Hello everyone. In this thread, I want to discuss level nine of the phantom menace game titled Coruscant. This level has always intrigued me because, though it did not appear to be in the movie, the events that take place within the level make quite a bit of sense given the context of the film and the events in the film both before and after when this level took place. To be a bit clearer, I have always felt that the kidnapping of the queen upon her arrival on Coruscant might have been a very feasible occurrence, had it happened in the movie, because of the antagonists’, such as Darth Sidious and the Trade Federation, motives at the time. And I have also always wondered on the identity of the unrevealed client who ordered the mercenaries to attack the queen, and his reasons for ordering such an attack. In the film, many antagonists can be speculated to have been greatly benefitted by the queen’s capture, and possible demise, and I’ll elaborate how they could have prospered below. I’ll also analyze all the events in this level and, in doing so, explain why I believe that the events in the level fit with the rest of the scenes that the movie depicted and how, in many ways, they add significant insight to the beautiful, highly enjoyable, and very sophisticated and complex film known as The Phantom Menace.
As with all the levels in this extremely fun game, Coruscant offers many paths for the player to embark on as well as a spate of interesting information, regardless of the fact that this level did not have a complementary depiction in the actual film. The level begins with the Queen and Captain Panaka, and the Jedi and Anakin, parting ways before an Coruscant guard/official escorts the Queen to her air taxi. And as I’m sure many of you remember, the characters run into an immediate setback when a hovercannon destroys the ship and the guard who was tasked with escorting you (fun fact: it is possible to save this guard though it will not reap you any benefits as he will remain motionless after reaching the spot where he should have been shot down). Mere moments later, a floating platform operated by a droid connects to the far side of the platform and three thugs disembark from the platform and begin shooting you. But if you, the player, chooses to restrain your kick-ass, shoot-em-thugs-down inclinations for a second, you may hear one of the thugs drop a very interesting line:
Thug 1: (Referring to the Queen) “Don’t kill her. We need her alive!”
Very interesting and informative line indeed that immediately indicates two things: that the thugs need to take her alive and, more importantly, that the person who originally hired these kidnappers wanted the Queen alive. But before we discuss the game any further, let’s discuss the film’s characters and who, in the film, would have reasons in wanting to kidnap the Queen upon her arrival on Coruscant. As the film offers three main overarching antagonists—Darth Maul, Darth Sidious, and the Trade Federation—we have our three suspects so let’s address each of their positions and incentives at this juncture in the film (it’s important to note here that I am only drawing upon the film and all other sources are deemed untrustworthy and irrelevant in this discussion):
Darth Maul: Darth Maul was ordered to hunt the Queen down on Tattooine and bring her back to Naboo to sign the treaty. To do so, he also had to eliminate her main protectors, namely the Jedi, which he failed to do so, leading to the Queen’s successful arrival on Coruscant to detail the Trade Federation’s actions on Naboo. But though he failed to stop the Queen’s departure from Tattooine, his orders from Darth Sidious are still standing and he presumably still wants to complete his mission before his master must deal with the situation caused by his failure, i.e. his master being forced to speak to the Queen face to face. Yet Darth Maul as the person who paid thugs on Coruscant to capture the Queen seems unlikely for many reasons. Firstly, he is still likely stuck either on Tattooine or somewhere in interspace after his failed attempt to capture the Queen, and is thus not in a position where he can call up mercenaries on Coruscant to capture the Queen. Secondly, wherever he might be, he has likely realized that, with himself out of the way, it’s almost certain that the Queen will remain unimpeded upon her remaining journey to Coruscant, and that any chances for him to fulfill his current mission, at this point, are practically zero. There are plenty of other reasons as well that make Darth Maul unlikely among the film’s antagonists to have placed the kidnapping order so let’s turn to the other two antagonists who could have been the instigator of the attacks on the Queen on Coruscant.
Trade Federation: The Trade Federation has wanted the Queen in their grasp for the middle portion of the film but not because of their own initiative, but because of what Darth Sidious wants. Furthermore, they seem to have handed all the reigns in the mission to hunt down the Queen to Darth Maul as they do not provide any direct effort or aid in tracking down the Queen on Tattooine in the film. Moreover, they may not even be aware of the current situation regarding the queen: that the Queen has evaded Darth Maul as well and is on pace to arrive on Coruscant. All of these reasons make it unlikely for the Trade Federation to be behind the kidnapping attempt on the Queen as well.
Darth Sidious/Palpatine: This leaves us to Sidious who I believe is the identity of the unknown person behind the kidnapping attempt on the Queen. Now I know that may seem odd to many of you who recall that, in the movie, Palpatine was in fact greatly benefitted by having an alive and unharmed Amidala push for a vote of no confidence in Valorum and, as a result, be able to put himself on the ballot for next Supreme Chancellor. But one must remember that Palpatine’s maneuver to press Amidala to call for a vote of no confidence was actually a tremendous improvisation to his plans: Palpatine always wanted Amidala to remain on Naboo to sign the treaty until she showed up on Naboo, having overcome all the obstacles Palpatine had put before her (such as Darth Maul), and he had no choice but to think of a way to turn her unforeseen arrival in a way that would further his plans. Palpatine’s idea of using the Queen’s arrival to his own advantages was literally thought of on the spot, and it can thus be argued that up until the actual in person meeting with the Queen, Palpatine was truly striving for the Queen’s death/absence. The films, therefore, allow the notion that Palpatine’s wish for the Queen’s demise, up until their face to face meeting, to be quite plausible. It is also important to note that, unlike the other antagonists, one can infer that Palpatine knows the exact landing coordinates of the Queen’s ship on Coruscant as he is the one that the Queen’s party aims to meet and will have likely been contacted by. Palpatine’s knowledge of the Queen’s exact landing dock, the designated place in which the Queen would like to rendezvous with him, and his own hopes of ensuring that an actual encounter between himself and the Queen is prevented can all be derived or easily inferred from the film’s events and ultimately fit in very well with the events of the Coruscant level of the game.
The game itself harbors many clues that expand upon the theory that Palpatine is truly the unrevealed person who ordered Coruscant mercenaries and thugs to capture the Queen. As mentioned earlier, the first scene in the level where thugs and a hovercannon are poised to “greet” you and nab the Queen, implies a crucial fact: the thugs knew where the Queen’s ship would land and where they could kidnap the queen. As such, the thugs had to be provided coordinates by someone, and there is only one person who in all probabilities would be able to provide such information: the person whom the Queen had planned in meeting, Palpatine. Furthermore, it’s important to note that the thugs’ plans changed throughout the level. Initially, the thugs and the Coruscant mercenary decided to take the Queen captive, rather than outright kill her: in fact, the player rescues the Queen in a cell in the bowels of Coruscant where she is being held hostage by a single Rodian thug, and if the aim of the thugs was to truly kill her, they could have killed her at any point in the underground levels of Coruscant. But they chose not to kill her. However, we can see that the Coruscant mercenary has changed his plans when the player engages him after passing through the Coruscant security gate (Coruscant has lovely sunsets…) where he shouts at Panaka and the Queen:
Coruscant Mercenary: “You’ll never get out of here alive!”
This line has a diametrically different meaning than the lines of the thugs in the beginning of the film: the lines in the beginning had indicated that the thugs were ordered to capture her yet keep her alive. The sudden shift in the goals of the Coruscant mercenary indicates that his employer, whoever hired him that is, has now contacted him to eliminate the Queen instead: the new orders given to him can be inferred to have taken place between the time Panaka rescued the Queen and the time in which he engaged the Coruscant mercenary, as the Rodian clearly had not been notified of the change in orders yet since the player confronts him simply guarding his hostage.
But why is this sudden, quick change in the thugs’ objectives important? Well, it implies that the person who hired the thugs and supplied the change in orders to kill the Queen is very close by to the location of the level and in a position to have quick contact with his hired thugs, as not much time passed between Panaka’s rescue of the Queen from her Rodian guard, to his confrontation with the Coruscant mercenary (this section of the level is quite brief). But there is another important piece of evidence: notice that as Panaka confronts the Coruscant Mercenary in the end of the level, the Coruscant mercenary approaches from the side of the elevator on the other side, signifying that he had to have come down from the elevator to meet them, the elevator being the only entrance to the room other than through the security gate which Panaka and the Queen come through. And as the player discovers, once he defeats the mercenary, the elevator only has one stop: directly stopping at a platform opposite to the Senate doors and where Palpatine has been “waiting.” It is later implied that Palpatine has been waiting in the same spot for a while as he says to the Queen at the end of the level “Your majesty, you’re quite late” indicating that he was supposed to meet her there. So if the Coruscant mercenary had to have come down the elevator from the platform that was directly across the Senate and where Palpatine was waiting, and would have clearly seen by Palpatine, then it further suggests that Palpatine was the person who was giving the orders to the mercenary. Also remember that the moving platform that takes the Queen and Panaka across the platform with the elevator to the platform with Palpatine was situated on the side of the platform with the elevator. This means that, before Panaka and the Queen used the moving platform to get across, someone had to have brought the moving platform from Palpatine’s side to the elevator’s side, which again points to the Coruscant mercenary and how he contacted Palpatine, likely in person, where he was ordered to kill the Queen before taking the moving platform to the elevator, using it to arrive at its one stop at the underground level of Coruscant to try to kill the Queen and Panaka. And, as a less concrete piece of evidence, note how Palpatine speaks his line in the game “Your Majesty, you’re quite late. I was worried.” When he says “I was worried,” his voice becomes silken, indicating that he is disingenuous when stating that he “was worried” and truly didn’t want the Queen to finally meet up with him.
So I’ll recap by providing a chronology of my theory on the thugs/Coruscant mercenary operations in the level.
-Palpatine, being the person who the Queen intends to meet, is likely the only person aware of the exact landing coordinates of where the Queen’s ship lands and of the Queen’s arrival on Coruscant.
-Palpatine, either because he is not sure of what to do with the Queen at the moment (the idea of using her to get a sympathy vote has not come to his mind yet) and simply wants her out of the way or wants her secretly captured and transported back to Naboo before her presence on Coruscant is made aware to others, decides to hire a Coruscant mercenary to merely capture her—“Don’t kill her, we need her alive”—and provides the coordinates of where the Queen lands to the mercenary.
-The Coruscant mercenary orders his own underlings, common thugs, to capture the Queen on the landing dock of the Queen’s ship but fail to do so due to Panaka being a badass.
-As his minions fail to capture the Queen time and time again, the Coruscant mercenary accompanies a few of his thugs to capture the Queen, an attempt that is successful because Panaka is unfortunately occupied with slugging crates and pressing buttons to help devise a way for the Queen to cross (I’m not jumping down there!/More hovercannons will be coming!/They’ll be back soon!...)
-While Panaka hurries to save the Queen, and gets harassed by countless panhandlers in the underground districts of Coruscant, the Coruscant mercenary drops the Queen in an underground cell with one of his Rodian thugs to guard her. He then personally contacts his employer, Palpatine, by going through the security gate, and riding up the elevator where he meets up with him and asks him what to do with the Queen now that he has captured her.
-Palpatine apparently decides that the Queen is better off dead (Qui Gon had previously sensed in the film that the Trade Federation would destroy the Queen in due time) and orders the Coruscant mercenary to forget about keeping the Queen alive and just eliminate her.
-While the Coruscant mercenary is getting his directives from Palpatine, unbeknownst to either of them, Panaka has managed to find the Queen and rescue her from her imprisonment in the cell with the Rodian guard. Panaka continues to make his way back up to the surface, having learned of the passcode to the security gate (Coruscant has lovely sunsets), with the Queen now safe under his protection.
-The Coruscant mercenary, having received his new orders from Palpatine, now takes the platform across to the platform with the elevator, and rides down the elevator to navigate his way back to the Queen to kill her. Very likely coming as a shock to him, the Coruscant mercenary stumbles upon a freed Queen with her guard Panaka coming through the security gate on the other side. However, he doesn’t really care as his orders now are to just eliminate the Queen and shouts “You’ll never get out of here alive” before battling Panaka.
-Panaka comes out on top, kills the mercenary, and travels up the elevator that the mercenary had just come down through, and takes the platform that, unknown to him, the mercenary had brought over, all the way to in front of the Senate doors where Palpatine is secretly quite peeved and bewildered at the Queen’s survival. At this point, he uses his brilliance to think of a way to use the Queen to her advantage, via getting her to be the final outcry against Chancellor Valorum’s leadership.
This theory not only explains the mystery of the Coruscant level, i.e. the unrevealed client who orders the thugs to capture the Queen, but ties in very nicely with the movie which shows how Palpatine is ardent about getting the Queen out of picture/back to Naboo to sign the treaty until the last third of the movie. The events in the level of this game can be interpreted with such consistency with the antagonists’ motives in the movies that I cannot help wonder if such a scene was at one point considered in the actual script, or if the idea of such a level was conveyed by someone in Lucasfilm. But my explanation for the events in the game’s level and of the thugs/Coruscant mercenary’s motives is only a theory, and I look forward in hearing what you guys think about my ideas and about the unexplained parts of the level.