1:00:01 – 1:15:00
As this chapter of the 15-Minute Force (Sith Edition) kicks off, General Grievous is doing what General Grievous does best: fleeing the scene of battle when it’s obvious he’s on the losing side. He hops on a neat, robotic giant rolling wheel bike that I’m almost certain was a Hasbro or Kenner toy the year the movie came out. It has clawed limbs that come out when needed and retract when what you really need is a giant rolling wheel. I remember seeing them on the shelves at Target, for whom I was once an indentured servant.
At any rate, Grievous hops on his wheel bike and Obi-Wan Kenobi whistles for his lizard steed, the one with the annoying warbling cries. I don’t recall seeing the lizard beast as a toy, but it probably was one. At the beginning of this frenetic pursuit, Obi-Wan drops and loses his lightsaber because…well, Star Wars.
Cut to a Jedi hologram conference with a new twist. The Jedi, both Mace Windu and Anakin in the flesh, the others in blue-tinged holographic form, are gathered around a glowing table where more tiny holograms reveal a battle in progress. A clone trooper hologram interrupts to tell Master Windu that General Kenobi has made contact with General Grievous and that the clone troopers have begun their attack. The other Jedi at the table are Master Yoda, of course, and the one with the high forehead whose name is something like Katmandu, and the blue one with the two girthy head tenacles who makes me think of the Asari for some reason. I could look up their names, but where’s the fun in that?
Windu instructs Anakin to give this news to Chancellor Palpatine. The chancellor’s reaction will give them a clue to his intentions. Anakin agrees, and as he leaves, the look on Windu’s face makes it clear that he still doesn’t trust Anakin.
After Anakin leaves the room, Windu says that he senses a plot to destroy the Jedi. The dark side of the Force, he says, surrounds the chancellor. Windu is the smartest of all the Jedi, I’ve decided, and I’m including Master Yoda in that assessment.
K-K-K-K-K-Katmandu (Bob Seger shoutout, y’all) opines that Palpatine should be removed from office if he refuses to give up his emergency powers after General Grievous is eliminated.
Yeah, that’s right, sez Windu. The Jedi will have to take control of the Senate to ensure a peaceful transition.
To a dark place this line of thought will carry us, Yoda says. That’s his job, it seems. Making darkly pessimistic and ominous statements in every situation. If things work out favorably, everyone forgets the things Master Buzzkill said. If things go sideways, everyone thinks he’s a freakin’ genius. Things often go sideways.
Cut to, Anakin going to visit his old pal, Chancellor Palpatine. Everything in Palpatine’s office is red and black, including his glowing red computer monitor. Palpatine swivels around in his highbacked black chair, something they teach in Sith Lord school, and Anakin tells him about Obi-Wan and Grievous. We can only hope Master Kenobi is up to the challenge, Palpatine says. Then he goes on to continue to stuff Anakin’s presumably hollow head with self-doubt and paranoia. It’s a shame that the Jedi don’t appreciate his talents. Haven’t you wondered why they don’t make you a Master? Blah…blah…come to the Dark Side, Ani…
Then, in this conversation, Palpatine gives up all pretense. He asks Anakin to allow him to instruct him in the subtleties of the Force. Even the almost supernaturally dense Anakin Skywalker figures out, this time, that Palpatine is the Sith Lord, after the chancellor tells him that only through him will Anakin be able to save his wife from certain death. Anakin fires up his lightsaber, but Palpatine continues to casually waltz around the room, unconcerned, like a Boss.
Are you going to kill me? Palpatine asks, with his back to Anakin.
I would certainly like to, Anakin says.
I know you would, Palpatine hisses. I can feel your anger. It gives you focus. Makes you stronger.
He turns to face Anakin, but the young Jedi turns off his lightsaber, choosing not to kill the Sith Lord. He tells Palpatine that he’s going to turn him over to the Jedi Council. Palpatine says that sounds reasonable. But, he adds, you’re still not sure about their intentions, are you?
Palpatine is in Anakin’s head. That’s certain.
Back in the day, there was this guy who could never beat me in raquetball. He was good enough to beat me. I know this, because he used to regularly defeat another friend of mine, who was evenly matched with me. But, I was in his head. Every time we stepped on the court, he would say he knew he was going to lose this game, and I would assure him that he would. And he did. I was in his head. And I’m no Sith Lord, as far as you know. I bet Palpatine always beat Anakin in raquetball.
Cut back to the lizard-wheel bike chase sequence. Wait a minute…are we to assume that the chase has been going on in realtime since we cut away to the Jedi holo-conference? We’ve had time for the conference and for Anakin to travel to Palpatine’s office and find out that Palpatine was the secret Sith Lord (even though it was so obvious that he might as well have been wearing a red neon sign around his neck that said SITH LORD HERE). That’s one long chase sequence.
Lizard power proves sufficient enough for Obi-Wan to catch up to Grievous’s wheel bike. Grievous also has one of those electrostaffs that the MagnaGuards carry. He tries to fend off Obi-Wan, to no avail. The Jedi Master leaps from the back of his lizard steed and joins the cyborg general on the wheel bike. The two tussle for a moment and then fall off the bike as it rolls off another of those precariously perched platforms without guardrails that proliferate in the Star Wars universe. Obi-Wan has the electrostaff with its ends crackling with purple lightning. Grievous has a blaster, temporarily. The Jedi knocks the blaster out of the cyborg general’s hand and then jabs him with the electrified tip of his staff. Grievous is briefly on his back until he kicks the Jedi off of him. Obi-Wan drops the electrostaff. The two engage in hand-to-hand combat, and Obi-Wan is at the disadvantage here until he decides to use his hands to pry apart the apparently flimsy parts that protect Grievous’s internal organs. This angers Grievous, obviously, and he throws the Jedi around a bit before hurling him off the platform, where Obi-Wan dangles. Jedi do a lot of dangling.
I’m going to interrupt this action to talk about the flimsy pieces of metal or plastic or whatever they’re made out of that protect Grievous’s organic organs. This is just shoddy engineering. Are we to assume that this is just Sith hubris at work here? Are the Sith so foolishly overconfident that they design everything with a relatively simple fatal flaw? Like exhaust ports in Death Stars? This is as silly as the incomprehensible Sith Rule of Two.
As Obi-Wan dangles, Grievous picks up the crackling electrostaff and stalks towards him. It’s apparent that Obi-Wan is going to die this time. There’s no way out for him…
And, he uses to Force to get the blaster and then shoots Grievous in his vulnerable sweet spot, between the machined parts he pried apart using only his hands. He shoots him a couple of times, actually, and the cyborg burns in bright flame from the inside out. He’s dead. Oh, Greivous, we hardly knew ye. Who grieves for Grievous?
After Obi-Wan climbs back onto the platform, he tosses the blaster aside and, standing over Grievous’s corpse, says, “So uncivilized.” I’m not sure if he’s talking about himself or the cyborg.
And, back to Anakin, who is approaching Master Windu and asks to speak to him. Mace tells Anakin that they just got word that Obi-Wan has destroyed General Grievous, and they are heading over to Palpatine’s place to make sure he returns emergency powers back to the Senate. Anakin says he doesn’t think Palpatine will give up those powers. He says he thinks Palpatine is a Sith Lord because he knows the ways of the Force and has been trained in the Dark Side. Well, yeah, that would be a clue, Ani. Anakin says that he should come with them if they plan to arrest Palpatine, because he is too strong.
Master Windu tells Anakin to stay out of this affair for his own good. He senses much confusion in Anakin. And, let’s face it, he still doesn’t trust Anakin, and who can blame him? He orders Anakin to stay behind.
Anakin doesn’t have any problems with obedience, does he? Sure, he’ll stay behind.
Padme, in her apartment, seems to share some kind of psychic moment with Anakin who is, temporarily at least, in the Jedi Council chamber. Anakin is thinking about what Palpatine said about his being the only way to save Padme’s life. We hear Palpatine’s voice in Anakin’s head. Oh, yeah. He owns this little Jedi punk. Padme stares towards the Jedi building. She senses something is up. At least, I guess that’s what we’re supposed to deduct from this weird little scene.
A single tear rolls down Anakin’s cheek as if he is channeling Chief Iron Eyes Cody and just saw some litter on the roadside. And, no surprise here, he defies his orders and goes after the Jedi. The only question, for the moment, is whether he’s going to help the Jedi or keep them from harming Palpatine. I sense much confusion in young Skywalker.
Windu enters Palpatine’s office with three Jedi in tow. I don’t know these Jedi. They might as well be wearing red Starfleet shirts. Windu tells Palpatine that, in the name of the Galactic Senate of the Republic, he is under arrest. Lightsabers blaze—two green, one blue, and Windu’s own badass purple one.
“Are you threatening me?” Palpatine asks. Uh, no. He wasn’t threatening. He was arresting you. I thought that was clear.
Windu says, “The Senate will decide your fate.”
“I am the Senate,” Palpatine says, his voice changing to something decidedly more evil.
“Not yet,” says Windu.
Palpatine rises from his chair, and some spring-loaded device hidden in his sleeve shoots his own lightsaber into the palm of his hand. He fires it up. Red, of course. It goes with the office decor. “It’s treason then,” he says, then launches himself across the room in a tight spiral, quickly killing all the Jedi whose names I don’t know, leaving only Windu as an opponent. The two dance a brief tango as they wait for Anakin to arrive. During this viewing, the choreography was almost too obvious. Both men move very slowly and stiffly. Maybe not as stiffly as the Darth Vader/Obi-Wan duel in A New Hope. We’ll have to wait and see when I watch that one sometime in the future.
Anakin arrives and drives around for a half hour looking for a parking space.
Meanwhile, Palpatine begins to look less stiff, as he hops around and executes somersaults, very much like Master Yoda in the last movie. I think this supports my theory that Yoda secretly dabbles in the Dark Side. His Sith name is probably something like Darth Bilious. Someone breaks the glass in Palpatine’s huge picture window. I think it was Windu. Mace Windu Breaks Window, the headline might read, if the Star Wars universe had anything resembling the Press.
When Anakin enters the room, however, Palpatine looks like a helpless, unarmed old man, lying on the window sill with Mace Windu’s large, throbbing purple lightsaber aimed at his throat. Mace growls again that he is under arrest. Palpatine plays up the scene, his voice quavering as he tells Anakin that he said it would come to this. The Jedi are taking over. Poor, poor pitiful Palpatine.
Then Palpatine uses Force lightning on Windu, who tries to block it with his lightsaber. As the two face off, Palpatine’s face begins to change, so that it begins to look more like the Emperor did in Return of the Jedi. Kind of like the way your fingertips look if you stay in the bath too long, all pruny and pale. Palpatine tells Anakin that he has to choose. Essentially, the message seems to be, Save Palpatine or Padme Dies. At least that’s the version of the story the chancellor is pushing.
Palpatine says he can’t hold on any longer, and he asks for Anakin’s help. The Force lightning stops, and it appears that Windu is going to use his lightsaber to kill the chancellor. He even says, “I’m going to end this once and for all.”
Anakin says, “You can’t. He must stand trial.”
“He has control of the Senate and the Courts,” Windu correctly points out. “He’s too dangerous to be left alive.”
Palpatine continues to plead with Anakin. His forehead suddenly looks like a wrinkled ass.
“It’s not the Jedi way,” Anakin says to Windu. “He must live.”
You can understand Anakin’s disillusionment, at least somewhat. He’s right. This isn’t the Jedi way. But, Windu is correct as well. Killing Palpatine seems like the best option. There’s no time to debate this, however. Palpatine pleads, “Please don’t,” while Anakin pleads, “I need him,” but Windu raises his lightsaber to deliver the killing blow anyway.
Anakin uses his own lightsaber to slice off Windu’s saber hand. While Windu is screaming in pain, Palpatine smiles and renews his attack with the Force lightning. At the 1:15:00 mark, Windu is dancing the jitterbug in front of the now-open window while Palpatine yells, “Unlimited power!”
Windu’s probably going to die. I not going to ruin it for you since we’re picking up at this spot next week. I will tell you not to be optimistic about his chances this time, though.
This was an exciting quarter-hour that felt more like a final action sequence marching towards the end of the movie. But, as I look at the counter, we still have more than an hour to go. This was the midpoint of the movie. Even though Anakin just used his lightsaber against a fellow Jedi, and Chancellor Palpatine was outed as the Sith Lord, Darth Sidious, it appears that Anakin’s journey to the Dark Side is not yet complete. More stuff is going to happen.
It’s been a while since I watched this. I remember some of what happens next, but not an hour’s worth. I’m looking forward to our next chapter.
Until then…Losing Your Dominant Hand is a Frequent Workplace Injury for Jedi Knights: Try Being Ambidextrous…And May the 15-Minute Force Be With You.