The Star Wars prequel trilogy have a pretty rocky reputation among fans – some love them flaws and all, and others think they nearly ruined the franchise. For those who might not look fondly on the prequels, there are a number of fan theories collected below that actually make Episode I-III a lot more interesting.
The Reason The 'High Ground' Ended Anakin And Obi-Wan's Duel
From Redditor u/SainttecWalker:
So it gets memed to hell and I promise you Lukas didn't actually think this hard about the script, but there actually is a legitimate foundation for why "The High Ground" would be so important in that moment between those two duelists, allow me to explain.
To start off, lets cover the circumstances of the duel.
Obi-Wan is sword-fighting his once-apprentice Anakin Skywalker. Obi-Wan is one of the premier duelists of the Jedi Order, and he taught Anakin just about everything Anakin knows about the art. Interestingly, despite this they still had vastly different takes on Lightsaber Combat. Obi-Wan preferred Form 3, which emphasized deliberate and efficient action, primarily in defense, to lengthen a fight until the opponent made a mistake. Anakin however favored Form 5, which while the lore says it was an evolution of Form 3, it is actually quite more aggressive. Form 5 is characterized by powerful strikes, as well as counter-attacks immediately after successful defense, regardless if an opening is actually perceived. This can tire the user quickly, but also will tire their target faster as they contend with constant counterattacks and "haymaker" type attacks. They begin their duel in a control room on the volcanic lava planet Mustafar, and their duel damages important safety mechanisms that cause the facility they're engaged in to begin melting into the lava below. Eventually, they are dueling simply on scrap metal floating upon a lava river. We see that the river is leading to a lavafall, and so the duel must end here one way or another. Obi-Wan leaps from the raft to an embankment of volcanic gravel and turns back to Anakin, who is now stuck on the aforementioned lava river. Staying here is suicide, going over the Lavafall is death, that is no option. The way behind him is too steep to safely land on, and he's too angry to retreat from this duel in any case. Jumping onto the gravel below Obi-Wan entails high risk, as the lava river continues to rise and if the gravel gives way he will find himself ankle-deep in molten steel and rock. Even if he were to land the jump, the duel would not be over and Anakin would be at a disadvantage: now pressed for time to push Obi-Wan up the slope further so as not to burn in the rising lava. But there is a third option: to jump over Obi-Wan. A once successful tactic that Anakin has heard doubtlessly many times... but we'll talk about that in a moment. As we know, Anakin took this path despite Obi-Wan pleading with him not to and died there on Mustafar, becoming Vader.
So, why did Anakin think to jump over Obi-Wan? Well to answer that we have to look back at another duel. The first duel between Obi-Wan and the Sith Assassin: Darth Maul. At the end of this duel, Maul has killed Master Qui-Gon Jin and has effectively defeated Obi-Wan. He stands above the then Jedi Padawan, who dangles from a small strut over an endless pit that his weapon had just been discarded into. Maul is overconfident, and lets Obi-Wan marinate in seeming hopelessness but in fact Obi-wan is gathering his strength. Using the force, he leaps out of this hole with a 15 foot vertical and summons his fallen master's lightsaber. In midair, he ignites the green blade and bisects Maul as he lands, defeating the first Sith to be fought in (no exaggeration) one thousand years and casting him into The Pit. Pretty heroic, right? Sounds like the kind of story that literally every Jedi ever would be asking Obi-Wan to tell over and over again, right? Of course, Anakin would be by his side listening with rapt attention for every single retelling... but do you think that's how the story goes in Obi-Wan's head every time he retells it? No, every time Obi-Wan retells that story - with the adrenaline and dopamine having long worn off - now his mind can't help but show him... alternate circumstances. Every time Obi-Wan replays that duel in his mind, he sees a new outcome. This time, Maul doesn't turn around to face him, he simply turns his lightsaber around and impales Obi-Wan on it. The next, Obi-Wan's bisecting attack doesn't land and instead he has to continue the duel having spent all his stamina on that feat of Force conjuration. Of course, as his mastery of Form 3 would grow, his mind would conjure the perfect response to that attack to torment him. An efficient movement which would simply remove the fighting hand and legs of his opponent as they twisted in the air above. Truly this would be the most horrifying alternate outcome of that duel, as there would be no more last-ditch efforts. He would be alive, and completely at the Sith's (lack of) mercy.
He likely never confided in Anakin his fears of that movement's failure. The most he ever said was probably that it was "brash" or "far to risky", but Anakin was all too enraptured by the triumph of Good over Evil to listen.
So Obi-Wan turned to Anakin and said "It's over, I have the High Ground" because he, just like Anakin now, had once been in a position where success requires a massive vertical leap over your opponent and he knew the risk that move entailed.
Obi-Wan begged Anakin "Don't try it.", but Anakin misinterpreted that plea. In his hatred and overconfidence, Anakin felt Obi-Wan's fear and thought he had found the situation where he could best his master. He believed he had found a strike that Obi-Wan could not repel and now, of course, his statement about the High Ground was simply a bluff! Unfortunately, Obi-Wan's true fear was that the only way to survive that slope on Mustafar, the only hope for the Republic to live, was to make one of a million past nightmares reality.Even better?
Captain Panaka Was A Double Agent
From Redditor u/Arc_the_lad:
We're told again and again that the goal of the invasion is the legalized occupation of Naboo by the Trade Federation. The whole thing turns out to be a giant black eye for the bad guys though. By the end of the invasion, the evil Sith after a millenium in hiding return only to see Darth Maul cut in half by a Jedi padawan on his first mission out while the fearsome droid army of the Trade Federation are defeated by a planet with no military using two Jedi, a handful of volunteer security guards and some Gungan cannon-fodder.
When you're a Dark Lord of the Sith trying to conquer the galaxy, you can't have just one plan on how to do it. You need contingency plans for when things go off the rails and then contingencies for those contingencies. Captain Panaka was a deep cover asset who, though not a formal part of the plan to invade Naboo, tried his best to ensure the Trade Federation's invasion was a success by subtly working against Queen Amidala and ultimately ended up turning the entire fiasco into a victory for Palpatine.
Palpatine and Panaka are both from Naboo. In their respective positions as senator and head of security, they would at least be well acquainted with each other professionally. Panaka would also likely also know a great deal about Palpatine's private life and routine when he's on Naboo as part of his job.
As Palpatine's agent, Panaka knew about the impending invasion, but downplays the possibility of attack when the Trade Federation jams their communication. If Governor Baldie McMullet immediately understood that blocked communications were a precursor to invasion, so would a head of security.
Panaka tries to use fear to manipulate Amidala into surrender by telling her that there is no way Naboo can defend itself against the droid army.
When the Jedi rescue them and Qui-Gon asks her to go to Coruscant for her own safety, Panaka tries to keep her on Naboo by assuring them the Trade Federation would not harm Amidala because they needed her to sign the treaty.
After the ship is damaged, Qui-Gon decides to land on Tatooine because there is no Trade Federation presence there. Panaka objects.
Once they are on Tatooine, there is no way for Palpatine or the Trade Federation to know where they are, so someone would have to send out a signal to them with their location. There are three people on board that might suss out his intentions to send one: the two Jedi and the Queen. Luckily, Qui-Gon has to leave the ship to get parts while Obi-Wan is preoccupied with repairing it. So what does Panaka do? He pawns the Queen off on Qui-Gon so he'll take her with him into town. With her gone, he's free to signal Palpatine with their location.
When they finally get to Coruscant and met Chancellor Valorum, he makes a half-hearted, almost dimissive bow (really more of a head nod) to him in stark contrast to the full bow he gives Palpatine later in the movie after he becomes chancellor.
If there was one time when security should stay by their VIP's side at all times, it would be while on foreign soil. Yet on Coruscant, Panaka ditches Amidala to hang out with Palpatine to do who knows what, but when he returns, he is very excited to announce Palpatine was nominated to succeed Valorum.
When Amidala decides to return to Naboo, he tries to convince her to stay on Coruscant which is the exact same thing Palpatine now wants.
Arriving back on Naboo, he tells everyone that security forces and police have started an underground resistance. What does he do next? He announces that he has rounded up as many of its leaders as possible and brought them back with him to the plains which would leave said resistance unorganized and effectively without leadership during their push to take the palace. He then tries to dissuade Amidala from going through with the attack again.
He literally takes Amidala through a window straight into a trap in the throne room where they are immediately surrounded by droidekas. Had Amidala's decoy not shown up, the Trade Federation could have ended things right there.
As the movie ends, he leading Gunray away and unlike the weak bow he gave Valorum, he gives his true master Palpatine a deep formal bow.
TYING UP LOOSE ENDS
If Panaka was working for Palpatine, why doesn't he side with Gunray in the throne room once Amidala surrenders? Because he's an undercover agent and undercover agents stay in character until their handler pulls them or issues them new instructions regardless of what's going on at the time.
Panaka is part of Palpatine's spy network. He had two jobs. First, it was staging for the invasion. He made sure the droid army had absolutely no resistance in taking the capital. His second job was to keep tabs on the Queen. Palpatine being a politician from Naboo, would have known she used a double, so he needed someone to keep track of the real Queen during the invasion.
At the end of The Phantom Menace, once Nute Gunray has completely bungled the invasion and been apprehended, Panaka receives his new orders from Palpatine. Gunray is in Jedi custody on a planet that is 100% hostile to him. Yet, when Attack of the Clones picks up, he's not only free, but on the ruling council of the Separatists. How is that possible? Because Panaka is the one who led him away into detention and let him escape.
Through his hard work, Panaka ensures that a failed one-off deal between two politicians turns into a permanent alliance with the war criminal Nute Gunray and his Trade Federation now jointed at the hip with the Sith and dependent on Palpatine for survival. Palpatine uses the Republic to try Gunray four times in absentia to keep him in remembrance of that. For a job well done, Palpatine likely rewarded Panaka and brought him into the fold over in Coruscant which is why he doesn't return for the rest of the trilogy.Even better?
The Reason Jedi Avoid Commitment
From Redditor u/PrinceUmbongo:
I think we've been shown the strength of the Jedi's mind powers throughout all films. It stands to reason that in situations like relationships, whether realizing or not, they will probably be subtly (or not) manipulating the minds of those they are with, basically forcing people to be their companions. An interesting case is Anakin and Padme. Now firstly, she meets him as a kid. Stands to reason that relationship might be a little odd as they get older. Padme is also very against any relationship with Anakin first, but slowly comes around, then comes marriage, and then getting pregnant. At the same time Padme dies, Anakin is at his weakest, so this is the only time she is free from his grasp, and allows herself to die. Remember in the originals Vader can kill someone merely via a screen, I'm sure he has a powerful connection with his wife. To conclude, anakin used his powerful force powers from an early age to weirdly groom padme, make her the object of his obsession and committed many dark acts in her name. Since Palpatine was already familiar with padme, perhaps he also had something to do with placing them along the same path.Even better?
Anakin Is Drawn To Padme Because She Reminds Him Of His Mother
From Redditor u/mybustersword:
Being eight and just leaving his home world and only family he's known, his mother, he meets a woman who looks like her, is caring like her, and is seemingly unimportant to all. He sees his own mother in her. According to Freud, our first example of what our romantic and sexual partners are comes from our relationship with our parents. We form our ideology and compete with our same gendered parents for the opposite affection.
Later when his own father figure, Obi-Wan, was trying to help the young couple Anakin saw competition and believed Obi-Wan was trying to take the Queen away from him. He saw them, the older two, and believed he has to kill his father figure to have the relationship he desires with his mother.Even better?