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It seems in recent years that Star Wars fans turned against the Jedi of the Republic. Whether it was because of their rules against attachment or their handling of Anakin Skywalker, the Jedi just aren’t as highly regarded as they used to be. Of all the Jedi, the one that is most maligned by the fan community is Mace Windu. For multiple reasons, he catches the ire of fans more than anyone. I’m not sure he deserves all the scorn. Master Windu had a difficult job, and many of his decisions were tough ones. Therefore, I’m taking this opportunity to extend a little sympathy to the venerable Jedi Master.

Yoda and Mace Windu’s Role on the Council

Mace and Yoda occupied senior positions on the Jedi council. They were the Jedi to whom the others deferred. Obi-Wan Kenobi sought Yoda’s advice on a number of occasions. Plus, when Mace cast doubt on the “prophecy of the Chosen One,” Obi-Wan disagreed with as much respect possible. However, Yoda and Mace’s roles were different. Yoda was the respected elder. In some ways, he was the wise grandfather of the order. Mace, on the other hand, was the stern enforcer of the Jedi code.

Denying the Chosen One

When Qui-Gon brought Anakin before the Jedi council, he proclaimed Anakin as the “Chosen One.” Against his better judgment, Mace agreed to test the boy. It was obvious that he was aggravated by this decision. For one, the Jedi didn’t accept children Anakin’s age for training. Whether fans agreed with this practice or not, it was the Jedi Order’s rule. Mace was left delivering the bad news. He was the enforcer. Unfortunately, this disappointed Qui-Gon. Ultimately the Jedi Council overturned that decision after the Battle of Naboo.

Sympathy for Mace Windu

Another instance that draws criticism for Mace Windu was the attempted arrest of Chancellor Palpatine. First, many question his decision to leave Anakin at the temple. Mace tells Anakin that if what Anakin reported is true, then he will have earned his trust. After watching several seasons of The Clone Wars, it seems that Mace has little reason not to trust Anakin. However, Palpatine just placed Anakin on the Jedi Council. In addition, Anakin lost his temper when the Council refused him the title of Jedi Master. It is not unreasonable for Mace to suspect something else is going on.

Arresting the Chancellor

Mace’s attempt to arrest the chancellor without consulting the Senate also draws scrutiny. On the word of another Jedi, Mace marched into the Chancellor’s office and demanded that he turn himself over. Things didn’t go well (an understatement) and three other Jedi Masters died before Mace Windu subdued the Chancellor. Then Anakin, disobeying Mace’s order, arrives. Admittedly, Mace makes the dubious decision to execute the Chancellor on the spot and judges him too dangerous to leave alive. It certainly doesn’t seem like the Jedi thing to do.

One should consider Mace’s position for a moment. He just learned that Palpatine was a Sith Lord. The Jedi just fought a war against the Separatists under the control of another Sith Lord, Count Dooku. They were looking for the other Sith Lord only to find they were answering to him. To put it mildly, that must have been quite a shock. Mace often disagreed with the Chancellor, but he had no reason to suspect he was a Sith. Now he learns the Sith controlled both sides of the war. Plus, Mace sensed a plot to destroy the Jedi just prior to learning this. If Anakin’s fall is to be understood through his Force visions, Mace should be accorded the same courtesy with his Force premonitions.

Sympathy for Mace Windu

In addition, they demanded Darth Sidious’s surrender only for him to attack and kill three Jedi Masters. Could Mace reasonably expected Sidious to come long quietly after that? It is doubtful. Anakin demanded he stand trial. However, Anakin just arrived. He had a motive for needing Palpatine alive that was not purely altruistic.

Mace Windu’s Conservative Beliefs

Mace Windu was conservative in his Jedi beliefs. Qui-Gon might believe that Anakin was the Chosen One, but that was a concept the Jedi didn’t truly understand. Certainly, Anakin passed the Jedi test and demonstrated some Force abilities, but what did that mean? In addition, he had an extremely high midichlorian count. Those things alone proved nothing other than Anakin had skills in the Force. It was up to Mace to break the bad news to Qui-Gon. Anakin was too old. Therefore, he would not be trained.

The Jedi developed rules concerning who may be trained and against attachment generations before Anakin arrived at the temple. Those rules were flawed, but those were their rules. It is unlikely Anakin was the first troubled student Mace, Yoda, and the rest of the Jedi Council dealt with. He was just the latest, although perhaps the most powerful. Breaking with their traditions was a progressive notion, and even then, they didn’t get it right.

Finding Sympathy for Mace Windu

By the time the Clone Wars were concluding, both Mace and Yoda harbored doubts whether the prophecy of the “Chosen One” had even been interpreted correctly. Although Anakin displayed exceptional skills, his behavior was often questionable. In addition, Anakin had an alliance with the very man that was stressing the role and purpose of the Jedi. Mace had his reasons to be suspicious.

In the end, Mace’s failings were the failings of the Jedi Order and the Jedi Council. Even though the Jedi were champions of the Force and peace, their organization was conservative in their belief system. The Clone Wars and the machinations stressed all of them. As one of the leaders of the Council, Mace was often the voice of the Jedi, and he bore the brunt of the criticism leveled at them. He may not have been perfect, but there is room to find sympathy for Mace Windu.

Thanks for reading. Contact me at dkeithly@coffeewithkenobi.com or on Twitter@DJKver2. You can also find me on my podcast: Starships, Sabers, and Scoundrels.

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2 Comments

  1. MelindaW
    May 31, 2017 at 08:28 Reply

    Dennis, a fine, fine piece about Mace Windu! 🙂

    I always have liked the thoughtful Jedi Master, and any blame placed on his shoulders is unwarranted. (I also am in the camp that the Jedi were great heroes [although Yoda would pooh pooh my identification ‘great heroes’ 😉 ].) Why is it that people always want perfection from those who hold high office, etc.? They are individuals just like the rest of us — with flaws and warts along with those traits that are thought to be positive?

    If you want my two cents (for which I know you did not ask but I’m giving anyway; you aren’t able to answer one way or the other lol 😉 ), I have the strong opinion that the Jedi Council was correct in questioning whether Anakin was the Chosen One. (I don’t believe he was, and I didn’t even need the short exchange between Yoda, Mace and Obi-Wan aboard the transport in AOTC to give me that notion … although it further cemented it.) Their venerated Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn waltzed into the Council Chamber and professed this urchin was “The Chosen One” — and everyone was supposed to take his word for it? (Please don’t get me wrong. It was a logical conclusion, but correct?) Even Anakin’s success taking the test was not enough to prove that claim. At least not in my book. (Do you watch “Rebels”? This past season’s finale throws more wood on the fire to debunk Qui-Gon’s claim. For the record, I always have contended The Chosen One is Luke. 🙂 )

    But your blog is not about Anakin. It is about Mace Windu.

    In short, please let me agree with you that Mace Windu really was a great Jedi. He always acted in the Jedi’s well being. He always acted in the well being of the galaxy. And by the way, if I was in the same position in which Mace found himself in Palpatine’s office, after seeing my comrades cut down in short order, and knowing I was facing off against the strongest Sith Lord, I would have taken every opportunity to cut him down. I admit it. Mace showed a lot more restraint than I would have when he paused upon Anakin’s SELFISH request to keep Palpatine alive. That pause led to his (Mace’s) demise. Sadly. (Anakin never really got what he wanted, and that was his greatest tragedy. And the galaxy’s.)

    Wonderful write-up, Dennis! Thanks for sharing.

    MTFBWY 🙂

  2. MelindaW
    May 31, 2017 at 08:39 Reply

    p.s. I was grocery shopping recently, walking up and down the aisles, lost in my own little world (it had been a long day 😉 ). I heard someone say something, assumed it was “hello,” and I responded: “hello,” as I rounded a corner. My husband, who was at the store with me and who had just returned from hunting for a couple of items on our grocery list said: “He (the employee who had said something to me) didn’t say ‘hello’. He said ‘nice shirt’.” (My response must have confused him. ha ha) That woke me out of my reverie! 😉 (I was wearing one of my Star Wars shirts. 🙂 )

    “Are you a Star Wars fan, too?” I queried. When the young man replied in the affirmative, that kicked off an in-depth conversation about our favorite saga … during which the stocker revealed his favorite character is Mace Windu. 🙂

    There are more of us Mace Windu fans out there than one might believe. (And fans of the Jedi, too, for that matter. Anyone who stands on the side of what is right and justice for all gets a thumb’s up from me! 🙂 )

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