The Touch on Mustafar

What these films deal with is the fact that we all have good and evil inside of us and that we can choose which way we want the balance to go.

George Lucas, 1999

Good and evil. Inside all of us. Fighting for the majority stake. If we take Lucas’ assertion that the Star Wars films deal with a very human part of life, the choices of good and evil, then is Emperor Palpatine completely evil?

Most Star Wars fans would argues a wholehearted YES.

He played a game of chess, an excellently maneuvered game that left out one key element – love – which was his downfall.

But there is one moment in all the films that has consistently bothered me, time and time again that I have watched it.


That touch he gives to Anakin at the end could be interpreted many ways. Touch is so important to human beings, and without it, you get more depressed, stressed, angry and more aggressive. I doubt Palpatine physically touches many people in his lifetime as those adjectives describe him in a nutshell.

But he touched Anakin once in TPM (“We will watch your career with great interest”), and here again, when Anakin is a shell of a human being: defeated, unable to move, and burned alive.

Is the reason he touches Anakin twice in the PT a sign of some buried compassion? Some buried connection? Or is the touch at the end of ROTS simply (as others have suggested) testing to see Anakin’s current strength in the Force and lending strength, as Obi-Wan did in ANH with Luke.

93780_ROther fans have said that Palpatine did not want all his years of manipulation to go to waste, so there was no way he felt compassion for Anakin, it was more of a disbelief that he was still alive after all he had been through on Mustafar. Seeing how Anakin filled himself with the dark side to keep himself alive, he knew that he could still use him and turn him into a ruthless machine, twisted and evil.

But if what the Master/Lucas says can be regarded as absolute, unequivocal truth regarding the Saga, then Palpatine does have some goodness buried in him somewhere. No amount of evil will completely drive it out because there is always a battle, however minor, within between good and evil. And I keep coming back to the fact that he touched Anakin. If Palpatine was only wrapped up in thoughts of how to use this “new” Anakin to his advantage, why touch him at all? Why urge the clone troopers to get a medical capsule immediately? Why rush to his aid when he’s on a completely different planet? Why not send clones to do all the work?

I keep coming back to the simple touch and how human being need touch to feel whole.

What are your thoughts?

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