Anakin Skywalker’s mother Shmi dying in Attack of the Clones was a big leap for the Chosen One towards the dark side, but did this occur in favor of Palpatine by mere chance, or did he have a hand in her killing?
After all, it wouldn’t be the only time in Star Wars that Sidious manipulated Anakin through someone he loved. And if there is one thing we know with absolute certainty at this point, it’s that the evil Emperor always had several contingency plans in case his attempts to overthrow the Republic fell through.
Interestingly enough, when George Lucas was writing the script for Revenge of the Sith, he played around with the idea of representing the Sith Lord as the one responsible for Shmi’s death. As ScreenRant explains:
In one early scene, Anakin confronts Count Dooku, and is goaded into killing his prisoner by a watching Palpatine. It was presented as a key moment in Anakin’s fall to the dark side, with the future Emperor encouraging the Jedi into murdering a defeated foe. In one early draft, Palpatine pushed Anakin to do the deed by revealing Dooku had paid the Tusken Raiders to kidnap and kill Shmi.
The creator ultimately felt that this was too on-the-nose though, so he ultimately ditched the idea. But it still begs the question: was Palpatine taking advantage of the tragedy, or was he actually the one who engineered it in the first place?
The theory isn’t just random musing, either as there’s something very strange about the circumstances of Shmi Skywalker’s death. For one thing, Cliegg Lars claims that a hunting party came out of nowhere and took her away. What’s more, it’s already been established that the Lars Homestead is far from the Tusken hunting grounds. So, the group apparently strayed from their usual territory. Besides, it seems like an awfully big coincidence that Anakin arrived just in time to hold his mother as she passed away.
Unfortunately, the Star Wars canon doesn’t have a definitive answer to this question. But when you think about it, Palpatine had to somehow set up Anakin’s obsession with losing someone he loves, something that fuelled his fall from the light side through Padme in Episode III.