Lit A Tarkin Coup: Possibility or Pipedream

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Vialco, Jul 14, 2013.

  1. Vialco Force Ghost

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    Overthrowing Palpatine and claiming the Imperial Throne is a near-impossible task. But there was one Imperial officer that might have been able to do it.

    Grand Moff Tarkin controlled the most powerful weapon in the Empire, the Death Star. With a planet-destroying battlestation at his beck and call, Tarkin might have been able to depose Palpatine and claim the throne for himself.

    However, there were many obstacles in Tarkin's way, chief of which was Darth Vader himself, who would never tolerate such a coup.

    Here's the question for this thread: If the Death Star had succeeded in wiping out the Rebels at Yavin, would Tarkin have attempted to seize the throne for himself, and if he had, could he have succeeded in removing both Sith Lords and placing a non-Force user at the helm of the Empire?
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  2. The Loyal Imperial Manager Emeritus

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    The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of His Imperial Majesty.
  3. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    Under no circumstances am I marrying Tarkin.
  4. Iron_lord Chosen One

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    Last edited by Iron_lord, Jul 14, 2013
  5. Big Fat'Lya Jedi Master

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    I've always wondered that. Maybe I'm just a cynical, backstabbing bastard (like the good Bothan that I am) but I always just sort of assumed - and I'm sure someone with far, far more detailed EU knowledge than I will tell me why, given Tarkin's established character, etc, this is nonsense - that Tarkin would try what you describe. Once he was sure he had the others on his side. If he had won at Yavin, would not the next course of action be, "Set a course for Coruscant"?

    The problem with creating a planet-destroying battle station that you aren't personally commanding is that whoever is commanding it might let it go to their head a bit...
  6. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Well -- I do think Fry's pretty much correct there, except in that I don't doubt that Vader was there as the Emperor's watchdog. It's just that he was a watchdog that wasn't well-respected, and indeed wouldn't become well-respected until after the events of Classic Star Wars leading into ESB.

    As far as Tarkin generally, I do think that's an interesting take. I wouldn't be surprised if that were indeed the case -- Tarkin does very much give the impression of a Rimkin social climber looking to displace his betters, and his loathesome Tagge allies are of similarly dubious origins.
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  7. Dr. Steve Brule Force Ghost

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    Has any source stated how the commanding officers of the Death Star were chosen? Did Tarkin personally select all of them? If so, I could see them going along with that, a la Ramius and his loyal officers in Hunt for Red October.

    However, even if Tarkin had managed to blow up Coruscant (no way Palpatine would cave in), and somehow ensured Palpatine and Vader's deaths, I can't imagine he would be able to rule the galaxy. The capital and all its bureaucracy and government ministries would completely be gone, not to mention such an action would probably make destroying Alderaan look like knocking over a sandcastle in comparison. He simply wouldn't have the administrative ability to rule, and probably not a whole lot of loyalty from anyone else, Imperial or Rebel. A planet-destroyer in his control is one thing, but if literally the entire galaxy rejects your authority and sees you as Galactic Enemy Number One, you're only going to last so long.
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  8. Iron_lord Chosen One

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    WEG's profile of Vader in the Core Rulebook- says that Tarkin would not have dared to destroy Alderaan without Vader's support.

    Though this may be an after-the-fact Rebel perspective on the subject.
  9. Big Fat'Lya Jedi Master

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    Palpatine's refusal to cave (and who among us doubts that?) is the problem, I think. I sort of pictured Tarkin arriving, threatening to fire on Coruscant and thinking that this was obviously checkmate. And in checkmate, the king isn't actually taken. He just flips over and concedes defeat. I can see Tarkin assuming that would be how it works, but obviously Palpatine would never do that; he's not playing by the rules Tarkin understands, he's playing a very different game that Tarkin *can't* understand. So that leaves Tarkin either having to stand down or go through with the threat, something I don't think he would have considered. After all, he's a very rigid thinker, Tarkin, isn't he?
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  10. CeiranHarmony Force Ghost

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    Palpatine would open a Dark Side whormhole and suck the Death Star up along with Tarkin easily... Force Storms for the win!

    But I really love Tarkin trying ;)
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  11. Valin__Kenobi Author: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Praji

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    In the EU 1977-99, and to a lesser extent 1999-2004, I would have said yes, a coup is farfetched but conceivable. Vader was obviously Palpatine's top minion and chiefest of calamities, but there were many at Court trying to take that honor away from him--Xizor, Mara Jade, Tarkin, Thrawn, and so on. Vader himself found them credible enough rivals that Palpatine was able to control him by continually threatening to take Vader's toys away and give them to someone else.

    In the EU post ROTS--where the Empire is All Sith All The Time, everyone seems to know Palpatine is one, and Vader is as inextricable in the public mind from the brand-new Empire as Palpatine himself--I would now say no. If Tarkin managed to kill them both, as it's currently presented I don't think the Empire would be able to hold together without them.
    Last edited by Valin__Kenobi, Jul 14, 2013
  12. Dr. Steve Brule Force Ghost

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    Actually thinking on it more, if Tarkin did blow up Coruscant with Palpatine on it and became Galactic Enemy Number One, Palpatine would just resurrect on Byss and return to the known galaxy promising to take down that vile madman Tarkin for the good of galactic civilization. Palpatine's popularity would probably shoot through the roof for that, and his earlier actions like disbanding the Senate (and killing the Jedi) would be forgotten. Plus Tarkin's actions would make it easy to disassociate Alderaan's destruction from the Empire proper. Palpatine could then just rebuild the Empire using his Byss people as he always intended, without having to deal with removing the rest of the Imperial functionaries from Coruscant first.

    If Palpatine truly did let everything proceed as foreseen, he probably ought to have let Tarkin try a coup!
  13. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Well, on the other hand -- Vader only has those credible rivals because they are given significant power by the Emperor's favor. Without the Emperor there to elevate them into a threat/rival for Vader, they'd not stand a chance.

    ugh, don't get me started on how much I hate the Sithification of the Empire, and particularly the notion that the public would be remotely aware of Palpatine's powers. As far as everyone aside from Bail Organa, Yoda, and Kenobi, nobody outside of the Empire's top echelons (and even this group I limit to perhaps the Force-sensitives among the Inquisitors, or the Inner Circle of Palpatine's Advisors) should know -- publically, Vader was the Dark Lord of the Sith.
  14. Reveen Jedi Grand Master

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    I'm pretty sure if Tarkin tried threatening to nuke Coruscant the entire Empire would just dogpile his ass, including the crew of the Death Star.

    Though I suppose the thing could be used in a false flag operation. Blow up the Emperor and pin it on Vader, take power and promise to take him down.
  15. Valin__Kenobi Author: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Praji

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    Right but isn't the Emperor's favor what we were measuring by? Of course in terms of killing power or piloting ability or anything else, Vader would mow down any rivals. The fact that Palpatine notices these others enough to bother to elevate them is itself a sign of their "progress." The thing they're competing for is the same thing they keep score by.

    In the earlier conception, at least as far as the Court knew, Vader was Number One only because he was the most useful to the Emperor. People like Jade and Xizor figured that it they proved themselves more useful, they could expect to supplant Vader. Whether Palpatine would genuinely have replaced Vader was doubtful even back then--and yokels like Kinman Doriana obviously had overblown notions of their importance--but even if not, without Vader feeling there was a legitimate chance, albeit a minute one, then it wouldn't have worked.

    Now, of course, the whole thing has been cheapened to Vader knowing he's indispensable and Palpatine just pulling strings for his own amusement, and I think that's a waste.
  16. Ghost Chosen One

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    Very interesting!

    I wonder if that's another reason why Palpatine put Vader on the Death Star in the first place, to make sure Tarkin didn't try anything?

    Also, maybe Palpatine created the flaw in the Death Star on purpose, in case Tarkin did rebel? Vader seemed to know that the rebels would attack with small fighters, and he want out to meet them himself in one...
  17. Valin__Kenobi Author: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Praji

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    That's the conclusion that's been reached, and it makes sense with everything since, but if you look strictly at what's onscreen in ANH, as @jasonfry pointed out in the endnotes, that's probably not what was intended in 1977.
  18. LivingJediDream Jedi Grand Master

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    In 1977, Vader and Tarkin were controlling the Emperor, along with other guys, and the Emperor was a puppet. The novelization even implies that the Emperor wasn't necessarily the first Emperor, but the latest in a long line of "barracks emperors" since Palpatine instituted the Empire at the behest of people like Vader and Tarkin.
    Last edited by LivingJediDream, Jul 14, 2013
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  19. Valin__Kenobi Author: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Praji

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    Interesting aside from the OT Visual Dictionary. It's the lead paragraph of the Vader spread:

    Even in 1998 it felt oddly dated--harkening back to somewhere pre-ESB to be honest. And that it says nothing whatsoever of his Jedi origins is a weakness, so we could assume it's Imperial propaganda by and for those who had no idea of the true story, although even in the Dark Times stuff it's public knowledge that Vader was a former Jedi so who knows.

    But to me it has always been a tantalizing description. It repeatedly emphasizes Vader's role as a military commander and his rise in that hierarchy, treating his Force abilities as a side benefit, rather than the whole reason for his ascent as in ROTS. It doesn't make Vader and the Emperor inseparable from Day One. It calls back to the Tarkin-Vader dynamic in ANH and hints at a vast backstory between the two of them that is seen nowhere else before or since. (Who wouldn't want to see an Infinities where Skywalker is a suit-locked former hotshot with Force powers he can barely control, written off by everyone, and Tarkin comes across him as a TIE pilot somewhere and takes him under his wing before finally introducing him to his good friend Chancellor Palpatine....)
    Last edited by Valin__Kenobi, Jul 14, 2013
  20. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    If only this were a topic the EU had weighed in on repeatedly . . .

    The radio dramas feature a subplot in which Motti attempts to goad Tarkin into using the power of the Death Star in a coup. Tarkin generally ignores Motti but appears vaguely, if noncommittally, receptive by the end of it. Various early EU reference sources ran with this to suggest that a power-hungry Tarkin was interested in a coup against Palpatine, but I don't believe that anything established that he was actively planning one. Death Star, the novel, has the most rational take on the matter -- Tarkin was idly interested in the possibility of a coup, realizing the potential power the Death Star offered, but he was smart enough to realize that Palpatine would never have entrusted him with such a powerful tool without having a backup plan, thus it would be foolish to actually attempt a coup. So he was tempted, but he had no actual intent to do so, because he was actually intelligent and dangerous rather than cartoonishly power-mad.
  21. Kay Suhyun Jedi Knight

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    Were there any force users who liked or supported him?

    If you wan't do do a coup you better make sure you have top bodyguards cause Kir Kanos or Mara Jade will cut you down.
  22. AdmiralWesJanson Force Ghost

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    I think that if Tarkin tried, there would have been plenty of agents besides just Vader to stop him. It seems like an ideal job for one of the Emperor's Hands, as a watchdog over something so powerful. Have Vader as the public symbol of the Emperor's Watch, and have a Hand or three wandering around as say aides to people like Yularen. If a basic Star Destroyer has backdoor access built in for the Emperor and his agents, the Death Star most certainly does.

    Tarkin would also have problems with the basic crew. Alderaan was considered a Rebel target, and still caused a lot of dissension, to the point that Graneet was trying to stall for time before firing when attacking Yavin, a confirmed military target with no civilians. He probably would have mutinied or worse if ordered to destroy Coruscant, capital of the galaxy and home to trillions of civilians.
  23. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    There's also that there's a significant portion of the 501st on board...really, really doubt it's a coincidence that the Order 66 guys are onboard the greatest potential threat to Palpatine's rule since the Jedi were still a thing. All it'd take is a holo call and Tarkin and any other traitors would be pretty dead, I'd say. :p
  24. CeiranHarmony Force Ghost

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    stormtroopers? they can't hit a thing... Tarkin would have nothing to worry from them!
  25. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

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    Tarkin isn't Luke or Leia :p
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