Admiral Ozzel’s Death: The Key to the Empire Losing Hoth

Pursuant to yesterday’s challenge, here’s my answer. I’m writing this blind without seeing anyone else’s attempts at answering, though I’m sure everyone who wanted took a good crack at things.

First Things

General Veers
Nice job, stupid head.

Just a quick re-establishment that I consider the Imperials to have bungled the Hoth attack, primarily because Veers fell for a diversionary tactic hook, line and walker.

The rebels escaped what should have been certain destruction, lived to gather at Sullust and then win the deciding victory in the war (pending Episode VII plot developments).

Whether Vader punished Veers for this nincompoopery is up to the audience to decide. Based on an IRL conversation I had with someone, it seems the audience wishes to defend this particular strategy more strongly than others in the series.

But could Hoth really have gone differently? I say yes, and my “why” is below.

Admiral Ozzel

As we all know, Ozzel came out of light speed too close to Hoth for Vader’s liking. Vader, ever the micro-manager, dispatched Veers to change his assault plans and then killed Ozzel with his magic powers.

But do you remember what Ozzel was doing when Vader decided to choke him to death?

Seriously? You can't at least let him explain what he was planning to do? Maybe it was a good idea!
Seriously? You can’t at least let him explain what he was planning to do? Maybe it was a good idea!

He was about to explain strategy. You know, a strategy for which he was responsible until old bacon-pants decided to kill him.

His words were, “Ah, Lord Vader. The fleet has moved out of light speed and we are preparing to…” And then he’s choked to death as Vader tells Piett how to deploy the fleet, which Piett obviously bungles, and promotes him to command of the fleet.

In light of yesterday’s post, and what was examined there in terms of how the Empire should have employed siege tactics, I contend that Admiral Ozzel was getting ready to finish his statement to Vader with, “…we are preparing to isolate the planet, locate their escape ships and destroy them while they starve without fresh rations.”

Implied subtext of this strategy is, “…because they live on a barren planet that can’t sustain life for long periods except in the case of Tauntauns, which seem to exist only to feed Wampas, but the rebels live in caves anyway. We should be able to take them without any real resistance in about a week when someone breaks and sells out their friends for a decent meal, after which we’ll kill them anyway.”

Intensify the forward firepower! I've completely screwed this up!
Intensify the forward firepower! I’ve completely screwed this up!

But Vader, ever impatient, decides to kill his admiral. Then he decides to throw forces at the rebels in the exact way that allows the rebels to divert them and escape and risk the killing of Luke, which would have screwed up his personal plans to overthrow the Emperor and become the true Lord of the Sith.

Further, this promotion is most likely what cost the Empire the space battle over Endor. Probably, Admiral Ozzel, with far more military experience than Piett (implied by age), would have been able to outsmart the sushi dish in command of the rebel fleet.

Bringing it back around, it’s just one more example of why Darth Vader was never meant for promotion.

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7 thoughts on “Admiral Ozzel’s Death: The Key to the Empire Losing Hoth

  1. Excellent point. He should have listened like any good leader does.

    “Intensify forward fire power, there is a car coming through”

  2. I’ve always thought the murder of Admiral Ozzel was just a character development point for Vader. It seems like with each film Lukas wanted to show Vader crossing conventional “moral event horizons” a trope which is seemingly defied by his assassination of the Emperor. Taken in sequence, Vader’s actual “moral event horizon” would have been massacring the Tuskans when he was still a boy; but, since that event was so far in Vader’s past by Episode III, Lukas needed to find ways to demonstrate that Vader was already irredeemably evil. As is his want, Lukas continued to flog that horse every chance he got through the remainder of the series.

    1. Yeah, I’m going to go with the thought that you’re kind of trolling here – Vader choking people out was something that was specifically cut from Return of the Jedi because “it had been done enough” so they were certainly aware of repetitive tropes. I don’t think he actually chokes anyone to death after Needa. Lando feels a threatening force (ha!) in the carbon chamber, but after that, it’s not repeated after that in any final cut I’ve seen. In fact, you could argue that Vader’s beginning to turn back to the light is when he *doesn’t* choke out Piett because his son showed more spine than he did and it gave him reason to think.

      As for Vader’s “moral event horizon” being the Tuskens, I’ve argued in past blogs that moment is when Vader truly turns and the rest of the time is him trying to delay the inevitable. That was only a few years before Episode III, though, if you’re looking at the story chronologically.

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