Study Guide

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace What's Up With the Ending?

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What's Up With the Ending?

This ending wants to have its ending and eat its sequel, too… wait, that's not right. It wants to have its ending but also prepare the way for its sequel, too.

The Phantom Menace's ending attempts a balancing act. It wants to have a classic happy ending to cap this particular adventure but also needs to pave the way for the two sequels to come.

How does it do? Let's find out.

It's a Classic

But before we get into that, let's recap. Padmé led a four-pronged assault against the Trade Federation in the Battle for Naboo. Jar Jar and the Gungans faced the droid army on the field. Padmé seized the castle to capture Viceroy Gunray. Anakin, accidentally, joined the Naboo fighter pilots against the droid control station, and Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon dueled Darth Maul.

In the end, Padmé captured the viceroy, and Anakin, again accidentally, destroyed the control station. Although the Gungans technically lost the battle, Anakin's actions shut down the droid army, securing a Gungans victory in the war. Qui-Gon was killed by Darth Maul, but Obi-Wan was able to defeat the Sith. With all their enemies defeated, Queen Amidala and Boss Nass declare peace between their races. Everyone cheers, and our heroes adopt their victory poses for the film's final shot.

Much like the original Star Wars, The Phantom Menace provides the audience with a classic adventure story ending. After many trials, a few tribulations, and one grueling last battle, the heroes stand triumphant against the villains and everyone cheers. Huzzah!

It's a basic happy ending structure here: the villains lose and the heroes achieve their goals. The only thing that's missing is the guy getting the girl cliché. But considering that Qui-Gon is dead, Obi-Wan is a monk, and Anakin is ten years old… we're glad they didn't go that route.

First Act

Speaking of sequels, the ending to The Phantom Menace also concludes the first act of the much larger story found in the prequel trilogy. The second act, Attack of the Clones, will represent the rising action, the point in the story where the characters will attempt to solve the conflicts and will end up in a worse situation as a result.

So The Phantom Menace leaves a few dangling plot threads for the characters to deal with in the next movie. First and foremost, Darth Sidious remains at large. Yoda and Mace Windu remind us of this fact during Qui-Gon's funeral:

MACE WINDU: There's no doubt the mysterious warrior was a Sith.

YODA: Mmm. Always two there are. No more, no less. A master and an apprentice.

MACE WINDU: But which was destroyed? The master or the apprentice?

Hey guys, it was the apprentice. The master is still alive, and he is the one smirking about five feet to your left. You know, the one who is now Supreme Chancellor and the boss of the Galactic Republic. So, not only is Darth Sidious still at large, but the guy is in charge. That will no doubt prove problematic.

The other danger still facing our heroes is Anakin Skywalker. Although he helped save the day, the Jedi Council remains wary of the boy. When Obi-Wan announced his intentions to train Anakin as a Jedi, Yoda voiced these concerns again:

YODA: [Sighs.] The chosen one the boy may be. Nevertheless, grave danger I fear in his training.

OBI-WAN: Master Yoda, I gave Qui-Gon my word. I will train Anakin.

YODA: Ohh!

OBI-WAN: Without the approval of the council if I must.

YODA: Qui-Gon's defiance I sense in you. Need that you do not. Agree with you the council does. Your apprentice Skywalker will be.

Of course, the "grave danger" is Anakin's eventual turn into Darth Vader, but for the Jedi masters, it remains a veiled threat based on intuition and feeling. While nervous about Anakin's training, they have no direct way to combat the threat because they have no specific details about it. As Yoda tells Luke in The Empire Strikes Back, "Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future."

The result is some nice dramatic irony as the audience knows exactly what the future holds. The future, it seems, isn't difficult to see when you own it in crisp, clean Blu-Ray picture.

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