These Oversights Undid The Empire In The Original ‘Star Wars’ Trilogy

Features Writer
12.17.15 4 Comments

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Lucasfilm

With Star Wars mania now fully upon us, and responses to the film slowly trickling in, the overwhelming consensus — including our own review — is that The Force Awakens recaptures everything we loved in the classic trilogy. While literally everyone will start to make it out to theaters when the film officially opens on Friday, let’s take a moment to reflect on the shortcomings of one of the most iconic elements of the beloved trilogy, the Galactic Empire, the formidable, purely evil organization that was hellbent on ruling the galaxy with an iron fist throughout Episodes IV, V, and VI.

After taking a closer look at the Empire’s endeavors, however, some real flaws in its strategy start to become apparent. Here’s a closer look at a few of the moments the Empire really didn’t seem to know what it was doing.

Ignoring that escape pod

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Lucasfilm

Not long after a squad of Stormtroopers easily takes down rebel forces within a Blockade Runner, they begin searching for the stolen plans that, in the wrong hands, could mean the destruction of their new space station. While all this happening, two droids, C-3PO and R2-D2 (Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker), simply board an escape pod and eject, eventually landing on the surface of the nearby planet Tatooine. While Imperial officers clearly notice the pod leaving the ship, and even have a brief discussion on the matter, the order is given to not destroy it simply because there were no life-form readings on board.

You know what else won’t give life-form readings? Secret Death Star destruction plans. Not only that, but for a universe populated with sentient robots, this really seems like a no-brainer.

The extremely lenient search of Mos Eisley

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Lucasfilm

After realizing its mistake, the Empire then drops a group of Stormtroopers down to the surface to track that very escape pod. Realizing that it was, in fact, droids who’d made off with the plans, they’re led to the Mos Eisley spaceport. Before long, Luke (Mark Hamill), Obi-Wan (Alec Guinness) and the droids all make their way to Docking Bay 94, while Imperial forces begin to frantically searching for them everywhere. If by “everywhere,” you mean strictly behind any unlocked doors.

Granted, Obi-Wan’s Jedi mind trick had helped throw the Stormtroopers off their scent at first, but once Imperial forces started to close in on them, the order to simply “move onto the next one” if they run across any locked doors didn’t make hiding from them a terribly difficult task.

The Death Star’s major defense flaw

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Okay, so you’ve managed to design and build a moon-sized space station capable of destroying an entire planet. That’s an incredibly impressive feat to have accomplished, and a hell of a way to exert your galaxy-wide authority. But even as Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones) himself warns, no matter how impressive it sounds, the Death Star’s capabilities pale next to the power of The Force. Although, when you consider that this moon-sized space station capable of destroying an entire planet also includes a two-meter wide exhaust port which, if struck correctly, causes the entire thing to explode within seconds, suddenly it’s not so impressive.

The entire attack on Hoth

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Lucasfilm

This entire operation is one giant misstep, starting with Admiral Ozzel’s (Michael Sheard) oversight by coming out of light speed too close to the system. While the intention is to “surprise” the rebels, it only seems to allow them enough time to board transport ships and escape past the blockade of Star Destroyers. It also gets Admiral Ozzel force-choked by Darth Vader via teleconference.
What follows is the Empire’s ground-only assault, which means a half-dozen menacing AT-ATs wreaking havoc on the battlefield and destroying the rebel’s shield generator. Despite losing a couple of their AT-ATs, courtesy of Luke, the rebels are actively retreating after the loss of their shield generator when, for some reason, Darth Vader thinks it necessary for him to personally accompany a squad of Snowtroopers directly into the now-evacuated rebel base.

Bringing in outside help

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This isn’t as severe as the others, but as Vader gets increasingly focused on flushing out Luke Skywalker and leading him into a trap, his obsession with finding the Millennium Falcon drives him to hire some bounty hunters to help get the job done. When Vader meets with them, it’s all so completely out of the norm that an officer scoffs the idea and calls them scum within earshot of everyone. However, some Imperial dissent aside, when you consider that the Falcon was hiding on the surface of a Star Destroyer this whole time, which seems like something a ship of that magnitude would be able to detect, it does take an outside-the-box thinker like Boba Fett (Jeremy Bulloch) to get results.

The second Death Star’s even more easily exploitable defense flaw

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Clearly having not learned their lesson from the Battle of Yavin, the Empire reveals that it has a brand new Death Star, bigger and more powerful than the first. The main drawback: It’s not exactly finished, despite being fully operational — which comes as a devastating surprise to the rebels later in battle. While there is a shield generator helping to protect it on the surface of Endor’s forest moon that Han and company are tasked with disabling, this new Death Star is only about 3/4 put together, at best.
Of course, once the shield is disabled, it doesn’t take Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) and Wedge Antilles (Denis Lawson) much time at all to make their way to the core and destroy it. No need for a trench run or a “one-in-a-million” shot this time. Just fly right in, start blasting, and get out as quickly as possible.

Darth Vader’s vanity project

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Lucasfilm

Apart from a few glaring oversights in A New Hope, most of the Empire’s tactical oversights can be traced back to a single cause. Once Vader puts it in the Emperor’s head that Luke could be turned to the Dark Side and become their ally, it becomes their single-minded approach for victory. Forbes did an analysis of the Empire’s shortcomings in leadership back in 2012, aptly describing their outlook here as possessing a “remarkable lack of foresight.”

In the end, Luke doesn’t change his allegiance, the rebels manage to destroy the second Death Star, and the galaxy is saved from their tyranny — and The Empire is left in defeat without any sort of backup plan. With the Star Wars expanded universe recently wiped clean to give the new films a fresh start, here’s hoping The First Order maybe learns a thing or two from its predecessor’s mistakes (even though most of us still want the good guys to win).

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