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09 February 2012 @ 05:04 pm
Padmé Amidala in the Darth Plagueis novel  
Even though Padmé is almost completely absent from the novel, it makes several major revelations about her or connected to her. Yes, this post contains SPOILERS.

- Now we know why she is so messed up. A large part of the blame is on her parents.

Contrarily to the majority of Star Wars fanfiction where Padmé, through her characteristic stubbornness, overcomes her parents' misgivings about her being so deeply involved in politics at such a young age, and contrarily to what's implied in the Attack of the Clones deleted scenes (DVD) where her parents disapprove of her being in politics and want her to "settle down"/"have a life" (and a boyfriend), Luceno's latest novel reveals, or at the very least strongly suggests, that her parents were the ones who convinced her to run in the election for queen.

It wasn't their idea. Palpatine - an old friend of the family who was Ruwee Naberrie's neighbor in the Lake Country when they were both teenagers - approached them with the idea, believing that they had the best chance of convincing Padmé. What this means is that Padmé was very close to her parents and they had a lot of influence over her. To their credit, they were initially very skeptical about the idea of Padmé being queen, but nowhere among the objections they raised was any concern for whether it was what she wanted to do with her life. At no time did they consider that maybe, at that stage of her life, she wanted to have fun/be a child/have a life of her own instead of committing herself to a 24/7 job where she would be expected to show no emotion and be responsible for running a whole planet, at 13 or 14 years of age.

(The reason her love story with Anakin in AOTC is not credible for many people is that it's hard to guess what's happening in her head when her emotions almost never show on her face, which fully makes sense after eight years of having to act and speak without showing any emotion.)

Ruwee Naberrie says, "good fortune should not be taken for granted but should serve as an impetus for bringing comfort to those less fortunate" (Darth Plagueis, p. 297). These are the values the Naberries taught their daughters, and this could have been only a good thing. The problem is how far Padmé takes the noble values of selflessness and altruism (how far they raised her to take them?). I'm sure they had good intentions and loved their daughter. They didn't realize the consequences when they raised her to disregard her own wishes and feelings.

They don't consider her feelings when making decisions about her future, and she internalizes this as a way of life. No wonder she grows up to be disconnected from and confused by her own feelings (about Anakin, among other things). She treats herself the way she was treated as a child: not only putting others' needs before her own, but ignoring her own entirely.

So her family is where she learned to put principles over people. It's something she does until her dying day, inclusively. It's what she does by rejecting Anakin on Mustafar, and even by dying, if you subscribe to the theory that her death was a kind of suicide through willpower. (Darth Plagueis offers another theory, though. More on this later.) However, unlike Obi-Wan, for example, Padmé doesn't always do this. Three times in the movies she does the opposite: she acts against her principles out of friendship/compassion/love. All three times occur in AOTC, one of them off-screen: accepting Jedi protection, returning to Naboo, marrying Anakin.

- Padmé's family is rich. Rich enough to buy or rent the best lands in the Lake Country and the house that once belonged to a famous poet. I say buy or rent because the Naberries "occupy" Varykino when Ruwee and Palpatine are teenagers. It isn't clear whether they own it or not. Same in AOTC - we are never actually told it belongs to them, and they don't even live there. Either way, I wonder where they got that kind of money.

The point is, neither Padmé nor her parents ever knew poverty. And like it often happens with rich people who are involved in charity, their activism stems from a sense of noblesse oblige and is likely to be tainted by unintentionally patronizing undertones. They can't fully understand the reality of the people they are helping.

- The way Luceno wrote it, Padmé's parents knew her boyfriend was the son of Kun Lago, chief counselor to King Veruna (Padmé's opponent), while she didn't know, and they didn't tell her. I doubt this is how Luceno intended to portray the Naberries. Rather, this is what happens when you rely on Wookiepedia for your knowledge of the expanded universe. If he had read the comic A Summer's Dream (in Star Wars Tales: Volume 2), where the story about Ian Lago comes from, he would have known that during their breakup immediately after Padmé was elected queen, she told him she hadn't known who his father was.

- Padmé isn't immune to mind tricks, contrarily to what we've always assumed from the scene in AOTC where Anakin tells her Jedi mind tricks "only work on the weak-minded", implying they wouldn't work on her because she isn't weak-minded. Jedi mind tricks, maybe. But Sith mind tricks work just fine on her, as we find out in Darth Plagueis.

A "cowled handmaiden" opens the door of Palpatine's apartment to Hego Damask, alias Darth Plagueis come to steal (and kill?) Anakin before the Jedi can take him. This "handmaiden" - Plagueis believes she is a handmaiden - is none other than Padmé. Here's the proof:

"I'm here to speak with a guest of the Senator. A young human boy."

Her eyes remained glued on the mask. "I'm not permitted –"

Damask motioned swiftly with his left hand, compelling her to answer him. "You have my permission to speak."

"I have your permission," she said in a distracted voice.

"Now where is the boy?"

"Anakin, you mean."

"Anakin, yes," he said in a rush. "He's the one. Fetch him – now!"

"You just missed him, sir," the handmaiden said.

-- James Luceno, Star Wars: Darth Plagueis, p. 348

"Anakin, you mean." Why would a handmaiden have said this? It couldn't have been for clarification, because there was only one boy on the premises; Damask couldn't have been talking about anyone else. What other reason could there have been for insisting on "Anakin" instead of "the boy"?

Padmé was the only one who was close enough to Anakin to object to him being referred to as "the boy". Who except her would have minded it enough to correct a creepy stranger, even while under a mind trick, to insist on him using Anakin's name? And not Anakin's last name, but his first – would a handmaiden have known Anakin well enough to think of him and refer to him by his first name?

It's a clue. The only one who would have done this is Padmé, who heard him say with such vehemence, "I am a person and my name is Anakin".

If the "handmaiden" is Padmé, she is lying when she says "I'm not permitted"; as the Queen, she doesn't need anyone's permission to answer questions. So the verbal part of the mind trick is misdirected and presumably wouldn't work. But the mind trick still works as intended: it makes her talk about Anakin's whereabouts, which she refused to do at the beginning of the conversation.

Playing receptionist isn't a smart thing to do when you're supposed to be in hiding; in fact, it would have been a baffling act for anyone but Padmé. It is like her to feel the need to be personally involved in things, heedless of any danger to herself. Coming with Qui-Gon to look for ship parts on Tatooine is just one example of this.

Also, it's interesting that Palpatine is aware that the Queen uses decoys, but doesn't seem to have shared the info with Plagueis, who doesn't suspect it at any point, not even when he meets a handmaiden who could be Amidala in disguise.

- A new theory about how Padmé died. The scene of Veruna's death strongly reminded me of Padmé's death in Revenge of the Sith. As Plagueis messes with his midi-chlorians, Veruna sort of fades away, losing the will and the strength to live even though nothing is physically wrong with him, no wounds or anything. Nothing except the midi-chlorians in his blood dying at the direction of the Sith, and this manifests itself by a sudden, overwhelming tiredness (p. 321-322). Do we finally have an explanation for the inexplicable manner of Padmé's death?

But Plagueis needed to sneak into the caste, and into Veruna's room, to do it, so it can't be done from a distance. Unless he went to all that trouble just because he wanted to confront Veruna personally as he killed him. He seemed to have a serious grudge. And even if Plagueis could only do it while in same room as the victim, this doesn't mean his apprentice can't be powerful enough to do it at a distance.

- Palpatine's interaction with Padmé's mother (page 296): there is something vaguely troubling about it. His focus on her appearance (...she was allowing herself to age gracefully, though her long hair was still dark and luxuriant) is jarring, as is the implication that he thinks she was once very beautiful (the narration is in his point of view). And her reaction (She made a move to hug him, then thought better of it and simply smiled) is intriguing. All of it makes it easy to suggest they may have had an affair during the time when he left trails of conquests. It's always been a favorite theory of fanfiction authors who want to make Padme Force sensitive and/or a Sith: to suggest she is Palpatine's daughter. Of course it's ridiculous, but has that ever stopped fanfiction writers? I bet we're going to see more of those stories from now on.

- So the Naboo are bilingual. They speak Basic along with their traditional language, Naboo. Stealing ideas from fanfic, Mr. Luceno? Shame on you.

Just kidding. Luceno and the fanfiction authors who had the idea before him didn't pull it out of nowhere. Queen Jamillia, for example, has a distinct foreign accent. If Padmé doesn't, it has to mean she either learned Basic first, or possibly learned the two languages simultaneously, but most likely the former. I live in a bilingual region and I can tell you it isn't because you learn two languages when you are a child that you'll speak both of them without an accent. Even if you learn both languages simultaneously, you will usually speak each with a trace of the other's accent. If Anakin doesn't have a Huttese accent, it's because his mother obviously taught him Basic first.

Next: TPM in 3D: this is the time to tell the world exactly why I like the movie so much. It isn't for any of the reasons you've heard before.
philstar22: Star Wars: Bail Padme politicsphilstar22 on February 9th, 2012 10:07 pm (UTC)
Personally, I loved the idea that Palpatine is the one who convinced her to run. Because that means that he majorly underestimated her and thought she would be weak and easy to control. Which is awesome.
C.: padme devil hornschameleon_irony on February 9th, 2012 10:14 pm (UTC)
Me too. It's still my headcanon. We don't actually see them convince Padmé - all we know is they tried. For all we know, maybe she refused, and then Palpatine personally convinced her. That's how it's going to happen in my fic.
tine_marie: Jump For Joytine_marie on February 9th, 2012 10:43 pm (UTC)
Next: TPM in 3D

Aaagh I was going to ask if you were going to see it in theatres! I'm almost embarrassingly excited for it. Along with RotJ TPM is my favourite as well as being the movie that started the entire Star Wars thing for me so the temptation to go with my hair in some kinda crazy Amidala-esque updo is huuuge. I'm gonna lose my shit watching this movie on the big screen again.

Also you should go to school and do a thesis on Star Wars or something. It'd be legit.
C.: tatooine suns smallchameleon_irony on February 9th, 2012 10:53 pm (UTC)
I don't think they are even showing it in my town. Certainly not in English. I'll have to go to Montreal.

being the movie that started the entire Star Wars thing for me

Same. :D

Also you should go to school and do a thesis on Star Wars

I know someone who has done a thesis on Star Wars. But I don't see how I would have the opportunity while studying law or undergrad psychology. (I don't want to have to write a thesis on anything, ever!)
wyncatastrophe: ryn goes rebwyncatastrophe on February 10th, 2012 04:01 am (UTC)
I know someone who has done a thesis on Star Wars.

Hey, I resemble this remark! Well, I guess not really, because my thesis was more about the fanfic. But still. Academic theses on pop culture products FTW! I support this endeavor. Do you know if it's published?
C.: death star work in progresschameleon_irony on February 10th, 2012 06:38 pm (UTC)
I don't think he has published it. And no, I haven't read it. It's technical filmmaking stuff, not really my specialty.
wyncatastrophewyncatastrophe on February 11th, 2012 12:45 am (UTC)
Hey, look, notifications are working again … for now?

Hrrrm. Technical stuff … no, not my cup of tea, either. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to express solidarity.
aleysiasnape: dh5aleysiasnape on February 9th, 2012 11:08 pm (UTC)
I did buy the book! Going to read it over the weekend. I'm trying to talk my brother into going to see it in 3D. Well both of them. No luck yet. Let me know how it is!
C.: slytherin-studychameleon_irony on February 10th, 2012 02:46 am (UTC)
I'm not sure when I'll get the chance to see it. I have to travel pretty far. They aren't showing it in my town.
pronker: ahsokapronker on February 10th, 2012 01:54 am (UTC)
Have just today finished the book and am interested in your thoughts, which you stated here: Jobal is the only woman that Palps *or Luceno, for Palps* describes in an admiring manner. Luceno is just so darn good at weaving in references to the EU characters and situations that I have to applaud that, on a little sidenote.

Also, Luceno did something with midi-chlorians and their uses; he really did delve into their uses in a scientific manner.
C.: anakin and ahsokachameleon_irony on February 10th, 2012 02:45 am (UTC)
No, Jobal isn't the only one. There's also the hostess on Malastare, the one he seduces (p. 168-170). She is described from his POV as A dark-haired human beauty with big blue eyes. That makes it even more suspicious, doesn't it, that he looks at Jobal in a similar way.

Have you read Luceno's Cloak of Deception? It contains a fascinating sequence written from Palpatine's point of view in which Queen Amidala's beauty is described as "exquisite". I'm not making this up.
pronkerpronker on February 10th, 2012 03:05 am (UTC)
darn, it's back at the library so I cannot mess around in it ...
... but okay. It's nice and a bit creepy to think of him as a Romeo .. and yes, when it was first published. I don't recall a whole lot about it.
C.: tatooine red sunset cw 1chameleon_irony on February 10th, 2012 03:16 am (UTC)
Very creepy. Typical sociopath.
wyncatastrophewyncatastrophe on February 10th, 2012 02:39 am (UTC)
Exceedingly glad you posted this, largely because I have no good feelings about when I'll get around to reading Darth Plagueis, and in fact probably wouldn't have tried if I hadn't seen from your post that Padmé was involved (this may become important for academic reasons later on). But, whoa. Plagueis was around in TPM? Which means … there were three Sith doing their thing? That … wait … help … I don't even …

Okay, I'm just going to have to read the book and figure this out. Maybe over Spring Break. Which is a ways off, but still.

Edited at 2012-02-10 02:41 am (UTC)
C.: ravenclaw analysedchameleon_irony on February 10th, 2012 03:13 am (UTC)
Yup, there were three. Both Plagueis and Sidious believed themselves to be above the Rule of Two. And to quote James Luceno, "Sidious doesn't follow rules of any sort" (source).

Your comment reminded me to add a spoiler warning. Which, you know, I should have done before posting. Oops.

that Padmé was involved (this may become important for academic reasons later on)

Important how? This sounds really interesting. The amount of meta I've written about her characterization, and the amount of mental effort I've made to understand her character over the last 5 years, amaze me, as does the fact that I always find more to say about her. I think I could write a thesis about her, even though the idea of writing a thesis about anything makes me want to run for the hills.

Edited at 2012-02-10 03:14 am (UTC)
wyncatastrophe: padmé at the windowwyncatastrophe on February 10th, 2012 03:58 am (UTC)
Important how? This sounds really interesting. The amount of meta I've written about her characterization, and the amount of mental effort I've made to understand her character over the last 5 years, amaze me, as does the fact that I always find more to say about her. I think I could write a thesis about her, even though the idea of writing a thesis about anything makes me want to run for the hills.

I've been toying with the idea of focusing my dissertation around Padmé somehow. I'm not ready to discuss it at length yet. But at the very least I think it's no great secret to say that I am interested in her representation(s), in the various media of canon and in fan fiction, and that I think her character(ization) merits further critical exploration. So: stay tuned? :)
Stephanie: SW Queen Amidalafrostbit_sky on February 10th, 2012 04:18 am (UTC)
Wow! This makes me more excited to read the book when I get it in paperback. I didn't think Padmé would make an appearance at all, or that Plagueis was around in TPM. I'll watch that movie slightly differently now.

Nothing except the midi-chlorians in his blood dying at the direction of the Sith, and this manifests itself by a sudden, overwhelming tiredness
I like that better than her losing the will to live, which is OOC in my opinion.
C.: padme rots violetbgchameleon_irony on February 10th, 2012 06:37 pm (UTC)
Glad you liked the spoilers ;)

her losing the will to live, which is OOC in my opinion

I wouldn't say it's OOC, because OOC is what happens in fanfiction. It's George Lucas who decides what is in character for his characters, and he is telling us something about Padmé by having her die like that. The problem I have with it is that it makes no sense biologically. "Losing the will to live", i.e. a depression so extreme the person stops eating, moving, etc, and wants to die but doesn't even have the energy to attempt suicide, happens in real life in cases of extreme/prolonged trauma. It isn't completely implausible that after the shocks Padmé got that day, something like this would happen to her. But it should have taken her much longer to die - days or weeks, the time it takes for the body to waste away. Not minutes.

I would have no problems with it if she had shot herself. But suicide through sheer willpower? How the hell does that work? Maybe if she was Force sensitive, "like magic" would be an adequate explanation, but she wasn't.