Monday, March 25, 2013

the six dumbest characters in a galaxy far, far away


This was a piece I originally pitched to Cracked.com. They shot it down because apparently only their oh-so-wonderful, magnificent, glorious staff writers get to do editorials. Their loss is your incredible gain, particularly now that Star Wars is ramping up via Disney to potentially be a thing again.

Let’s face it: Just because you’re technologically advanced enough to clone Boba Fett’s dad, make the speed of light your bitch, or give Billy Dee Williams a purpose besides shilling for Colt 45 doesn’t necessarily mean you have the street smarts you need to thrive in a galaxy far, far away. Today, we look at the characters of Star Wars with lapses of intelligence so staggering, I’m surprised they can muster enough motor function to walk upright like a proper caveman.

Shmi Skywalker

Although Anakin Skywalker did ultimately grow up to be douchier than a Massengill factory, he was actually a sweet (albeit annoying) kid. So it’s perfectly understandable that his mother wouldn’t want him racing pods all over Tattooine and ending up pancaked on a canyon wall in a heap of flaming, twisted metal. Although I hear George Lucas was planning to add that scene the next time the movies were re-released.

So when Anakin volunteers to get behind the stick (or whatever you drive a racing pod with) to help a few outlanders he literally just met, Shmi’s chagrin is palpable. Which is why it’s somewhat surprising that, mere seconds later, she completely reverses her position. It’s almost as if her keen maternal instincts are overridden in a sudden moment of empathy or sloppy writing.

Yoda

In his twilight years, Yoda would instruct Luke in the ways of the Force, tempering the youthful Skywalker’s impatience and impertinence with a wisdom and restraint that came from (presumably) experience. But during the last days of the Republic, as the galaxy found itself facing an emerging Sith threat, Yoda was more clueless than a 1990s Alicia Silverstone vehicle.

Forget for a moment that Yoda has a speech impediment so glaring he would’ve automatically been relegated to the finest special ed classes the Dagobah Unified School District had to offer. He senses right away that something is off about Anakin when Qui Gon presents him before the Jedi Council. But rather than stick to his guns when Obi-Wan insists on training him, he just kind of shrugs his shoulders and says, “Boys, boys they will be.”

And when it comes time to hide Luke and Leia from Vader, whose chances of ever being conferred a “World’s Greatest Dad” mug are quickly diminishing by that point, Yoda sends Luke to stay with his uncle—Vader’s stepbrother. I guess he’s counting on the dark lord never wanting to swing by the old homestead one of these years for Space Thanksgiving.

The Jedi Council, in general

If Yoda was the only bonehead on the Jedi Council, there might have been some hope for these guys. Unfortunately, they were all completely asleep at the wheel as Palpatine engineered a clone army behind everyone’s backs, somehow convinced them that said army was in no way suspicious, and then had the clones do an abrupt about-face, staging the most spectacular coup d’├ętat in galactic history.

All of that could have been avoided if a practicing Sith lord in their midst would’ve triggered just one of their spider senses. But I guess maybe that’s expecting too much of the most attuned Force-users in the whole frigging galaxy. With that level of obliviousness, I imagine there probably were credits to be made selling their e-mail addresses to a “Nigerian Prince.”

And that whole prophecy about the Chosen One bringing balance to the Force? I guess they just forgot that there was a Dark Side to the Force. And, you know, what the word “balance” means.

Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader

I get it. I mean, what guy living hasn’t done something dumb because of a girl? But Anakin really takes the taco. When he has a premonition that Padme will die in childbirth, he’ll do anything to keep that from happening. “Anything,” in this case, means selling out his principles, trying to kill his best friend, and aiding and abetting his galaxy’s equivalent of Hitler. But, in the end, Padme dies anyway when she succumbs to an incurable case of irony. The Emperor then tells Gullible McSucker that he was directly responsible for her death, prompting him to scream “Noooooo!” as he senses a gaping plot hole in the Force.

Let’s not forget that Vader was totally planning to stab the Emperor in the back if he could’ve gotten Padme to team up with him—a strategy that he would try to employ years later with Luke. Luke, of course, doesn’t go for it either, deciding instead to fight the evilest guy in the galaxy on his own terms—by not fighting him—so it’s really no surprise when the Emperor just up and starts electrocuting the young Jedi. Vader, at this point, feels pity for Luke, but instead of blocking the Force lightning with his lightsaber like he saw Mace Windu do years earlier, he decides the best way to stop his boss from zapping the shit of out his kid is to pick him up one-handed and slam-dunk him down an improbably convenient exhaust shaft, conducting a lethal amount of electricity in the process. Or he could’ve just declined when the Emperor asked him to participate in “take your son to work day.”

Senator/Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine

When Senator Palpatine wasn’t actively representing the people of his home planet of Naboo or moonlighting as a robe model, he was conspiring to seize power and rule the galaxy with an iron fist. So he devised a plan so diabolically genius that it relied on complete and utter failure literally every step of the way if it ever had any chance of success in the long run. Let’s work from the end result backwards:

At the end of The Phantom Menace, Palpatine supplants Valorum as Chancellor when the latter can no longer provide the leadership needed to end the crisis on Naboo or convince anyone to kneel before Zod. (It's Terrance Effing Stamp, gang!) But ousting him was dependent on being able to manipulate Queen Amidala to call for the vote of no confidence. You know, the same Queen Amidala that should’ve been captured in the invasion Palpatine orchestrated or, barring that, by Darth Maul. Had Queen Amidala been successfully caught, she never would’ve gone to Coruscant and appeared before the Senate. She also would’ve been forced to sign a treaty legitimizing the Trade Federation’s occupation of her planet, thereby prematurely ending the crisis our friend the Senator drummed up to seize power. But even if Palpatine was counting on Amidala escaping capture multiple times, she was going to need the help of her Jedi companions to do so. You know, the same Jedi that Palpatine, as Darth Sidious, ordered the Trade Federation to kill in the first 5 min. of the movie.

The master stroke of Operation Epic Fail isn’t revealed, however, until Revenge of the Sith, when the now Chancellor hints to Anakin that he used the Force to conceive him, undoubtedly hoping that a kid would fix his marriage to Mrs. Palpatine. But Anakin would never have been discovered, freed, and trained as a Jedi—in short, never arrived at that moment where he became the Emperor’s apprentice—if any of the people operating on Sidious’ orders in Episode I had been competent enough to do a single goddamned thing he told them to do.

But before you go thinking that’s possibly the worst plan in history of the galaxy,
consider the hare-brained scheme Palpatine hatched later on to try to turn Luke to the Dark Side. It went something like this:

Emperor: Hey, I know you’re really super invested in being a good, honorable Jedi and all that, but is there any way I can convince you to forsake everything you believe in and do a complete 180 on your principles?
Luke: Um…no.
Emperor: Shit. All I’ve got for a plan B is my wicked awesome lightning fingers.

And the number one dumbest character in Star Wars?

Admiral Ozzel

Seriously? Coming out of light speed so close to the system? What a fucking ‘tard.

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