Darth Vader’s origin has always been a topic of debate. One question at the center of that Star Wars debate: who was responsible for creating Vader? Some blame Qui-Gon Jin for picking up Anakin Skywalker in the first place. I recently proffered the notion that Padmé was responsible. She did condone and enable Anakin’s behavior, after all. But then I started pondering this a little more. If you think about it, the Skywalker family was pretty dark to begin with. In the end though, perhaps Palpatine was responsible for Darth Vader, after all.
He could certainly manipulated a malleable Anakin Skywalker, of that there is no question. Like Padmé, Palpatine was undoubtedly complicit, and suggestive of Anakin’s behavior. But just how manipulative was he?
Did Palpatine use Mind Tricks on Anakin Skywalker?
“The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded.” Obi-Wan Kenobi taught Luke Skywalker that truth on Tatooine when he influenced a stormtrooper’s mind to pass a checkpoint. Luke later used the trick on Bib Fortuna in Jabba’s palace, and attempted it with Jabba himself. Looking at history between the Chancellor and the young Jedi, I’m starting to think Palpatine’s manipulation went further than just words.
Think about the scene in which Anakin kills Count Dooku. Anakin, fraught with inner conflict, hesitates in killing Sidious’s apprentice. Palpatine, almost casually, says “Kill him. Kill him now.” Anakin knows he shouldn’t, says he shouldn’t, and doesn’t. And then the future emperor lowers his voice and commands Anakin “do it.” Anakin hesitates no longer, decapitates Dooku, and doesn’t feel regret or remorse until after…. Almost as if he’d momentarily lost control of himself. He has the same, if not more extreme reaction after killing Mace Windu.
Tell me Palpatine didn’t use his power to control Anakin’s mind in that moment, and in every conversation they’d have thereafter. Especially with the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise, Palpatine could easily manipulate and mold Anakin’s weak mind. And yes, Anakin had a weak mind. Though strong in the Force, and a strong-willed Jedi, Anakin Skywalker was not what one would call stable.
His mind was anxious, tormented, conflicted, confused, and often times frightened. All of those states offered Palpatine easy access into Anakin’s psyche and opportunity to seize upon his weaknesses. Padmé may have been an enabler, but Palpatine manipulated Anakin psychologically. Upon further review, I’m fairly certain he did so directly as well, if not more so.
What do you think? Did Sheev Palpatine use Jedi mind tricks to push Anakin over the edge of the Dark Side?