Star Wars Saturday: Why Multiple Death Stars are an Acceptable Plot Device
Star Wars is beloved by many for its character development, snappy dialogue, and crazy action scenes. But it's not perfect.
One of the complaints from Star Wars fans and haters alike is the Death Star plot device. It was well executed in A New Hope, then brought back for some reason in Return of the Jedi, and then frustratingly transformed into Starkiller Base for The Force Awakens. In the Original Trilogy it was almost permissible, but to bring it back in this new era of Star Wars almost seemed unforgivable.
However, I am here to play the other side. Argue all you want, but here is why having multiple planet-destroying ships is a perfectly acceptable plot device in Star Wars:
The first two Death Stars were probably constructed at the same time.
We first saw the plans for the Death Star in Attack of the Clones, and by the end of Revenge of the Sith a skeleton had been put in place out in the far reaches of the galaxy. But the overall planning and construction took twenty years to become fully operational and lethal.
Catalyst was a book that served as a prequel for Rogue One and covers a bit of that twenty years. In it, scientists are spending time perfecting the super laser that would eventually destroy Alderaan. While they were busy failing and suceeding, the rest of the structure had to be built, insulated, engineered, and (lightly) furnished!
This whole process would have definitely taken more than four years to do. I say "four years" because that is the time between the end of A New Hope and the beginning of Return of the Jedi, when Death Star II is inhabited and according to Emperor Palpatine, "fully armed and operational." Yes, there was still sections missing, but people could basically live on the thing and be all right...until Wedge, Lando, and Nien Nunb show up and blast it to oblivion.
My theory (and this hasn't been confirmed, as far as I know) is that Palpatine, in his overall conceitedness and lust for power, commissioned multiple Death Stars after it looked like the first one was going to strike fear into the hearts of non-Imperial patrons of the galaxy. Not only would they be able to cover multiple areas with their fear-inducing monstrosities, they would also make them bigger and more deadly!
This means that while Grand Moff Tarkin was galavanting about with the original and taking it to Yavin, the rest of the building crew was leaving and going on to finish their roles in the other Death Stars.
Could there have been three or four? Maybe. But we do know that a second one eventually was spotted orbiting one of Endor's forest moons, and it was scary enough that the Rebellion didn't wait around too long to destroy it.
The Death Star plans ("Stardust") lasted long after the end of Palpatine.
The Emperor was a selfish man, creating ships and devising contingency plans to maintain control of his power. When the Death Stars showed promise, it is likely that he wasn't satisfied with just blowing up one planet.
Another novel, Aftermath, talks of a section of Imperials who take specialized weaponry and leave the fledgling Empire after its defeat on Endor. While they leave, it is implied that they return as The First Order many years later with modernized ships, sleek weaponry, and a larger-than-life base of operations that not only destroys planets, it destroys planetary systems.
Clearly, Palpatine's greed and lust for power rubbed off on his cronies. They took the great ideas fostered in the Empire and combined it with new technology and ideas.
Even better than that, they also likely felt superior to Palpatine, who they believed relied to wholeheartedly on "The Force." Because of that, they improved on everything to spite the memory of the only Emperor the Empire ever had by making all his ideas look pathetic and small.
Is anyone breathing Palpatine's name in the events of The Force Awakens? Nope. All the talk is of The First Order, and that's because they grabbed those Death Star plans and performed a major upgrade.
What's better than one thing? Two things!
Fans might protest that it's sloppy writing to have so many, but even our current world suffers from copycat syndrome. When something amazing like the iPhone comes out, every other company tries to mimic the idea. Even Apple itself won't stay complacent, making tweaks here and there that causes riots amongst their fans.
The idea that a galaxy would produce multiple death machines is likely more plausible than we suspect. While we might maintain that the Empire wouldn't have been that foolish, they were also the ones that decided to ignore the tiny carnivores on Endor's moon, generally recruit and promote human lifeforms and enslave or eliminate other alien species, and drain the resources of every planet in order to subvert them and glorify "the greater good" which only really helped about 2% of the galaxy's population.
They were dumb, yes. They were so enamored with themselves that they just tweaked and promoted the Death Star instead of coming up with something else. While the ideas were there, they just weren't interested in going against something so successful.
We could turn this on Lucasfilm and ask them why they thought three planet-destroying ships were a good idea. We could blame it on laziness. We could counter with three hundred better plot ideas than what we were given.
It is fair to say that it's a bummer that the large-destructo machine plot was needlessly repeated in a movie series. But when people treat these movies like real life and dissect each and every second, they eventually can realize that history tends to repeat itself.
My name is Claire Nat! You can follow me on Twitter @CeePipes, or follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/blurbmusings. Check out my blog for other articles!
Other Star Wars Saturday Articles:
Why I'm Excited for The Last Jedi