Belinkie: I was thinking about the scene in Star Wars where Obi Wan and Vader duel on the Death Star. They pass in front of a big window, and a bunch of storm troopers run over to watch… but only to watch. Despite the fact that this old man is clearly trying to kill their boss, they hang back. Hell, if they weren’t wearing helmets, they would probably be passing popcorn. Doesn’t this strike anyone as the icing on the Death Star Craptacular Security Cake? Couldn’t they at least ASK Vader if he wanted the guy blasted?
Mlawski: That scene never actually bothered me. Based on what we’ve seen of Vader, we can infer that he doesn’t treat his storm troopers very well. My guess is that the storm troopers both hate and fear him. In this scene, you see both of those feelings coming out. The troopers hold back from helping him out of fear — Vader might get angry if you interfere in his fight, especially since it implies that you don’t think he can win on his own. At the same time, the troopers hate Vader and probably wouldn’t be all too upset if Obi Wan happened to chop the guy’s head off.
On second thought, is it right for me to be ascribing these emotions to clones? It’s been a while since I’ve seen the prequel trilogy. The storm trooper clones act basically like regular people, don’t they?
By the way, the idea of a storm trooper asking Vader if he wants some help is making me chuckle.
Uh, hey, boss. You, uh, want me to, uh…
[wheeze] What is it now, Jenkins?! Can’t you see I’m busy? [wheeze]
But I just… I thought you might want some help. You know? Fighting Obi Wan Kenobi?
[Obi Wan and Vader stop their fight for a second.]
Is this guy serious?
Fenzel: Why doesn’t Grand Moff Tarkin reprimand him when Vader strangles General Taag in the conference room at a strategy meeting? Vader isn’t in charge of the Death Star – there are at least one or two guys around who outrank him at this point, and he’s going around threatening to murder the Empire’s equivalent of the Joint Chiefs just for talking smack. Everybody just sort of writes it off.
It’s clear at this point that the Force is kind of a fringe thing that hasn’t been around since a lot of these guys were kids. They don’t seem to know the Emperor and Vader’s relationship, or even the Emperor’s powers, at all, because they don’t believe in the Force and insult it to Vader’s face. When Vader flies off the handle in A New Hope and has super-powers it’s legitimately surprising.
It’s kind of lost in the later films, but in the very first Star Wars movie, the Empire’s conventional military don’t just hate and fear Vader, they think he’s fucking crazy. They look the other way and kind of grumble like he’s a Birther at the American Heritage Institute. A necessary ally, but an unstable, embarrassing one who talks a lot of nonsense when other people are trying to get work done.
Grand Moff Tarkin: We have the Democrats right where we want them. Fear will keep them alive. Fear of deficits, fear of national bankruptcy, fear of Mexicans, and fear of this battle station!
Vader: wheeze 9/11 WAS AN INSIDE JOB. wheeze
Grand Moff Tarkin: Ah, Lord Vader. It’s a pleasure for you to join us. We were just planning the final annihilation of Obama.
Vader: wheeze OBAMA IS INSIGNIFICANT NEXT TO THE POWER OF THE FORCE. wheeze
Grand Moff Tarkin: Of course, Lord Vader, but with the power of this battle station, we will crush him with a single stroke.
Vader: HE IS A MUSLIM SLEEPER AGENT AND DOES NOT CONCERN ME. wheeze
General Taag: Some of us here are trying to run a campaign! You’re an embarrassment! Your allegiance to those crazy websites will be your undoing!
Vader: YOU, IINO, DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE POWER OF THE DARK SIDE!
Vader: SHOW ME THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE!
There seems to be a standing rule in the Death Star to ignore Darth Vader whenever he starts acting crazy. Just leave him alone, let him do his thing. Somebody upstairs seems to like him, and you don’t want to be messed up in his business.
The other side of the coin here is, yeah, it’s crazy to interrupt Vader – he’ll kill you! But it’s also crazy that he is fighting a 70 year old man and doesn’t just shoot him or hit him with his choke powers, which the stormtroopers may or may not believe actually exist. None of these guys have seen a Jedi before. Jedi are extinct – old stories from a bygone era. They don’t know Obi Wan Kenobi is dangerous when Darth Vader can deflect laser bullets and strangle senior government officials with impunity.
Also, I don’t think it’s established in A New Hope that the storm troopers are clones. Remember at this point in the story the Empire is recruiting naturally born humans to fight for them – Luke wants to send in an application.
No, the stormtroopers bumble around like regular guys who work for a massive, massive bureaucracy and don’t expect to be running around their home office chasing people. If Darth Vader is swordfighting an elderly man near the loading dock, the more likely reaction than “Look, Darth Vader is in trouble!” is “Look, Darth Vader is fucking crazy!”
Imagine you worked at the Pentagon as a personal attache to Colin Powell or McChrystal, and you hear over the PA “Alert! Alert! There is a Nazi Ninja Master loose in the Pentagon! Your orders are ‘Shoot to kill!” You get up and walk around the corner, and there’s this 80 year old man with a Hitler moustache in a black outfit, and he and Donald Rumsfeld are circling each other ominously. Both of them have katanas drawn.
Do you shoot?