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How Mace Windu Destroyed the Jedi

Jeremy hopes the Force is with him as he pursues a forensics career in the swamps of Louisiana.

Mace Windu

Mace Windu

Mace Windu in Star Wars

In some ways, Mace Windu is one of the coolest Jedi throughout Star Wars. Second only to Yoda in the Jedi Council, Mace (portrayed by iconic actor Samuel Jackson) wields his unique purple blade, form 7 lightsaber style, and "shatterpoint" Force technique, all contributing to his amazing skills.

Mace's reputation makes him one of the Order's most renowned members, but for such a prominent Jedi, he blunders quite often throughout the prequels—here are all the reasons Mace inadvertently helped doom the Jedi in Star Wars!

Mace in his Council seat

Mace in his Council seat

1. He Was Wrong About the Sith Returning

Starting off small, we first see Mace in Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, where his disapproval of Anakin's training contributes to the boy's growing disharmony with the Order. But more on that later; for now, consider an oft-forgotten line Mace issues after Qui-Gon escapes Darth Maul's attack on Tatooine; when Qui-Gon (correctly) suggests his attacker was a Sith, Mace (incorrectly) doubts the Sith could have returned without Jedi awareness of the fact, the first of many examples of Mace's overconfidence.

Why bring up smaller points like this? It's to reinforce an idea Yoda himself teaches Obi-Wan (with Mace present too) in Episode 2, about "older, more experienced" Jedi being too sure of themselves. Throughout the prequels, we see Mace's repeated arrogance and morally-questionable actions contributing to the downfall of the Republic.

Padme accuses Dooku

Padme accuses Dooku

2. He Was Wrong About Dooku Targeting Padme

The second prequel film, Attack of the Clones, gives us a better look at Mace; we actually get to see him in combat on Geonosis, revealing his awesome violet blade, and he's the one to take down famed bounty hunter Jango Fett in the Geonosis arena battle. This killing is justified, as Jango has already slain a Jedi during the battle, and Mace can't exactly take prisoners at the time, which we'll soon revisit.

But rewind to almost the very beginning of the film, where the Jedi Council meet with Chancellor Palpatine to discuss the attempted assassination of Naboo Senator Padme. She correctly guesses that the person behind her assault is Count Dooku (who hired Jango), but Mace takes offense to the idea simply because Dooku used to be a Jedi, stating "it's not in his character". While admittedly a small point, it's another illustration of Mace's Jedi arrogance.

Mace ignores Anakin's request

Mace ignores Anakin's request

3. He Didn't Take Anakin to Confront the Chancellor

Of all today's examples, here's the one where I somewhat understand Mace's perspective; in Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith, after learning from Anakin that Palpatine is actually Darth Sidious, Mace senses turmoil within Anakin, and is thus hesitant to bring him to confront a Sith. Fair enough.

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However, there are several reasons Mace should have considered bringing Anakin, and things probably would have ended better had he done so. One, Mace needs skilled fighters, and Anakin's the best he had (remember, Yoda and Obi-Wan are both off planet). Second, Mace has finally admitted to a degree of trust in Anakin, appreciating his informing the Council of Palpatine's true nature. Three, Anakin's the Chosen One, fated to bring some sort of balance. Lastly, Anakin requested to come, and if you know Anakin's history as Mace should, you realize that forbidding Anakin from something is the best way to make sure he does it—better to bring him so you at least have a degree of control.

Anakin kills Dooku

Anakin kills Dooku

Mace attempts to kill Palpatine

Mace attempts to kill Palpatine

4. He Broke the Jedi Code, Indirectly Turning Anakin

Mace's conflict with Anakin eventually reaches its culmination when Mace fails to heed Anakin's pleas during the confrontation with Sidious; Anakin reminds Mace that killing prisoners isn't the Jedi way, then tells Mace that Anakin needs Palpatine (for his alleged power to save Padme). Mace ignores both attempts, prompting Anakin to strike, then Palpatine finishes Mace off.

Also, note the parallels throughout this film between Anakin and Mace. Both end up with a Sith Lord at their blade's end (Anakin even capturing Dooku's red saber, giving him the light/dark duality of blue/red, also reflected in Mace's purple blade). Both decide to slay the Sith, to each's peril—Dooku living would have revealed Sidious before Sidious was ready, while Mace's premature attack forced Anakin's hand and doomed the Jedi. At least Anakin has the partial excuse of Palpatine literally commanding him to eliminate Dooku, plus the added hassle escaping a crashing ship with a Sith prisoner would add.

Anakin certainly isn't faultless, but this underrated scene represents the core problems with the Jedi of the old Republic—arrogance, and a disharmony with outsiders (which Anakin partially is). Mace fails to listen to Anakin just as the Order fails to integrate with society, specifically with regards to age limits and marriage restrictions. Luke corrects these issues by easing their prohibitions for his new order, at least in the legends timeline—which brings us to our final point…

Still don't need him, Mace?

Still don't need him, Mace?

5. He Didn't Want Obi-Wan Trained as a Jedi (in Legends)

For all Mace Windu's conflict with Anakin, he gets along fairly well with Obi-Wan in the films, with the two seen talking and even having a back-to-back moment at the arena fight. Yet in the legends timeline, Mace had opposed Obi-Wan's training as a Jedi, as the young Jedi had reached age 13 without being chosen as a Padawan.

This is shown in the Jedi Apprentice book series, and Mace's hastily-formed verdict is thankfully discarded by Yoda, who very correctly believes Obi-Wan (eventually chosen by Qui-Gon) will become a fine Jedi.

Other Problems With Mace Windu

Despite his confident demeanor and fearsome skills, Mace actually represents what's wrong the the Jedi Order, what needs to be changed. His arrogant perspective, penchant for violence, and failure to develop are what ultimately turn Anakin from the Jedi path.

Look beyond the films for further examples of Mace's mistakes, and you'll find questionable instances like his discussion with Yoda in Dark Rendezvous, where Mace convinces his reluctant peer to, for war purposes, effectively allow assassination.

With Mace's body never having been found (plenty of characters survive losing a hand or a big fall—Luke did both in Empire Strike Back), it's possible he could return in a future project, but for now, share your thoughts on the Jedi Master and I'll see you at our next Star Wars review!

© 2022 Jeremy Gill

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