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What was George talking about here? In his conversation with Alan Dean Foster?

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Lucas: We also wanted to have a scene where Vader goes and bows before the Force and the Force picks him up and tells him that he better go out and get that crystal… But it’s not the Force personified; it’s on the verge of personification. Maybe it’s a shadow or something.

Alan Dean Foster: The ultimate…

Lucas: It’s the ultimate evil. It’s the devil.

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Good question.

The idea of Vader having a dark Force master is one that goes back a ways; in the 1975 second draft Vader’s Dark Side master is Prince Espaa Valorum, the “Master of the Bogan Force”, an offscreen character who is evidently a shadow power behind the Emperor’s throne.

In the 1975 third draft and beyond, the Emperor was still seen as a warlord/tyrant/corrupt politician figure rather than a Sith sorcerer. But George Lucas was evidently playing with the idea of Vader taking orders from some sort of Dark Side boss figure, whether corporeal or not - perhaps not even part of this plane of existence. A mystery for future sequels, perhaps.

By the time of ESB, the two concepts were merged to some degree, with Palpatine becoming an evil counterpart of Yoda, as Vader is to Obi-Wan.

Another interesting passage is this one from Lucas’ 1977 story conference with Leigh Brackett, in JW Rinzler’s Making of ESB:

“We have to give Vader another environment, either another Death Star–type Imperial City or some kind of cave. Might be nice to give Vader a little castle on a rock in the middle of the ocean. One way to see him would be in a tall, dark tower, very narrow in a lava flow, dark, red, and burning, almost like hell. He’d be up in the tower with his gremlin, goblin type gargoyles surrounding him. His pets. Vader walks down the hall — these long, narrow, steel corridors, very gray — and he goes into a gray room. It’s all steel and there at the end of the room on a throne is a gray, macabre, cold steel box and it’s the Emperor. The Emperor tells Vader to get Luke — he is the last of the Jedi and must be stopped. Vader is saying he’s not a Jedi yet. Vader could talk to the Emperor with a viewscreen à la Flash Gordon.”

Which suggests the Emperor as some sort of person contained inside a life-support cubicle - like Guild Navigators in Frank Herbert’s Dune series, or Emperor Huon in Michael Moorcock’s Runestaff series. Or even a computer ruling the Empire in unfeeling machine fashion, picking up on the motifs in THX 1138.

Even during ROTJ, Phil Tippett noted that the makeup he designed for the Emperor was meant to suggest a strangely deformed cranium that was splitting into two, and that (quoting Rinzler’s Making of ROTJ) Palpatine was supposed to be “ancient, not old”, specifically “a Methuselah figure kept alive and intact by some unknown magic”.

“That Darth Vader, man. Sure does love eating Jedi.”

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Is there any chance that this concept influenced the character of Black Hole from the Russ Manning daily strips?

I’m just here because I’m driving tonight.

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That is very interesting. I can see what Lucas did in the the PT. He took his idea of an inept puppet Emperor and his idea of a Sith overloard and he made them the same character. The inept seeming human as the public face while as the evil Sith lord he is actually the one controlling things. The ultimate in political duplicity. I though that was one genius thing he did in the PT.

And the castle concept came back for Rogue One. I’m glad there were no gremlins.

And we really don’t know Palpatine’s age. He could be quite old. There is nothing in the official canon to say (though some in the books and comics). And TROS has given us a deeper possibility that somewhere along the line the Sith started taking over their apprentices and while that is Palpatine’s body, the being inside is a mix of him and his predecessors and is a culmination of great evil. That fits with the makeup description.

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Here are few suggestions for what the “shadow creature” might be. None of these are necessarily the “true” answer, they’re just possibilities.

Maybe it’s a dark Force user from long ago, trapped by the Jedi and imprisoned in some sort of Phantom Zone-like netherworld for his crimes. He’s manipulating Vader in order to get free, and is using the Empire to have revenge on the Jedi Order and Republic of old that imprisoned him.

Or similar to the above, but he’s an alien from a long-vanished stellar empire who survived due to his imprisonment, and is using the Empire to lay the groundwork for his own conquests, while working to get himself freed from his prison.

Or maybe it’s an evil spirit, a malign Force ghost that is bound to an ancient artifact Vader discovered.

Or perhaps it’s a being from another galaxy or another dimension, one that views Vader’s rule as a stepping stone toward invading and conquering the GFFA. (This reminds me of how Nom Anor was portrayed in the run-up to the Yuuzhan Vong old-EU storyline: see for instance the Crimson Empire comics.)


I should note that in the 1975 third draft, the “Sith Knights” were not necessarily an ancient order. The idea seems to have been that when the Emperor seized power, many Jedi rebelled against him and were killed, but others remained loyal to the nascent Imperial government and became Sith Knights. Rather like the Inquisitors of current SW “canon”.

In Lucas’ notes he also considered having “only seven Sith - one in each sector”, which goes with the Inquisitors being addressed by numerical rank.

However, in the second draft, from earlier in 1975, there were multiple Emperors over time, due to a gradual corruption and decline of the Republic, rather than a single power-hungry tyrant. This idea lingered into Alan Dean Foster’s novelization, via a reference to “the later corrupt Emperors”. It’s probably also connected to an idea George Lucas mentioned to Foster and Charles Lippincott of having Leia become Empress at the end of the trilogy.

The second draft goes a bit more into the origins of the Sith Knights: a runaway “Padawan-Jedi” named Darklighter taught the Dark Side of the Force to a group of “Sith pirates”. “Sith” is an alternate spelling of “Sidhe”, so you might think of these as basically Space Elves. Apparently these Dark Side-wielding elf pirates were the nucleus of the Sith Knights who served the Empire when it arose later.

But again, some Sith were probably Jedi who turned rather than become victims of the Purge - this draft also mentions that some Jedi were tried by the corrupt Senate & executed. (From Lucas’ notes also is the mention that “Sith Knights look like Linda Blair in The Exorcist.”) The Sith Master, Prince Espaa Valorum, is Vader’s boss, and his residence is said to be on the Imperial cloud city of Alderaan, the floating prison from which Luke rescues his older brother Deak.

Plus, the second draft harps strongly on the notion that the Force runs in families - there were “several hundred Jedi families” before the Purge, while Luke’s father, the Starkiller (who is “over three hundred years old”), has trained at least seven of his sons to fight against the Empire. It wouldn’t surprise me if Lucas was setting up the second draft’s Valorum to be a secret Starkiller, another of Luke’s brothers.


The 1974 rough draft is more like the 1975 third draft in terms of treating the Sith Knights as simply fallen corrupted Jedi, who chose to serve the Empire rather than rebel against it. But in that draft the previous virtuous government was also an Empire, albeit a benign one - whereas the “New Empire” is evil, an aggressively expansionist state that has absorbed almost all the “independent Systems”.

…Also, in the 1974 rough draft there are no Force powers. At all. Jedi are fearsome warriors because of their intensive training, rather than telekinesis or mind-reading. There’s basically just a sense of premonition that is called “feeling the Force”.

“That Darth Vader, man. Sure does love eating Jedi.”

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Maybe Lucas was considering having a fallen Whill be Vader’s master?

If Plagueis shows up in the ST, not only will I refuse to watch the movies, but I won't so much as watch the trailers, either. - DuracellEnergizer