So I think a good way to spend at least part of this holiday weekend is to put down some of the thoughts I’ve had about what could’ve been done with the Star Wars prequels. Utterly pointless, but then again, so are the prequels as they stand now. It goes without saying that I don’t own anything created by Lucas and I’m not looking to profit from any of this, but it is my work and if you want to quote or use part of it, please give me appropriate credit.
Episode 1: The Price of Freedom
The Galactic Republic is the confederation of worlds, bound by a desire for peaceful coexistence, that dominates the galaxy. All worlds are welcome that are willing to set aside military solutions in favor of diplomacy and fair trade. The Republic has no standing army, but is protected by an order dedicated to peace and justice – the Jedi Knights.
The planet of Naboo, recently adopted into the Republic, is in a period of rough transition. The monarchy, once supported by an alien conglomerate outside of the Republic whose name roughly translates into ‘Trade Federation’, is taking steps towards true democracy. Queen Amidala has helped her people in dismantling their armed forces and is prepared to step down, despite the Trade Federation’s generous donations to her crown.
Outraged at Amidala’s decision, the Trade Federation is blockading Naboo and threatens invasion unless the planet leave the Republic. They argue that they are merely protecting their investment even as droid armies approach the world. As debate rages on Coruscant, the Republic capital, two Jedi Knights are dispatched to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the conflict…
The blockade is a massive operation, with several large battleships surrounding the planet. Into the scene darts a small craft, barely larger than a shuttle. The battleships open fire immediately on the ship. Inside, the pilots call for the Trade Federation to cease fire, that they are carrying Republic representatives to negotiate peace. The Viceroy coldly tells the pilots that there will be no negotiation and that they should turn back now or be destroyed. A calm voice tells the pilots to make their way to the planet, and after a harrowing bit of flying, the ship manages to skid across a lake to crash-land on its shore. The pilots begin to patch up their ship and themselves as the Jedi Knights they carried begin their hike to Theed, Naboo’s capital.
The Jedi Knights are Qui-Gon Ginn and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Obi-Wan was recently released from his training under Master Yoda, and is eager to prove himself ready to be a fully-fledged Jedi Knight. Qui-Gon is something of a renegade in the Jedi ranks, as he believes that Jedi cannot fully purge themselves of emotional attachments and thus must harness their emotions and darker urges, rather than suppress them. This philosophy runs counter to the majority of the Jedi Council, including its most venerable members, Yoda and Mace Windu, but it’s somewhat popular among younger Jedi. As they discuss this, Trade Federation landing ships pass overhead, carrying an occupying force of battle droids.
Queen Amidala, young but level-headed, is informed that Trade Federation troops have begun landing on her planet. With communications cut off and Naboo’s planetary forces little more than a few provincial guard units and an air-to-space defense wing, and Boss Nass taking his gungans underwater until this whole debacle blows over, Amidala seriously considers capitulating to the Federation’s demands. The Jedi arrive with a different idea – get the Queen off of Naboo. Palpatine, Naboo’s leading candidate to join the Republic senate, volunteers to stay behind and keep the Federation busy for as long as possible. After sneaking out of the palace and making their way back to the Republic ship, the three try to run the blockade again but suffer a great deal of damage, with most of the crew dying and the hyperdrive and communications getting knocked out. The closest planet is Tatooine, and while Qui-Gon is glad to have an inhabited planet nearby for them to use, Obi-Wan is reluctant to land on a planet controlled by the Hutts.
On Naboo, the failure of the Trade Federation to destroy Queen Amidala infuriates Palpatine. In private, he chides the Viceroy for failing in such a simple task. The Viceroy offers his apologies, but such measures aren’t satisfactory to a Dark Lord of the Sith, and Darth Maul kills the Viceroy. Palpatine, referred to by the junior Sith as ‘Lord Sidious’, orders his apprentice to pursue the Jedi. Afterwards, he contacts the Trade Federation to report the Viceroy murdered by gungan assassins, urging them to scour the amphibian menace from his planet.
On Tatooine, Amidala tells the Jedi to call her “Padmé” and not refer to her as ‘Your Highness’ in public, after Obi-Wan voices his opinion on the slave trade taking place under the control of the Hutts. The trio begin to work their way through some of the settlements, looking for parts to repair their ship. They stumble into a young man who apologizes, only for Qui-Gon to realize his lightsaber’s been stolen. Obi-Wan chases after the youth, and when cornered, the delinquent apologizes, saying he needs currency to buy his mother’s freedom. Taking back his master’s lightsaber, Obi-Wan says he believes they can help the youth if he helps them in exchange, and the young man eagerly agrees, saying that not only can he find parts for anything that flies, he can fly it better than any being on Tatooine. Walking back, Obi-Wan introduces himself, and the youth gives his name as Anakin Skywalker.
Anakin takes the trio of off-worlders to his hideout, a place where runaway slave children gather to help each other. He tells the trio that theft, destruction of property and acts of vandalism are the only way they have to fight against the Hutts’ control. He finds them places to sleep and says in the morning, they’ll visit Watto, a Hutt-friendly parts dealer who not only has what they need but also has a line on where Shmi Skywalker can be found. As the Jedi discuss how strongly the Force is with Anakin, Padmé helps the kids get some food and learns more about Anakin, seeing his compassion for his fellow outcasts and learning more about his father, an abusive and dark man who’d sold Shmi to the Hutts to buy his own freedom.
The next morning, they visit Watto. Obi-Wan points out that they don’t have any local currency, only Republic credits, but Qui-Gon suggests they let Anakin do the talking. When they arrive at the shop, Anakin tells Watto that his friends need a hyperdrive and communication suite for their ship, and Watto names his price. Padmé says the price sounds exorbitant, which makes Watto laugh. Anakin proceeds to surmise that Watto is skimming off of the top and taking profits away from the Hutts, which they certainly wouldn’t like were the rumor to surface. Watto, immediately afraid for his life, begs Anakin not to say anything. Anakin angrily tells Watto to supply the parts and to tell him where Shmi is, or all of Tatooine would know he’s cheating the Hutts. Watto capitulates, and Qui-Gon tells Anakin he needs to learn to control his anger. Anakin remarks that he’d very much been in control – his first impulse was to flatten Watto’s face with his sandal.
Darth Maul is waiting for them in the street. He approaches the Jedi and asks politely if they’ve taken note of any off-worlders. Anakin immediately points out that this is an off-worlder himself, and Maul smiles at him, noting what a clever boy he is. The Jedi move to protect their young charges, calling for them to run. Taking Padmé by the hand, Anakin leads her through the streets, only to find Hutt enforcers looking for him with Watto in the lead. Anakin steals a speeder, pulls Padmé onto it, and flees through the air, followed by the Hutts. Padmé has to man the speeder’s feeble rear gun, but they manage to either destroy or evade their pursuers, ending up back at their ship. Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan arrive not long after, saying that Darth Maul got away and he is undoubtedly a Sith.
Setting course for Coruscant, Anakin asks about the Sith. Qui-Gon tells him of the Sith’s history, how a few Jedi thousands of years ago fell deep into the Dark Side and came to rule an ancient people who went by that name. Over the years, the battle between the Jedi and the Sith raged until suddenly, the Sith all but disappeared. Darth Bane was the last recorded Sith Lord, and rumor had it that from that point on, only two exist at any one time, a master and an apprentice. Padmé tries to get some news from Naboo, but the Trade Federation is blocking all communications.
Arriving on Coruscant, Chancellor Valorum apologizes to Amidala for the failure of his attempt at peace. The Republic Navy has gathered ships from many member worlds, but without a standing army, once the blockade is removed there would be problems in getting rid of the Trade Federation’s ground troops. Anakin, studying the Trade Federation’s information, suggests that instead of relying on a large-scale ground confrontation, a small group infiltrate Theed’s power plant, which contains the planet’s most powerful transmitter and would be the most obvious place planetside to control their battle droids. Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon take this plan to the Jedi Council, who agree that it makes the most sense and will likely result in the least bloodshed. Meanwhile, Anakin is trying to make arrangements to get dropped off on Tatooine to rescue his mother, but an armed Republic force would be frowned upon by the Hutts, who control half the trade in the Outer Rim (the Federation controls the other half). Padmé suggests he join them in going to Naboo instead. Anakin isn’t opposed to the idea, but feels that the longer he leaves his mother in Hutt control, the more opportunity they’ll have to take out any punishment meant for him or his friends on her. When the Jedi show up, Padmé makes the case that they need to return to Tatooine after Naboo’s been freed, to which they agree.
The fleet arrives at Naboo and engages the blockade. Anakin flies their infiltration ship with skill and daring, taking them safely into the heart of Theed. Padmé manages to contact Palpatine, who expresses relief at her still being alive and says he’s tried to keep as many of their people alive as possible. The gungans have kept the Federation forces occupied, and only a token force remains in Theed. Making their way to the power station, they encounter Darth Maul. Qui-Gon tells Obi-Wan to take the kids into the station to carry out their plan while he deals with the Sith. Maul tries to stop them but Qui-Gon intervenes, wondering aloud if Maul is the master or the apprentice. Maul sneers, saying the only name by which the Jedi Master will know him is ‘death’.
Anakin, Padmé and Obi-Wan fight their way to the droid control center, only to find it heavily armored and shielded. Blasters are ineffective and cutting with a lightsaber might sever a power conduit, causing a feedback explosion or dropping power for the whole city. While Padmé and Obi-Wan keep the droids at bay, Anakin crawls into the innards of the control device to disable it. More and more droids flood in as reinforcements are called, and just when it seems they might overwhelm the Jedi and the queen, they all shut down. Anakin emerges from the control center, at first elated, then sensing a great danger. Obi-Wan senses it too and they rush off as Padmé holds a gun on the Federation representatives, who cower before her.
Anakin and Obi-Wan arrive to find Qui-Gon on the losing side of his duel with Darth Maul. Maul is really enjoying himself and tells the other two to join the party, but Sidious contacts Maul telepathically and tells him to finish off the Jedi Master and leave the planet. Angry at such a cowardly order, Maul slays Qui-Gon and spits at the feet of the other two. Obi-Wan, enraged, wants to tear the Sith apart then and there, but Anakin holds him back, saying neither of them are a match for him. Maul escapes, and Padmé brings Obi-Wan the restrained Federation potentates, who agree to leave the planet to the Republic.
Padmé Amidala officially steps down as Queen, announcing that the monarchy has been dissolved. Palpatine is elected Senator, representing Naboo in the Galactic Senate. When Anakin gets to Tatooine, all of his friends have been hunted down and killed by the Hutts, and Shmi has been moved to Nar Shaddaa, primary moon of the Hutt homeworld, for some unknown purpose. With nothing left tying him to Tatooine, Anakin turns to Obi-Wan, asking to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi. The film ends with Anakin and Palpatine on the ship heading to Coruscant, as Palpatine thanks Anakin for his help in freeing Naboo and saying, “I believe that this planet before us, Coruscant, represents a bright future for the both of us. Yes… I can foresee it.”