Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace (Part V)
I promised myself I’d get at least ONE entry more entry published here before the end of 2018, and DAMN IT, I may only have squeaked it in with one day left to go, BUT I’M HERE AND IT’S HAPPENING. See? Believe in your dreams, put a little effort into it, and anything is possible! (Palpatine taught me that.)
OK! Phantom Menace! Where did we leave things? Oh yes — Mace and Yoda’s Epic Side-Eye of Qui-Gon Jinn (most likely #5,782 in an ongoing series.) Previously, on Sheev Palpatine Really Just Wanted the Universe But What the Hell, He’ll Take the Chosen One Too Since He’s Right There and All, Team Lightsider had returned to Coruscant — this group consists of Qui-Gon “Who the Hell Even Knows What My Deal Is” Jinn, Obi-Wan “Already Sad and Very Tired Somehow” Kenobi, and their friends the future Mr. and Mrs. Skywalker-Amidala (who, I should note, both are generally more levelheaded here, as 9- and 14-year-olds, than they possibly ever will be again,) and Jar Jar Binks, whom I feel a lot of sympathy for because I, too, know the pain that comes with just trying to go about your day and minding your own business when all of a sudden Star Wars shows up and ruins your life.
Not one to let any chance to be horrible pass him by, Sheev Palpatine — Senator by Day, Evil Dark Wizard by Night (and Also By Any Spare 5 Minutes He Has During the Day to Throw That Black Robe On and Holo-Skype Maul) — had quickly set to work giving Padme advice about how she should definitely try to get the current Chancellor kicked out of his job. The swamp simply must be drained, Padme, and only a new Chancellor who will absolutely not be Sheev himself can fix it! Padme had responded by looking Gravely Concerned, which is her default setting, which is understandable given her life.
Meanwhile, back at Jedi HQ, the Council — hanging out in their cool Council Clubhouse which for sure has full electricity, they’re totally working on it, the power company is sending a guy out any day now, the check got lost in the mail, etc — had met to get the lowdown from Qui-Gon on all the crazy shit that happened to them on Tatooine. For one thing, Qui-Gon got attacked! By a Darksider! He can only conclude it was a Sith Lord! Or a Sith Ghost! Or a zombie cooked up by the Nightsisters! Or a dream! Or a time-traveler! But probably it was a Sith Lord!
The Council had reacted to this with a hilarious group eyeroll, and I maintain my headcanon that Qui-Gon is in there every other goddamn week swearing up and down that this time DEFINITELY it was a Sith Lord. Their general consensus had been “the Sith can’t be back, because we destroyed them and obviously evil has never ever come back from the dead in this galaxy even once” which is even funnier when we consider that the Sith in question here is Maul, who will never die (and yes, I am saying this with full awareness of his apparent death in Rebels. What can I say? I’ll never trust again.)
They’d been like “OK, fine, maybe it’s a Sith Lord, who knows. We’ll figure it out, you let the grown-ups deal with this, thank you Qui-Gon, have a nice day, BTW Kenobi always a pleasure to see your handsome face around here”, but before the Council could get back to playing Cards Against Humanity or group nap time whatever the hell they do in there all day, Qui-Gon had been all “But Wait — There’s More!”
He spilled the beans on the Anakin Situation — he found a kid! On Tatooine! He’s so strong with the Force that both Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan have been getting nonstop migraines since he showed up! (Joke’s on Obi-Wan: welcome to the rest of your life!) Qui-Gon thinks that Anakin could maybe be The Chosen One, a person who is supposedly going to bring balance to the Force, possibly! Whatever that involves! The Council, again, was pretty unimpressed here, and now that I’ve been reflecting on this scene a bit in the course of writing this recap, NO WONDER THEY WERE. Qui-Gon basically took custody of some random child! Without asking anybody! What if the events of this film had gone differently and the Council had stuck by their refusal to train him? I suppose that yes, the story was that Qui-Gon was gonna train him no matter what, but still. How would that even have worked? What the hell were they gonna do with Anakin otherwise? Does the Temple have an entire area filled to the brim with stray children that Qui-Gon collected that aren’t going to become Jedi? Would the Council have had to drive Anakin back to Tatooine and bring him back to his mom all sheepishly? COULD they bring him back to his mom? THIS IS A LOT TO SIGN UP FOR on very little concrete information, and that’s before we take into account the fact that Anakin is a very needy person with a lot of problems.
All right. I think I covered most of it. Let’s jump back in and see what these dorks are gonna get into this time.
Anakin Skywalker, Surprisingly Together
We find Baby Anakin hanging out at Queen Amidala’s, because he wants to bid his Lady Love Padme a Fond Farewell, and Anakin hasn’t yet been struck by puberty so he’s still kind of OK at talking to people:
The Queen graciously accepts this and wishes him well:
Anakin is gonna TATTOO this sentiment on his SOUL, isn’t he? He probably went to sleep every night for the next decade all “…her HEART went with me. ME! HER HEART. WENT WITH ME,” and then drew cartoon hearts in a notebook and wrote “Mr. Anakin Padme” all over it.
Recurring Theme: My Ridiculously Circuitous Plan Is One-Quarter Complete
Back in the Senate, Sheev is headed for a real red-letter day in the grand scheme of his, uh, Grand Scheme: as things get underway, the Chancellor recognizes the Pod from Naboo, and Sheev steers them over into the middle of the floor:
He’s got a Tale to Tell: Naboo! It’s been invaded! By the Trade Federation! Who were put up to it by WHO CAN SAY, NOT IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW! He hands off the mic to Padme, who basically reiterates this story while the Trade Federation has a hissy fit in response because HOW DARE YOU:
The group insists that a committee should be sent to Naboo to see if Padme’s full of shit or not about all of this. Sheev, meanwhile, is going Full Night at the Opera with her as the situation deteriorates:
Valorum asks Padme if she’ll agree to let a committee check things out, and she AIN’T HAVING IT:
DUN DUN DUUUUN! Sheev, of course, is confident that they’ll get someone worthy to take the reigns:
…I heard the new Chancellor’s even gonna make the Trade Federation pay for the wall!
Recurring Theme: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Anakin?
Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are doing a walk-and-talk in front of a giant window, so you KNOW something Meaningful is about to go down (and/or it’s just, you know, an average Tuesday around these parts. Whatever.) Obi-Wan lays in with his position on This Whole Anakin Thing: namely, Can We Please Not?
I’m laughing because like…nothing Obi-Wan is saying here is unreasonable. There are…so many reasons to not train Anakin, and Obi-Wan does not even know 1/1000th of them yet. It’s even funnier when you realize Obes is gonna get stuck with the check here, because OF COURSE HE IS.
I love that Qui-Gon’s entire response to this Reasoned and Level-Headed Concern on Obi-Wan’s behalf is “yeah, well, Qui-Gon’s gonna Qui-Gon, and also I know more than you.” Great talk, Dad!
Use Only Number 2 Pencil
In the Council room, WHICH IS VERY POORLY-LIT LIKE SERIOUSLY WHAT THE FUCK, I KNOW I MENTION THIS IN EVERY. SINGLE. ENTRY. BUT I AM STILL SO CONFUSED BY THIS, Anakin is taking his Jedi SATs, which appears to take the form of that card test on psychic powers Dr. Venkman administers in Ghostbusters:
…basically, they hold up a thing, and Anakin has to tell them what it is without being able to see it. THIS IS THE JEDI TEST? That’s it? Or is this like Round 67 of the test and this is the last part? Were there other things like lifting rocks and a talent segment where Anakin had to play the oboe, and an essay portion where he had to explain, in his own words, What Being a Jedi Means to Him? What day is it? How long has he been in there?!
Anyways, whatever’s happening, Anakin’s acing it — he gets all three things we see him do right, which to be fair is probably a personal record for Anakin that I’m not sure he’ll ever best. (Also I’m dying if this is the entire test.) After this Mace and Yoda share a Look, and Yoda proceeds to ask Anakin some questions, which depending on your outlook are either relevant questions that you might want to ask when determining whether or not to teach a child to harness powers that could (ha, yes, could) get him and/or countless others killed if mismanaged, or are the Single Cruelest Thing Anyone Has Ever Done to Anyone In Star Wars Including Every Act of Mass-Murder and Planet-Destruction. Yes, Anakin is made to answer some questions about his state of mind. Yoda asks Anakin:
Eventually they get to the heart of the matter: Anakin understandably misses his mom, and he’s afraid to lose her. Anakin is like YEAH SO WHAT WHO CARES WHEN DO I GET MY LASER SWORD ALREADY, and Yoda is like “well, see, that’s sort of a Thing for us as a collective” and then reads from the Handbook:
Yoda ascertains that Anakin has a lot of fear in him, which as we will learn in spectacular fashion over the next several installments, is entirely accurate and maybe gonna be a problem here. The Council sits back and looks Thoughtfully at Anakin, as if they’re trying to figure out what to do with him, which is something they’d better get used to because this kid and his whole Situation isn’t going away anytime soon.
Recurring Theme: This Asshole
We watch the sun set and rise, and we find Padme staring out a window. What a very refreshing change of pace! Jar Jar is asking her about what’s going to happen on Naboo:
He also throws out there that oh hey, the Gungans have an army BTW. Just in case that matters at all. I love that “army that just sort of appears out of nowhere that will help the good guys” is a Star Wars Recurring Theme. The heroes of this series sure are lucky!
Padme is broken out of her wistful gazing with some Very Exciting News! They’ve picked someone as a nominee to succeed the Chancellor and you guys will NEVER EVER GUESS WHO IT IS:
WOULD YOU LOOK AT THIS GUY. LOOK HOW RADIANTLY HAPPY HE IS. I don’t think anyone in Star Wars has ever been this happy before or since. Sheev is just out there, living his best life at all times. He then says this and I feel like punching a wall and throwing a rose at him in appreciation simultaneously:
What an asshole, honestly. I love him so much. Fuck this guy.
So he’s like “don’t worry all the bad things will be over FOREVER if I become Chancellor, which I DEF will” and he just keeps SMIRKING and I am dying over here.
Padme, meanwhile, is sick of this bullshit: she’s packing her 157 steamer trunks of hats and wigs and capes and beaded ballgowns that she uses as nightwear and she’s going back to Naboo, damn it!
Sheev tries to talk her out of it, saying that she’ll be forced to sign the stupid treaty if she goes back, and I laugh out loud at Padme here because dear GOD this woman 10,000% is Luke and Leia’s mom:
…no wonder Anakin loved her so much. She is just as insane and intense as he is.
She caps this scene off by telling Sheev that she hopes he’ll bring compassion and sanity back to the Senate, and I honestly have to give him extra credit because I have no idea how he manages to get through all these Earnest Conversations About Democracy with Anakin and Padme and Mace and Obi-Wan and Bail and Yoda for the next decade or so without just bursting into hysterical laughter right in their faces.
The Results Are In
We return to the Council Room, and I’m not even going to say it but you KNOW:
I’m sorry, I lied, I am going to bring it up. Yes, it is PITCH BLACK IN THERE, save for those two beams along the wall which are doing fuckall to light this place. Do they watch movies in there at night usually or something? Is THAT why it’s always so dark? Also there do not even appear to be light strips along the floor or a clearly-illuminated emergency exit, which is an OBVIOUS health and safety violation. The Jedi need to bring this shit up at the next union negotiations. Also, HOW MANY HOURS A DAY DO THE COUNCIL SPEND IN THIS ROOM? GODDAMN. Do they leave for lunch or do they have to eat in there too? Are they are actually under house arrest? Is being on the Council less of an honor and more like a punishment? Yoda’s like twelve million years old, I hope they’re at least letting him take naps and pee breaks regularly.
OK OK; I’m done now until the next time we start a scene here. ANYWAYS: the Council’s got the results of Anakin’s Jedi Assessment Test, and they’ve brought in his dad and his long-suffering brother to discuss it with them. First off: yeah, Anakin’s pretty good: the Force is strong with him! At this, Qui-Gon is like YES, thank you, cool: so it’s off to Jedi 101, then?
Mace, hilariously bitchily for some reason which I am going to make up and say was that he and Qui-Gon just went through a bitter breakup and he’s still steamed about it, is like “…nah”:
Anakin, taking this as well as he takes any other time he doesn’t get what he wants, pouts in Mace’s general direction while Obi-Wan seems to be cluing into the fact that this conversation is going to go sideways:
Yoda declares that Anakin’s future is “clouded”, which OK, is A) accurate and B) probably worth taking into account when deciding someone’s Jedi Qualifications, but is also cracking me up because like, that is maybe a LITTLE intense to throw out while the kid is standing right there, hahahahah:
Recurring Theme: The Unbearable Sadness of Obi-Wan
Qui-Gon is like BUT BUT BUT — OK, fine. You hoes won’t train him, then I will:
Ah! Apparently the theme of this conversation is The Grown-Ups Maybe Should Have Discussed This Without the Kids In the Room, because Obes is standing RIGHT DAMN THERE and he’s like “…wait what?” Yes, nothing like finding out you’re getting thrown over for a younger model with your whole family there to witness your pain:
Yoda is like “hold your horses there, buddy — you HAVE a student. We’re looking at him? The one who looks like he’s going to stab you with a spork he stole from the cafeteria as his heart is slowly ground into pieces?”
To my ENORMOUS delight, Yoda declares that it would be “impossible” to take on a second apprentice, and my first thought was “well yes, particularly because you would have to have a death wish to train Obi-Wan and Anakin at the same time”, and then Mace says this in this TOTALLY FLAT “duh” tone of voice:
LOL. The Code forbids this? That seems…really arbitrary, but OK. They’ve never had a need for someone to train two people at once in like 25,000 years? Never? What else is in that thing, Windu? No blue milk on Fridays? Dancing is forbidden, a la Footloose? Does it say anything about Obi-Wan being required to wear that hideous haircut, or did you guys just inflict that on him (and me) to be mean?
Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Will Just Go Ahead and Ignore This Crippling Emotional and/or Physical Pain
Ah, but in true Obes fashion, he rallies as Qui-Gon insists that Obi-Wan is ready for the trials, which I assume mostly involves more stupid picture guessing games and maybe in Obi-Wan’s case a chance to show off his burgeoning ability to flirt people into submission. He totally is ready for his final exam, he swears, and also in true Obes fashion, he kiiiinda looks like he’s ready to fight someone:
Yoda is like “um OK thank you guys, but we decide who’s ready for the tests around here”, and Qui-Gon is like “OK fine so Obi-Wan has a lot of problems that I will now list out in front of him”:
Oooh, but he’s capable! Try not to die of pride over there, Kenobi! Obi-Wan hangs his head sadly at this, and again, I would just like to suggest that while it’s likely that no one in here is telling any lies, MAYBE ANAKIN AND OBI-WAN SHOULD HAVE WAITED IN THE HALL DURING THIS CONVERSATION. The Jedi Order is not a place for people with fragile egos, I guess, because they are gonna TELL IT TO YOU STRAIGHT, IN FRONT OF EVERYBODY.
Then I laugh because the Council just sort of gives up and is like “anyways we’re not here to decide anything about Anakin right now”. I…thought that was the WHOLE REASON THEY WERE IN HERE RIGHT NOW? OK. Mace tells them that the Republic’s getting a new Chancellor, and Queen Amidala is going back home because she is a hothead who enjoys near-death experiences. Naturally, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are getting sent with her, because they evidently think that her going back there will draw out her attacker from before:
…well, someone’s sure changed his tune about whether or not the Sith are back! Or maybe he’s just assuming that Maul will show up and turn out to just be a dude in a Halloween costume, and then they’ll all have a good laugh at Qui-Gon’s expense.
Also, I love that they send them off here and tell them nothing about where to stick Anakin during all of this. So the Jedi Council are just, what? Assuming Anakin is gonna go with them? To a warzone? Anakin can’t just hang out with the Jedi Kids until they figure out what to do with him? THIS IS SUCH A BAD IDEA, YOU GUYS, COME ON.
Recurring Theme: Anakin Skywalker, Problem
So Team Nerd is about to head out to Naboo, and Obi-Wan is blahblahblahing at Qui-Gon about how Anakin is clearly Trouble (I wonder how often THIS conversation haunted him later,) and Qui-Gon’s retort is, essentially: shut up and get on the ship. Also I would like to point out that, once again, ANAKIN IS STANDING RIGHT THERE WHILE THEY ARE DISCUSSING WHETHER OR NOT HE IS SECRETLY SATAN. LOL. GUYS.
Obi-Wan makes a face and is all “this is totally bogus, man,” and stalks off to the ship. After he leaves, Anakin tells Qui-Gon that he doesn’t want to be a problem, which I guess I buy at this point in Anakin’s life at least (as opposed to later, when he takes great pleasure in being a problem, hahaha,) and Qui-Gon reassures him with a lie:
L O L. The only thing spoken in Star Wars that is a bigger lie than this is that time in Revenge of the Sith when Anakin tells Padme he doesn’t want to hear any more about Obi-Wan, when we all know full damn well that Anakin is going to spend the entire rest of his life bringing up Obi-Wan in every fucking conversation he has, even when Obi-Wan’s been missing or dead for years.
Anyways, Qui-Gon explains that since he can’t train Anakin right now, he wants him to stay close and absorb being a Jedi by osmosis:
Recurring Theme: Child Audience Proxy
Anakin is handed a note card from George Lucas that reads “ask Qui-Gon about midi-chlorians so that I have a reason to try and explain this latest wacky thing to the audience”, and Anakin does just that:
Qui-Gon lays down the basics:
Microbial Forcelings! Sure. Why not? This isn’t even in the top 5 weirdest things going on in this galaxy at this point anyways. Also, it’s sweet that Qui-Gon thinks Anakin will ever be able to quiet his mind. Awww.
With that, the gang packs it all up, and Qui-Gon assures Padme that she’s in good hands and he won’t allow anything tragic to happen to her because, as we have established several times already, Qui-Gon Jinn is a damn liar.
…and so, my friends, this brings us to the end of this installment of Obi-Wan Probably Should Have Just Dropped Anakin Into a Mailbox At Some Point on This Journey, and that also means this is the last entry here on Snark Wars for 2018! I thank you all for your readership, and I am very much looking forward to more entries where I yell at you all about Obi-Wan’s hair and Vader’s dramatic entrances and, inevitably, my anguish at whatever they’re planning to do to whoever’s left at the end of Episode 9. It’s been my pleasure to be your partially-reliable guide to the wonderful world of Star Wars this year — see you all in 2019!