Anakin Skywalker’s fall to the dark side was planned – Sheev Palpatine orchestrated the Chosen One’s descent to becoming his enforcer, Darth Vader. However, it did not happen overnight. So, how long did it take for the secret Sith Lord to get his clutches on the impressionable Jedi Knight, and what did his entire plan entail?
How did Palpatine get a struggling young man with a shoulder load of secrets to become his most powerful advocate? Did he take mass delight in causing Anakin pain? That is what we’re going to dive into in this post! Just beware that there might be slight spoilers for Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Palpatine’s plan to convert Anakin took thirteen years to undertake. However, the Sith Lord was patient. So, it begins when the pair met when Skywalker was just a boy of nine or ten years of age. While they only interacted briefly, the newly-minted Chancellor told him:
We will watch your career with great interest.Chancellor Sheev Palpatine to preteen Anakin Skywalker
Palpatine was an incredibly patient man and knew that the situation wouldn’t change immediately. Therefore, every aspect of his plan to snag Anakin had to be orchestrated in a way that looked natural. What’s more, the Clone Wars served as a smokescreen to push the galaxy the Jedi. Regardless of what they did, the public would turn on them, which was beneficial to Darth Sidious’ plan.
To get Anakin to turn, Palpatine befriended him and helped him in whatever way he could. Meanwhile, this caused the Jedi to become suspicious, and those people that Skywalker held dear started to question the Chancellor’s motivations.
As the Clone Wars raged on, a select group of senators, including Anakin’s wife, Padmé Amidala, noticed something was off. The Delegation of 2000 could see that Palpatine was clinging to power longer than he should have. But, of course, this also didn’t escape the Jedi Order, as Obi-Wan would mention this to his former apprentice sometime later.
Palpatine knew that by befriending Anakin, the Jedi Knight would eventually defend him, pushing his relationships to the brink of collapse. So the Sith Lord pounced when the distressed Skywalker was at his lowest.
Starting A War
Palpatine needed a way to turn the public and Anakin against the Jedi. So, he decided to use the secretive clone army as a weapon. Giving the Jedi military roles when they weren’t qualified was the ultimate tactic.
The public would assume that the Jedi were unable to serve, and it would be one of a hundred factors to turn against them.
Chancellor Palpatine ensured that the Clone Wars were a lose-lose situation. No matter what the Jedi did, it would make them look bad to the galaxy, especially in front of Anakin. The worse everything became, the more people turned against them. This is precisely what Sidious wanted.
One of the biggest things that Palpatine had to do to ensure Anakin turned to the Dark Side was to remove any annoyances or, rather, obstacles. Ahsoka, Anakin’s apprentice, was a perfect example of this. The Chancellor almost had her executed for a crime she didn’t commit. He would’ve succeeded if Anakin hadn’t discovered Barriss was behind the terrorist attack and not his student.
While this was just a setback, it worked even if Ahsoka wasn’t executed. Anakin’s faith towards the Jedi was already shaky, but for his student to be expelled from the Order without evidence took that mistrust further.
Other obstacles Palpatine wanted disposed of were Obi-Wan and Padmé. We’ll get to the senator in a moment, but Kenobi was a big part of this. Given his friendship with Anakin and his loyalty to the Republic, he was probably the easiest one to get Skywalker to turn on.
Padmé was a different story as she was part of why Anakin turned to the Dark Side.
Planting Visions – The Weakening Of Anakin
A theory that floats around a lot within the Star Wars fandom is whether Palpatine planted the visions of Padmé’s death in childbirth and the death of Shmi Skywalker, Anakin’s mother. We believe that the Sith Lord planted one of the senator’s passing, but we’re on the fence about Shmi.
We don’t necessarily believe the one about Shmi because of the nature of her death. She was kidnapped and tortured by Tusken Raiders. So while it’s possible Palpatine or someone in his inner circle journeyed to Tatooine and paid the Sand People to kidnap her, it seems too on the nose for the Sith Lord.
Why would Palpatine (or his disciples) even bother to have an innocent woman kidnapped and tortured? It seems too like too much work. Also, if he had wanted Shmi dead, he wouldn’t have waited a decade to do it.
Moving over to the theory about Padmé’s death, this seems more in line with how Palpatine’s mind operated. All he would have to do is send the vision and then, when the baby was born, transfer Amidala’s life force to Anakin if necessary. This was a fan theory addressed within Legends, too, as there was an ability that was (we believe) dark side oriented where a practitioner could transfer one’s life force to another person.
Twisting The Narrative
When Mace Windu and a group of Jedi went to arrest Palpatine, most of them were mowed down in the opening seconds of the fight. When Windu had Palpatine cornered and “helpless”, the Sith Lord played the victim when Anakin arrived, claiming the Jedi Master was trying to kill him.
Did Anakin see the dead bodies on the floor by the office door? Anyway, Palpatine knew Skywalker wouldn’t hesitate to defend him, as that’s what happened when he disarmed and beheaded Dooku on the Invisible Hand. However, the Jedi Knight felt terrible about it afterwards.
The act would not be the last Palpatine would pull that stunt on Anakin. After being put in the black suit, the new Sith apprentice would ask about his wife’s status. The new Emperor would tell Vader that he killed his pregnant spouse in his anger. However, something tells us Palpatine knew more about what happened than he was willing to share.
Anakin And His Involvement In Order 66
After twisting the knife and getting Anakin to commit to the Dark Side, Palpatine ordered the activation of Order 66. He then prompted Skywalker, now his new apprentice, to take the 501st Clone Battalion to the Jedi Temple, where they proceeded to slaughter every Jedi present.
Order 66 was given to every clone commander, and the clones obeyed without question. However, some attempted to fight the command or didn’t receive it. The Bad Batch were some of those clones, while Captain Rex futilely tried to fight it. Despite no longer being a Jedi, Ahsoka almost became a victim but was able to knock her friend out and convinced him to remove his biochip.
Going back to Anakin, his role in Order 66 would soon be discovered by Obi-Wan and Yoda. The Grand Master would conclude that they have to stop the Sith, even if that means Skywalker’s death. Obi-Wan cannot believe that he would have to be the one to kill his best friend.
A final part of Palpatine’s plan to convert Anakin was for him to kill the Separatist leaders on Mustafar. This would also be where the new Sith apprentice would Force choke his pregnant wife into unconsciousness and where he would fight his now-enemy, formerly his best friend.
However, Palpatine wasn’t counting on Vader overestimating his power and underestimating Kenobi. After he attempts to kill Obi-Wan by leaping to the high ground, Vader’s remaining arm and legs are chopped off.
After Kenobi has left him to die, but not before taking his lightsaber to one day give to Skywalker’s son, Palpatine arrives to retrieve what remains of his apprentice’s battered and burned body. The Emperor sensed Vader’s distress through the Force. He knew that all the destruction would’ve been for nothing if he died.
Anakin And The Death Of A Senator
Finally, Palpatine’s plan concluded with Anakin being operated on while fully conscious. The Emperor knew his apprentice would probably die if he had been sedated. Upon the completed operation to restore the former Jedi’s limbs, the now suited Vader asks about Padmé.
As we mentioned earlier, the Emperor lies to him and says that he killed his wife in his rage. Vader lets out a mournful scream while Palpatine smiles wickedly, having broken the Chosen One.