The Problem and the Solution: Why Palpatine from Star Wars is One of the Great Movie Villains | MZS

Palpatine successfully uses the arsonist-firefighter strategy more times as the saga unfolds. In “Attack of the Clones,” all the stuff involving the separatist movement (led by former Jedi Count Dooku) is an elaborate long con. It’s intended to confront the Galactic Senate with a threat so immense that they’ll vote to give Chancellor “emergency powers” to create a clone army which, unbeknownst to anyone but Palpatine, is not loyal to the republic, but only to Palpatine personally. (There continues to be confusion about the Palpatine-Dooku connection–understandable, given how densely plotted the prequels are—but it’s settled at the end of “Attack of the Clones” when Dooku lands on Coruscant and meets with Palpatine-as-Sidious and tells him “war has begun,” to which Palpatine replies, “Excellent. Everything is going as planned.”) 

There’s wonderful political and thematic continuity in the scene where the Galactic Senate grants Palpatine emergency powers. The senator introducing the resolution is again from Naboo: Jar-Jar Binks, who’s dumb as a box of rocks and surely thinks highly of Palpatine, a fellow Naboo native. Binks is just a temp, filling in for Padme because she’s off trying to rescue Obi-Wan Kenobi, who is being held captive by Dooku, Palpatine’s partner in conspiracy. Everything going as planned, indeed.

“Revenge of the Sith” escalates Palpatine’s scheming even further. It begins with Palpatine being held captive by Dooku and General Grievous, the cyborg leader of a separatist droid army allied with Dooku’s rebellious star systems. Anakin and Obi-Wan are sent to rescue the chancellor, and after Obi-Wan is knocked unconscious, Anakin defeats Dooku. Then, at the urgings of Palpatine, Anakin gives into the dark side and cuts his head off (something Palpatine must’ve known Anakin would do, having followed his career with great interest). 

Palpatine is relaxed, confident, patient. Like a spider. His scheme has multiple stages and layers. It doesn’t have a sell-by date, nor is it dependent on every single thing going exactly as he’d envisioned back when he was gaming things out. For instance, he didn’t plan for the sudden appearance of a possible “Chosen One,” Anakin Skywalker, brought to Coruscant via Tatooine and Naboo by a Jedi who has trouble following protocol. Still, he barely misses a step, telling the boy hero at the end of “The Phantom Menace” that “we will watch your career with great interest.”