Stolen Pixels #218: Now Hiring

By Shamus
on Aug 6, 2010
Filed under:
Column

splash_star_Wars2.jpg

Read the comic, then the stuff below.

This was one of those jokes that could have gone a lot of different ways. There’s a lot of absurdity in Palpatine’s approach to recruiting Jedi. I could have portrayed the conversation as between the Emperor and the Jedi, with the Jedi pointing out that Palpatine’s offer basically boils down to “Join our band of miserable idiots and I’ll give you more power, which you’ll inevitably end up using against your friends when they show up and try to do what you’re doing now”. Which isn’t much of a sales pitch since the only reason a Jedi would want more power is so he could defeat the Emperor.

Or I could have brought Vader into the conversation and showed how utterly humiliating it must be to guard a guy while he’s auditioning people to try and kill you, “Oh crap not this again, master.”

And in case you’re curious, the guy announcing that lunch was served wasn’t actually talking to the Emperor. He was actually talking with what must be the worst rendition of Princess Leia, ever. (Pictured above.) Yikes.

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2020209Sixty-nine comments, dude! Excellent!

From the Archives:

  1. MrKite says:

    For the Emperor’s defense, I’d chose a healthy super powerful Sith/Son of the Chosen One against an asthmatic half machine dude anyday…

    Imagine the face of the Emperor when he heard that the jedi on whom he spent a dozen of years to turn him to the Dark Side has one leg and one arm missing and can’t breathe by himself…

    • Meredith says:

      Ah, but as a Sith Lord, one also wouldn’t want too strong of an apprentice. The life of a sith seems to be: recruitment, learn everything my master knows, kill my master to become the master, recruit powerful apprentice, teach him everything I know, wait….ah crap.

      • Mari says:

        Apparently Dark Side Points deduct INT and WIS. The confusing thing is that, at least based upon Palpatine and Vader, they also deduct CHA, STR, and DEX, but increase CON. Doesn’t seem like much of a trade-off and kind of leaves me wondering why anyone would go to the Dark Side willingly. “Come to the Dark Side, we have electrical resistance and poison immunity” kind of lacks panache, y’know?

      • MrKite says:

        Okay maybe chosing a very powerful person is not the smartest move when you’re a Sith seeking an apprentice. On the other hand I still wonder how it is a smart move to chose Dr Raines as your apprentice…

        I mean… How could the Emperor teach “lightning” to Vader ? The guy is 75% metal ! He’s freaking conductor !

      • Ramsus says:

        That is actually incorrect. The whole “rule of two” idea is there with the idea that the Master will recruit the strongest Apprentice possible and train them while they both know that the Apprentice’s goal is to learn as much as he can from the Master and then kill him (at some point when it’s still a challenge) and the Master’s goal is to continue to try and find the best possible Apprentice. The given reason for this is that it will supposedly result in the strongest Sith possible.

        Of course that theory has a lot of obvious flaws like “but what if the Master just has a heart attack?” or gets killed by a Jedi or if the Apprentice is amazingly strong in the force but not much of a forward thinker and kills his Master so early that the Master barely gets a chance to teach him anything. The major flaws with this approach could have been removed by making it be in the rules of the whole situation that they both would have to make Holocrons recording all their knowledge and it would just be another of both of their tasks to prevent the other one from taking theirs. And they clearly didn’t do this because the knowledge of “how I make holocron” seems to also have been lost along the way at some point. Of course that plan has an obvious flaw too, which is that freshly baked Sith Apprentices don’t really like following any rules that don’t present some kind of immediate advantage and they probably wouldn’t want to leave around a device that their Master could find lying around that details exactly what force stuff they do know, what secrets of their Master they know (or think they know), and how they plan to kill him.

        Though there is still some truth to your statement because one can hardly say that all Sith Lords would really fully dedicate themselves to the idea that if they find a better Sith they should teach them everything they know and then just die.

    • lazlo says:

      I can so see the climactic scene from Return of the Jedi, with Vader picking up Palpatine and carrying him across to the ledge, with Palpatine thinking to himself “Curses! I went and put all that effort into making sure I had a remote control installed in Vader’s arm, legs, breathing, and then when it really matters, I go and leave it in my other pants!”

  2. Will says:

    The Sith have never been noted for being smart.

    • Valaqil says:

      I dislike this assumption. The Sith are really quite intelligent. They create complex plots that often catch the Jedi off guard. The problem is that the Sith’s greatest strength is their one weakness: Passion. It leads them to combat prowess and strong dedication, but also to chasing things that really don’t matter. Their emotions get in the way, eventually.

      • pnf says:

        I dislike this assumption. The Sith are really quite intelligent. They create complex plots that often catch the Jedi off guard.

        You say this as if it were challenging.

        • Audacity says:

          Yeah, it’s not so much that the Sith are super-intelligent magnificent bastards, as it is the Jedi simply being dumb as rocks. Not to mention it’s the aforementioned practitioners of cranial-petrification who always end up beating down the Sith in the end anyway.

          • Roll-a-die says:

            Three Words, Darth FUCKING Bane. Killed upwards of 1000 jedi in a single blow, while also cementing his place as being dead. Thus allowing him to set in motion the line of sith that eventually brought about Palpatine, and the total destruction of the Jedi, at least for around 25 years.

    • Hitch says:

      Look at their competition.

      10,000 Jedi and 2 Sith. “We must restore balance to the force.”

      • Yar Kramer says:

        Actually, according to George Lucas, the presence of the Dark Side is itself the imbalance, so Darth Vader’s killing of Palpatine was the “restoring the balance to the Force.”

        I mean, this isn’t the worst or only stupidity of the Old Republic Jedi if it were true. The pedant in me was just forced to point that out.

        • Audacity says:

          Really? What is the Force supposed to be balanced between then? Did he say?

          • PurePareidolia says:

            Lawful and Chaotic?

            • 8th_Pacifist says:

              It makes sense if you think of it in a new-agey sort of way. It’s not really a balance between anything, it’s more like… life force. Like the balance is sustained by the lives of the beings who are part of the Force.

              I mean, The Force is pretty much New Age God (energy field that binds all life forms, etc etc). The Dark Side corrupts all life that fall to it, disrupting the equilibrium that is The Force’s natural state.

              I’m probably overthinking this, but I can give Lucas a pass on this one. Everything else in the prequel trilogy, on the other hand…

              • Soylent Dave says:

                In other words ‘Lucas doesn’t seem to understand what the word “balance” means’.

                It’s the same black and white morality of the rest of Star Wars, so no-one should be surprised (and we shouldn’t be entirely astonished at his misusing words, either – ‘parsec’, anyone?).

                But there’s no equilibrium present – the force is ‘in balance’ when it’s entirely light side. That’s just Lucas thinking that ‘in balance’ means ‘good’.

              • winter says:

                No, this definitely makes sense.

                If you were, say, a curator of a museum and you and some others kept everything nice and neat until, one day, some jerks decide to come in and just tear everything down and scatter it all over. In that scenario, “restoring balance to the museum” wouldn’t be “providing equal numbers/power to the destructive types” but rather “giving them the boot and fixing things up again”.

                Maybe this isn’t a very well-recognized philosophy, but i didn’t find it confusing at all. The force doesn’t need to be “balanced against” anything, it is internally balanced… except for how the dark side messes things up.

                • Soylent Dave says:

                  But that’s not what the word ‘balance’ means.

                  That’s ‘order’ (or plenty of other words, that’s just the first one that popped into mind).

                  Your example is definitely what Lucas meant – people (including me) are really just pointing out his poor grasp of English.

                  Balance really does just refer to things being in equilibrium – which means there needs to be two opposing sides or forces. I think the confusion comes because the word ‘stability’ is often used alongside ‘balance’ – but that means an equilibrium which isn’t in danger of being disturbed, rather than a situation which is stable in a ‘no bad things are happening’ way.

      • Mari says:

        On the other hand, 10,000 Jedi couldn’t actually manage to kill the 2 Sith. Apparently there was, in fact, imbalance.

      • Nasikabatrachus says:

        I think it’s supposed to mean the Light side of the force is the side of balance, and the Dark side is imbalance. Which I suppose explains why the Jedi give 1000 years of peace and the Dark side starts blowing things up whenever it can. Planets in the films and stars in the Extended Universe (eg Naga Sadow). So I guess in the end being Darth Vader was Anakin going super-deep undercover for the sole purpose of killing off the Emperor. Which, if you think about it, kind of makes it anti-climactic. Anakin had to go through all that just to throw one guy off of a tall building? Sheesh, what a waste.

  3. stanley yip says:

    I’ve always wonder why there could only be two Sith at one time. That seems like a really bad way to try to take over the universe.

    • Kale says:

      I had similar thoughts after playing the first Kotor game and hearing all about how the Sith worked at their academy. Seems like they can never increase their overall numbers without someone running off before he get’s killed or learning evil force stuff by himself and randomly deciding to follow Sith rules later. Get a few generations of weak Sith and they’re pretty much screwed since being able to kill jedi sent after them is about all they have keeping them going.

    • Rick W says:

      Because the Sith tend to plot against one another, and after a larger Sith order self-destructed due to infighting, the survivor said, “This is stupid,” and reinvented the Sith as a single master-apprentice pair.

      • Will says:

        Pretty much.

        Evil’s worst enemy is actually other Evil; competition is far more dangerous than antagonism. The Sith get by with a single master-apprentice pair and a few rogue agents because if you ever put 3 or more Sith into the same room they immediately attempt to assassinate each other.

        The reason this works is because being Sith gives you access to blatantly overpowered abilities that Jedi just plain don’t get, and because despite the Sith being somewhat thick, they’re somehow smarter than the Jedi, which is incredibly embarrising for the Jedi.

        • Roll-a-die says:

          Really why Bane set up the rule of two wasn’t “OH GOD POWERMONGERING ASSASSINATING IDIOTS.” It was more the current order, the brotherhood of shadows saying something that ran contrary to Revan’s vision, which was 1 master teaching an apprentice till he reached the rank of master. Then that new master learning new things, and training an apprentice in them. Basically creating an ever returning cycle of power, driving the sith to new heights. The BoS system, was basically a community college compared to Revan’s University or apprenticeship system.

    • Valaqil says:

      I don’t remember all of the details, but here’s the short version:

      There’s this guy called Bane. He joins a war between the Jedi and Sith and turns out to be a powerful Force user. Someone recognizes his immense talent and sends him to _the_ premier academy for the Sith (there were several at this time). He falls out of favor with the instructors, so he spends loads of time by himself, studying the ancient Sith. A bunch of stuff happens, but let’s get to the point.

      He realizes that the old Sith were really powerful and challenged each other. The current Sith are broken by working together. Why? First, they aren’t pushing each other to become the strongest because they’re not challenging each other very much, they’re not really _competing_. Second, they’re undermining each other with infighting and betrayals because no one really trusts each other anyway. Basically, the whole Brotherhood thing is a sham and a mess.

      Eventually, the head of the Brotherhood gets the majority of the Sith killed in a turning point in the war. Bane takes the opportunity to claim the title of Ultra Badass and decides that there should only be two from that point forward. As the one (only?) Sith Master left, Darth Bane thinks that one should teach, and another should learn. The apprentice should constantly trying to grow in strength and knowledge so that s/he can be a worthy successor when the time comes. Or something like that.

      (Note: This may not capture the whole thing very well, but I’m trying to summarize an entire book or so in a short post.)

  4. PurePareidolia says:

    Honestly, I think Palpatine saw the Prequels and after that NOOOOO! realised that not even billions of dollars of cybernetic medical tech could make Vader worth it.

    That said, I always wondered why, at the end of ROTJ he was still trying to recruit Luke after Luke has just tried to kill him. It’s the same thing as when you met the slavers in Spoiler Warning. Just because he kills Vader and crosses the invisible moral event horizon that only comes into existence when you fight bosses doesn’t mean he would want to join the emperor, why would he even be considering that an option at that point?

    Why is is that falling to the Dark side is as easy as murdering someone in front of the Emperor? It’s not even a moral choice, you just instantly turn evil as soon as the victim’s dead because hey, why not?

    • Will says:

      It’s not so much a switch as it is a slippery slope. One you can justify killing one person, then you can justify killing another person, and once you can justify killing other people, you can lower your standards of justification gradually over time, until eventually you’re murdering people in cold blood.

      That’s why governments that employ the death penalty watch it very, very carefully; it’s very easy to gradually relax your requirements and end up going too far.

      • Ace Calhoon says:

        Why is is that falling to the Dark side is as easy as murdering someone in front of the Emperor? It’s not even a moral choice, you just instantly turn evil as soon as the victim’s dead because hey, why not?

        The movies (particularly the first trilogy) are pretty clear on the whole emotions == dark side bit. If Luke killed Vader, he would turn to the dark side because he was pretty ticked off when he did so. If he managed to kill his father dispassionately, it wouldn’t be an issue.

        Just because he kills Vader and crosses the invisible moral event horizon that only comes into existence when you fight bosses doesn’t mean he would want to join the emperor, why would he even be considering that an option at that point?

        It’s not entirely unreasonable, given that the emperor can easily kill Luke. Luke’s choices are effectively:

        1) Run away. But be tainted by the dark side, and have to real chance of ever meeting the Emperor’s power level (or even be in a face-to-face encounter again). This is assuming that you can get away from the Emperor in the first place.

        2) Die. Fighting the Emperor alone means death (at least for Luke).

        3) Join him, and hope to learn enough from the only remaining source of Force knowledge in the galaxy. Maybe someday you’ll get a chance to overthrow him.

        When you factor in the implications of the dark side warping a person’s outlook on life, it isn’t hard to see why the Emperor will think things will go his way.

        Edit: Dang it. This was meant to be a reply to #4.

        • Will says:

          It’s also wise to remember that Star Wars operates on an extremely Black-And-White morality, the likes of which do not exist in reality.

          • Raygereio says:

            Yeah, SW morality as it’s presented in the movies is very silly. I don’t think George Lucas ever thought it through much. I mean, you’re angsty teenager and you get annoyed because you think you’re parents don’t understand you. Boom, you’re darkside!

            Falling to the dark side is ridiculously easy to the point where you have to wonder why everyone isn’t evil in SW. But on the plus side you get Force Lightning, a nice red saber and a spiffy black outfit to fit your angsty mood, which is far better then some telekinesis, blue saber and some drab brown outfit.

            • WysiWyg says:

              As I understand it, the whole Light/Dark-side thing is only for those who can use the Force. Which is why the Jedi only want to train people who are so young that they can be thought to control their emotions before they hit the teens. Or something.

        • Dev Null says:

          Right. So its not killing people thats bad, its feeling emotions. A total sociopath would make the perfect jedi.

          • rofltehcat says:

            All those aspects are better in the KotoR games. People can actually redeem themselves and clean themself of the dark side’s taint. Also it is shown that the extreme way of the jedi (feeling nothing at all) is just as wrong as the dark side.

            I think the suppression of feelings the jedi practice is also what makes it so easy for many jedi to fall to the dark side. A human being can’t just suppress those feelings for too long and when they break through they are so strong that either something bad happens (e.g. master killed in training) or they just can’t stop the decline.

            Jolee Bindo is a great character and I’d like some more jedi in the star wars universe that are not white or black but grey and see the force as a source of balance instead of just a power source to fight your white vs. black wars.

            • tremor3258 says:

              Jolee’s not that grey whenever he comments on your actions. It seems to be an offical policy declaration as much as the fact that Light side in the first game didn’t get to be all snarky.

            • winter says:

              Also it is shown that the extreme way of the jedi (feeling nothing at all) is just as wrong as the dark side.

              Technically this was somewhat a theme of the prequels, too… as poorly explored and vague as it was.

          • Duffy says:

            Technically speaking, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with a “sociopath”, you’re just repeating pop culture references.

            You could argue that in terms of efficiency and reason sociopaths could be “perfect” arbiters, and thus would make the best Jedi.

            Of course depending on the logical conclusions they draw (which can still be wrong aside from lacking empathy) they could become rampant murders, and thus also make very good Sith. So in black and white land they are of equal chance good or bad.

            That’s not a symptom of being a sociopath, that’s a symptom of logical reasoning which is usually affected by upbringing.

            • Mari says:

              No, there is something “inherently wrong” with being a sociopath. Sociopathy (properly known as Antisocial Personality Disorder) is listed in the DSM-IV as a dramatic personality disorder characterized by persistent lying, lack of remorse or empathy for others, cruelty to animals, persistent childhood behavior problems, poor behavior control, and a tendency to violate the rights of others. I’d say that there’s something very wrong with that.

              The problem with the assumption that sociopaths would make good Jedi is, as noted below, that sociopaths are not emotionless. They lack empathy but certainly not emotion.

          • Ace Calhoon says:

            No. Sociopaths lack empathy, not negative emotions. A sociopath would actually make a pretty terrible Jedi, since they have one fewer check on their anger.

        • krellen says:

          The movies (particularly the first trilogy) are pretty clear on the whole emotions == dark side bit.

          I call shenanigans on this. It’s the gestalt we’re sold, it’s what the words in the movie try to claim, but the actual plot and action and story call it a big giant lie.

          The secret message of Star Wars that I don’t think anyone – possibly not even George Lucas – understood, but once you get it you see it clearly, is not the Light Side triumphing over the Dark Side, not dispassion ruling over passion. Luke’s story is not one of a man overcoming his emotions and doing what was right. Luke never overcame the one underlying emotion that was his most defining characteristic: love.

          Star Wars is about Luke’s love, for his father, for his sister, for his friends. And every time, Luke’s love is completely and utterly vindicated. Luke does not become a Jedi. Luke transcends the Jedi. He proves them wrong.

          Luke loves his friends, so he abandons his training on Dagobah to rescue them. Yoda and Obi-Wan both tell him he is a heedless fool, following his emotions and rushing off to his doom. But Luke succeeds – he saves his friends (saving Han takes a bit longer than the others) and survives and escapes the trap set for him by Darth Vader. And even more importantly, Luke learns he has another figure he thought lost for whom he can also care: his father.

          Luke loves his father. Because Luke loves his father, he is both able to overcome his father’s Dark Side and resist the taunting and encouragement of the Emperor to delve into his darker emotions. And it is love that saves his father. Love causes Luke to spare Vader’s life and avoid the first step to the Dark Side, and when the Emperor turns upon his son, it is love that drives Vader to turn from the Dark Side and cast down the Emperor. It is love that saves Vader and makes him one with the Force – love taught to him by his son.

          Vader fell because the Jedi clung to the fallacious belief that emotions were traps, dangerous and unwieldy. Instead of teaching Jedi to confront and command their emotions, they are taught to ignore and suppress them. By refusing to suppress his emotions, Vader fell to the Dark Side, but the fall was not inevitable; had he only learned how to command them, had he only been allowed to feel, instead of only think, he may have been saved. It was only when he was allowed to feel for his son and his pain that he found his way back from the Dark Side and became a man again.

          Star Wars is not a story of a man overcoming his emotions to succeed. It is a story of a boy growing to become a true man who knows his heart, embraces his heart, and follows his heart.

          • PurePareidolia says:

            Absoultely, and this is backed up in a lot of the video games – Jedi Knight, KOTOR (especially KOTOR 2) and even The Force Unleashed paint the “Jedi vs Sith” thing as not being as clear cut as good vs evil, not to mention the constant themes of Love conquering all.

        • PurePareidolia says:

          It’s really odd how the Jedi seem to have different rules governing their personalities for no adequately explained reason. I don’t know if the force heightens emotion or anything but the Force flows through all living things and we NEVER see non force users have to grapple with the dark side in the most remote way. It could be a really interesting hook that in that universe degree of psychic power translates to severe bipolar emotional instability, however Jedi are mostly stoic and grey jedi do exist, especially in KOTOR which was easily my favourite take on the universe. But I digress.

          Anyways, at that point in the film The emperor had yet to demonstrate any form of combat prowess, Luke didn’t know the Emperor could kill him – for all he knew, Darth Vader was the Emperor’s muscle. I dunno, it’s plausible he could have sensed the Emperor’s force signature though.

      • PurePareidolia says:

        I don’t buy this – Han Solo kills people all the time from the moment we meet him, Princess Leia shoots a Stormtrooper or two in the first film and Luke lightsabers a bunch of guys in Return of the Jedi when escaping from Jabba. And that’s just off the top of my head. Not to mention how Luke murdered everyone on the Death Star singlehandedly. None of them go to the dark side, in fact Han gets progressively more heroic as the series goes on.

        It’s like “Don’t worry about it, nobody cares if redshirts die, as long as it isn’t their evil, mass murdering, child killing boss – once you can justify murdering one Sith lord what’s next? The puppy orphanage? You monster.”

        • Maldeus says:

          This isn’t the difference between red shirts and named characters, but rather the difference between cold-blooded killing and passionate murder. The former may not be the best trait to have under normal circumstances, but it’s better than the latter, and if you have to kill someone (and this being a war, you do) it’s better not to feel exhilaration, satisfaction, or even relief from it.

  5. Factoid says:

    Glad I’m not the only one who hated that rendition of Princess Leia. It’s kind of bizarre considering how good most of the rest of the human faces in that game were. I thought the rendering of Jimmy Smits was about as it could be. I’ve seen BETTER replications of famous faces in 3D models, but not in video games. They probably got him to do his own Mocap, which I’m sure improved the quality substantially.

    I think they were going for a 16 year old version of Leia, and probably tried to use some similar-looking face model to do her mocap.

  6. Ace Calhoon says:

    Double post. Oops.

  7. Ian says:

    THAT is supposed to be Princess Leia?

    Ye Gods. That doesn’t even resemble her adult self. If anything, she looks older in that screenshot than she does in the movies.

  8. Henebry says:

    Love your joke in that comic, Shamus. I especially like the patient politeness with which the waiter turns down Emperor P. He’s plainly had to field that offer more than once before.

  9. Dev Null says:

    I guess in Star Wars Extreme: the Expended Universe they go into all kinds of TMI detail about the sith-master relationship. But just from the original 3, I always got the impression that the turn-to-the-darkside test that the Emperor was giving to Luke was to _try_ to kill Vader, or then the Emperor. I never got the impression that he was necessarily going to let Luke get away with it.

    Of course, the movies themselves make a fairly fine point of demonstrating why this too is a lousy recruitment strategy. Pick your potential apprentices well – if they’re _too_ good, you’re in trouble. Still, I figure most martial arts masters would be willing to let some untrained doofus have a go at them in order to test their innate speed and agility, without much worry of actually getting hurt. Actually trying to kill you is maybe a bit much, but its probably not too far fetched.

    • Atarlost says:

      Unfortunately the There Can Only Be Two spiel is in some pretty authoritative dialog in the prequels. That doesn’t prove it was followed at the time, but does prove that it was followed when the Jedi and Sith last fought. And nothing in the prequels contraindicates this except Count Ducky being surprised when Palpatine has him killed by Annie.

      P.S. Opera’s spellcheck approves of Jedi as long as it’s capitalized, but not Sith. This needs more testing.
      Darth Vader (accepts)
      Palpatine (rejects)
      Sidious (rejects)
      Skywalker (rejects)
      Obi-wan (accepts)
      Wookie (rejects)
      Leia Organa (rejects Organa)
      Yoda (accepts)

      It could be an interesting study to get a bunch of spell checks and run made up words and names from famous fictional works through them.

  10. Giggle. Giggle. Snort.

    See, you CAN post a comic without me proofing it first. ;P Is funny. You may go continue being brilliant now.

  11. Nasikabatrachus says:

    After seeing the prequels, I finally realized why Palpatine’s offer to Luke was so weird. Darth Vader must be an incredibly boring sop. That whiny guy would destroy anyone’s will to live.

  12. Maldeus says:

    “Princess Leia” looks like a pretty convincing rebel princess (though I’m only looking at one shot, she might look worse from other angles or in motion), but she’s an exceptionally poor imitation of Carrie Fisher. Are there no high school photos of the actual sixteen year old Carrie Fisher that they could’ve used for reference?

  13. Kdansky says:

    If I strike down Vader and get to take his place, what happens when the next Jedi marches in? I will have to fight for my life…

    So nope, declined.

  14. hewhosaysfish says:

    “Thank you again, Your Highness.”

    This is the bit that got me. The Emperor obviosly does this a lot.

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