An Alternate Star Wars

I was watching Star Wars1 with the Little Man. It was his first time seeing that particular movie and he had endless questions about the good guys and the bad guys and the good guys ships and the bad guys ships. It was fun watching him watch it.

But what struck me most about this re-watch—the first time I’ve re-watched Star Wars in at least 10 years–is how the ultimate fate of the galaxy rest on the utter incompetence of the Imperial leadership.

Very early in the picture, R2-D2 and C3P0 escape from their ship in an escape pod and plunge down to the desert planet of Tatooine. There is a moment when a gunner on board the Imperial ship is ready to shoot down the escape pod, but since no life is detected, they let it go. Why do they let it go? Were they wasting lasers somehow by shooting it down? It seems to me that an Empire with the capability of destroying a planet doesn’t have much concerns over available energy. There should have been an order from on high to shoot down anything that jettisoned from the rebel ship. That no such order existed shows an appalling lapse of strategic thinking within the leadership of the Empire–and no wonder they ended up losing.

But consider: suppose such an order had existed. Would it have been followed? If it was not followed, that would demonstrate further incompetence within the machinery of the Empire and serves them right.

But now consider: what if such an order existed and what if it had been followed and the escape pod carrying the two droids was destroyed as part of a routine chain of command? The pod was carrying more than just the droids. R2 carried the plans to the Death Star. If those plans were destroyed, the Rebels would not have found a weakness. Furthermore, without R2 seeking out Obi-Wan, it is unlikely that Luke would have been pulled into the fray. He may have lived his whole life on Tatooine, quietly, while the Empire continued their dominance.

All of this, I considered as I watched the movie with my little boy. It seems now to be a gaping hole in the overarching plot of the movie. It doesn’t make the movie any less fun, but it does bring to mind the notion that even the low man on the totem can have a truly significant impact in the fate of the galaxy.

  1. When I refer to “Star Wars” I mean the original, that I first saw in the drive-in theater with my parents in 1977.


  1. It almost sounds like a Greek tragedy there, for a moment. If only for that one escape pod… If only for Desdemona’s dropped hanky… If only for the messenger reaching Romeo…

    Funny how so much can rest on the littlest things.

  2. And you are right, Jamie…its such a strange and non-sensical bit. Why not blast it into pieces? What’s the downside?

  3. I bet your son didn’t notice though – any more than I did watching it when it first came out. Maybe age and time has just made us a bit more discerning, or less tolerant?

  4. There may be a reason for not shooting it.
    By using resources and time to shoot the pod they may miss another pod which does have life forms in it.
    I’m sure Darth would be more upset if they spent their time shooting a pod without life forms and end up missing one with life forms or even another event such as an attack etc.


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