10 Particular Points about Star Wars Plot Holesby Todd King, contributing writer
Works of fiction, including movies, ask us to enter a world where we must use our imagination in order to follow along. When we do, there's an element sacrifice. We must let go of a smidge of logic. If the work intrigues us, then we open ourselves to learning new things and to being swept away in a great story. These flights of fancy allow us to engage in art, and doing so can open our minds to new ideas and fantastic possibilities. Creating such art is no small feat, and requires determination and work to sustain an audience for even a short period of time. A film is a massive undertaking with many people laboring to make the experience as visceral as possible.
To make for the best possible encounter with the art, sometimes there are small jumps in time and logic, and the storyteller must decide if the jump either skips over anything important, or can be filled in by the imagination of the viewer. Sometimes a point may just not be important and can be glossed over because there are larger points at stake. No matter how hard an artist works, there will be small details missed and little plot points dropped. Often artists will decide if these are big enough to even worry about, or if they've simply run out of time or money and just hope that nobody notices or cares. Occassionally, these points are indeed noticed by viewers, and sometimes, they're deemed as plot holes, or an inconsistency in the narrative or character development of a work (Oxford Dictionary definition there). These can usually be explained in some way either by other actions in the story itself or by a simple shrug of the shoulders when it doesn't matter so much.
Plot holes are present in just about every movie imaginable—they're pretty much unavoidable. Seldom are plot points so bad that they ruin a movie experience. It's usually the case that plot holes are small inconsistencies and not always illogical or impossible events. That said, plot holes are fun to discuss. We don't always notice them and they can get us thinking about the larger story. Star Wars is no stranger to plot holes, and many of them are just small details. Unlike other films, however, I believe some plot holes in the saga became opportunities for George Lucas and other directors to add fascinating story points.
Here are 10 particular points about some of the plot holes commonly-mentioned in Star Wars.
10. Padme Knows the Way
In Attack of the Clones, Padme is on the Republic gunship with Anakin and Obi-Wan when it's hit, and she tumbles out into the desert. Anakin wants to help her but Obi-Wan convinces him to stay because they have the greater need to continue tracking Count Dooku, who's racing ahead of them on a speeder. They eventually follow him to a hangar, where he plans to escape in a starship. Meanwhile, Padme is found by a clone trooper when she wakes up, and she tells him, "We've got to get to that hangar!" How did she know they went to a hangar? She was unconscious on the sand.
It isn't really important how she knows. She's too far away to offer help anyway and shows up just as the Count is taking off. It could have been written that the trooper knew where they had gone and told her, but then they gave the line to Padme. There's no concrete explanation, but what I'd like to think is that since she confessed her love for Anakin moments before and they finally kissed for real, they became bound together in the Force—and even though she was no Jedi, their connection was already working on a spiritual mysterious level and she just knew where her loved one had gone.
9. Breaking the Rule of Two
When Darth Vader and the Emperor want Luke to join them on the Dark Side of the Force, it may seem that they are breaking the Sith's "Rule of Two." What is the Rule of Two? In the ranks of the Sith, the force-using enemies of the Jedi, there should only every be two life forms: a master and an apprentice. In some Legends texts, this rule was created over time when there used to be many Sith, but they kept fighting and killing each other because they all wanted power. With only a master and an apprentice, the Sith could thrive through the centuries, by a master teaching their apprentice until the apprentice is good enough to replace the master (that is, kill the master, take his place, and find a new apprentice). So, if Vader turned Luke, they would have three.
I don't see this as a plot hole since it's quite clear in Return of the Jedi that the Emperor simply intended to let Vader and Luke fight it out and whoever won would be his new apprentice. When Luke had Vader down, the Emperor said, "Now take your father's place at my side." Thus the Rule of Two would basically be intact. Besides, Emperor Palpatine had seen a couple of his apprentices, Darth Maul and Count Dooku, get killed off already.
8. Who Taught Who
In The Empire Strikes Back, the spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi told Luke, "You will learn from Yoda, the Jedi Master who instructed me." From that moment, we all assumed Obi-Wan was Yoda's student in the same way Luke became Yoda's student. A Jedi student became known in the prequels as a padawan. However, also in the prequels, we learned that Obi-Wan wasn't Yoda's padawan, he was Qui-Gon Jinn's padawan. So, who taught who?
In Attack of the Clones, we find the Jedi temple full of Knights, Masters, and Padawans, but there are also Younglings. In one scene we see that Yoda is the one who teaches the young children. These younglings are probaby brand new to the Jedi Order; even younger than when Anakin started (Mace Windu even said Anakin was already too old to start training). The point is that Obi-Wan was indeed instructed by Yoda, as were all little ones identified by the Jedi as force-sensitive beings. So Obi-Wan wasn't technically lying, although he kinda does that often.
7. Luke Keeps the Skywalker Name while Trying to Hide from Vader
Luke and Leia were hidden from Darth Vader to protect them. Being split up on different planets would help ensure that Vader and the Emperor wouldn't find them because they would most likely kill them in order to stop any Jedi from rising again. Leia was adopted by Bail Organa and his wife and so her name was Leia Organa (actually Princess Leia Organa). Luke was sent to be taken care of by his step-aunt and uncle, Beru and Owen. His name remained Luke Skywalker. Should he not have had his last name changed or something to keep hidden?
There are a few reasons that keeping the Skywalker name didn't matter. First, Vader was no longer a Skywalker; it was a name that had no meaning for him anymore. Second, in the first movie, Vader didn't even know he had a son, let alone a daughter. He wasn't looking for them, anyway. Third, Luke wasn't a Jedi yet so he was probably undetectable through the Force. Fourth, he and his aunt and uncle didn't seem to say "Skywalker" out loud and Luke told Threepio it's, "Just Luke." Luke didn't say his last name until much later in the film anyway, when he was in the same space station as Vader. Finally, Skywalker could be like "Smith," a common surname for humans in the galaxy. Note, Vader wouldn't dare go back to the sandy wastes of Tatooine to look, he almost never let go of his anger, even against sand.
6. Use the Force, Luke. Like, why not?
When Luke is trapped in Jabba's pit with the giant Rancor monster, he uses his cunning to avoid being eaten by the beast. When it walks under a gate, Luke sees his opportunity: He picks up a skull from a previous victim and throws it at the controls on the wall to lower the gate and crush the Rancor. His aim is true, but Jedi often use the Force to lift objects and move them. Why didn't he do that here?
Even though we know Luke is good at hitting targets using the Force, as he was able to destroy the first Death Star utilizing these skills, I believe it fits Luke's persona that he only uses the Force when absolutely necessary. Well, he did choke the pig guards on his way into Jabba's palace but maybe he had to just to get in. He didn't kill them. Also, he's not yet a full Jedi so perhaps he still didn't have complete confidence in his abilities in the Force.
5. Do Droids have Feelings?
So, who programs droids to have feelings? We already know C-3PO has emotions like fear and worry, but do droids have nerve endings? In Return of the Jedi, Jabba's droids torture other droids who have apparently wronged the gangster in some way. That's kind of sick when you think about it. We think of robots having personalities but if, for instance, their arm falls off, we don't consider that they feel pain in any way. So, why do they feel pain here?
In A New Hope, 3PO feared about being "melted down" so the fear of being deactivated is real for droids. At Luke's homestead, 3PO also says, "This oil bath is going to feel so good." So, maybe they do have physical feelings. However, in Empire Strikes Back, he is blown up into pieces and put back together (with his head backwards mind you) without so much as an "ouch." Do they feel pain? Um, sometimes, I guess. The more human droids act, the more we feel for them and find humor. It's all a play on our emotions and in the scene pictured above, it's for a gag.
4. The Emperor leaked the Death Star 2 plans to the Rebels, the Real Ones!
The Emperor set a trap for the Rebel fleet by leaking the Death Star plans and the location of its protective shield. Why didn't he leak false information to ensure a better trap?
The Emperor was always in the background weaving sinister webs that brought the galaxy to its knees. It's how he rose to power. His idea to finally destroy the Alliance was business as usual--if it's not broke, don't fix it. This time, however, he seemed to underestimate our heroes and as Luke pointed out, his "overconfidence was his weakness." His greatest fear was to lose power, which he and all Sith before him did, too. Won't these bad guys ever learn? (I hope not)
3. Vader Could've Captured the Millennium Falcon
Darth Vader has the Falcon's hyperdrive deactivated, but why not deactivate the whole engine?
Not sure here. Hadn't thought of that. But it was probably a last-minute thing. Well, it was a way to ensure he knew where to find Luke along with his friends. Maybe he knew Luke's friends would get Luke and try to escape. That way he didn't have to hunt all over Cloud City for him -- let them do it for him!
2. Padme died in childbirth, how did Leah have "images, feelings" about her mother?
We know from Revenge of the Sith that Padme, Luke and Leia's mother, died just after she gave birth to the twins. In Return of the Jedi, when Luke asks if Leia remembers her mother, Leia says, "Just a little bit. She died when I was very young." Yes, very young. How could she have any memory at all? Luke doesn't.
In short, I'd say this is all to do with the Force. Leia's connection to her mother was there from the start and the Force enabled Leia to have these "images and feelings." Why didn't Luke have them, too? Perhaps he was more connected to his father—the overall saga would imply this. I should also mention a similar "plot hole" if it can be called that. In A New Hope, Vader can't sense that Leia is his daughter? He even had her tortured. I believe it's because she hadn't been trained in the Force and was, again, undetectable in the Force. The real explanation for all this is that George Lucas did not have every single detail planned out from the start and didn't recall every single detail when making the prequels. Some things have to be given up for the sake of a movie's pacing. However, Lucas took the opportunity in the Special Editions to add some explanations and consistencies. Vader also didn't know that it was his son in the Death Star trench, but he sensed that the Force was "strong with this one" because Luke had some trainng and began to use it. But Vader still didn't know the familiarity. That was revealed in Empire where he was finally told he had a son.
1. Shoot the Escape Pod
I've heard this one a lot. If they had just shot the escape pod, which contained C-3PO, R2D2, and the Death Star plans, then the Empire would have won! They didn't shoot it because there were no lifeforms on it. That's cold. They only want to kill living things. Still, why didn't they fire?
From a screenplay point of view, "no lifeforms" was a great way to explain their getaway in the first place; the plot hole was already patched! Maybe they were instructed to take the action they did. Perhaps the commanders told them to do so just in case the Rebels tried to get rid of the evidence. Recall that Vader was not angry when they told him about this. Once they realized the plans were not on board, an officer reported the escape pod right away to Vader. Immediately he put them into action (not going himself because, you know, sand) to track the pod. All of this, to me, is completely reasonable, but I get it. Just one little laser blast and there would have been no way to know how to destroy the Death Star and the entire mission of Rogue One would have been in vain. In the end, it just shows the folly of evil.