In it (and its various successors) I tried to work out various scenarios for the prequels, most of which were entirely wrong. Because I am not too proud to admit defeat, here are some of the highlights of my misguided musings.
[Before we get down to business, though, fans of the Marvel Star Wars comics should check out "Jaxxon's 11," a webcomic sponsored by TheForce.net. While it has nothing to do with the rest of the essay, it's still pretty funny stuff. Anyway....]
1. Beru was Anakin’s sister. Ah, a golden oldie from 1996! I figured this would be the case if Anakin’s family wasn’t completely Force-sensitive. This would also have explained Owen not being a Skywalker. The theory was later amended, first to “Beru is Padme’s sister,” and then to “Beru is one of Padme’s bodyguards.” The latter made sense and would have helped give Luke an extra level of protection on Tatooine. I still get a kick out of picturing Aunt Beru holding off that squad of stormtroopers with her hypothetical old Naboo arsenal.
2. Anakin’s slavery had a bigger impact. In 1999, after seeing Episode I, I wrote this:
It is likely that Anakin will return to Tatooine in Episode II, possibly after having learned that his mother is dead. Palpatine will hint that Qui-Gon took Anakin away from his mother to further the selfish ends of the Jedi, and will thus turn Anakin against the Jedi.
This evolved into a prediction that Episode II would begin with Anakin disobeying Jedi Council orders by racing to Tatooine to free his mother from Gardulla the Hutt. (Watto sold her back to Gardulla after his losses in Anakin’s podrace.) Deliberately echoing Return of the Jedi, Anakin hacks and slashes his way through the Hutt compound. Obi-Wan shows up for a last-minute save, having tracked him down to bring him back to Coruscant. Their destruction of the master slave control would have fulfilled Anakin’s Phantom Menace dream of returning to free the slaves.
Obi-Wan then runs afoul of Owen Lars, who wants Anakin to stay on Tatooine and protect the freed slaves from reprisals. Obi-Wan says Anakin’s needed in the Clone Wars, which Owen considers a “damn fool idealistic crusade.” Anakin ends the argument by agreeing to return with Obi-Wan. So far in the prequels, Obi-Wan and Owen haven’t met, so I hope Revenge of the Sith addresses that.
3. Between Episodes I and II, the Trade Federation sold out. At the end of Episode I, the TF’s “franchise” looks to be revoked, so it seems logical that they would have gone bankrupt and their technology would have ended up in the hands of another galactic power. I imagined Episode II beginning with a mysterious army of clones, using Federation-derived technology, striking without warning on the outskirts of the Republic and working their way into the core worlds. Naturally the Jedi would have been hard pressed to contain these invaders, so Palpatine would have concentrated more power in the Republic and built up the Republic’s military (which at this point I thought already existed). At the end of my Episode II, a Jedi army would have destroyed the “enemy’s” cloning facilities and thereby ended what came to be known as the Clone Wars.
4. Bail Organa was the prequels’ dashing rogue, in the Han/Lando mode. Before Jimmy Smits was cast as Senator Bail Organa, I imagined him being a bit younger — more a contemporary of Obi-Wan and thus a little older than Padme. Anakin and Obi-Wan protected the Senator in my speculative Episode II, but I had Bail romantically involved with Padme by the time the Jedi got involved. Anakin and Padme then would have gotten separated from the others, giving them time to realize their true feelings for one another. Naturally, this would also have set up Padme’s future with Bail in the post-Episode III timeline, since she would have gone back to Bail after Anakin was thought dead.
5. Naboo’s devastation was a big part of Episode III. This still makes sense to me on a number of levels.
First, in Episode I, Senator Palpatine is determined to have the Trade Federation conquer Naboo. This suggested to me that Naboo held some kind of mystic Sith significance, probably having to do with those energy weapons and constructs the Gungans made. (The ruins where the Naboo find the Gungans also suggested a third, possibly much older civilization.) I figured Episode III — which I wanted to call “Bride of the Dark Side” — would center around Palpatine returning to Naboo to claim the final piece of the Sith’s puzzle. The Jedi would stop him, of course, but at the cost of being branded traitors and exterminated wholesale.
The cost to Naboo would be greater, because the Gungans’ power source was central to Naboo’s delicate ecosystem. Phantom Menace established Naboo’s core as a system of underwater caves, not a ball of molten rock. Therefore, the Gungans’ power source must have been something else; and in fact the entire planet could have been affected by an ancient Jedi/Sith conflict. However it happened, I reasoned that Palpatine’s plot to stripmine Naboo of its unique power (possibly enough for a small-moon-sized battlestation?) would reduce it to a smoking sphere of volcanoes and magma. I theorized further that Anakin and Obi-Wan’s climactic duel would have taken place on the volcanic ruins of the Queen’s palace.
Although Naboo wouldn’t have been destroyed per se, Palpatine’s plans would have rendered it completely lifeless. Naboo’s fate would have left Padme without a constituency, allowing Bail to give her amnesty on Alderaan. (I thought it would be cool for Alderaan to have a fearsome military, which the Emperor demanded Bail dismantle in exchange for Padme’s safety.) Letting Padme live for a little while after the prequels would also have preserved Leia’s line about her mother dying when Leia was very young — with the implication being that Padme was poisoned from the devastation of Naboo.
Alas, it is not to be. The latest alterations to Return of the Jedi have included a celebration scene on a Naboo that looks identical to the pristine world of Episodes I and II. That’s perfectly fine with me. The advance word on Sith so far is frighteningly positive compared to the other prequels. Besides, if I could predict every nuance of a Star Wars movie, there’d be no fun in going — and if these clunker predictions had turned out to be true, the movies probably wouldn’t have been much fun anyway.