Palp Fiction

Palpatine's Squid Lake secret explains the weirdest prequel moment

We definitely need a Young Palpatine show.

Originally Published: 

Emperor Palpatine is a man of refined taste. In between plotting to take over the galaxy and putting on a performance as a Senator and later chancellor, he enjoyed the finer things in life. He wore luxurious robes and displayed ancient art in his office. This cultured attitude stems from his plush childhood as a minor Naboo royal, but influenced his life as a Sith in a big way, including one of the most iconic moments of the prequels.

The infamous "Have you ever heard the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise" scene in Revenge of the Sith is not only iconic due to the out-of-nowhere lore dump, but for the unusual setting: the performance of the Mon Calamari ballet known as Squid Lake at Coruscant's the Galaxies Opera House. It always felt like an overly formal, public place to discuss Sith history, but Palps' flair for the dramatic seemed like enough justification.

That is, until the release of James Luceno's 2012 book, Darth Plagueis.

The non-canon novel, which follows the life of Palpatine's master and the rise of Darth Sidious, includes the inevitable Rule of Two moment when Palpatine kills his Sith Master. After years of ill health, Plagueis ventures out into public with Palpatine the night before he is to be elected Chancellor.

Sheev enjoys a relic of a more civilized age.


How's this for a hot date? The two take in an experimental Mon Calamari performance at the Galaxies Opera House. Later than night, Palpatine uses his Force lightning to murder Plagueis, still drunk from the merriment earlier. These details weren't part of Revenge of the Sith, but the fact Palpatine's last night with his mentor was spent at the Opera House shows there's still a part of him that assigns importance to the place.

Perhaps telling Anakin this story in the same location is a memento mori for Palpatine, a reminder that despite his best efforts, The Rule of Two may still come into play and this prospective apprentice may in fact turn against him. Of course, this does happen eventually, but not until decades later.

Palpatine's sentimental attachment to the opera house feels a bit out of character. Palpatine ordered the massacre of countless Jedi and scores of innocents throughout the galaxy — could he actually feel some guilt for slaying his master all those years ago? It's always possible he's just an avid ballet fan and never misses a performance, but perhaps Star Wars's greatest villain does have some humanity.

This fascinating link between two pivotal moments in Palpatine's life demonstrates why Lucasfilm ought to make a new movie or TV series centered around Sheev's younger years. Even if the Plagueis book is no longer canon, the relationship between these two would be absolutely fascinating to explore throughout a Disney+ series.

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