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[personal profile] matril
A day late, sorry! I suppose posting that massive video on Wednesday threw me off my usual schedule. In any case, let's look at the master manipulation of one Senator Palpatine. I'll never understand why people complain about the Coruscant/political scenes in Episode I. First of all, they really don't take up a large percentage of the movie. But even if they were longer, why wouldn't you want a glimpse into the workings of a massive galactic-scale government? Particularly one that is, unbeknownst to its inhabitants, teetering on the verge of collapse? Don't we need to understand how the Republic fell and why it's so important to restore the democratic principles destroyed by the Empire's tyranny? I mean, that's the whole point of the prequels, examining the macroscopic decay of the galactic government as well as the intimate fall of a single man. And here is the Sith Lord at the center of it, playing the part of a kindly advisor.

"The Republic is not what it once was."

How I love this scene. While Palpatine puts on a show of offering a young leader counsel and support, he is slowly but surely manipulating her into serving his plots. Notice the staging. She sits, passive and nearly silent, while he talks and talks and talks, walking circles around her almost like a predator stalking its prey...or a spider weaving its web around its victim. His tone carries a convincing note of regret as he describes the corruption and slogging inaction that has enveloped the Senate. But in truth, he has been eagerly encouraging the Republic's decline, preparing for his eventual takeover. The Republic is not what it once was, and he's secretly delighted. Valorum is mired by baseless accusations, he takes care to note -- but Palpatine could very well be the one who started circulating those rumors, ensuring the current Chancellor's failure and subsequent take-down.

In the long run, almost every well-meaning character will play into Palpatine's plots. But within the smaller conflict of Episode I, at least, the queen is able to choose a different path than the one he has laid for her. She shakes off her passivity by the end of this scene, declaring that accepting Federation control is something she cannot do. And by post-Senate scene, she is confronting him with fierce energy of her own, no longer merely sitting and listening. She moves, she speaks, she acts, and she takes back Naboo. If only it had brought a lasting peace, but Palpatine has been playing the long game all along.

Next, some Jedi Council arrogance foreshadows their downfall...
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