Darth Sidious – The Galaxy’s Biggest Hypocrite
Spoiler: This article delves into information that has been disavowed by Disney following their purchase of Lucasfilms. This back-story has no role in the official Star Wars canon.
The Rule of Two. The law set down by the ancient Sith Lord Darth Bane. There can only be two Sith: one to embody the power of the Dark Side; the other, to covet it. The Rule of Two was implemented by Bane after the destruction of the Brotherhood of Darkness, the era’s strongest Sith organization. Since the Sith turned on each other in the pursuit of greater power, the Rule effectively halted the Sith’s self-destructive cycle (their greatest weakness). Palpatine’s – aka Darth Sidious – success in crushing the Jedi and creating an Empire from the ashes of the Republic is not entirely his own: he is simply standing on the shoulders of the Sith Lords that came before. Palpatine owes everything to the Rule of Two. In the midst of double-crosses, sadism, sacrifices and manipulations, the Rule of Two is the Sith Lord’s sole inviolable tenet.
Yet Sidious breaks the rule every chance he gets.
It happens all the time in the merchandise juggernaut that is Star Wars. In 1991 Timothy Zahn created Mara Jade. Initially a smuggler, Mara was ultimately a high-ranking servant known as the Emperor’s Hand. The Hand was Palpatine’s confidante, closer than even Darth Vader. In fact, Vader knew nothing about the Hands. But then, Palpatine isn’t exactly known for his sharing skills.
1993 introduced the Prophets of the Dark Side, a cult of Darksiders specializing in Force visions and prophecy. Created by the ancient Darth Millennia, these Darksiders escaped the Jedi scourge by hiding upon the planet of Dromoud Kass. But they could not hide forever. The Sith Lord should have destroyed the lot immediately. Instead, he broke the Rule by turning the Prophets to his side, where they aided Palpatine by using their visions to detect Force-sensitive beings.
And now, in 2016, we have the Inquisitors, introduced in the canonical Star Wars: Rebels animated series. In the comics and other entertainment media, Darth Vader made his bones by hunting down every Jedi that survived Order 66, cementing his place as the symbolic terror of the Dark Side. But now, it seems, Vader has his own minions to do his work for him. For audiences who have grown up with Vader being the scourge of the Jedi, to have other strangers under his command, it kind of undercuts his authority. Vader is no less dangerous than he was, no question. But not having Vader as the galaxy’s sole Jedi hunter does pull the rug right out from under him.
The Rule of Two was created to halt the in-fighting that ultimately led to the Sith’s downfall throughout the centuries. It created the foundation of the Sith’s legacy: each Sith Lord was a stepping stone towards the ultimate goal of galactic conquest. And it worked. Palpatine embodied two millennia of secretive, ambitious planning. Palpatine owed much to the Rule, but like many others who court ultimate power, Palpatine grew restless with the limitations that tradition placed on him. No doubt he believed that he controlled Darksiders with the same ruthless strength he lorded over the Empire, but knowingly or not, he betrayed the Rule that gave him his destiny. It was the pursuit of power that blinded him to his own ruin. In the end, he’s just one giant hypocrite.
Thanks for reading. Now go see Force Awakens. It rocks.