Jedi Master Mace Windu’s Death: Was It Too “Handy”?

As an individual with both fencing and Iaido experience, there’s always been something about the lightsaber duel between Jedi Master Mace Windu and Sith Lord Darth Sidius in Revenge of the Sith that sat ill with me. It’s eminently possible, even likely, that this particular topic has already been covered in some blog or forum, but I’ve never seen it. And, since I just watched the movie last night, after 10+ years it’s an itch I’m finally going to scratch.

Mace Windu’s downfall comes after a protracted battle, when he hauls back to deal a deathblow to a downed Darth Sidius, only to be betrayed by Anakin Skywalker (soon to be Darth Vader). To protect Sidius, Anakin draws his light saber and, in one smooth motion, cuts off Mace’s sword-hand, leaving him maimed and defenseless. Sidius then promptly blasts Mace with a barrage of Force lightning, sending him hurtling out the window, to fall a thousand or more feet to his (supposed) death.

This particular action sequence should never have happened. Why? Well, put yourself in Mace’s shoes: you’re one of the most powerful Jedi in the galaxy. You’ve been victorious in countless battles; you’re a master swordsman and the only one able to incorporate and control the dark side in battle – hence your purple-bladed weapon. Now, you’ve just engaged the deadliest enemy you’ve ever faced. The three Jedi Masters that accompanied you were slaughtered in seconds and, whether through skill or luck, you’ve managed to disarm your most dangerous opponent. Finally, after having deflected blast after blast of his lethal Force lightning, you have him down for the count with your light saber at his throat.

MAce Windu Defeats Chancellor Palpitine
Jedi Master Mace Windu Prepares to Finish Off Sith Lord Darth Sidious.

So why haul back to finish off your opponent? I don’t mean why do it. Sidius certainly needed to be killed. I mean, why telegraph your blow? You’ve got your light saber two inches from his Adam’s apple. It’s a weapon that can push through a bank vault door like a hot butter knife through, well . . . butter, so why haul back to strike?

To kill Sidius, all Mace had to do was straighten his arm, like a fencer lunging or thrusting with a foil. That’s it. Swoosh – right through the SIth Lord’s throat or face and the deed would be done. So why did he drop his guard? I can’t buy that it was an irrational or emotional decision; I don’t believe a warrior like Mace would lose his cool. Not with all his experience and skill. And, I also can’t picture, whether Anakin was there or not, that he’d draw back like that before striking. That movement could have given Sidius the opening he needed to cut Mace down with Force lightning – something he was eminently aware of. Mace never would have done that. He would’ve just lunged and finished the fight. It was the safest and surest attack. Sidius couldn’t have done anything and Anakin wouldn’t have had time to draw his weapon.

Darth Sidius prepares to fire Force lightning at Jedi Master Mace Windu
A downed Darth Sidius prepares to fire Force lightning at Jedi Master Mace Windu.

So why would Mace Windu do that? Why leave himself open to be (forgive the pun) disarmed? Besides the obvious screenwriter’s need to have the Jedi Master left vulnerable for Anakin’s treacherous stroke, is there anyone out there who can give me a sensible reason why this happened?

Max Hawthorne

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