Below is a guest article from long time Star Wars fan and all around rad dude, Paul “P-Thug” Hermann
When Heir To The Empire was released many thought that story, and the EU that followed, were all a part of George Lucas’ “Official Star Wars canon.” Sadly, after MANY years and waaaaaaaaay too many books/comics, etc. for me to keep track of, in April of this year all had been deemed “Legends” and not a part of the official Star Wars universe. The byproduct of this “retcon” would now in turn make EVERYTHING canon going forward. Meaning, when something is mentioned, whatever it might be, it could have bigger implications than we realize in existing and future stories.
Recently, the second novel of official Star Wars canon was released, called Tarkin. In it could contain crucial elements that tie directly to The Force Awakens. How could the Sith make a comeback after Darth Vader destroyed the last remaining Sith Lord in Return of the Jedi? Does it line up with any other rumors pertaining to the upcoming film?
BEWARE SPOILERS FOR THE NOVEL TARKIN, CLONE WARS: LOST MISSIONS AND POTENTIAL ONES FOR THE FORCE AWAKENS IF YOU WANT TO STAY 100% PURE! (I envy you).
When I was reading Tarkin, I was pleasantly surprised how much Palpatine was featured in the book. In the novel we are shown that he has taken residence in the Jedi Temple. Obviously, one would assume he would shack up there simply to give a middle finger to the Light Side of the Force and the rest of the galaxy, but we are given information that I never knew before. In chapter 9, it’s revealed that the Jedi Temple has been built over an ancient Sith shrine, a small rock cave on Coruscant. Darth Sidious hangs out in said shrine working on Dark Side things on the reg. It’s revealed that the Jedi thought the power of the shrine had been “neutralized and capped,” with the temple being built over it. Instead “that power had seeped upward and outward since it’s entombment, infiltrating the hallways and rooms above.”
Wow. I was floored when I read this. This Sith shrine is so powerful that the Jedi built their headquarters over it to depower it. Instead, it helped their eventual demise. That led me to the understanding that the Dark Side can dwell (for a lack of a better word) in physical objects/places and affect those around it, and still be considered a powerful threat and influence to the people around it.
Later on, it would come to my attention that we may have seen a Sith shrine already in the Star Wars saga…
The “Dark Side Cave” on Dagobah!
For many years fans have wondered what the cave on Dagobah was/is. We all knew that Dark Side dwelled in the cave, but why? From the Clone Wars season six episode “Voices,” Qui-Gon describes the planet as “one of the purest places in the galaxy.” Maybe the Sith came to Dagobah to try and corrupt it because of its purity? It would make sense that the Sith would want to counter that balance of power in the planet itself. I’m guessing the cave was made in the same way as the one on Coruscant. The “Dark Side Cave” certainly is man-made, and has Dark Side powers from the scenes in which Clone Wars: Lost Missions episodes and Empire Strikes Back take place. One takeaway I noticed from those scenes is each time Yoda and Luke go into the cave, they go into it alone for a reason. Qui-Gon’s spirit tells Yoda to go down in the cave and doesn’t accompany him. Yoda is so physically drained after he leaves the cave it knocks him out. It took a bit out of him. Qui-Gon couldn’t go down there, I’m assuming, because his Light Side spirit would be nullified due to the strength of the Dark Side/Shrine. When Luke walks into the cave, Yoda does the same thing and stays behind. It seems likely it could have killed him.
Another example of what COULD be a Sith Shrine is the last episode of The Clone Wars: Lost Missions, “Sacrifice”.
The Force Priestesses tell Yoda to walk into a chamber on Moraband, where they have no control and cannot enter. They explain to Yoda that it is a place where the Sith would sacrifice Jedi, and is filled with “absolute darkness.” They also claim to have “no control” in this Sith Chamber. I think this “Chamber” could easily be some form of Sith Shrine, where the Dark Side power is too powerful to withstand for many Jedi.
It makes sense for the Jedi to build their temple over the Sith Shrine on Coruscant, judging how Qui-Gon, Yoda, and The Force Priestesses treat them. It seems obvious that the Sith Shrine is too powerful for them to enter without it affecting them somehow. Otherwise, the Jedi would have just destroyed it instead of building over it. It’s probably why the “Dark Side Cave” on Dagobah hasn’t been destroyed already, or later by Yoda when he ends up living not-too-far from it after Revenge Of The Sith.
I think the biggest question to answer is what the Sith Shrine revelation could mean for The Force Awakens.
Obviously the Sith have been destroyed after Darth Vader threw the Emperor into a Death Star vent, so if we are all assuming that the new Dark Side threat in The Force Awakens is some sort of Sith, then how did he/she get find the ways of such a dark path? Is that new broad saber an old Sith relic found in a Sith Shrine? I’m getting the feeling that Sith Shrines were introduced into Tarkin because they will play a role in the upcoming Sequel Trilogy. How? I have no idea. Judging from the teaser trailer and other leaks/rumors that are out there, it appears that there might indeed be two Sith/Dark Side villains running amok in the galaxy. My guess is that one of the hideouts that one will use just might end up being a Sith Shrine of some sort where he/she will do lots of nasty things like Sheev Palpatine does between ROTS and ANH.
For further reading, Brian has written a cool article here at the EU Cantina on Sith shrines and Tarkin!