Absolutely No Machete Juggling

Rod Hilton's rants about stuff he cares about way too much.

The Star Wars Saga: Introducing Machete Order

Brace your­selves, what follows is an amaz­ingly long blog post about Star Wars.

I'm not a huge fan of the various mod­i­fi­ca­tions made to the orig­i­nal Star Wars trilogy, so it's rea­son­able to assume I'm not a big fan of the prequel trilogy either. There are many people who dislike the prequel trilogy so much that they don't even con­sider watch­ing them. On bad days, I'm one of those people, but on good days I see some value in the prequel trilogy, even though I con­sider them in­fe­rior in vir­tu­ally every way.

For people that couldn't care less about the prequel trilogy, I suggest Harmy's De­spe­cial­ized Edi­tions. They are 720p blu-ray discs (AVCHD discs ac­tu­ally) that are the result of "Harmy" from The Orig­i­nal Trilogy forums painstak­ingly re­con­struct­ing the the­atri­cal re­leases of all three films uti­liz­ing a wide variety of video sources as well as custom mattes. Down­load­ing, burning, la­bel­ing, and print­ing cases for these films is one of the neck­beardi­est things I've done (aside from writing this blog post), and I'm ex­tremely glad I did it. When I feel like watch­ing Star Wars for just me, these are the ones I watch. If that's enough for you as well, stop reading now.

Harmy, King of the Nerds!

But what can you do if you do wish to involve the prequel trilogy? Maybe you're showing the films to a younger crowd that won't be able to ap­pre­ci­ate and enjoy films with dis­tract­ingly dated special effects. Maybe you don't want to spend the effort to down­load and burn your own discs, and pur­chas­ing the of­fi­cial Blu-rays is fine for you. Maybe you've ac­cepted that the orig­i­nal the­atri­cal edi­tions are no longer con­sid­ered canon, and you're a nerd that cares about things like that. Hell, maybe you ac­tu­ally like the pre­quels (se­ri­ously?).

What­ever your reason, if you are showing someone the of­fi­cial edi­tions of Star Wars for the first time (no Phantom Edits), you have to make a de­ci­sion about which order to show the films.

Two Options

There are two obvious options for watch­ing the Star Wars saga.

  • Release Order - Watch the films in the order they came out, recre­at­ing your ex­pe­ri­ence with the films for someone new to them.
  • Episode Order - Watch the films in the order George Lucas intends, start­ing with Episode I and going straight through to Episode VI

There are two crit­i­cal flaws with both of these orders, un­for­tu­nately, that prevent either from being ap­pro­pri­ate.

The problem with Episode Order is that it ruins the sur­prise that Vader is Luke's father. If you think that this reveal doesn't matter since it's common knowl­edge, I suggest you watch the looks on these kids' faces. This reveal is one of the most shock­ing in film history, and if a new­comer to the series has managed to avoid having it spoiled for them, watch­ing the films in Episode Order would be like watch­ing the ending of The Sixth Sense first.

The other problem with Episode Order is that the pre­quels don't really have a story. They're just back­ground for the real story, which is Luke's attempt to destroy the Empire and save his father. Watch­ing 3 films of back­story is boring if you've never seen the films they're the back­ground to. Hell, that's why George Lucas made A New Hope first, he knew if he started with Episode I he'd never be able to com­plete the series. Start­ing someone off with Episode I is a sure­fire way to ensure they don't make it through the entire fran­chise.

Un­for­tu­nately, Release Order is also an instant failure, and the reason is a single shot. If you're watch­ing the orig­i­nal trilogy first, then after the Empire is de­stroyed and every­one is cel­e­brat­ing, Luke looks over at his mentors, Ben Kenobi and Yoda, and sud­denly they are joined by... some random creepy looking teenager who needs a haircut. Placing Hayden Chris­tensen in the ending of Jedi, since he's not in ANY of the other films, turns an ending that should be cel­e­bra­tory into one that is con­fus­ing for the viewer. The fact that Chris­tensen looks like he's un­dress­ing someone with his eyes doesn't help.

So neither order really works. What to do?

An Al­ter­na­tive Sug­ges­tion

How can you ensure that a viewing keeps the Vader reveal a sur­prise, while in­tro­duc­ing young Anakin before the end of Return of the Jedi?

Simple, watch them in this order: IV, V, I, II, III, VI.

George Lucas be­lieves that Star Wars is the story of Anakin Sky­walker, but it is not. The pre­quels, which es­tab­lish his char­ac­ter, are so poor at being char­ac­ter-dri­ven that, if the series is about Anakin, the entire series is a failure. Anakin is not a re­lat­able char­ac­ter, Luke is.

This al­ter­na­tive order (which a com­menter has pointed out is called Ernst Rister order) inserts the prequel trilogy into the middle, al­low­ing the series to end on the sen­si­ble ending point (the de­struc­tion of the Empire) while still be­gin­ning with Luke's journey.

Ef­fec­tively, this order keeps the story Luke's tale. Just when Luke is left with the burning ques­tion "how did my father become Darth Vader?" we take an ex­tended flash­back to explain exactly how. Once we un­der­stand how his father turned to the dark side, we go back to the main sto­ry­line and see how Luke is able to rescue him from it and salvage the good in him.

The prequel back­story comes at the perfect time, because Empire Strikes Back ends on a huge cliffhanger. Han is in car­bonite, Vader is Luke's father, and the Empire has hit the re­bel­lion hard. De­lay­ing the res­o­lu­tion of this cliffhanger makes it all the more sat­is­fy­ing when Return of the Jedi is watched.

Nar­ra­tively, it's just like a movie that starts with a big opening, then fades to "2 years earlier" for most of the movie, until it catches up with the present time and con­cludes.

In­tro­duc­ing: Machete Order

Now I'd like to modify this into what I've named Machete Order on the off chance that this catches on because I'm a vain asshole.

Next time you want to in­tro­duce someone to Star Wars for the first time, watch the films with them in this order: IV, V, II, III, VI

Notice some­thing? Yeah, Episode I is gone.

Episodes II and III aren't exactly Shake­speare, but stand­ing next to the com­plete and utter train­wreck that is Episode I, they sure look like it. At least, III does anyway.

Episode I is a failure on every pos­si­ble level. The acting, writing, di­rect­ing, and special effects are all atro­cious, and the movie is just plain boring. Luckily, George Lucas has done every­one a favor by making the content of Episode I com­pletely ir­rel­e­vant to the rest of the series. Se­ri­ously, think about it for a minute. Name as many things as you can that happen in Episode I and ac­tu­ally help flesh out the story in any sub­se­quent episode. I can only think of one thing, which I'll mention later.

Every char­ac­ter es­tab­lished in Episode I is either killed or removed before it ends (Darth Maul, Qui-Gon, Chan­cel­lor Valorum), unim­por­tant (Nute Gunray, Watto), or es­tab­lished better in a later episode (Mace Windu, Darth Sidious). Does it ever matter that Pal­pa­tine had an ap­pren­tice before Count Dooku? Nope, Darth Maul is killed by the end of Episode I and never ref­er­enced again. You may as well just start with the as­sump­tion that Dooku was the only ap­pren­tice. Does it ever matter that Obi-Wan was being trained by Qui-Gon? Nope, Obi-Wan is well into train­ing Anakin at the start of Episode II, Qui-Gon is com­pletely ir­rel­e­vant.

Search your feel­ings, you know it to be true! Episode I doesn't matter at all. You can start the pre­quels with Episode II and miss ab­solutely nothing. The opening crawl of Episode II es­tab­lishes every­thing you need to know about the pre­quels: a bunch of systems want to leave the Re­pub­lic, they are led by Count Dooku, and Senator Amidala is a senator who is going to vote on whether the Re­pub­lic is going to create an army. Natalie Portman is called Senator Amidala twice in the first 4 minutes of the movie, so there's no ques­tion of who's who.

What Gets Removed?

Here's some stuff that you no longer have to see as part of your Star Wars viewing ex­pe­ri­ence, thanks to skip­ping Episode I.

Buh-bye, Binks!

  • Vir­tu­ally no Jar-Jar. Jar-Jar has about 5 lines in Episode II, and zero in Episode III.
  • No midichlo­ri­ans. There is only one ref­er­ence to midichlo­ri­ans after Episode I, and in the context it appears to mean some­thing as benign as "DNA."
  • No Jake Lloyd. Sorry Jake, your acting is ter­ri­ble and I never really wanted to see Darth Vader as a little boy.
  • No con­fus­ing Padme/Queen switcheroo. The whole subplot with Padme and her decoy makes ab­solutely no sense. It's clear that this was just so people could in­ter­act with Padme without knowing she was the Queen, but it's in­cred­i­bly con­vo­luted and point­less.
  • Less con­fus­ing master/ap­pren­tice re­la­tion­ships. Darth Sidious is train­ing Count Dooku, Obi-Wan is train­ing Anakin. No other trainer/trainee re­la­tion­ships exist to confuse the back­story. Fewer char­ac­ters to learn about, so the story is more focused.
  • Nothing about trade dis­putes. The "problem" as of Episode II is that a group of systems want to leave the Re­pub­lic. This is much easier to un­der­stand for a kid than trade dis­putes.
  • No pod racing. Se­ri­ously, who gives a shit? An action se­quence for the sake of an action se­quence and it goes on forever. A huge number of plot holes sur­round­ing gam­bling and the sub­se­quent freeing of Anakin are removed as well.
  • No virgin birth. We simply don't know or care who Anakin's father is, and the subtle im­pli­ca­tion that it's Pal­pa­tine is gone.

But booting Episode I isn't merely about pre­tend­ing a crappy movie doesn't exist. Viewing Episode II im­me­di­ately after V and Episode III im­me­di­ately before VI ac­tu­ally tells the story better than in­clud­ing Episode I does.

Why Does This Work Better?

As I men­tioned, this creates a lot of tension after the cliffhanger ending of Episode V. It also uses the orig­i­nal trilogy as a framing device for the prequel trilogy. Vader drops this huge bomb that he's Luke's father, then we spend two movies proving he's telling the truth, then we see how it gets re­solved. The Star Wars watch­ing ex­pe­ri­ence gets to start with the film that does the best job of es­tab­lish­ing the Star Wars uni­verse, Episode IV, and it ends with the most sat­is­fy­ing ending, Episode VI. It also starts the series off with the two strongest films, and allows you to never have to either start or end your viewing ex­pe­ri­ence with a shitty movie. Two films of Luke's story, two films of Anakin's story, then a single film that in­ter­twines and ends both stories.

Beyond this, Episode I es­tab­lishes Anakin as a cute little kid, totally in­no­cent. But Episode II quickly es­tab­lishes him as im­pul­sive and power-hun­gry, which keeps his char­ac­ter con­sis­tent with even­tu­ally be­com­ing Darth Vader. Obi-Wan never really seems to have any control over Anakin, strug­gling between treat­ing him as a friend (their very first con­ver­sa­tion to­gether in Episode II) and treat­ing him as an ap­pren­tice (their second con­ver­sa­tion, with Padme). Anakin is never a care­free child yelling "yippee", he's a complex teenager nearly boiling over with rage in almost every scene. It makes much more sense for Anakin to have always been this way.

In the opening of Episode II, Padme refers to Anakin as "that little boy I knew on Tatooine." The two of them look ap­prox­i­mately the same age in Episode II, so the viewer can nat­u­rally con­clude that the two of them were friends as chil­dren. This com­pletely hides the totally weird age gap between them from Episode I, and lends a lot of be­liev­abil­ity to the sub­se­quent romance. Scenes in which they fall for each other seem to build on a child­hood friend­ship that we never see but can assume is there. Since their re­la­tion­ship is the even­tual reason for Anakin's fall to the dark side, having it be some­what be­liev­able makes a big dif­fer­ence.

Obi-Wan now always has a beard for the entire du­ra­tion of the series, and Anakin Sky­walker always wears black. Since these two char­ac­ters are played by dif­fer­ent actors (and are the only char­ac­ters in the series with such a dis­tinc­tion), having them look vi­su­ally con­sis­tent does a great deal toward re­in­forc­ing they are the same people.

This order also pre­serves both twists. George Lucas knew that watch­ing the films in Episode Order would remove the Vader twist, so he added the Pal­pa­tine twist to com­pen­sate. Since we don't really meet the Emperor until Episode VI (you only see him for one scene, in holo­gram, in V), this order pre­serves the twist around Pal­pa­tine taking over as Emperor. Episode I es­tab­lishes that Darth Sidious is ma­nip­u­lat­ing the Trade Fed­er­a­tion in the opening scene of the film, and it's pretty obvious Sidious is Pal­pa­tine. But if you skip Episode I, all we ever see is that Count Dooku is leading a sep­a­ratist move­ment, all on his own. Dooku tells Obi-Wan that the Senate is under the control of a Sith lord named "Darth Sidious", but at the end of the movie, after Dooku flees from Geono­sis, he meets with his "master", who turns out to be Darth Sidious. This is the first time we realize that the sep­a­ratist move­ment is ac­tu­ally being con­trolled by Sidious, and it's the first time we see him, which doesn't give the au­di­ence a chance to realize he's Pal­pa­tine (re­mem­ber, nobody has ever re­ferred to "Emperor Pal­pa­tine" by this point in the series).

Machete order also keeps the fact that Luke and Leia are sib­lings a sur­prise, it simply moves the sur­prise to Episode III instead of VI, when Padme an­nounces her daugh­ter's name. This is ac­tu­ally a more ef­fec­tive twist in this context than when Obi-Wan just tells Luke in Return of the Jedi. We get to find out before Luke, and we dis­cover she's car­ry­ing twins along with Obi-Wan when the Gynobot tells him. Luke's name is first, so when Padme names the other kid "Leia" it's a pretty shock­ing reveal. As an added bonus, there are now about 5 hours of film between the dis­cov­ery that they are sib­lings and the time they kissed.

Update: Den of Geek has also written up an article high­light­ing some more things that work better in Machete Order that I didn't mention. I par­tic­u­larly like the extra di­men­sion it gives Yoda.

What Works Best?

Best of all, this order ac­tu­ally makes a par­tic­u­lar tension in Return of the Jedi stronger.

Re­mem­ber, we see in Episode V that Luke's vision in the cave on Degobah is that he turns into Darth Vader, then we find out Vader is his father. Then we watch Episodes II and III, in which his father turns to the dark side in order to protect his loved ones. After that we go back to VI, where even­tu­ally Luke con­fronts the Emperor.

Re­mem­ber that we never saw Anakin as a little kid, he's about the same age the first time we see him as Luke was in Episode VI. Hayden Chris­tensen's in­ces­sant whining in Episode II is ac­tu­ally less an­noy­ing now, because it's helping to link the char­ac­ter to Luke, who was just as whiny in Episode IV. In other words, because we skipped Episode I, the par­al­lels between Luke and Anakin are much stronger. We've seen Obi-Wan train just the two of them, and never had to see anyone train­ing Obi-Wan himself. The viewer is nat­u­rally linking the paths of these two char­ac­ters to­gether at this point.

The first time we see Luke in Return of the Jedi, he's wearing all-black, just like his father did. He gives R2D2 and C-3P0 to Jabba the Hutt, much to their sur­prise. Luke isn't exactly looking like a clean-cut Jedi like he claims. Then, when he finally enters Jabba's palace, the musical cue sounds a bit like the Im­pe­r­ial March, and the way he enters with the light behind him makes it unclear if he is Luke or Vader. Then, he force chokes Jabba's guards, some­thing only Vader has done in the series! Nobody else sees him do this.

When he con­fronts Jabba, he warns him that he's taking his friends back. He says Jabba can either profit from this, "or be de­stroyed." Fur­ther­more, he tells Jabba "not to un­der­es­ti­mate my power." The last time this phrase was used, it was by Anakin when dueling Obi-Wan. When watch­ing Jedi on its own, Luke just seems a tad ar­ro­gant during these scenes. When watch­ing Jedi im­me­di­ately after watch­ing Revenge of the Sith, the message is clear: Luke Sky­walker is on the path to the Dark Side.

Why does this matter? Because at the end of Jedi, Luke con­fronts the Emperor. The Emperor ex­plains that the assault on the new Death Star is a trap and that his friends are going to die, and he keeps taunt­ing Luke, telling him to grab his lightsaber and fight him. The film is trying to create a tension that Luke might embrace the Dark Side, but it was never really be­liev­able. However, within the context of him fol­low­ing in his father's foot­steps and his father using the power of the dark side to save people, with Luke's friends being killed just outside the Death Star window, this is much more be­liev­able.

Shortly after, Luke goes apeshit and beats the hell out of Vader, clearly suc­cumb­ing to his anger. He over­pow­ers Vader with rage and cuts his arm off, just like Anakin did to Windu in Episode III. Having the very real threat of Luke fol­low­ing in his father's path made clear by watch­ing II and III before VI height­ens the tension of this scene, and it ac­tu­ally makes Return of the Jedi better. Yes, watch­ing Revenge of the Sith makes Return of the Jedi a better, more ef­fec­tive film. Con­sid­er­ing it's the weakest of the orig­i­nal trilogy films, this im­prove­ment is welcome.

What Doesn't Work Better?

Machete Order isn't perfect. There are a few tiny issues that arise watch­ing the films in this order.

The Kamino se­quence is a little con­fus­ing. Since the cloners seem to have been "ex­pect­ing" Kenobi, it leads the viewer to wonder if Episode I showed him cre­at­ing the clone army or some­thing. Hi­lar­i­ously, Episode I doesn't ac­tu­ally explain any­thing or make this scene less mis­lead­ing, but the fact that the viewer knows a movie got skipped am­pli­fies the con­fu­sion.

Qui-Gon is men­tioned once in Episode II and once in Episode III. Luckily, both times he is men­tioned, his re­la­tion­ship to the char­ac­ters is re­stated, so it works. Dooku ex­plains that Obi-Wan's old master Qui-Gon was once Dooku's ap­pren­tice, and then in Episode III Yoda tells Obi-Wan that Qui-Gon has learned to com­mu­ni­cate after death. It's alright, just a little weird.

Episodes II and III both talk about Anakin being part of a prophecy which is never really ex­plained (because it was ex­plained in Episode I). This is un­for­tu­nate, but on the plus side the last time it's men­tioned in Episode III, Yoda says it may have been mis­in­ter­preted.

The weakest part of this order is when Anakin returns to Tatooine. We don't know his mother is a slave, and we don't know he built C-3P0. When he has visions of his mother dying and returns, Watto says he sold her. That's not some­thing you expect to hear about a Jedi's mother, so it's a bit jarring. When Anakin goes to the Lars mois­ture farm, Three­pio calls him "the maker" and they act like they know each other, but it's not stated out­right that Anakin created Three­pio. This def­i­nitely draws at­ten­tion to the fact that one of the films was skipped. This is the one, sin­gu­lar thing made gen­uinely more con­fus­ing by skip­ping Episode I.

Give It A Shot

You might be won­der­ing if it's worth skip­ping II and only watch­ing III, just to es­tab­lish young Anakin in time for Jedi. I don't rec­om­mend this, every char­ac­ter you need to know for Episode III who was in­tro­duced in Episode I is rein­tro­duced in Episode II with a quick line of di­a­logue, but Episode III just assumes you know who every­one is. Ham-handed as it is, Anakin's love for Padme is the ul­ti­mate reason for his fall to the dark side, and Episode II has most of that. Ad­di­tion­ally, without seeing the Clone Army being created in Episode II, seeing the Jedi fight along­side them in III would be ex­tremely con­fus­ing, since they look almost exactly like Stormtroop­ers in III.

Machete Order doesn't even in­ter­fere with canon - every­thing that happens in Episode I is still canon­i­cally com­pat­i­ble with this or­der­ing, we simply don't watch it as part of the main saga.

I've tried clear­ing my brain out and watch­ing the films in this order and it makes the overall ex­pe­ri­ence vastly more en­joy­able. If you find someone who has never seen any Star Wars movies, try showing them the films in this order and post a comment ex­plain­ing any par­tic­u­lar points of con­fu­sion they had while watch­ing. My hunch is there won't be many, if any at all.


I re­cently dis­cov­ered my col­lege-aged brother-in-law's girl­friend had never seen any Star Wars films and wanted to watch them all over winter break. Armed with the new Blu-rays, we all went about watch­ing them, and I showed them in Machete Order. It ac­tu­ally works even better than I orig­i­nally an­tic­i­pated - it's almost as if this is somehow the in­tented order. There's a great pattern here, taking the viewer on a series of emo­tional ups and downs. IV ends with a victory that seems to have some sin­is­ter un­der­tones, then V is dark and un­re­solved with a cliffhanger, II ends with victory with sin­is­ter un­der­tones, then III is dark and un­re­solved with a cliffhanger again. It works in­cred­i­bly well, and when III ended every­one de­manded we im­me­di­ately watch VI to see how every­thing gets tied up.

Perhaps most im­por­tantly, the flaws with Machete Order seem to not be prob­lem­atic at all. When Anakin re­turned to Tatooine in II, the con­ver­sa­tion with Watto im­me­di­ately in­di­cated to her that Anakin's mother was a slave. She asked why Anakin never went back to free her after be­com­ing a Jedi, but Episode I doesn't really provide an answer to that.

The thing she had the most trouble with was when Leia and Luke are talking in ROTJ, and she talks about how she re­mem­bers her mother, her "real mother" (so Leia clearly knows she's adopted). With a few movies between III and VI, one might forget about this line, but watch­ing VI right after III made her stop and ask "wait, what? How does she re­mem­ber her mother?" She found herself sim­i­larly both­ered by R2D2 having a jetpack in the pre­quels but not the other films, and all I could tell her was "yeah, it bugs me too."

I asked her if she found Jar-Jar an­noy­ing and she asked "who's Jar Jar?" - Mission ac­com­plished.

Watch­ing Episode I

Episode I has some re­deemable moments, such as the tension in the final duel after Qui-Gon is killed, and for some reason people seem to really enjoy the pod race (I hated it). Ar­guably, Episode II is worse than I.

The reason to remove I isn't just that it's bad, it's that the overall story arc of the saga, which is Luke's dis­cov­ery of his Jedi lineage, his train­ing to be the last of the Jedi, his temp­ta­tion at fol­low­ing the path of Anakin, and ul­ti­mately his over­com­ing that temp­ta­tion and re­deem­ing his father, is told BETTER by in­clud­ing II and III, whereas I serves to dis­tract from this main arc.

As such, some people may want to watch Episode I after all. As some com­menters have pointed out, there is still a place to watch Episode I with this order. The ideal place is after the "main saga" of IV, V, II, III, VI is com­plete. Not im­me­di­ately after, but like "okay, Star Wars is over, but there's some other stuff you can watch that takes place in the same galaxy with some of the same people."

Similar to the An­i­ma­trix, which can be watched at any time after the first one, the col­lec­tion of Episode I, the Clone Wars cartoon series, the Clone Wars CGI series, a number of video games, and the Clone Wars movie can all be pre­sented as part of a col­lec­tion of "extra stuff, made for kids". In this context, Episode I can be con­tex­tu­al­ized as a stand­alone prequel to the main saga.

It's not part of the main viewing, but more like an ex­panded uni­verse kind of thing, like playing a video game or reading a Star Wars comic book or novel. I think this is a pretty good idea if you really really want to include Episode I. Per­son­ally I don't think I'll be doing this, as I really don't like the pod race or even Darth Maul, but the option is there.

Re­sponse: The Qui-Gon Issue

The most common com­plaint about Machete Order, by far, is that it elim­i­nates Qui-Gon, and he's im­por­tant (or that his lightsaber battle is "cool"). Since this is so common, I thought I'd respond to it in this very post. Because it's just not long enough, right?

The ar­gu­ment goes, Qui-Gon is ex­tremely im­por­tant, because it's his intense desire to train Anakin that Obi-Wan feels re­spon­si­ble to con­tinue when Qui-Gon dies. Obi-Wan wasn't truly ready to be a teacher, so as a result Anakin is poorly trained and that's why he's so sus­cep­ti­ble to the dark side. In this way, Qui-Gon "may ar­guably be the most im­por­tant char­ac­ter of the whole series" (this is a direct quote from a comment).

People who make this ar­gu­ment say that the saga is only un­der­stand­able with Episode 1 in­cluded. I dis­agree, and I think it's easy to il­lus­trate why.

Imagine for a second that George Lucas re­leases an Episode 0. In Episode 0, we see that Qui-Gon moves away from his family's home on Blah­tooine, leaving behind his sister and mother to go become a Jedi. After many years, he returns home to visit his family and dis­cov­ers they have new neigh­bors. One of the neigh­bors is a young boy who seems to have some degree of force sen­si­tiv­ity. He asks Qui-Gon if he is a Jedi and says he wants to be a Jedi too, but Qui-Gon tells him that he's too old to begin train­ing, and rules are rules.

Fast forward a few years and the neigh­bor kid has become quite adept at force ma­nip­u­la­tion. Un­for­tu­nately, with no formal train­ing he cannot really control his powers, and ac­ci­den­tally kills his family, as well as his neigh­bors -- in­clud­ing Qui-Gon's mother and sister -- and himself. Qui-Gon returns to his home to find his family dead, and blames this on the Jedi order's pro­hi­bi­tions against train­ing older chil­dren. Qui-Gon argues to Yoda that, if the boy had been able to receive train­ing, his family would still be alive.

Now, when we watch Episode 1, we have a new answer to a "why" ques­tion, we un­der­stand why Qui-Gon so strongly wants to train Anakin. Episode 0 pro­vides ex­plana­tory power to the series. If someone wrote a blog post about a Machete Order Prime which is simply Episodes 1-6 in order, without Episode 0, you'd be forced to argue this order is un­ac­cept­able, because it com­pletely ignores the reason why Qui-Gon insists on train­ing Anakin. Machete Order Prime, by the very logic used to argue against Machete Order, is not ac­cept­able. And yet, it's the EXACT order we are cur­rently faced with when we include Episode 1.

This can go back forever. Episode -1 comes out and shows why the young force sen­si­tive child and his family had to move away from their home and go to Blah­tooine, because the parents lost their job at the cor­po­rate Mois­ture Farm or some­thing. Episode -2 comes out and ex­plains why the Mois­ture Farm had to cut ex­penses that led to the firing or what­ever.

The fact of the matter is, we don't really need to un­der­stand WHY Anakin is even sus­cep­ti­ble to the dark side. In fact, it makes him more sym­pa­thetic if the reason is simply "it's tempt­ing" or "to save his wife". But we're ac­tu­ally given the why in the el­e­va­tor scene in Episode II - Obi-Wan is a shitty teacher who has no control over Anakin and who Anakin sees himself as better than. Qui-Gon only pro­vides an answer to "why is Obi-Wan so un­pre­pared to have a Padawan?", but at what point are you so far away from the central char­ac­ters that the why's stop mat­ter­ing? Every­thing that happens has some kind of cause, and at some point those causes happen off-screen, in pre­quels that don't exist. Qui-Gon is two why's removed from what's in­ter­est­ing here, which is the reason it is com­pletely un­nec­es­sary and serves only to dis­tract from the central nar­ra­tive that Machete Order tries to em­pha­size.