AT-ATs of Endor

Recently, Craig baited me into an argument about AT-ATs on Endor, and then felt the need to enlist Jar Jar Hater to his losing arguments.

So here I am, once again setting to rest some things that should not even be questions. I question at times whether I’m the only one who actually pays attention to these films. Can’t wait to see regular commenters fall all over themselves trying to manipulate that last sentence into an opportunity to mock me.

A Different Approach

For this blogument (blog + argument = annoying new psuedo-word!), I’m taking a different approach. I’m going to call out actual arguments and respond to them point by point.

One reason is that it will save me time, another is that it will save you time and the last is that it’s been one heck of a week. I only have so much energy to give.

Argument One: Mileage or Safety Rating?

…whoever decided that the AT-ST was the best transport on the forest moon of Endor was an idiot. Why didn’t they just send down some AT-AT’s and have them fire lasers and ewoks and rebels alike. Especially since it was proven that the AT-ST had armor that couldn’t withstand a tree and the AT-AT has armor that can withstand lasers.

My counter-argument is that an AT-AT Walker is a heavy vehicle. While it can indeed cut through a forest by blasting and crushing its way through the trees, this worked directly against the idea of luring the rebels into a trap.

Think of it this way: the rebels are supposed to think they are catching the Empire off-guard. Palpatine, or whomever is in charge of the military strategy (it’s Palpatine), purposely presents a tempting target to the rebels. “Oh, look at me! I’m a defenseless shield generator! Why doesn’t your small strike team (they fit on one shuttle, after all) come on over and get the fleet over here to attack this lil’ ol’ “unarmed” Death Star?” (Implied: Suckas!)

If all of the area around the back door is recently-scorched ground with a bunch of AT-AT Walkers in a big circle around the target, the rebels will probably call it off or alter their plans.

Also, the Emperor knows that Luke will be lured to this trap as well, and wants to trick him too.

If you want to turn your head around it even more, Solo was planning a straight-forward infiltration with the commando team (he even begins discussing it before 3PO interrupts). The Ewoks were the ones who told them about the back door. So they did, in fact, still catch the Imperials unaware—which is why they got as far as they did in the first place before being captured.

And being a small commando team, they still failed at their primary mission. The ewoks provided the diversion, and indeed the old veteran Chewbacca was the one who actually turned the tide of the battle when he jacked an AT–ST.

Argument Two: Not Really an Argument

[Kessel] had this convoluted theory that maybe if the trees could pierce the armor because it is not made to withstand a slow piercing object. Yes he argued that a tree could pierce the armor of an AT-AT.

I bring this up to correct it. I did not argue that. I said that the AT-STs presumably had similar armor (able to withstand energy weapons to an extent) but that they were lighter vehicles susceptible to force-of-impact destruction.

Here’s an analogy: the AT-AT is an M1-Abrams and the AT-ST is a Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

Argument Three: There WERE AT-ATs There.

One of them is used to transport Luke to Vader.

It’s always been there. You can easily extrapolate that there is more than one on the planet.

Go get your VHS copy. It’s there in all its stop-motion and then full-sized not-quite-accurate forced-perspective glory behind Luke and Vader glory.

See the screen caps, with helpful guide:

ATAT drops off Luke
Well, here’s one shot with an AT-AT.


Now, to expand upon the point from above, imagine these big, lumbering vehicles.

They would take time to get to the battle, a battle which the Imperial military thought it could handle easily.

If you watch closely the Empire does whip on rebel ass until Chewbacca turns the tide and the rebels trick the Imperials into letting them into the structure to destroy it.

AT AT Comes to Rest on the Forest Moon Called Endor While Dropping Off Luke Skywalker
Stop Motion. Matte Paintings. Back lighting.

I mean, the Empire is wailing on Ewoks until Chewie has his hands on the controls of a chicken walker and starts blasting other walkers apart.

So why doesn’t the Empire send the AT-ATs after the fact to exact vengeance?

Simple answer: through the chicanery of Han Solo, the first hint the Imperials had about their precious base going up in flames…was their base going up in flames. Also, the film was nearing the two hour mark, which in Star Wars land means there will be opportunities for you to make it up in your head.

Like I did!

Argument Four: I Know My Star Wars, Thank You

AT AT Set Piece on the Forest Moon Called Endor in Return of the Jedi When Luke Skywalker Talks to Darth Vader
This is an argument for “Special Editioning” a background.

I bring this up because of something Jar Jar Hater said in her turn arguing:

Remember that strategic command on Endor is directly overseen by the Emperor, who even hides this from Vader

No, he doesn’t. He orders Vader around. Vader was obviously given command of the fleet in Empire, bungled his second chance at Sith succession, and so the Emperor spanked him and took direct control. This is the classic blunder of many an evil leader in history, yes. They’re too intolerant of short-term failure because they fear weakness.

But he didn’t hide it from Vader at all.

Argument Five: Secrecy Kills, Not Lack of AT-ATs

The base was supposed to be a secret. Now, building a Death Star in secret on the Forest Moon Called Endor will require stationing, supplies, quartermasters, etc. Therefore, the Empire couldn’t station a whole bunch of resources there prior to bringing the fleet there for the trap.

So you could make the argument that possibly, building the Death Star in secret was the first mistake. I question that, above all else.


After all, you’re an Imperial Machine run by bureaucrats and brute force that hands out mandates on the whim of insane leaders, like North Korea or New York. Why bother hiding it? Why not just announce to everyone, “Hi there! We’re building another, Mother-F***ers, and we’re putting a shield generator around the shield generator of the shield generator’s shield generator, and building it near a highly-populated planet with a large civilian population that we’ll torture and kill if you try to stop it.”

It lacks subtlety, but I’ve always liked to dream big.

What are your thoughts?

15 thoughts on “AT-ATs of Endor

  1. Attempting to hide the existence of a second Death Star seems an impossible task, so it was dumb to do so. It also seems to be outside the Emperor’s otherwise arrogant personality. Why should he fear a rebellion? As you say, the only reason to fear it is if he didn’t dedicate enough resources to protect it. Silly.

    In any case, even I remembered the AT-ATs on the forest moon of Endor without your visual aids. There was no way Lucas wasn’t going to recycle the imagery from Empire. It provides subliminal story consistency, and they already had the models after all.


      1. For goodness’ sake, I’m doing a slow roll out of the design changes over time. Purple’s my favorite color, it’s Lent, and we all know the design is going to change again in 6 months or so anyway. Just focus on the high-quality entertainment.


  2. Oh, the revisionists history of Kesseljunkie; just to clear some things up:
    1) I never said they didn’t HAVE AT-AT’s on the Forest Moon of Endor. I just said they didn’t USE them. It is like Voltron having the blazing sword but not using it. If you have a weapon that powerful, use it.
    2) Yes, you did argue that it is possible for a tree to pierce the armor of an AT-AT, because, in your words, the AT-AT’s armor was designed to fend of energy weapons, not slow piercing objects like a tree. I laughed, and you tried to backtrack, but you know you said it. You used some kind of convoluted theory on the slow movement of a tree piercing through would wreck the AT-AT. I don’t know exactly, I blacked out because I couldn’t believe you were talking about a tree taking down and AT-AT
    3) the whole discussion stemmed from the fact that the Empire lacked a military strategist and how they use awesome weapons at the wrong time. Like using a giant laser to destroy a peaceful planet (which is cool) instead of using giant powerful laser to destroy a command ship of a fleet that is actually attacking you. Make some Ackbar calamari, and it looks like the rebels have no plan B. They couldn’t even fashion up a plan B for another ship besides the Millennium Falcon to have ammunition powerful enough to destroy the second Death Star. So if the Falcon goes down, the Rebels lose. Lack of planning, which is pretty much the theme to every battle in Star Wars.
    4) I believe I said and airstrike of some napalm then roll in the AT-AT’s the battle would have ended in 5 minutes. It is not like the Empire cares about eco-consciousness nor their own people. Airstrike, AT-AT’s, maybe some scouts on speeder bikes, and BAM battle over, the shield generator still stands. I also talked about that the Empire could have utilized the art of flanking, and still lured the Rebels into the trap. If a time machine ever gets built, I am going back to long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away and giving Anakin Skywalker (pre-Darth Vader) a copy of the Art of War. It would do him some good in his later years…
    5) Kessel is clearly tired, because he had better arguments when he had a clear head.


  3. Having followed Kessel for years, it seems as if the hardest SW argument for him to counter is the lack of military strategy by the Empire. I recall a similar debate spurred on by the great (Star Trek) Tony, only this one called into question Lucas’ inability to write a story involving any kind of sound, believable military plot. Just like that debate, I have to give the edge to the Clone here, because I just don’t think there is a way to defend that aspect of the story. If I remember correctly, the basis for the past argument was how silly it was that a lone fighter pilot could fly to the center of the big, bad death star and destroy it. Just the fact that it even had such a vulnerability is a little tough to argue any kind of military strategy. Just saying.


    1. Please. I won’t go into how long it takes Kirk and Spock to figure the F out how to beat Khan’s crew, who until Star Trek II had never even piloted a ship, much less taken one into battle.

      And before I start this off, don’t bother trying to invoke Tony’s name – he basically refuses to come to the blog anymore and when I said that you wanted him to come by some time, he accused me of making up your existence.

      To speak to the “believable military plot” – the whole point of the Battle on Endor is a metaphor for the US handling of Vietnam. To wit, they committed the wrong type of force, overestimated their capabilities and got embarrassed when an enemy with (supposedly) lesser technology – or at least more in tune with nature – beat them.

      But let’s continue your schooling, shall we?

      The Imperials were prepared for countering a small strike team.

      They were therefore deployed with the following mission in mind: trick a small group of commandos into thinking they can attack, then capture them. If anything, a “legion” of Palpatine’s “best troops” should be RIDICULOUS overkill. They shouldn’t NEED AT-AT walkers. And they don’t, a key part of the film you forget. The rebels FAIL.

      This is despite the fact that they *do* find a back door, still managing to catch the Imperials by surprise. It’s the Ewoks who tip the scales and bring an overwhelming force that distracts the Imperials long enough for Chewie to jack a walker and turn the tide.

      Let’s not stop there: the critical error of the Imperial forces on Endor was engaging the enemy *at all*. Had they simply folded up shop, locked the doors and just sat the AT-STs in front of the doors – and then alerted the rest of the base just to sit tight and wait them out and/or bring reinforcements out the other door and come around the long way, then either the fleet gets destroyed before anyone can get inside, OR the AT-STs just scorch the ground with impunity (since the Imperials have proven they consider troopers/pilots a commodity to be treated and discarded like toilet paper) until no credible threat remains to the generator and THEN the fleet gets destroyed.

      To extend the analogy further, one of the things that led to the “loss” in Vietnam was micromanagement by people not qualified to execute military strategy. Just like the US with politicians directing strategy based on perception and political popularity, the subordinates listened to their superiors, regardless of who actually knew better, and it led to disaster. The old stories of “being sent to capture the same hill twice” come to mind. (Then take the analogy out of the time period and apply it to things like Hitler in Russia. The Russians in Afghanistan. The US in Afghanistan.)

      So if Palpatine really is directing this intricate plan to do certain things – and is blinded by his overconfidence, as Luke points out to him just before the battle begins – then that’s the POINT of the loss. The additional point of them not handling the situation correctly is to give Lucas the opportunity to make billions of dollars while making a statement about what a good old-fashioned supporter of the counterculture he was/is.

      If the Imperials win, then the metaphor collapses, the bad guys win and fanboys can find something else to whine about because every one of them who’s watched enough SF movies is suddenly George Patton.

      Class dismissed.


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