One simple trick that makes the Star Wars prequels WAY more watchable
Across the world, fans of “Star Wars” are refreshing their memories with marathons of the original trilogy ahead of “The Force Awakens.” True gluttons for punishment and completionists (same thing) are also watching the prequel trilogy. If you’ve been following along on my Twitter account, you know that I am one of the latter. Your mileage may vary, but rewatching Episodes I, II, and III were tedious slogs made better by only two things: snark and a shocking reveal that the subtext here could be that Padme was totally cheating on Anakin with Obi-Wan Kenobi.
I mean, the evidence is right there staring you in the face, coloring everything that happens in “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith” into a fairly passable arc of love and revenge. Don’t believe me? Put on your ship-goggles and let’s go on a journey!
We’re skipping over “The Phantom Menace” because Padme is fourteen in that movie and Obi-Wan is probably in his early twenties and we want this to be romantic, not creepy as hell. Anakin already has that angle covered.
When “Attack of the Clones” opens, Senator Amidala arrives on Coruscant for a vote even though her life is in danger due to her political leanings. In order to ease her mind, it is suggested that “an old friend” be assigned to guard her person. Yet Anakin is giddy in the elevator because he hasn't seen Padme in a decade. So who is this old friend? Her secret lover Obi-Wan, obviously. There is (currently) no canonical reference as to what Obi-Wan did in the ten years between the first two prequels. Sure he was training Anakin, but he was still a member of the Jedi Council. With Naboo being Palpatine’s home planet, surely there would’ve been times Obi-Wan had to travel.
Throughout “Attack of the Clones,” Obi-Wan behaves in a way that is either very gallant…or a man in love. When the assassin slugs come for Padme in her sleep, it isn’t Anakin that dives headfirst out of window to catch the drone.
Image Credit: Lucasfilm
When Obi-Wan voices concern about leaving hot-headed Anakin alone with Padme on Naboo, her guard quips that "I'd be more worried about her doing something than him,” to which Obi-Wan smiles because he knows his lady doesn’t suffer fools or waiting around for the men to save her.
The affection doesn’t just go one way either. After being trapped with the galaxy’s creepiest Jedi for months (and fending off his advances), Padme wastes no time jumping in to save the day and rescue Obi-Wan from Geonosis. That isn’t the behavior of a Senator in hiding, but one who will risk life and limb to save her man, bringing her guard’s prediction that Padme would be more likely to do something risky to fruition.
No evidence is more convincing though than the moment Padme helps Obi-Wan climb aboard Reek (rhino-thing) to escape the pit in Geonosis. Hand on thigh, people. Hand. On. Thigh.
Image Credit: Lucasfilm
Once you see it, you can’t unsee it and the implications get even juicer in “Revenge of the Sith.” If you imagine Padme and Obi-Wan have been involved in a forbidden tryst (on multiple levels) for years and the sub-plot of Episode III is Anakin slowly figuring this out and then losing his mind because his mentor and spouse betrayed him while he was busy killing younglings to save the life of his unborn children and wife? Turning to the Dark Side suddenly makes a lot more sense.
Even the dialogue lends itself to this interpretation. As the plot of “Revenge” plods forward, Anakin becomes more and more jealous and suspicious of the two ‘old friends.’ Maybe he was on to something. Remember, Anakin first flies into a fit of rage after seeing a vision of Padme dying in childbirth…with Obi-Wan by her side.
After Anakin literally murders a room full of children, Padme hedges about if her husband thinks Obi-Wan survived Order 66 to which Anakin replies coldly that he doesn’t know and then makes out with her with the blood of innocents still on his hands (this scene is intimidating even if Padme DOESN’T know that yet).
Even Yoda knows what’s up, telling Obi-Wan to search his FEELINGS to find Anakin, which leads Obi-Wan straight to Padme because FEELINGS. It’s during this exchange Obi-Wan finally figures out Anakin is the father and expresses his condolences…but what if he were merely expressing condolences that Padme let things get far enough that Anakin THINKS he could be the father. We need Space Maury!
Following the jilted husband plot line all the way through, it adds a ton of subtext to this climatic scene on Mustafar. From Anakin’s perspective, Padme just brought her lover to kill him.
The tragedy being Obi-Wan wins only to lose the woman he loves.
So there you have it. The one simple trick that turns the Star Wars prequels from unwatchable gobbledegook into a passionate tale of how love can lead to hate and hate leads to the galaxy being torn asunder. Join us. Join the Obidala ship…forever.
But wait! Why would Padme even bother with Anakin if she were in love with Obi-Wan? There could be a many reasons. Maybe she really did love both of them. Maybe she felt trapped by Anakin’s increasing hostility. Or maybe her relationship with Obi-Wan had fizzled out when he remembered his vows to the Jedi Order and she married Anakin out of spite, only to realize she’ made a huge mistake.
Whatever floats your boat.