Death Star as seen in Rogue One is the Empire’s greatest moment.
It represents the Empire’s attainment of the unlimited power Palpatine promised. A destroyer of worlds awaiting his command to decimate any and all he deems deserving of destruction.
It represents the Empire’s final victory over the Jedi. Destroying a possible birthplace of the Order with the ultimate symbol of the Sith’s revenge posthumously rubs the noses of every dead Jedi in their defeat. The fact that kyber crystals that were stolen from them and pillaged from their holy sites to fuel the Death Star only adds further insult to injury.
It represents the end of the Republic and the beginning of an era of absolute, unquestioned Imperial rule. Because of the Death Star’s success at Jedha, Palpatine was emboldened to dissolve the Galactic Senate and give the power to run the galaxy to men and women answerable only to him. In the face of such awesome power, who will dare oppose the Emperor?
There’s a reason Leia calls this time in the galaxy’s history the Rebellion’s most desperate hour. In the face of a completed, fully armed and operational Death Star, they have no hope of victory without the strategic insight those stolen plans give them. And you know what? They learned that lesson from the destruction of Jedha City.
There is no greater moment for the Empire than this one, when victory was achieved in a horrifying and beautiful (Krennic’s words) display of power.
Unlimited power, indeed.
The dissolution of the Imperial Senate is the Empire’s greatest moment, says Brendan.
Instead of glory in battle, I decided on an understated yet incredibly historic moment: the dissolution of the Imperial Senate.
In A New Hope, Grand Moff Tarkin announces that the “Imperial Senate will no longer be of any concern…the Emperor has dissolved the council permanently.” But this quiet moment doesn’t quite communicate the seismic revelation therein — that the galaxy, for the first time in over a thousand years, will be without democratically-elected representation.
It’s clear that Palpatine was fine with keeping the Imperial Senate around to ensure stability and give the appearance of normalcy, but it outlived its usefulness. Power players like Mon Mothma and, of course, the Organas, abused their diplomatic rank time and time again, which only made things harder for the Empire. In the aftermath of the Battle of Scarif, Senator Leia Organa even flaunted her immunity, and lied to Lord Vader’s face when her (red-striped, diplomatic) Corellian corvette was boarded.
The Senate remained an annoyance for the true leaders of the Empire, who had to bend over backwards to explain away events like the “mining accident” on Jedha. In order for the Emperor’s vision to fully succeed, this obsolete emblem of false democracy had to be discarded.
When Palpatine dissolved the Imperial Senate offscreen in A New Hope, he put his scheme’s last phase into motion. A strong system of regional governors (like Tarkin himself) made direct control over local systems from the Core to the Outer Rim possible. If things had gone according to plan, the Death Star would have replaced the Senate as a new icon, one that reflected the might and scientific prowess of the new order.
The Empire, no longer constrained by the old norms, was finally free to exert its military might against its enemies with its Navy and the Death Star. Flimsy norms and decorum could no longer protect figures like Mon and Leia from arrest, giving the Emperor the ability to crush his political opposition once and for all with his unlimited power.
Dissolving the Senate was the final move in Palpatine’s decades-long game of political dejarik and that’s what makes it great. Check and mate…goodbye democracy and hello dictatorship! As if Palpatine wasn’t clear enough in Revenge of the Sith, it’s crystal clear that by ditching the last remnant of the Old Republic in A New Hope, he truly is the Senate.
What do you think is the Empire’s greatest moment? Comment and let us know!
Justin Bolger is Lucasfilm’s Star Wars social media strategist and he doesn’t like the Empire… he loves it. Catch him occasionally on The Star Wars After Show and talk Star Wars with him on Twitter @TheApexFan.
Brendan Nystedt was very afraid of Darth Vader hiding under his bed when he was five years old. Now, he writes reviews of consumer electronics for Reviewed.com. Please follow him on Twitter @bnystedt!