The Death Star’s Destruction Was Even Worse For Palpatine Than You Think

Luke Skywalker fired the shot heard across the galaxy when he destroyed the Death Star – but it was even worse for Palpatine than you think.

The Death Star’s destruction was even worse for Palpatine than most Star Wars viewers realized. Sith have always been fans of superweapons, and Emperor Palpatine was most certainly no exception. Construction of the first Death Star actually began in the dying years of the Old Republic; Palpatine allowed plans for the Death Star to be discovered on Geonosis, and he persuaded the Senate to approve funding for construction. He argued the Geonosian plans indicated the Separatists were already building their own, and the Republic had to get there first. This neatly explains the end of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, in which Palpatine and Darth Vader were shown looking over the Death Star construction project.

It took 20 years to build the Death Star, largely because the secret of using kyber to power superweapons had been lost in the mists of time. The superweapon was tested at Jedha, and again at Scarif, before destroying Alderaan – and then, to Palpatine’s fury, plans that had been decades in the making were ruined by a single X-wing pilot. Luke Skywalker fired “the shot heard across the galaxy,” and the galaxy was plunged into a civil war Palpatine had never planned for. It wasn’t just that Luke’s heroism inspired the galaxy, though; it was also that the Emperor had assumed the Death Star was ready, and had already begun re-ordering the galaxy based on its presence.

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Palpatine Shut Down The Imperial Senate After The Death Star Was Completed

Imperial Senate in Bad Batch Episode 7

It’s no coincidence the Sith allowed the Imperial Senate to remain during the Dark Times of the Empire’s reign. Palpatine had no real interest in the trappings of democracy, although he naturally enjoyed political manipulation; he surely reveled in the kind of political chicanery seen in Star Wars: The Bad Batch season 2, episode 8. But the Emperor allowed his enemies to dream of defeating him in a political arena so they would not turn to armed rebellion, essentially viewing the Senate as something of a pressure valve. It was only when the Death Star was completed, and indeed when the Imperial superweapon had been successfully tested at Jedha and Scarif, that he closed the Senate.

Until this point, the Emperor had maintained a convenient fiction; precious few people knew Palpatine was actually a Sith Lord, and instead most believed he was a benevolent ruler who was being deceived by corrupt advisers. Smarter politicians knew the truth, but they could not be heard above a constant barrage of Imperial propaganda. The decision to close the Senate changed everything, however, because it was done by the Emperor’s authority. Palpatine revealed his true nature to the galaxy – as an opponent of democracy. For the first time, he became a target.

The Destruction Of The Death Star Changed Everything For Palpatine

Luke flying to destroy the Death Star in A New Hope, The Death Star in Rogue One, and Emperor Palpatine in Return of the Jedi

This is revealed in Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca’s Darth Vader #1, which is set shortly after the destruction of the Death Star. There, Palpatine harangued Darth Vader for his failure to protect the superweapon. “Now, we no longer have the Senate to hold order,” Palpatine fumed. “We do not have the Death Star to force it. Our greatest weapon is gone, our production is in ashes. We are besieged. In all these years, we have never skirted closer to disaster…” The Death Star’s destruction left Palpatine’s reign shaken; what should have been his moment of triumph was transformed into one of his greatest defeats in an instant.

The destruction of the Death Star marked the beginning of the Galactic Civil War, as countless worlds flocked to the side of the Rebel Alliance. The very creation of the Death Star, coupled with the decision to shut down the Senate, meant it was now difficult to ignore the Empire’s evil. Even Palpatine’s true identity as a Sith Lord began to become better-known, with the criminal empire Crimson Dawn dedicating itself to the destruction of the Sith. The greatest villain of Star Wars lost control of the galaxy – all because of that one fateful shot by Luke Skywalker.

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