Character: Wilhuff Tarkin

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Throughout the Original Trilogy, imperial officers cower before Darth Vader, fearing sudden execution if they fail him. Admirals, including the arrogant Motti and the foolish Ozzel, are not beyond the reach of his force choke. All are expendable before Vader.

One Imperial leader is an exception to this rule. When George Lucas conceptualized Vader as a masked villain, he decided he needed a strong human villain to complement Vader. Tarkin.

Not only is the imperial official completely comfortable around the fallen Jedi, but he gives Vader orders, and Vader obeys. Moreover, Tarkin refers to Vader as his friend, implying a rich personal history between the two of them.

The respect between them shows in their willingness to apply one another’s ideas. Vader cannot get data from Leia with a torture droid, so he defers to Tarkin to get it by threatening to blow up Alderaan (even though Vader doesn't think it will work). Tarkin lets Vader persuade him to let the Millenium Falcon go, so that a tracking device can lead them to the Rebel base on a moon of Yavin IV. They defer to one another's wisdom.

Tarkin is also fascinating for lacking an affinity to the force, while still embodying the cold ruthlessness and competency of the Galactic Empire. With leaders like him, we can imagine how a strong Empire could be born and thrive. He is decisive and blunt, hates pointless squabbling and demands that subordinates focus on the task at hand.

While referred to only as a Governor, Tarkin is more than a politican. He wears a military uniform, and as the chief administrator of the Death Star, he clearly possesses a military background. As a strategist, Tarkin prefers to employ "psych ops," making horrifying demonstrations of power to persuade his enemies that resistance is not worth the consequences. Fear is to keep opponents in line. When fear does not succeed in doing so, such as is the case with Princess Leia not divulging the location of the rebel base, Tarkin is genuinely bewildered, finding such behavior irrational.

Given Tarkin's importance to A New Hope and his relationship with Vader, it is disappointing that Tarkin only makes a brief cameo appearance in the official prequels. We won't make that mistake. As seen in this past week's chapter, we establish Tarkin as a character early on in helping arrange the SKYE rescue operation with Trajan and Kenobi. We try to highlight his wit, his fear tactics, and criticism of the Jedi. Tarkin will appear throughout our stories, where we hope to not only explore and showcase his personality, but develop his relationship with Anakin Skywalker.

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