3. The Emperor Can’t See The End
This is kind of a tie-in to the poor design of Palpatine’s grand plan in the prequels. He does a lot of risky things and relies on a lot of variables. In theory, his Force powers allow him to see things happening the way he wants them.
This continues when the Emperor knows the rebel’s plan completely because of his seeing powers. That’s totally fine in a vacuum. The Force lets him do that.
So then why did he not see Vader’s turn coming? It is suggested that Vader has some moments of doubt during the scene in the throne room. Shouldn’t Palpatine be able to sense Vader’s wavering loyalty?
This one is bothersome because it ends the epicness of the trilogy in a way that isn’t entirely satisfying. When fighting an antagonist who possess incredible power, it is rewarding to see the hero win by finding and exploiting the weakness of their enemy. Instead, the movie just kind of cheats its own rules and has the leader of the bad guys go out in a way that doesn’t follow what the audience knows.
Here’s a hypothetical edit to the end: Palpatine is torturing Luke with lightning until he stops, his eyes widen in surprise, and he turns to Vader. He makes some comment about realizing what Vader is about to do and attacks him. Vader struggles through the torment of the lightning to grab Palpatine and uses every ounce of his strength left to kill him in the exact same way.
One could argue that Palpatine should know about his fate sooner than the last second, but at least this idea gives some credit to Palpatine’s all-seeing abilities. Return of the Jedi is a great film, but Palpatine went out with a pretty lame wimper.
Having the ability to see the future screws with every film it is put in. This one is no exception.
Next: 2. The Empire Strikes Back Time Warp