Empire Minute 24: The Choking Bit

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Vader's egg.jpg


February 13th, 2014


Piett steps forward, as the admiral moves away, slightly confused, touching his throat as it begins to constrict painfully.


Damon Ciarelli



  • Starts with General Veers explaining Admiral Ozzel's tactics to Darth Vader in his egg.
  • Ends with Leia explaining the rebel's tactics to the rebels (in their egg - or base).
  • The first time that Vader chokes someone to death.
  • Gonk droid, K-3PO, Cliff Clavin (played by John Ratzenberger) and the Deck Officer are seen.


  • Coming out of light speed further away would give the rebels more time to notice the fleet.
  • An alternate approach is to come out of light speed on the other side of the planet and then slowly travel around the planet as a countdown runs on when you'll be able to attack your target (as seen in Star Wars). This is the conventional or text book attack strategy for the Empire. Darth Vader would have definitely preferred this.
  • The rebels must have energy sensors that detect a spaceship coming out of light speed nearby but don't detect a spaceship slowly sneaking up on the them.
  • If the Empire used their standard approach of sneaking up on the base as described above, what would their strategy have been? Deploy their forces without the rebels ever knowing; nuke the base or power generator from orbit?
  • Or was this whole hyperspace thing just an excuse for Darth Vader to get rid of Ozzel - given that "he's as clumsy as he is stupid"?
  • The nature of the relationship between General Veers and Admiral Ozzel. They are definitely rivals.
  • Veers has probably had it easier with Vader than Ozzel given the Veers is in charge of ground troops which are only deployed from time-to-time; Ozzel is in charge of the Starfleet which is always involved in the action.
  • Veers may have talked Ozzel into coming out of hyperspace too close to the rebel base so that Vader would get rid of Ozzel.

Vader chokes a guy

Practice socially distant Force choking.png
  • Vader uses 'remote choke' over the internet in this scene. Does Vader have to at least see someone before he can choke them or can he choke anyone he wants to? Also, does he accidentally choke people while he's asleep and just dreaming about doing it?
  • Piett ignores Ozzel choking - is this always the case in the Star Wars universe? If you see someone choking then do you just assume that Darth Vader is doing it?
  • Darth Vader has clearly taken control of the Empire following the Battle of Yavin and has declared himself to be the Super Grand Moff.
  • Ozzel doesn't get to finish his sentence "..and are preparing to...". What were they planning to do? Deploy the army; shoot lasers at the rebels;
  • Admiral Ozzel as a secret rebel agent for coming out of lightspeed too close to the system.
  • Captain Piett is not particularly enthusiastic about anything that is happening, including his promotion. He knows that every step up the Imperial corporate ladder is another step closer to being forced choked.
  • The Imperial promotion system is shown in this scene. it's very quick and Vader seems to have absolute power to promote people. Also, there's no paperwork or discussion of benefits involved in the promotion.
  • Piett's position is different to Spock's in Star Trek. Spock has a safety net of not being in charge so he can throw out all sorts of ideas and still be the golden boy while Ozzel / Piett take the blame for everything. Piett was probably comfortable being second-in-command.
  • Referenced: Star Trek.
  • Vader must have planned on killing Ozzel from the start because he's got him on speed dial and contacts him as soon as someone else (Veers) points out something significant that Ozzel has done wrong.
  • Killing someone in front of their subordinate and then promoting that subordinate into the position was something that Vader had always wanted to do. He had probably been working on making it happen for some time.
  • Tarkin stopped Vader from choking a guy in Star Wars but now Vader can choke whomever he wants whenever he wants. Vader has generated a culture of fear within the Empire's management and this may explain some of the Imperial Officer's actions and decisions.
  • The actors playing Ozzel and Piett do a great job in this scene. The Comms Officer glances back (and at the camera) as Ozzel chokes - it may be his first day.
  • What Imperial staff are told on their first day:
    • Vader chokes a lot of guys.
    • If your boss gets choked then don't look.
    • If you see someone around you choking for no reason then do not move to help them as they are being force choked.
    • Someone being choked probably means a promotion for you; Piett was a Stormtrooper less than four days ago and has moved up the ladder as Vader chokes his bosses.
    • Just keep your mouth shut.
  • The fact that Imperial Officers keep getting promoted and then choked may explain why a) they are so confident and b) they have no experience in any of their roles. They are moved up the line too quickly.
  • If Piett protested Ozzel's choking would Vader have started choking him as well? The "double choke". How many people could Vader choke at the same time? Damon asks if hands are important in the choking process. Pete mentions an early script of Star Wars in which Obi-Wan chokes a whole room of Imperial Officers all at the same time as he tries to "sneak" over to the tractor beam controls or the Millennium Falcon (discussed in SWM 83).

General Discussion

  • Return of the DJ Death Squad Commander in the background. Piett motions to him to collect and move Ozzel's body and, presumably, place it on the pile of other dead Imperial Officers that Vader has choked. In regards to this pile:
    • When you see it as an Imperial Officer do you wonder how long it will be before you, too, end up on that pile?
    • It is assumed that the pile is jettisoned into space before they jump to lightspeed (as per their standard procedure).
  • Some rebels turn up late for the very important briefing from Princess Leia.
  • Is Princess Leia still a Princess at this stage?
    • Her planet has been destroyed.
    • Should could be Queen or General Leia.
    • For her to be Queen it has to be assumed that the actual Queen was killed on Alderaan - which is not automatically the case. Or perhaps Space Jimmy Smits remarried so there is another Queen.
    • Leia does have a claim to be Heir to the throne but there are probably lots of claims to this effect. Plus she doesn't haven't a bloodline connection to the throne; maybe she has a sister.
    • Leia also has a connection to the Throne of Naboo (see: the Prequels); although that is an elected position and many different Queens of Naboo have been shown.
    • Leia was also a Senator? She was on a "diplomatic mission" in Star Wars (without an Ambassador).
    • Perhaps Leia was just a traitor after all.
  • The Deck Officer is not in hell yet (as stated by Han Solo in a previous minute).
  • Vader orders Admiral Piett to make sure that nothing gets OFF the system; this indicates that Hoth the planet is "the system". More system confusion. There was probably a nomenclature consultant on the set whom they just ignored; or they dubbed over the correct lines in post production.

Meta Minute

  • 21:25 podcast episode length.
  • David Prowse's very still physical performance as Darth Vader in this scene (the choking bit) is amazing. The performance really reads with James Earl Jones' delivery of the lines.
  • Damon re-iterates that Michael Sheard does a great acting job in this scene - as he chokes he turns to be in profile and then slowly sinks down the screen.
  • Sheard was on a British TV show at the time and his agent told him that ESB was only two days of work but that he gets a really good death scene; this convinced Sheard to do it.
  • Sheard must have watched the Motti (played by Richard LaParmentier) choking scene in Star Wars for inspiration and then put his own spin on it. LaParmentier practised the choke for days before it was shot for Star Wars.
  • Damon was also on the podcast episode in which Motti's choking scene was discussed (SWM 39). Pete says that podcast guest Tim Kreider gets all the explosions and Damon gets the choking.
  • Alex imagines LaParmentier practising his choke acting in front of his wife around the kitchen table:
    • LaParmentier: "What do you think of this honey? Aarrgh-urgh."
    • LaParmentier's wife: "Well, it could be a little less phlegmy. A little less tongue hanging out."
  • Flash forward: In Episode VII, Leia is now referred to as General Organa.
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  • Damon: I'm Damon from www.bog.io.
  • Damon: As Darth Vader "Ah no, I choked the guy at the 7/11. It wasn't his fault; I feel so bad."
  • Alex: That's that romantic song, isn't it? Choking in Your Sleep.
  • Pete: The next time I'm in a restaurant and someone is choking I'll be like "Is Darth Vader angry at you? Or did you...oh, ok, no."
  • Alex: As Darth Vader talking to Piett following his promotion "Talk to HR; they will settle this for you."
  • Damon: As Vader to Piett (who is protesting Ozzel's choking) "Oh, you want to be choked also? I'll choke you at the same..." Pete: In a high-pitched voice as Vader "You want some of this? C'mon, who's next?" Damon: Still as Vader "I'll choke all of you..."
  • Damon: Obi-Wan really knows how to choke a room!
  • Damon: Pretending to gasp for air "All of a sudden I can't...I don't know what to do. <Gasp>."



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