Padmé showed her strength and resolve throughout the Prequel Trilogy but just as she was most needed, she lost her will to live and died. Why?
This is a conversation that my wife and I have every single time that we watch Revenge of the Sith. Padmé was a fighter. She wouldn’t have ran for cover or cowered away in hiding during times of exceptional hardship. She would have most likely faced her challenges head on and would have stood her ground until the adversity was overcome.
That’s why her death in Episode III is so perplexing to us. During a time when her decidedness and leadership would have been most needed, she just died with no real explanation given. For my wife and I both, that was an absolutely terrible way to end her story’s arc.
Though she was given a clean bill of health as she was set to give birth, the chief medical droid of Polis Massa declared to both Bail Organa and Obi-Wan Kenobi that she was dying for unknown reasons. As he spoke of Padmé, the droid told them that, “She has lost the will to live.” During that same conversation, the droid also dropped the bombshell news that, unbeknownst to virtually everyone, Padmé had been carrying twins throughout her pregnancy and that she was on the verge of delivering both children.
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Padmé’s life leading up to and during the events of Revenge of the Sith was incredibly complex. During that time, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine was behind the scenes, maliciously manipulating significant events, not just on Coruscant but also throughout the entire galaxy, in order to secure a continued and unchallenged position of power and prominence for the Sith. As such, Padmé served as a first-hand witness to the downfall of the same Galactic Republic that she so honorably served as a queen and senator since the earliest days of her adolescence.
On top of having to watch everything that she spent her entire professional life building be slowly torn down, in her personal life, she also had a secret, forbidden marriage to Anakin Skywalker of the Jedi Order. Due to the strict Jedi regulations that forbade marriage, the young couple wed in secret on Naboo and had to put considerable effort towards keeping the depth of their relationship away from public knowledge.
The emotional toll of Padmé’s personal and professional lives no doubt impacted her on consequential levels. Those outside stressors were significant enough that they could have caused a massive strain on her pregnancy and I would have bought into the notion that the combination of pressure, stress, and internal/external strife was to such an extent that it served as an insurmountable challenge to her health, both during and after childbirth, but that wasn’t how it was parlayed in the film.
It has been argued that Anakin force-choking Padmé eventually led to her death but that explanation still doesn’t work for me because again, the medical droid stated that she was in perfect health other than the loss of her will to live. Even though he didn’t physically choke her with his hands, I still feel like there should have been some level of visible trauma to her throat if it had been strong enough to ultimately lead to her death. When Vader uses the Force to crush physical objects, you can see the damage that he does despite him not having any physical contact with said objects.
Fan theories abound as to what Padmé’s actual cause of death was, but the one that I lend the most credence to is the one of Palpatine draining her life force and transferring it to Anakin as he was being encased into the black armor that would serve as his life support system.
The way those two scenes cut back and forth from one another really solidify that theory for me. They parallel each other perfectly and it underscores the truly tragic nature of Anakin’s fall. As Anakin’s transformation into Darth Vader is completed and he draws his first breath through his masked visage, Padmé professes to Obi-Wan that there is still good in her husband with her dying breath.
By draining her life force and transferring it to Vader, Palpatine ensured that he would be able to achieve at least some level of serviceability from the apprentice that he devoted so much time and energy to gain. By telling Vader he caused his own wife’s death, Palpatine was equipping Vader with more internal hatred and misery in order to fuel his growth further into the dark side of the Force.
Of course, none of that has ever been confirmed (as of yet!), but I choose to believe it and for me, it adds more depth to Episode III.
It just seems to me that since Padmé truly felt as if Anakin was still good deep down, her feelings should have been enough to bolster her desire to stay alive. Raising Luke and Leia, redeeming her husband, and rebelling against Palpatine’s newly implemented empire at all costs would have made for an intriguing story though it would have fundamentally changed the Star Wars saga as we currently know it.
Though her character had to die in order for the movie to fit within the canon of the previous ones, I just wish we were left with a more definitive cause of death for Padmé. Something far more tangible than just her losing the will to live presumably due to a broken heart. Something more befitting of the spirit of her character.
What do you think? Agree or Disagree? Let us know in the comments below!