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14 October 2009 @ 09:36 pm
Padmé Amidala in The Clone Wars  
I just saw the preview of the Clone Wars episode "Senate Spy". In my last post, I mentioned that I like the Clone Wars TV show because (among other things) it confirms some of my interpretations of the Star Wars prequels, and among them, my interpretation of Padmé's character. This article and preview of episode 2x04 makes some interesting points about her.

First of all, Rush Clovis, the Senator she is spying on is a former "flame" and "love interest" (gasp). There go all the romantic theories that Padmé never had a boyfriend before Anakin, that she was single and chaste while waiting for her One True Love and Destined Soul Mate to grow up. That between her first crush/kiss when she was 12 and her marriage to Anakin when she was 24, she never liked, dated, or (probably) slept with a man. [end sarcasm] Honestly? Good riddance to the pure/virginal angel!Padmé trope.

Secondly, not only is Padmé no pure/virginal angel, she's clearly not a prude either. Did you see AOTC? That black leather corset when she's alone with a teenage boy she knows is infatuated with her, and she never blushes or seems uncomfortable with the way he's ogling her. (If you are feeling outraged right now, go back and reread the last sentence, paying attention to what I said as opposed to what you think I said. All I said is that a virgin, or a woman meant to be portrayed as a virgin in a movie, would have blushed at the hungry, sexual looks he's giving her. Yes, the blushing virgin is a stereotype, but this is a movie. Movies are virtually where such stereotypes come from. And Padmé never blushes.)

In fact, in AOTC, of the two of them, Anakin is most likely the pure/virginal one. He is still a teenager. A teenager who grew up in the Jedi Temple and was raised by Obi-Wan, who does seem like a prude. Likewise, in the TCW season 2 preview that shows what Padmé will be wearing on her spying date with Clovis, she gives no sign that she minds or even realizes that her dress... well, she's kind of half-naked, and that's the point. IMO, she acts like a woman confident in her sexuality (which probably, usually, implies experienced). And a woman who is not above showing off her body and using her beauty as a weapon to help the cause she cares about.

And so, another theory has to go down the drain: the theory that Padmé has strong conservative values about marriage and fidelity. At least, if she does have that kind of morals, she is willing to put them aside for "more important" things, like helping the Republic win the war against the Separatists. She accepts to (as the article puts it) willingly and deliberately court the affections of another man right in front of her jealous husband. And she thinks that's acceptable if it's for a cause as important (to her) as investigating a potential traitor among her colleagues.

And she isn't doing it because she has to. She's a Senator. The Jedi Council doesn't have any authority over her. They ask for her help, and she accepts, despite being married and despite or maybe partially because of her husband trying to forbid it.

Catherine Taber says in the interview that Padmé feels she has to prove to herself that her top priority is the Republic. Taber suspects that "underneath it all, her primary allegiance would be to Anakin" but she would never admit it, even to herself, and she never acts like it. The fact is that politics has always been more important to Padmé than love or family. In her own words: "Don't take it personally, Anakin. Duty comes first", and unlike him, she means it, as she proves through her actions. And, as Taber points out, Padmé resents Anakin for distracting her from her "top priority". This is the revolutionary point the CW episode "Senate Spy" makes about Padmé.

I think the second point is how far she would go for the Republic.

I always thought Anakin wasn't the reason she lost the will to live at the end of ROTS. Like she said to Obi-Wan, she knew there was still good in him. She hadn't given up on him. He was a reason to hold on, not to give up on life. So why did she "lose the will to live" anyway? Because of what she loved more than she loved Anakin and her children. Because of what she couldn't live without and what she wouldn't renounce even for Anakin: her political ideals.

So this is how "Senate Spy" confirms my interpretation of Padmé's character: it proves that her love for Anakin was never the defining aspect of her character. There was always something she loved more. And that's what makes her such an atypical and interesting character.

Part two: "Senate Spy" commentary and analysis

(Screened comment)
betareject on October 17th, 2009 09:55 pm (UTC)
Re: The only perfect angel is a devil ;)
Its really too bad that people easily brush that fact under the rug =/That they much prefer Padmé as being nothing more than Anakin's shadow...

I like that she was strong and capable of doing what had to be done. Even at the end she still stood up to Vader and held her ground (though she should have laid low and had the kids first before calling him on it but thats me).

Aww but I like your perspective where she died because she believed it would allow the Naboo to have that second chance--that freedom would be able to grow in her absence. That was so powerful.
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C.: padme devil hornschameleon_irony on October 19th, 2009 12:36 am (UTC)
there was a drawing of her with a knife for RotS

Really? That's very interesting. I personally think she would most likely have used it to kill herself, which would have made much more sense than the way she died in ROTS.