The latest installment in the decreasingly Skywalker-focused Star Wars saga, The Last Jedi, has proven divisive to the fan base, especially due to its sense of humor, which even puts overly-serious military leader, General Armitage Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), through his paces. Some fans feel that making the First Order commander a laughingstock undercuts his authority and, to a degree, they’re right. But that’s kind of the point.
In some stories, deriding a key villain is detrimental to her or his power, as well as the entire storyline. However, this is Star Wars, a franchise loaded with smug, imperious leaders. For the Empire and their heir apparent, the First Order, cocky, oversight-laden, and, at times, inept leadership is a key weakness, one which allows the Rebels and their offshoot, the Resistance, to survive even the toughest scrapes. Hux, as part of the 'newer and better' First Order, is no less a product of this environment.
Imperial Officers Were Always Incompetent (This Page)
Imperial Officers Were Always Incompetent Punching Bags
Detractors who felt Hux’s ridicule in The Last Jedi clearly forgot the strain of ineptitude that runs throughout the films. One of the saga’s darkest movies, The Empire Strikes Back, contains a running gag in which Darth Vader Force-chokes a succession of his officers due to their failures. His lines, such as “apology accepted, Captain Needa,” delivered after the good captain's lifeless body lands at Vader's feet, indicate the Sith Lord's warped sense of humor. The gag also underscores Vader’s impatience with his minions and the Empire’s penchant for mucking things up when it truly counts.
For instance, the Empire's officers continuously fail to measure up to Vader’s standards: Admiral Ozzel dismisses his underling's findings as totally not a rebel base, and then comes out of lightspeed too close to Hoth, allowing the rebels to escape. Their elite task force in Empire, nicknamed Death Squadron, fails to catch a battered YT-1300 stock freighter held together by Mynock slobber and Wookiee fur. Sure, it's piloted by rebel scum extraordinaire, Han Solo, but dozens of TIE-fighters and the know-how of scores of highly trained officers couldn't bring in one measly ship. On top of that, his successor, Admiral Piett, shoddily deactivates the Falcon's hyperdrive and later, in Return of the Jedi, doesn't recognize the Rebels trying to sneak onto Endor with an old code.
Even during what would be their triumphant victory over the Rebels, the Empire falls way behind while building the second Death Star, requiring Vader and the Emperor to pay its mincing project head, Moff Jerjerrod, a threatening visit. All of Darth Sidious’ nefarious dark side magic barely whips his half-arsed crew into shape, just in time to unleash the ultimate weapon on their foes... and get routed by a flighty Jedi, a ragtag fleet, and a bunch of angry teddy bears (er, Ewoks).
Clearly, the Imperial toolbox lacks basic competence, something Rian Johnson exploited in The Last Jedi.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018