Games Podcasts

We Have a Lot of Questions About Sheev Palpatine

We may not know what his true motivations were, but we do know one thing: Palpatine loved to manipulate people.
May 20, 2020, 12:55pm
Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars Battlefront II, wearing his iconic black robes, and shooting purple-blue lighting from his fingertips
Image courtesy of EA

Austin, Gita, Ricardo, and Rob gather around their mics this week to talk about video games, but first! What is the nature of Sheev Palpatine's desires? Is becoming Emperor of the Galaxy enough? What drives him once he reaches this goal? Austin has been having some Star Wars thoughts that we gotta work through. Gita spent time being on streams and thinking about the boom of new, inexperienced streamers breaking onto the scene and what experimentation they might bring with them. After the break, Cado's been playing Tonight We Riot, the leftist beat-em-up game about liberating your fellow workers and fighting back against corporations with some really great group dynamics, and Boreal Tales, a mystery-horror-adventure game with an enhanced PS1-era aesthetic and a VHS magical realism narrative. Rob is revisiting Alien Isolation and realizing that hiding from the alien isn't always the right call, sometimes you just gotta walk right past it. You can listen to the full episode and read an excerpt below.

Gita: Yeah, I find that my roommate was watching the prequel so now I think I'm gonna convince her to watch Clone Wars. We had a conversation about Anakin Skywalker.

Austin: Okay, good. I fell into a hole this weekend talking to some people from Star Wars stuff. Some folks in the Abnormal Mapping community about what Sheev wanted and I still don't really know.

Gita: So Sheev seems to have the most animus when he's talking about how he killed that one guy to Anakin right?

Austin: Plagueis, yeah.

Gita: Of course, it's a story that I'm not sure you would know it.

Austin: Yeah you wouldn't know about it, the Jedi wouldn't let you hear his story. The thing that I ended up saying was, If I were an incredibly powerful force user who wanted to control as much of the galaxy as possible through my power and also live a life of luxury and freedom, I would simply join the Jedi Order.

Gita: Wocka wocka!

[laughter]

Austin: I mean I guess it's not the same thing as being an emperor, I understand that, unlimited power I get it, but then what? What next? And we don't have the EU to guide us anymore. There was a time in the EU when someone said wait a second, what was next for that dude, and the answer was the Vong were coming, aliens were coming and he was preparing for it, and then that created decades of knockoff bad stories about that. Not just in EU Star Wars just like that trope became the classic, to the degree that Star Wars would then use it for other characters in Star Wars, but I was like "what's Sheev want? Sheev was a master manipulator, Sheev gets everyone in line, finds the natural tensions between forces that already exist, recognizes the reality of social relations, tugs on certain things, gives more on others, and generates a war. But what comes next after Emperor? The destruction of the Jedi Order understandably, but then what?

Gita: Yeah of course. Those guys gotta go.

Austin: I'm not a Sheev apologist, to be clear.

Gita: I just truly understood something. Sheev is Jax from Vanderpump Rules.

Austin: Can you explain?

Gita: Jax is an evil fucked up man, who lies like it's breathing and has terrorized women, the entire time he's been on the show, the only one that's been worse for women on this show is James Kennedy, and he's the one that told, for years really, just kept calling this one girl fat for no reason. And when he got sober and had to apologize to everyone he just went up to her like, "I don't know why I just kept calling you fat but I did, and I'm so sorry, it make any sense." Jax is worse than that.

Austin: So you think it is just uh, where does it come from for Jax?

Gita: I don't know, but his understanding of the problems in other people's relationships and how to exacerbate those tensions is just natural, he understands it immediately. And the thing that he likes the most seemingly, even as he's sort of matured, is pushing on it and just pushing those tensions for his own amusement, and watching things explode. And I do think Palpatine, now that we don't have the EU we don't have any idea what his broader motivations might have been, as it exists, he's just a guy that loves to see how far he can get by pushing people's buttons. And that's an interesting villain, I'm okay with that.

Austin: Yeah but that's not what he's doing when he's Emperor that's my thing is like, I get that in the prequels, but then he's the Emperor and he just like sits in a big room all day.

Gita: I know he's ugly as shit and he sits in a big room and does force lightning.

Austin: And he wants to live forever, especially with new movies shit, it's like yeah dog who doesn't, but it's not that big of a deal, just die.

Rob: Let me toss this out at you really quick.

Austin: Yeah, I need this Rob.

Rob: Okay, so I think the thing that has overtaken Palpatine is that, I think the EU had the right idea which was that the New Order represented a kind of high tech comfortable fascism. And the thing that the EU built out was the sense that, look, you had a really complicated and poorly held together coalition of different species and planets and races and all different interests and adjudicating that was difficult. You can understand why the appeal existed to just pave over all of that with the rule of the iron fist. And for a lot of people that would work out very well, and then for the rest of you, there's slavery and planetary destruction, etc.

Austin: But Sheev never enunciates that as an ideology.

Rob: No, but I think it's implicit in a lot of the original trilogy, certainly. As they talk about the destruction of the Senate, the imposition of order, you see who the rebels are. Oh, hold on one second.

Austin: Well while Rob is gone I'm gonna put forward my Galaxy brain read, which is, if you read Hegel–

[laughter]

Austin: –you understand that history unfolds. Really what I want to get to without bringing Hegel into it, despite the fact that what I really want to do is talk about what Hegel said about Napoleon–

Cado: What did Hegel say about Napoleon?

Austin: That he was the world spirit incarnate riding on a horse.

Gita: Wow that's a fuckin' lot.

Cado: I mean he believed himself that, right?

Austin: Yeah, but the thing that I want to get to is maybe Palpatine, and I put this to some friends this weekend, maybe Palpatine isn't meant to be a person at all so much as an embodiment of historical forces. Which is why he doesn't have human motivation. I mean he does he's very human, especially in the prequels. He definitely has that, there's a sensuousness to the way he eats up the screen.

Gita: Palpatine in the prequels is having the time of his fucking life.

Austin: I just wish I saw that Palpatine a little more.

Gita: Yeah, he's having so much fun manipulating the stupidest man on earth, which is really funny to me.

Austin: Yeah that's true, you're totally right!

Gita: Yeah, he's just like "this motherfucker will do whatever I tell him!"

Gita: He'll do anything! Is he gonna kill all these children? Yeah, yeah!

Austin: This himbo over here!


This transcript was edited for length and clarity.

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This article originally appeared on VICE US.