Hey! You remember that scene in Star Wars '77 (I'll be fucked before I call it Episode IV. It was the first one.) when Vader and Kenobi are having that kind of lazy lightsaber duel, and Vader deals Kenobi a killin' blow, which gives Kenobi an opportunity to vanish and leave his cloak behind? You've got that in your head, all firm? Okay, because after Vader gives Kenobi a slaughtering and Kenobi vamooses into the Force and Luke goes "Argh no Ben," Vader pokes around at Kenobi's clothes all in a heap on the floor. At the time I thought Vader was thinking What just happened here?, being unfamiliar with some of the finer aspects of the Force, but after watching Star Wars '05 I realize that he was probably thinking Hot damn, people, I got me one those brown Jedi cloaks that are so hard to come by.

It is a rule in the Star Wars universe that all good Jedi fights start with a time-consuming shucking of cloaks. They talk a bit in their hooded cloaks, then the talking's done and the cloaks come off. Sometimes they leave their cloaks in a convenient location for post-fight retrieval, but usually they leave them on top of a volcano or in some hallway in a sub-basement of a disintegrating mining complex. Even if the cloaks are left somewhere convenient - a ship's bridge or a landing platform - it is part of the Jedi fighting code that each fight must end at least ten miles from its start point. If you start at one end of an impossibly long and narrow bridge, it is written somewhere in those heavy Bantha-bound Jedi manuals that you must fight the entire length of that bridge. And once you reach the end of the bridge, go fight on a pipe or something. Whatever happens, you have to finish exhausted, drained of spirit but victorious, in a place that's so far from your cloak that there's barely a point in going to pick it up. No, best to head back to Coruscant and pick up a new cloak from the Jedi Tuck Shop.

It is my belief that the one tragedy unexplored by Lucas is the obvious collapse in the Jedi cloak industry that the fall of the Council must have sparked. I mean, the original SW flicks showed a broken-down, hardscrabble galaxy in which local strongmen flourished under the oppressive rule of the Empire. People lived a hand-to-mouth existence. Robots appeared to made of old stereos and spray-painted trash cans. Compare that with the elegant palaces and cities of the pre-Imperium. Endless lines of aerial traffic spinning webs of commerce between cities and planets. Pomp and plenty for all. Certainly the harsh and greedy economic policies of the Empire must have funnelled a good deal of wealth away from many planets, but I think a more fundamental explanation is at hand: The pre-Imperial galactic economy was supported by a heavily subsidized trade in Jedi cloaks. After the Jedis got all massacred up, right down to the Paduan younglings and that one seriously hot Jedi lady, the cloak industry suddenly lost all reason to exist. Absurdly long supply chains crashed, local manufacturers everywhere went broke, the secondary and tertiary industries built around catering to the cloak industry's needs evaporated. Masses of people found themselves unemployed and forced into a life of slavery or crime. Into that void stepped thugs like that slimy slug guy from Return of the Jedi, and everything went to hell from there.

I'm aware that some of you out there haven't stopped by your megalo-viewo-plex to see the new SW, so I probably shouldn't tell you that Anakin turns to the dark side when Palpatine explains that Sith Lords aren't obliged to leave their cloaka everywhere. Then he gets his first paycheque and finds out that Jedis get paid in company scrip and spend most of their lives in debt to the Jedi Shop.