Hello everyone and welcome back to The Sarlacc Pit! This week I am going to do a more in-depth discussion on the Rule of Two, the first and only rule of the Sith. I have discussed this a little in past posts, but I am going to attempt to go into more detail here. Current canon is lacking a bit on specifics, so this post may be a little shorter than most. The content for this post comes mostly from the final story arc of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” that aired and is currently on Netflix. Other information comes from “Star Wars: Rebels,” Lords of the Sith, and the prequel trilogy.
I’ll start this post by giving as much background on the origins of the Sith as possible. Originally founded by rogue Jedi during the Hundred-Years Darkness (thousands of years before the Clone Wars), the Sith Order sought knowledge and power through use of the dark side of the Force. The Sith built an empire originating from their traditional world of Moraband. At one point they built a shrine on Coruscant, which the Jedi eventually built their temple over. The Sith enslaved countless beings across the galaxy and were known for building large superweapons using kyber crystals (which also give power to lightsabers). They fought countless wars with the Jedi, and their quest for power led to a lot of infighting as well. Eventually Moraband became inhospitable due to so many wars.
*Legends Canon Note*: In Legends canon, the Sith were originally a species from Moraband strong in the dark side of the Force. A group of rogue Jedi were exiled to this planet, where they learned more about the power of the dark side, and eventually destroyed the species of Sith, taking on their name and titles (Darth, meaning lord) out of respect. The fact that the Sith were a species before just the name of dark side users has yet to be confirmed in new canon, but it’s an interesting note.
The Origins and Purpose of the Rule of Two
“Always two there are; no more, no less. A master and an apprentice.” –Yoda, “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace”
With the Sith dwindling and their home world destroyed, one Sith, Darth Bane, determined that the best way for the Sith to achieve their goal of ultimate power was to work in secret. He declared that only two Sith could exist at one time: one the master, and the other the apprentice. Bane decided that more than two would cause the power struggles and infighting that almost destroyed them. In secret, the master would train the apprentice in the ways of the dark side until the apprentice was either strong enough or clever enough to kill his master. At the time of the master’s death at the hands of the apprentice, the apprentice would inherit the master’s wealth and influence that he had accumulated, as well as the position of Sith master. The new master would then take an apprentice of his own, giving the apprentice a cool new Sith name as well as the title of Darth, and the cycle would continue. This would lead to a growing accumulation of wealth, influence, and strength along the Sith line until eventually one would rise that would be strong enough to take down the Jedi. However, as the apprentice was expected to one day grow strong enough to kill the master, this did not mean that the master simply accepted this, and it was not uncommon for a master to attempt to keep the apprentice weak or to even kill the apprentice before it got too strong.
Darth Bane’s plan worked. After the wars between the Jedi and Sith ended, the Jedi believed that the Sith had gone extinct. The Sith were able to hide so well due to the dark side’s tendency to cloud the clairvoyance of the Jedi, as well as their ability to hide their presence in the Force. Through the years the lack of true rivals in the Force added to the Jedi’s complacency while in the meantime, the power of the Sith grew.
Exceptions to the Rule of Two
While the Sith were becoming more and more powerful, there are many instances where two people is simply not enough, especially in the case of Darth Sidious, where it is imperative to keep your identity secret. As such, there are numerous examples of either the master or the apprentice training dark side initiates to be used as assassins. This includes Asajj Ventress, who Darth Tyranus trained to be a dark side assassin during the Clone Wars, and the Inquisitorius, Inquisitors who Darth Sidious used to hunt down the remaining Jedi after Order 66. Often, these assassins expected to become apprentices once the current apprentice killed the current master, however in the case of the above examples that never worked out.
Challenges to the Rule of Two
As I mentioned in my post on Sheev Palpatine, challenges to the role of Sith Lord was expected to be dealt with harshly, which is one of the reasons the Rule of Two was necessary. During the Clone Wars, Darth Maul returned with an apprentice of his own, claiming to be the true Sith lord. Darth Sidious immediately answered, with the killing of Maul’s apprentice and the capture of Maul himself. It appears that Darth Bane was right about two being the maximum operating number of Sith lords.
The Sith Victorious and Their Legacy
The Rule of Two seemed to work well for the Sith. With the Clone Wars engineered by a Sith master and the total destruction of the Jedi Order by Order 66, Darth Sidious and his apprentice Darth Vader emerged as the culmination of centuries of Sith subterfuge. While Sidious seemed willing to train his apprentice (albeit slowly and relatively ineffectively), the loss of his wife and unborn child seemed to leave Darth Vader content to work and exist under the thumb of his master. This continued until the discovery that his son, Luke Skywalker, was alive and in “Return of the Jedi,” the apprentice finally killed the master. However, this effort also killed Vader, seemingly putting an end to the Sith rule of the galaxy as well as the Rule of Two…
While very little is known of Supreme Leader Snoke from “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens,” his relationship with Kylo Ren was very reminiscent of the Sith master/apprentice concept. Also, with his ability to feel changes in the Force, it can be assumed that Snoke was actually a Sith, or at least somehow Force sensitive. While Ren seems to not have totally given in to the dark side at this point, time will only tell how the Rule of Two will live on.
That’s all for this week, I know it’s a good bit shorter than most of my posts, but after the canon reset there simply is a lack of content when it comes to the Rule of Two. However, as more content does come out I expect I will have to either edit this post or create a new one to stay current. That’s the beauty of the Star Wars franchise, it almost never runs out of content. Now that we’ve discussed both the Jedi and the Sith, next week I want to discuss something they share: the lightsaber. I will discuss the history of these weapons, as well as their construction and uses. Thanks for reading, and may the Force be with you!