Yoda and Palpatine: Arrogance and Blind Faith
Jedi Master Yoda and Emperor Sheev Palpatine have slowly circled each other for ages. They have an intertwined history, but absolutely no knowledge of it. Their history is complicated, though their interactions were few are far between.
And while they ultimately share one main scene in the Skywalker Saga (with the best music in the entire series), their relationship pushes beyond the boundaries of even death. So what is their relationship? And how exactly did it get to that point?
Little is known about Jedi Master Yoda’s origins. In fact, The Mandalorian will possibly explore that mystery as Din Djarin finds the home planet of The Child, who is of the same species as the Dagobah resident. What we have learned from The Mandalorian is that this particular alien species is uniquely Force-sensitive. And based on what we have learned, it is possible to sense others who are Force-sensitive. At one point in time, Yoda’s presence could be sensed from a system away from his sheer power.
Yoda was by far the most powerful Jedi of his time. However, he is also one of the oldest Jedi. He was around 900 years old when he became one with the living Force, and it is unknown how long he had been studying the secrets of the Force and the light side in his lifetime. He was devout and dedicated to what he believed to be the proper path for all Jedi. Despite this, he couldn’t have predicted the rise of Sheev Palpatine.
Human Sheev Palpatine has hidden origins as well. It is only known that at some point, he rose through the ranks of the political system on the planet of Naboo. And as he gained power, he used any means necessary to manipulate and force his way into higher-ranking positions. At some point, he was found by Darth Plagueis the Wise, and was taught the ways of the dark side. Plagueis apparently unlocked the secrets to immortality, not just for the self, but for others as well. Palpatine was drawn to the great and violent power of the dark side and studied its secrets all his life. He dedicated himself to growing in power, ultimately disposing of his master once he had attained sufficient knowledge.
And while Yoda and Palpatine both worked with the Senate, they treated each other with the utmost respect. While Palpatine plotted in the shadows and planned his Galactic Empire, he underestimated Yoda. And even when Yoda discovered Palpatine’s true nature, Yoda underestimated his power.
Whether it was willful or not, they were both ignorant of their opponent’s true underlying power and potential. And because of it, they both acted with undeserved confidence and arrogance.
It comes down to training for different things. The Jedi had not seen the Sith in over a thousand years. And in that time, the Sith trained how to defeat the Jedi. With Yoda’s age, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Sith had been training specifically for Yoda himself. His defeat was of paramount importance.
So, the Jedi became arrogant and unaware that the Sith were anywhere in the Galaxy. All the while, the Jedi grew weaker in the Force, unable to use it to its once great potential. Palpatine was even able to hide his Force-sensitivity for years right under Yoda’s nose.
Palpatine was also willing to do anything to gain power. He cloned himself and experimented using the Force to make puppets out of beings, and twisting peoples’ minds into insanity.
The Emperor was unaware of the influence a Force Ghost can still have. Yoda came back decades after he died to help Luke, Leia, and Rey. The Force is a balance in all things. The more powerful Palpatine and the dark side became, the more power was given to the light side.
Balance is nearly impossible to reach through all things but the Force itself, and so the Force brought back balance to the world in spite of Palpatine’s power.
Both Yoda and Palpatine surpassed death, each through different means. Both Yoda and Palpatine underestimated the true power of their opponent. It all comes down to arrogance. They were both deeply faithful. In fact, they were so rooted in their faith’s thin focus on the light side or the dark side that they completely ignored the other aspect of the Force.
There are two natures of the Force and ignoring one half, out of fear or out of distaste, is willful ignorance and an incomplete study. The Force is one. The Force surrounds us. And they both burrowed so deep into their own message that they ignored the greater whole. So while both Yoda and Palpatine had great power, they both acted with blind faith.
Ultimately, they are the perfect enemies. Their weakness is their opponent’s strength. Their strength was also the ultimate downfall of their opponent.
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