Empire Minute 74: Down in the Pit

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Down in the pit.jpg


April 24th, 2014


Clutching desperately at his throat, Captain Needa slumps down, then falls over on his back, at the feet of Darth Vader. Two stormtroopers pick up the lifeless body and carry it quickly away as Admiral Piett and two of his captains hurry up to the Dark Lord.


Stuart Wellington



  • Starts with the sad death of Captain Needa; goes until we the see the Falcon riding on the back of the Star Destroyer while they are hiding out.


  • Vader waits until Needa is dead before saying his burn line. This is probably for the benefit of the nearby Death Squad Commanders.
    • Pete - Vader called a meeting so that all the other guys were there to see the choking. Like Robert De Niro in The Untouchables.
    • Stuart - Everybody else is just standing around and not looking directly at Needa; they are looking at their iPads (or Spacepads). This is an everyday occurrence for them.
    • Alex - Everyone knew that Needa was coming over from the Avenger and so made excuses to be around to see what happens.
    • They are all just happy that someone else is being choked and not them.
    • Needa probably saw the Death Squad Commanders and thought to himself "uh, oh".
    • Perhaps they disposed of his body by putting it down the trash chute for a dianoga.
    • Vader chokes Needa and then just gestures to the Death Squad Commanders. Removing dead bodies is clearly something they do all the time.
    • There is a crunchy choke noise - like at the beginning of Star Wars with Captain Antilles. Call out to Ben Burtt.
  • In the background of the choking scene there is a transporter pad or hologram platform.
    • It's probably not a transporter given that Needa traveled over in person in his shuttle.
    • Pete's working on understanding the layout of the interior of Star Destroyers.
    • This scene is on the bridge of the Executor. It is very open so maybe it is actually down in the pit.
    • The movie makers only had four different walls and just shuffled them around from scene to scene. Or this room is rarely used as it holds the new transporter technology.
    • Bad guys in sci-fi should try out their new tech on their prisoners / victims.
    • Perhaps choking is side effect of transporter technology.
  • Should Needa have apologized differently to Vader? Would this have made a difference?
    • e-card; bottle of wine or spirits; chocolates; fancy box of death sticks.
    • The shuttle pilot told Needa to take charge of the conversation with Vader and to not let him push Needa around. Like Bruno Kirby in This is Spinal Tap - ultimately very bad advice.
    • The pilot has flown lots of captains to their final meeting with Vader and had to fly back in an empty shuttle.
  • The Death Squad Commanders have "Vader-type" helmets.
    • In the Prequels (Sorry Pete) when Vader gets into his suit it is a modified Death Squad Commander outfit. He needed a hat so they just grabbed one of theirs and modified it.
    • Or it is a common base design because the Emperor wanted everything to match.
    • Look at the Stormtroopers - they're all the same and are in all white.
    • White is not the easiest to keep clean but it is a good way to see if the troops are disciplined.
  • Needa is clearly not dead when the Death Squad Commanders pick him up - the actor uses his feet to prop himself up.
    • Maybe Needa isn't dead and Vader was just scaring him.
    • This would mean that Needa did hear the burn.
    • Vader is probably going to choke Needa a few more times before he kills him.
    • There are three types of choking punishments dished out by Vader:
      • Choked to death Ozzel-style.
      • Choked (kept alive) and dropped down a rank.
      • Choked (kept alive) and keeps rank.
    • The quality of your apology is the key to which of these Vader chooses to use.
    • This is still important if you die as it determines the pension for your widow as part of the Emperor's salary / benefits package.
  • Piett bravely delivers more bad news to Vader immediately following the choking of Needa.
    • Piett also saw Ozzel die. Piett is Needa's immediate boss and keeps dodging bullets. Needa's failure should reflect on Piett as well.
    • However no-one ever steps in when someone is getting choked; that's just the Imperial way.
  • Things that Piett could have said to Vader at this moment.
  • There is a bond between Piett and Vader - Vader appears to have a soft spot for Piett.
    • The host are not sure why this is - it's a story worth telling.
    • Perhaps Piett helped out Anakin when he was a kid.
    • Perhaps Vader is trying to create a collaborator in Piett for when he dethrones the Emperor. Vader needs alliances for the transition and Piett is his man.
    • However Vader does remind Piett of his rank - "Admiral".
    • This is a not so subtle reminder and is part of Vader lighting a fire under Piett given that he's ultimately responsible.
    • This is a mirror image of Luke and Yoda talking about motivation, failure and using the Force to teach / learn lessons.
  • If Vader says the wrong rank when talking to you, is that your rank from then on?
    • Like papal infallibility?
    • Vader has a comical assistant that keeps track of promotions and demotions and provides Vader with information, facts and figures about the crew.
  • Silly but lovable shot of the Falcon on the Star Destroyer.
    • Stuart could not see the Falcon on his VHS copy of the movie. The spaceships are very similar colour and the Falcon does not stand out.
    • Maybe the Falcon should have had racing stripes - but then it wouldn't blend in and would not look like a piece of junk.
  • Some windows on the Star Destroyer must have been blocked by the Falcon. We should have seen:
    • Some guy putting in regular reports about his blocked window but the maintenance staff being too busy chasing the Falcon to investigate it. Then, one day, the "blockage" just disappears.
    • One guy in the shower as his window gets blocked; one singing into a hairbrush; Sammy Davis Jr. sticking his head out of another window ("Batman" TV series reference) to see what's going on; a window box with space flowers getting smashed.
    • Han is imitating mynocks with this move. The Falcon will start eating power cables next.
    • Han whispered his plan to Chewbacca so the rest of the crew wouldn't overhear it.
    • This is embarrassing for the Avenger—it's like having toilet paper stuck on your foot.
    • The other Star Destroyers probably talked to each other mockingly about the Avenger.
  • Who was promoted into Needa's slot on the Avenger?
    • Piett, Nemet, M'Kae or the white-haired guy?
    • Piett is the Imperial Wedge.
  • The globes on top of the Star Destroyers are cool.
    • What are they - radar, water, fuel?
    • A bad design / location for a fuel tank. They were probably designed by the same guy that designed The Death Star.
    • A globe gets blown up in ROTJ and seems to destroy the whole spaceship. Although any damage to the conning tower is fatal to Star Destroyers.
    • A cross-section of a Star Destroyer would reveal what these are.
    • The ILM guys built all of these things out of plastic model kits. They must have got a lot of headaches from all the duco glue.
    • Physically building these types of models is a dying art in Hollywood.

Meta Minute

Bridge diagram.jpg
  • 19:46 podcast episode length.
  • Cold-open: starwarsminute.com/donate; Support the Show.
  • Stuart likes to refer to himself in the third person.
  • In the article for Commander Nemet they actually use the word "crew pits" to describe those pits we see on the star destroyer bridge.


  • Pete: <As the guys standing around near Needa> "Choke him, choke him, choke him!" Alex: "Oh here it goes, here it goes!"
  • Alex: <As Needa 'apologizing' to Vader> Vader I'm sorry. Sorry you're such a jerk! Pete: I'm sorry that you thought I could find them!
  • Stuart: The Emperor's great package.
  • Alex: You can count on duco (Count Dooku) cement.



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