Star Wars has revealed the first time Yoda sensed a hint of the Sith’s presence. Darth Sidious was an expert at hiding in plain sight. Where most Sith thrived in the shadows, he preferred to bring darkness into the last places anyone would expect it. As a result, Palpatine became a Republic Senator, and dared to cultivate close friendships with the Jedi.
In Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, he successfully schemed his way to becoming Supreme Chancellor. He met with the Jedi Council countless times over the next few years, and yet none of the Masters ever sensed anything untoward. This continued throughout the Clone Wars and into the final days of the Galactic Republic. When the truth was finally revealed in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, it was too late
E.K. Johnston’s latest Star Wars novel, Queen’s Peril, reveals the first moment Master Yoda sensed something was amiss. The bulk of the book is set immediately before the events of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, and in one key scene Mace Windu walks in on Yoda while he is meditating. The aged Jedi Master can sense a strange absence in the Force, which he can only describe as “nothing.” The book says, “The light surrounded him, the dark a comfortable distance from the limits of his perception. And yet there was something; rather, there was nothing. And it eluded him completely.”
Although Yoda doesn’t know it, he is sensing the concealment of the dark side embodied in Palpatine, the Dark Lord of the Sith. Yoda believes the dark side is a comfortable distance away, but in truth it is stalking the corridors of power in Coruscant, and will soon take command of the Republic. It is striking that Yoda is the only Jedi sensitive enough in the ways of the Force to recognize this. Indeed, Mace Windu – another member of the Jedi Council – is left bewildered at the conversation, and walks away considering this just a moment of eccentricity on Yoda’s part. The diminutive Jedi Master probably doesn’t help matters by taking this as an off-beat teaching moment.