I’ve had a small, minor issue weighing on my mind for this past week. (This makes me sound so lame that, yes, I have been thinking about this on and off for a week)
Did Qui-Gon Jinn know that Padmé was actually Queen Amidala?
Okay, now, I know that according to the DVD commentary by George Lucas, Qui-Gon did know. According to the Episode I novelization, Qui-Gon had a good suspicion. I’ve done my research on this. And whatever Lucas says is law when it comes to Star Wars, so I should defer to that.
“And yet, and yet I wonder…” (said in the voice of Roger from 101 Dalmatians)
This all came about when I was reading my new Insider last week and one of the authors talked about how cool Qui-Gon was, especially as he knew that Padmé was fooling everyone but he never let it on. I guess I’m surprised, because as an 11-year-old watching TPM for the first time, I didn’t think Qui-Gon knew. I thought he was just as duped as anyone else.
So let’s look at the facts and what actually happens within the movie. In the end, it’s all irrelevant and inconclusive, but humor me please.
- Qui-Gon pleads with Amidala to leave Naboo and her people, for fear the Federation will “destroy” her if she stays. The decoy, Sabé, turns to Padmé and slyly asks for her decision under the guise that she is concerned for the welfare of her handmaidens. As a viewer, we see what’s happening, but does Qui-Gon? All we know is that he was directly speaking to the decoy in this instance.
- Qui-Gon and Panaka are arguing on whether or not to land on Tatooine. Qui-Gon says to the decoy, “You must trust my judgment, Your Highness.” Here he is asking the decoy to trust him, but he does not give any recognition of noticing Padmé hanging out behind him either.
- Panaka chases down Qui-Gon when he heads off to Mos Espa and asks that he bring her handmaiden along with him. Handmaiden is Padmé, the real queen. Here we see something interesting. At first, Qui-Gon refuses to take the handmaiden. Is it because he knows it’s really the queen and doesn’t want to be responsible should anything happen? Or does he really think it’s her handmaiden and doesn’t want to deal with another tagalong? Keep in mind, he’s also stuck with Jar Jar at this point so I wouldn’t want any extra annoyances with me either.
- After Qui-Gon decides he is going to make a bet with Watto, we have the famous exchange between Jedi Master and Queen where she says “Are you sure about this? Trusting our fate to a boy we hardly know? The queen will not approve.” With his reply, “The Queen doesn’t need to know.” Then Padmé mutters, “Well, I don’t approve.”
- The last line is a clear giveaway that she’s the queen. He is still looking at her and hearing her when she says that, but he is wearing the same smile as when he said that the queen didn’t need to know. I don’t see any real recognition. Padmé just looks like she’s sulking and he is looking at her with amusement. Amusement because he knows that it’s her or amusement because he’s going behind the queen’s back?
- Before the podracing is about to begin, Padmé once more voices her doubts: “You Jedi are far too reckless. The Queen…” in which Qui-Gon interrupts and says, “The Queen trusts my judgment, young handmaiden. You should too.” She replies, “You assume too much.”
- This is a tricky one. Here, Qui-Gon seems frustrated that she constantly doubts his decisions and honestly sounds pretty annoyed. Kind of like when you really want to go out somewhere but your dad won’t let you and the only explanation is because he said so. Queen trusts me, end of discussion. When I watched the scene again, he was looking her DIRECTLY in the eyes, and even leaned down a little further to her level to emphasize, “You should too.” See, to me, that seems like he really does think that she is just a handmaiden, not the Queen. Am I taking it too literal again?
- They don’t seem to speak to each other for quite some time until Qui-Gon escorts the Queen back to Naboo. It’s a brief scene where he says he’d be happy to continue to serve and protect her. No signs.
- The last time they speak is when Amidala is going back to Naboo and Qui-Gon tells her he cannot fight a war for her. I believe he’s really speaking to Padmé during this scene even though when they leave the plane, she switches with her decoy. This one’s always confusing, but I’m pretty sure it’s not her decoy he’s talking to.
And there we have it. The two big scenes would be both scenes that take place on Tatooine. Here it seems like Padmé makes it obvious that she really is the queen…but is that how I want to see it because as the audience, I know who is who?
We could also argue that since Qui-Gon has the Force, he is probably able to pick up more around him than the average citizen. He is most likely able to sense which person he is talking to.
Yet, at the same time, would he really waste his time trying to figure out the details of this mess? Or was it just this weird feeling of something not being right when he talked to Sabé? Every time he exchanging lines with either Padmé or Sabé, there are other, more pressing matters coming in at him.
Interestingly, this has really forced me to view TPM a little differently. I have hung onto the notion that Qui-Gon had no idea about the switcheroo, because that’s how I felt when I was younger. Now that I’m older and can see things differently, I’m not sure. Lucas obviously left it vague on purpose but I love how much new speculation it’s brought to me.
Let’s ignore what Lucas said on the commentary for a second. When you guys saw the movie for the first time, what did you think? Do you believe Qui-Gon knew about Padmé using a decoy the entire time?
I want your input as this has been bothering me for a week.