ByNate Brinkley, writer at
Hey guys, I'm Nate: writer and fan of all things Star Wars and DC Media.
Nate Brinkley

With a brand new Star Wars film coming out this December (The Last Jedi), I thought I would do a post that brings you back to the films of the previous decade. No matter what you think of the prequels, the characters (Jar Jar), or the director, you cannot ignore that they are still Star Wars movies.

However, there is one particular plot line that had all of Star Wars fandom scratching their heads — when the sage-like Grand Master Yoda failed to deduce that the Dark Lord of the Sith had weaseled his way into the Republic as its chancellor.

The Jedi — and especially its ruling council — seem to have this innate ability to read people's minds. Truly, they can sense feelings, but it does seem like mind-reading. That the Grand Master of the Jedi Council did not sense the embodiment of evil in such an open place is truly a mystery, especially when he is an 800-plus-year-old Jedi Master!

This mystery is compounded even further when you consider the second installment of the saga, The Empire Strikes Back. In Empire, Yoda speaks to the disembodied voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi, saying:

"This one, a long time have I watched."

This tells me that Yoda was strong enough to sense beings across the stars, lightyears away. He could watch them; know their thoughts and actions. So, how is it that he could not sense that Palpatine was a Sith, or at least a Force user?

3. Masking

[Credit: Lucasfilm]
[Credit: Lucasfilm]

The movies lead us to believe that Palpatine was so powerful that he created a type of fog in the Force so the Jedi could not perceive his true self. This "shroud" is not mentioned by the Jedi until Revenge Of The Sith, so I find it hard to believe it existed for the roughly 20-year period Palpatine mingled with Jedi before he was chancellor. They never had an idea that he was even strong enough to be a Force-user.

All of this is at least somewhat explained in the canon novel Tarkin. It explains that the Sith occupied the galactic capital approximately 6000 years before A New Hope and had built a shrine that was later built over by the Jedi. The massive and prominent Jedi Temple was raised to cover the shrine and mask the Dark Side energy that it contained. The novel goes on to state that Palpatine used this Dark Side energy to create the aforementioned shroud that hid his presence and blinded the Jedi to the corruption around them. However, is that enough to fool the wise Master Yoda?

2. Darth Bane's Rule

[Credit: Marvel Comics]
[Credit: Marvel Comics]

So, if you've read a lot of Star Wars comics and books, or you've devotedly watched every episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, you know who Darth Bane is. He instituted the rule of two that is mentioned by Mace Windu in The Phantom Menace. This rule was created so that the Sith could gain their power in secret. It not only served to allow the Sith to grow more powerful, but it caused the Jedi to grow complacent since their mortal enemy and polar opposite seemed to be non-existent. Mace Windu seemed suspicious of everyone, and certainly was not complacent, so I doubt he would allow Master Yoda to be the same.

1. The Pollyanna Theory

'Pollyanna' [Credit: Disney]
'Pollyanna' [Credit: Disney]

Now you're probably thinking: Polly who? Pollyanna is the eponymous character from the 1960s movie of the same name. She has this ability to have the most rosy view of life, even seeing the best in others. When we meet Master Yoda in his first chronological Star Wars appearance, he has been training Jedi for over 800 years, many of them younglings. He has probably developed a habit of ignoring the bad he sees in others, recognizing only the good. His status as mentor, sage and master would nearly force him to ignore these qualities to bring out the best in his young students.

Am I saying that he would be above correcting a youngling? No, of course not. I'm saying that he probably left most discipline to other masters and instructors. After all, young students fear the principals of their schools far more than they do their teachers. Similarly, the Jedi younglings would be more disheartened when reprimanded by the Grand Master than another instructor.

My point is simply that had gone so far as to train himself to generally ignore the faults in those that were not directly subordinate to him — including the Chancellor of the Republic.


[Credit: Lucasfilm]
[Credit: Lucasfilm]

I'm not one to argue that my theory is absolute. However, when you consider all three reasons — in conjunction with the fact that the Tarkin novel is official canon — the bigger picture begins to take shape. It is here you start to realize that just like the great Master Yoda, you too would have doubtlessly been deceived. Could Palpatine have deceived all of the Jedi except Yoda with just one of these elements? Perhaps. However, to deceive an ancient Master, you must have all three.

So there it is — three reasons even Yoda didn't know the Chancellor Palpatine was Darth Sidious. Do you agree or disagree? Do you have another theory or reason? Comment below!


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