Alternative Star Wars Prequels …

Well, due to a long reply by Jim Raynor to the Red Letter Media’s very long video criticizing the Phantom Menace, the Star Wars prequels are being talked about by geeks yet again.  I’ve read the reply and would like to reply to it, but that may take me a while.  But in reading it and the various discussions around it, I had an idea of how the prequels could have gone that I’d like to outline.

So, starting in “The Phantom Menace”, instead of introducing Qui-Gon, have the new Jedi be an apprentice.  Obi-Wan’s apprentice, specifically.  He’s the Master, she’s just an apprentice (and it would be nice to have her be, well, female, since there’s a dearth of female characters in the whole prequel trilogy).  He takes the main role, and she’s merely an average Jedi, a little tentative perhaps, and certainly not impetuous.  In terms of the Force, she’d be nowhere near as strong as Anakin.

The start can proceed mostly as it did; they find out that something’s up with the Trade Federation and go down to the planet.  They try to run the blockade.  But in this case, make Anakin a little older, and say the co-pilot on the Queen’s ship.  He takes them through the blockade based on pure piloting skill, as the main pilot was killed or injured in the rush to the ship.  Perhaps the main pilot was Owen.  They can take damage and have to set down on Tatooine if required.  Obi-Wan is impressed with Anakin’s skill as a pilot, and he senses the Force in him, at a very high level (just like Vader does in Luke in “A New Hope”).  Anyway, they need to get the credits, and Amidala happens to have a swoop along — she’s rich, and it might be a form of entertainment amongst the rich people — that Anakin normally races for her.  They hear about the race, bargain their way in, Anakin wins it, and Obi-Wan is even more impressed.  They get to Coruscant, and Obi-Wan brings him before the Council.  The same conversation occurs — he’s too old, and Obi-Wan can’t take him on since he has one, he says that she’s ready — and things are put aside again.  You can even keep the “Chosen One” mythology, but have it in the mind of Obi-Wan … or even planted by the Council.

Anyway, things proceed, and they return to Naboo.  The fight with Maul occurs, and Obi-Wan’s apprentice is killed.  Obi-Wan kills Maul, and that frees him to take on Anakin as an apprentice.  Owen decides he’s had enough excitement, and settles down on Tatooine, marrying a woman there.

What does this do?  It makes sense of the line that when Obi-Wan first encountered Anakin, he was already a great pilot.  It also makes sense of the line that he thought he could train Anakin as well as Yoda, as it gives him some actual props in training him instead of it being given to someone who’s barely out of Padawan status himself.  And it sets things up for the second movie.

In the second movie, the relationship between Obi-Wan and Anakin stays about the same: antagonistic.  But now we have a reason.  Obi-Wan’s first apprentice was cautious and level-headed.  She would have lacked confidence in herself, and lacked overall Jedi powers.  Anakin is the exact opposite; brimming with power and confidence.  This puts Obi-Wan off; he has no idea how to deal with that.  He keeps treating Anakin like his first apprentice, which ends up holding Anakin back from knowledge and experience, and feeling that he has to prove something to Obi-Wan … specifically, that he has to prove that he’s as good as he is.  When he takes rash chances to do so, Obi-Wan criticizes him, and he feels that he’s just pushed himself further back.

Again, things can proceed generally as they did, but at some point Anakin confronts Obi-Wan with this.  Take out the scene where Anakin kills the Tuscans — since there’s no mother to “save” anyway — and have him eventually give the “You’re holding me back!” speech to Obi-Wan, closer to the end of the movie.  Heck, after the last fight scene, maybe.  Obi-Wan admits that he was comparing Anakin to his first apprentice, and that that wasn’t fair to him.  They then settle the issues between them and move on.

This helps set the next movie up, with them genuinely good friends.  But Palpatine’s manipulations get Anakin on the Council, but not as a Master.  And so, to Anakin, this is exactly the same situation he was in before:  they are making him prove he’s as good as he is.  The frustration rises again.

Add to this that the Council isn’t really handling the civil war all that well.  They aren’t being the generals in the war, but are merely advisors.  Take a hint from Knights of the Old Republic, and note that Revan there left because they weren’t stopping the Mandalorians.  The same thing could happen here:  the Jedi are worrying about not being aggressive enough, and are even deadlocked in the Council.  Taking on from the scenes in the second movie where Anakin proclaims that sometimes you need a strong hand to get things done, he feels that the galaxy needs that.  Perhaps at both levels.  He supports Palpatine’s running the Senate — against Amidala’s wishes — and thinks that a strong leader — like him — on the Council will get the Jedi doing the right thing.

Palpatine exploits this to get Anakin opposing the Jedi.  When Windu goes after Palpatine, Anakin confronts him.  Palpatine exploits his views by showing that the Jedi way is weak.  The Sith intervened to save the galaxy, while the Jedi debated.  He did things to stop the war, while the Jedi kept out of it, debating general principles.  Aggression is power:  the power to do good.  Anakin then attacks Windu to take over the Council, and when the Jedi resist he attacks them as well.

Meanwhile, Palpatine uses the attack to promote more conventional attacks on the Jedi, and they are on the run.  Yoda confronts Palapatine, Obi-Wan confronts Anakin.  Things work out about the same, both go into hiding, as does Padme.  The end of the movie is the start of the reign of terror, as the Empire and Vader seek out the scattered Jedi to hunt them down.

This would, well, make more sense.  You can see how Anakin got to where he was, and the transitions would follow better.  And it’d be far more entertaining a progression.  It’d also fit the fallen paladin model a lot better than what we got, and allow us to feel sorry for him as opposed to considering him an annoying whiner.

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