Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Master Yoda’s encounter with Palpatine (a.k.a Darth Sidious a.k.a The Emperor) is naturally one of the defining moments of the Star Wars franchise and features in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. A sort of battle among battles for the heart, body, mind and soul of the Republic, against everything that the Empire stands for.
It starts off meekly enough, Yoda entering Palpatine’s lair and smiting down the two guards towering over him as if they were flies - he uses just a mild sway of his arm, the other still relying on his doughty staff and doesn’t even trouble his sabre.
Then there’s a brief setting of context. The Jedi are reeling under Palpatine’s onslaught through the Empire. Yoda is particularly concerned that Darth Vader is being groomed by Palpatine. He makes clear that he has discovered Palpatine’s real identity not just as ‘’evil’’ Emperor but also as the Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Sidious.
Naturally, Yoda’s instinctive inclination toward calm and peace gives the edge to Sidious, who feels no such restraint to [...] kill.
Finally, the two engage in a battle that belies their age - they fly at each other, calling up powerful forces merely by flexing their fingers, wrists and elbows before going all out with their light-sabres. They end up in the Grand Convocation Chamber flinging Senate Pods at each other like kids in a popcorn slugfest.
Naturally, Yoda’s instinctive inclination toward calm and peace gives the edge to Sidious, who feels no such restraint to harm, or even to kill. And Yoda pays the price through that duel, barely coping with the mind-blowing firepower that Sidious so effortlessly summons. Yoda’s sabre glows a heroic green against Sidious’s defiant red. Sidious’s arrogant cackle reverberates through the Senate Chambers as Yoda leaps from perch to perch with a growing concern that he might lose a battle so critical with so much at stake.
Master Yoda falters for one more reason. He is particularly unnerved by Sidious’ boast. When Yoda warns him that his faith in his new-found apprentice Darth Vader is ‘misplaced’, Sidious warns him right back that contrary to Yoda’s secret wish that Vader would turn away from the Dark Side, Vader is actually set to become more powerful than either of them.
Yoda senses the Jedi faltering in the wider battle in space and his Jedi instinct draws him to beat a hasty retreat. But instead of heading back into the thick of action he chooses to head into exile.
The battle ends too swiftly implying a victory, no matter how temporary, for the Empire and you can sort of hear that victory cry in Sidious' laughter ringing in Yoda’s ears as he slinks away to safety.