Darth Vader and the destruction of the first Death Star

To quote Grand Moff Tarkin: “I’m taking an awful risk Vader. This had better work”.

And it didn’t! Because Leia Organa was allowed to escape with the Death Star plans, the Rebel Alliance gained the vital technical data that was the only way they would ever have been able to successfully destroy the Death Star. So over fifteen years of development, unimaginable expense and presumably the cream of the Imperial officers were wiped out. The political risk of abolishing the Senate, the slaughter of Alderaan, and nakedly revealing the Empire to be a tyranny, all predicated on the Death Star being there to suppress dissent- now blown up in the Emperor’s face.

And apparently it was all Vader’s brilliant idea.

My question is, Sith apprentice or not, why did the Emperor suffer Vader to live? If the Expanded Universe is anything to go by, it isn’t as if the Emperor didn’t have any number of Darkside Force users waiting in the wings for a chance to join the big league.

Easy: blame the whole thing on Tarkin. It’s not like he’s around to argue.

The EU isn’t anything to go by. Also, blame Tarkin. Who is going to argue?

While Vader may have contributed more to the Death Star’s failure than Tarkin, Tarkin’s failure was a lot more visible:

“Evacuate? In our moment of triumph? I think you overestimate their chances.”

Whatever black box survived the explosion is going to damn Tarkin without mitigation.

Vader’s plan pretty much worked. It was Tarkin who decided to proceed without any assistance from the Imperial Fleet. The E.U. says that he was also responsible for the defensive design deficiencies (geared toward capital ships, not fighters) of the Death Star. If Tarkin thought there was anything in the plans that could give the Rebels any chance of even survival, let alone victory, he wouldn’t have consented to the idea.

Even if it was a stupid plan by Vader, Tarkin went with it. Who’s more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?

Obligatory. (Warning: Uncensored)

Random Thoughts:

  1. Imho, it’s pretty simple: he was a popular character, so he’s going to stay in every film getting bigger and bigger roles. Notice how his role changed from Ep4 to 5, and then nearly the entire movie centered around him in 6. Then, the entire series of 1-3 was pure Vader.

  2. Bad writing: After Ep4, the rest of the series were pretty much written as they went along. It’s not like today where entire trilogies are mapped out from day one. Back then, they had to wait and see if the first was successful before green-lighting the next one. My guess is that nobody knew what a badass the emperor was until the last film, or maybe even 1-3. Notice how the same thing happened with Matrix 1 vs 2-3: flush with cash, they skimped on the writing because of arrogance.

  3. The Emperor wasn’t the smartest dude around, either. I would guess that the biggest failure in the history of the empire was the destruction of the Death Star. So, what would a crazy ruler do? Why, let’s build ANOTHER Death Star! What could possibly go wrong this time?

  4. Personally, I would hesitate to combine the EU with the films (or discuss the film by including the EU.) The EU was written years after the fact by grown fanboys. That the fanboys WANTED tons and tons of jr. Vaders all over the universe doesn’t mean there were any in 1977. By some accounts, “bringing balance to the Force” means that at the end of episode 3, there were 2 Dark and 2 Light jedi’s, period.

I used to have a copy of the “Star Wars” novelization, which had a preface specifically stating that the emperor was a mere figurehead. I’m guessing that’s not the case with more recent printings.

Vader wasn’t exactly there to make sure the Death Star was a smashing success. He was there to make sure Tarkin didn’t turn it on the Emperor. While nominally under Tarkin’s command, he was the Emperor’s representative. If Tarkin decided to go rogue with his newly-minted planet destroyer, Vader would be on hand to take him down.

It seems to me that things were still very much in Tarkin’s favor up until the last few minutes. Remember, Tarkin’s flunky said, “We’ve analyzed their attack, and there is a danger.” Not, “Oh, shit, they’re going to kill us all!” Vader took appropriate action by engaging fighter-to-fighter, and there was no reason to suspect that a Force user would be flying with the Rebels.

Some of this is gleaned from quasi-canonical sources, but I remember decades ago assuming that Vader was not the subordinate-to-Tarkin he appeared to be. Sure, it might be fanwanking, but of all the plot holes in the Star Wars universe, this seems one of the smaller ones.

The Emperor probably saw the prize coming out of the Death Star destruction being the Skywalker child surfacing. He should care very little about a space station. Also, Vader’s plan did work- Tarkin cocked it up.

IIRC Vader has little time for the Death Star and even less for Tarkin.

Whats not to like for Vader, the death star destroyed, Tarkin dead and oh the little business with Obi Wan concluded.

I read somewhere that the second Death Star had been under construction for like 10, 12 years–it was started when the first one was half-finished.

Actually a better proof that the Emperor wasn’t the brightest light-saber in the armory was that in Jedi, HE WON–Luke’s beaten the shit out of Vader and is seconds away from lopping off daddy’s head…when the Emperor decides to monologue: “Good! Your hate has made you powerful. Now, fulfill your destiny and take your father’s place at my side!” If the Emperor had just shut the hell up for 20 seconds and not said those two lines, Luke wouldn’t have paused to think, he would have turned to the Dark Side and that’s all she wrote for the Jedi.

Loved the obligatory link. Turned out to be a collect call to the Emperor from <breathy sound>, telling him the Death Star just got blown up. Emperor: “Just build another one??! Who’s going to give me that kind of loan? Unless you’ve got an ATM on that Lite-Brite Torso of yours!”

Another obligatory link, from Family Guy Blue Harvest. Y’know, it takes animated characters to point out what the live action ones should have noticed right away:

Generic Imperial Officer: “Well, [the Death Star] is virtually indestructable… Like 99.99%…”

Darth Vader Who Sounds a Lot Like Stewie: “Wait, you hesitated there. Is there something I should know?”

GIO: “It’s nothing…”

Darth Stewie: “Okay. Well, wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask ‘What’s the point-oh-one?’.”

GIO: “Well, uh, there’s this* little *hole. It was kind of an aesthetic choice by the architect…”

Darth Stewie: “Can’t we put some plywood over it or something?”
Paraphrased, not doing the original justice. Just watch it.

Technically, the plan was to let them go so they would lead the Empire to the Rebel’s hidden fortress. That plan worked. It was Tarkin who screwed the pooch on the actual attack.

Also, bear in mind that the killing blow was landed by a powerful Force sensative that caused an explosion just as the main weapon was about to fire. If luke was 5 seconds slower the Rebels would have lost anyway.


On the Falcon, just after Luke smacked a remote with his light saber (while he had his head covered with a helmet), Han Solo makes some kind of remark about “luck”, and Ben replies that in his experience, there is no such thing as luck.

Han states to Luke “Kid, I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other, and I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe that there’s one all-powerful Force controlling everything. 'Cause no mystical energy field controls my destiny. It’s all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.”

So, Han believes that the Force is touted as controlling destiny, and Ben doesn’t bother to correct him. Is that because Ben believe the Force does control destiny?

If he does, and it did, then there was no chance that the rebels would be 5 seconds too late. :wink:

In the EU, the Emperor blamed it on Bevel Lemelisk, the guy who designed the Death Star with that little flaw that let a tiny fighter blow it up. And executed him gruesomely over it. Executed him repeatedly in fact, with the help of mind transfer and cloning technology.

No. I’d say he doesn’t bother to correct him because Han doesn’t believe in it anyway. It would be like telling him that the invisible pink unicorn is actually orange. Why would he give a damn?

The Death Star was never Vader’s baby anyway. In his own words:

“Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.”

My exegesis would be that Vader (and, perhaps, the Emperor himself) weren’t too big on the Death Star. It was a product of the Empire’s military industrial complex, not part of the Sith’s grand scheme.

The preface says, in part:

However, later in the novelization, Obi-Wan says, referring to Darth Vader:

which suggests that, while Palpatine was the first emperor, he’s not the current one.

Unless, the Force was on Vader’s side that day. His destiny is force influenced too. :smiley: