ByCatrina Dennis, writer at
Host, Reporter, Podcast Queen | @ohcatrina on twitter/fb/insta |
Catrina Dennis

After the intense success of Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens, many of us have been looking back on the Star Wars saga as a whole to look for clues or missed plot points from the source material. With the films, Star Wars: The Clone Wars episodes, and only post-2015 material solely considered canon (farewell, my beloved Expanded Universe), we've been given a firm place to land when it comes to the beginning of the epic space opera.

It's hard to deny that Star Wars is the story of Anakin Skywalker's legacy, but it's also the story of a galaxy full of creatures, lifestyles, mindsets, and out-of-this-world magic that falls into constant civil war. It's the story of an ongoing struggle and several generations' worth of attempts to stop it. It's a story about hope against all odds, and keeping your head above water so that you can achieve something great. As much as it is Anakin Skywalker's story, it is the story of an already delicate galaxy that spun into chaos on the day that Padme Amidala drew her final breath.

Natalie Portman as Padme Amidala
Natalie Portman as Padme Amidala

The prequels get a bad rap (and that's understandable) but watching them again can certainly open your eyes to the smallest nuances and implications within the films — and a rewatch was exactly what this writer needed to rekindle a love for Padme. Yes, Natalie Portman herself has a major distaste for the prequel trilogy, but sifting through the nasties will eventually present you with a great story told by the wrong author.

Many key players and elements hold the galaxy together in Star Wars, but it's hard not to argue that Padme's service was a step up from the usual duct tape strategies that many Rebel leaders who followed her tried. So, why then do we see Padme regularly pigeonholed into certain factions of her persona (child queen, angry senator, mother, vessel) rather than appreciated for who she was?

Often, this has to do with the way she died and how far fans are willing to stretch canon. Accepting Padme's death at face value means accepting the fact she lost the will to live in the end. That, I think, is the wrong way to perceive the event, and even cheapens it a little bit. We'll get to her death in a second — first, let's take a look at who Padme was.

Padme The Peace Keeper

Padme was deeply concerned with the happiness of her people and peace within the galaxy. In a time where speciesism ran rampant, it was a teenage Padme who brought the two major species of Naboo together in order to achieve a common goal. She solidified that partnership by delivering the victory she promised, and actively participates in espionage missions in order to make herself a visible part of the effort.

Padme's daughter, Leia, would subconsciously take on this trait, among others (though she has many more in common with her impatient father, comparatively), to bring several species together under the Rebel Alliance. Leia, much like Padme with the Gungans, convinces the Ewoks to participate in the Rebels' efforts in order to save their moon — not by negotiation or bargain, but simply by befriending and offering her kindness to them.

In The Clone Wars, Padme's peacekeeping and negotiation skills come into play more often than one would expect; Padme is often shown negotiating our heroes out of certain danger, and forming friendships with major galactic players that would not have listened to her if she were simply an appointed figurehead. Padme earns every single bond she has, and that reflects heavily on her status as a leader throughout the series.

The Leader And The Lover

It was Padme, a Queen at 14 years old, who returned to the invaded planet of Naboo to save and liberate her people after demanding that the Galactic Senate support her efforts. Padme was trained in espionage and combat early on, and even as a teenager she led a successful infiltration mission in order to take back her planet and bring freedom to her people.

In The Clone Wars, her need to be saved is minimal. In most situations where Padme finds herself in trouble, Anakin or her friends showing up to help her is a casual surprise. Padme is constantly on her toes, over-preparing for the most dire of situations.

Between speaking beyond her years in front of the Galactic Senate and pulling off daring rescue missions alongside the Jedi and the Republic, Padme was also head-over-heels in love with Anakin Skywalker. She is unyielding in her support for him until the moment when his actions completely shatter her world: Learning of his betrayal and the younglings he slaughtered, Padme is faced with the decision to help take him down or let him murder again.

In the film's original script, Padme brings a knife to the scene where she meets Anakin for the last time, but cannot bring herself to harm him. While this was scrapped, I think it would have really demonstrated exactly how much Anakin meant to her; Padme is no stranger to killing people, and while her body count didn't exceed even the smallest percentage of Anakin's at that moment, she was completely unable to even raise the knife to her husband.

So often women are cast as the simple love interest, the girl about to get fridged for the sake of her boyfriend's character progression — and while Padme is certainly somewhat part of that pool, she is far more than the doe-eyed girl who gets cut down in the end. She leads, she thinks, she fights.

She Never Stopped Learning

Padme's growth as a history-making leader is very heavily influenced by those around her, and while watching the prequels, you can almost pick out each individual quality that leads a pregnant Padme back into war in the trilogy's final installment.

She learns combat from Naboo militants such as Captain Panaka; control, patience and benevolence from her interactions with the Jedi (including Yoda himself during the Clone Wars); Anakin's risk-taking leads Padme to be more daring, and she excels at it; even Jar Jar Binks influences Padme, albeit unintentionally, when it came to bridging the gap between the surface and land citizens of Naboo.

While the Jedi bicker, she does it quicker
While the Jedi bicker, she does it quicker

It's this quality that makes Padme stand out to me so much as a character: Unlike her often stubborn husband, she takes criticism like a champ and is constantly improving in more areas than one. Padme may not have been on the front lines while she was pregnant, but it was her mind that often saved the Jedi tasked to protect her, and Padme owed that to the people she learned from.

Padme Did Not Die Of A Broken Heart

Finally, the major plot point that made fans cringe worldwide: The cause of Padme Amidala's untimely death. "She's lost the will to live," a droid tells Yoda and Obi-Wan, as a screaming Luke Skywalker fills the background with his cries. It's all very sad, and after naming the twins, Padme dies.

A galactic leader, a Queen, a Senator, a war veteran and the wife of a Jedi Knight loses the will to live because her husband goes bad, moments after she sees her children for the first time? Yeah, no — that's a steaming pile of Bantha Poodoo if I've ever heard it.

Thanks for that useful term, Jabba!
Thanks for that useful term, Jabba!

While theories have been flying for years, very few fans have found any that seem to fit — save for blogger Joseph Tavano of RetroZap, whose fan theory on Padme's cause of death has slowly taken the internet by storm. I love it! Joseph pulls actual events from film canon to back up his points, and since Padme's death was always a little weird, it's pretty easy to accept his version as your personal headcanon.

Here's what Joseph had to say:

Let’s get one thing straight for all time: droids cannot feel the Force; droids cannot interact with the Force; droids do not understand anything about the Force unless it is programmed data provided by organics.

Clearly, what is going on with Padme in this scene has to do with the Force... With that in mind, let’s review the exact words the droid said to Obi-Wan:

DROID “Medically, she’s completely healthy. For reasons we can’t explain, we’re losing her.”

OBI-WAN “She’s dying?!”

DROID “We don’t know why. She’s lost the will to live. We need to operate quickly if we are to save the babies.”

Anakin's force choke (despite being a totally gross case for the Galactic Domestic Violence Council to take on) did not have a part in Padme's failing physical statistics, and it's a fact that the medical droids that helped deliver Padme's twins never used the term "broken heart." Padme is clearly alive throughout the birth and didn't die until the very last moment.

Padme's heart breaking, evidently
Padme's heart breaking, evidently

"For reasons we can’t explain, we’re losing her." That reason is the Force! We don’t know why. "She’s lost the will to live." As if her connection to the Living Force was severed? Of course the droids would not be able to pick this up!

So, why does it seem like the Living Force is being ripped away from her, stealing her life force in a vampiric manner? That sounds like a power one would have if they were able to cheat death.

Wait. I’ve heard that phrase before.

In an absolutely vile turn of events, Joseph summarizes how Emperor Palpatine sensed that Anakin was dying, and so he slowly sapped the life force from Padme in order to keep his apprentice alive. He'd already admitted to doing the exact same thing to his master, Darth Plagueis (but everyone was too busy paying attention to how Plagueis impregnated Shmi Skywalker with the Force, or something).

So, as Padme forces her children out of her body as she struggles to stay alive, Anakin is directly, unknowingly feeding off of what will she has left to live.

The first thing Vader does is to inquire about Padmé. It’s not that he was unconscious–the movie makes it clear that he was awake through the entire procedure–it’s that he could feel her in the Force, and once the procedure was over he could not. He knew all along that his choke didn’t kill her. He is worried about this person he means to possess, and fears the worst:

PALPATINE “Lord Vader, can you hear me?”

VADER “Yes master. Where is Padmé? Is she safe? Is she alright?”

PALPATINE “It seems, in your anger, you killed her.”

VADER “I–I couldn’t have. She was ALIVE–I FELT IT.”

{Palpatine knowingly smiles}


The most Palpatine knew about Anakin's situation was that he was on Mustafar and that he was dying. Palpatine had no idea where Padme was, and possibly didn't even know that she was in labor, so how else would he know that she died?

There would be no news of it so suddenly; it had only happened seconds before he told the news to Anakin. This is the lynch-pin of Palpatine’s whole plan, the part that would enslave Vader forever in his despair. She had to die–right then–or else Vader would never truly be committed to the Emperor.

This movie and the subsequent movies also show that neither Vader or the Emperor knew anything of her location, or of the birth of Vader’s children. The Emperor’s power was at its height, but not omniscient.

The fact that Palpatine knew about Padmé’s death is the one big, huge giveaway that he was involved and that SHE DID NOT DIE OF A BROKEN HEART!

The full run-down of this theory is absolutely perfect in my eyes, but you can be the judge of that by reading it here.

She was not a Jedi, she was not a rebel princess with an attitude, and she was not the renegade pilot that loves the smell of trouble and joins a cause for chaos, but Padme Amidala didn't need to be any of those things. For all intents and purposes, Padme was one of the two most important people in the galaxy at the time of her death, for more reasons than the children that she had just birthed.

Padme had already made her mark on the galaxy before Luke and Leia were born. She had already started the Rebel movement by defying the old ways of the Galactic Trade Federation, breaking down barriers of fear between alien races, and making a lasting mark on the most dangerous monster in the galaxy; the final mark that saved the last spark of Anakin Skywalker's humanity until he met their children and found redemption in them.

So next time you're thinking about a useless supporting character, don't think of Her Excellency, Senator Padmé Amidala (-Skywalker) of Naboo. She certainly wouldn't think of anyone that way.

What do you think of Padmé?


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