A couple of years ago, I wrote an essay about the Star Wars prequels where the gist was that, after a few more of the now Disney-owned Lucasfilm Star Wars movies were released, the Prequels would become more and more these weird outliers. In a way they kind of were already, but before The Force Awakens, it’s hard to argue, “half the movies are outliers.” Now we have four Disney Star Wars movies – The Force Awakens, Rogue One, The Last Jedi, Solo – that all aesthetically look a lot like the Original Trilogy. So now the score is seven to three, so they are quickly becoming outliers.
Now, more and more, the Prequels are these three weird movies that don’t look anything like the other seven. (Also, the fact there are ten Star Wars movies now is just the strangest thing. Also, no, I do not count the animated Clone Wars movie.) Most parents I know introduce their kids to Star Wars with the Original Trilogy, and then the new movies. In just a few more years, the Prequels will become something that parents will have to sit down with their kids and have a “serious talk” about in the same way they would about that weird uncle who is in prison. “Look, we can visit if you want, but it could be disturbing.”
Rewatching the Prequels, I still get fooled every time. Usually one of them pops up on television and I tell myself, “Well, maybe it won’t be that bad.” And I’m always wrong. The Phantom Menace is the worst offender of this because it’s truly not that bad until we run into Jar Jar. And even then it’s tolerable until we meet Anakin. Unfortunately, Anakin and Jar Jar together is just too much. But! There is something that’s always interesting about watching The Phantom Menace: the sheer amount of dropped plot lines that were never discussed again.
The most infamous two are Jar Jar Binks and midichlorians. Jar Jar was obviously being set up as a major character throughout the Prequel Trilogy and after fans, let’s say, didn’t exactly warm up to him in that first movie, his role basically became a cameo in the next two films. (I’ll never forget watching Attack of the Clones at midnight on opening night, and when Jar Jar first showed up the crowd erupted in boos.)
Midichlorians are the poster child of “dropped plot points.” They are discussed a lot. They even had a resurgence when George Lucas started talking about what his Sequel Trilogy would have looked like. What was always fun about the Force was that, from what we learned in the Original Trilogy, it was for everyone – just some people were better at harnessing it than others. But then The Phantom Menace comes along and all of a sudden a person’s relationship with the Force had to do with microscopic organisms in the bloodstream. So, in other words, you did have to be special to use the Force – which people didn’t like and it was never mentioned again.
(As an aside, it’s interesting that a lot of the same people who dislike midichlorians for making the Force only usable by certain families that happen to have a high count of these organisms are the same people who don’t like that in The Last Jedi we learn Rey isn’t a Skywalker. That she’s just some nobody who gets to use the Force. These two opinions seem to be at odds with each other.)
But rewatching The Phantom Menace recently, there’s another dropped plot point that we never talk about and it’s kind of insane. Which is: Anakin Skywalker has a bomb in his head. Which also means Darth Vader has a bomb in his head. For all of the first six movies Anakin/Vader had a bomb in his head!
Okay, I’ll admit, I’m leaping to a conclusion that the bomb is in his head and not somewhere else in his body. I just assume it’s in his head because that makes the most sense. Oh, you don’t remember the scene in which we learn that Anakin has a bomb somewhere inside him? Let’s review:
Shortly after Qui-Gon meets Anakin on Tatooine in The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon, Padme, and Jar Jar have dinner with Anakin and his mom, Shmi. Here’s how that conversation goes:
Shmi: “All slaves have a transmitter inside their bodies somewhere. I’ve been working on a scanner to try and locate mine. Any attempt to escape…”
Anakin: “And they blow you up! Boom!”
Jar Jar: “How wude.”
Yes, Jar Jar, that would be wude.
So this little fun fact is never mentioned ever again. After Qui-Gon frees Anakin, there’s no scene of Anakin’s remote bomb being removed from his body. There’s not even a throwaway line about how it’s been removed. From the information we are given, that bomb is inside Anakin, and later Vader, for the duration of the six movies.
Now, with this plot point, I wish it had been carried out. Think of all the crazy possibilities! At the end of Revenge of the Sith when Yoda reveals he’s been talking to the ghost of Qui-Gon, maybe Qui-Gon could have just said, “All you need to do is activate the bomb that’s already in Vader’s body.”
Or when Luke leaves Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back, the dialogue between Ben and Yoda could have been:
Ben: “That boy was our last hope.”
Yoda: “Told him about the bomb inside Vader, you should have.”
Or, at the very least, when Luke is burning the remains of Vader at the end of Return of the Jedi, there should have been a huge explosion, followed by Luke saying, “What the hell? Wait, was there a bomb inside him the whole time? Ben, why didn’t you tell me?”
If nothing else, maybe this is why Anakin almost comically erupted into flames at the end of Revenge of the Sith. Sure, the lava touched him, but he caught on fire really quickly! Maybe that was the bomb going off! At this point, I choose to believe it was the result of the bomb that’s been inside Anakin since we first met him that was never removed or mentioned again.
I will never get over that there was a bomb inside Anakin Skywalker! And no one talks about this!
Honestly, now that I’ve thought this through, I’m starting to like The Phantom Menace again. It’s like a movie from another series altogether that has almost nothing to do with any of the other movies and actively contradicts them. Plus, it somehow planted a bomb inside Darth Vader’s body and we all just ignored that.
You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.