The important character no one asks about in Star Wars

George Lucas went to great lengths to elaborate on the path that Anakin Skywalker took towards the Dark Side, centering the entire prequel trilogy around the tumultuous journey. But even after seven excruciating hours of trade negotiations and floppy alien slapstick, we're still not too much closer to knowing where the dude really came from. If you want to know what's wrong with a guy, you don't usually have to look much further than his own mother…so what's the deal with Shmi Skywalker?

She's a slave

Shmi Skywalker's origins are largely unknown, other than the fact that she was a young slave on Tatooine, passed between a Hutt and the junk dealer Watto. At some point during her time with Watto, she gave birth to Anakin, even though she never did the ol' baby-making dance with anyone. It's unclear on why she was a slave, if her family was secretly strong in the ways of the Force, or if she was just traded to a Hutt by her parents for a weekend in a timeshare on Coruscant. We just don't know if she comes from a lineage of space trash, or if there's something mysterious and undiscovered in the Skywalker bloodline. With a name like Skywalker, it has to be something, right?

Who's the daddy?

According to canon, Anakin was formed in Shmi because of, or by, the Force. Young Darth Vader was the definition of a virgin birth, having completely eschewed the usual biological processes for making life. We're never told how Shmi was impregnated, but it's implied that the Force itself chose her to foster the Chosen One, who would bring balance to the universal energies of the Force. It's also kind of possible that Darth Plagueis, who was Palpatine's briefly-mentioned mentor, messed around with Shmi's midi-chlorians, as he somehow had the power to create life out of nothing, but we may never know for sure.

Force sensitive?

So, why was Shmi chosen to bake the little Anakin bun? It seems unusual that someone would choose a dirty old slave to store something that might be the most important being in the universe. It's not like hiding your copies of Penthouse in plain sight with your comics; a slave is something that is generally considered highly disposable. Shmi could have been killed or traded into the unknown depths of the universe at any point, so there must be a deeper reason behind choosing a lowly Skywalker slave to do the deed, and that thing may have been Force sensitivity—even if Shmi, like Leia, never realized she had it.

Slave life

When Anakin was freed from Watto by Qui-Gon Jinn (and his own podracing profits), the deal was that Shmi had to stay behind and continue to slave. Because she stays on Tatooine, she gets killed. As a result, Anakin takes his first major steps towards becoming a Sith when he takes revenge on her killers. Weirdly, with all of the enormous resources that the Jedi Council had at their disposal, no one thought to find something Watto would have wanted in exchange for Shmi. They could have pawned a single one of their stupid Jedi chairs and had enough to free Shmi, prevent Sith disaster, and still buy some ice cream, but they didn't. So, why did they leave her to die on a harsh and unforgiving planet?

Phone home

Anakin Skywalker is a terrible son. He leaves home and doesn't try to contact his slave mother for many years, and when he finally musters up the gumption to give her a visit, it's been so long that she's actually had enough time to get sold, married, and kidnapped. In a universe filled with sentient robots and laser beams, Anakin just couldn't get to a phone that reached Tatooine, and Shmi never tried to reach Anakin from the dusty moisture farm. Not calling your mom for like twenty years? That's the true measure of a Sith.

Unceremonious death

After Anakin leaves for his Jedi training, Shmi is purchased by Cliegg Lars, who was apparently a better negotiator than a Jedi with mind-control powers. They fall in love, get married, and happily farm moisture together, until she's kidnapped by a band of Tusken Raiders for some reason. She's kept for a while, nearly starved to death, and just kinda dies as soon as Anakin finds her in a Tusken hut. If the Force was truly responsible for Anakin's birth, you'd think that it would take a little better care of Anakin's shipping container. Her death drives Anakin crazy, and he slaughters every man, woman, and child in the Tusken camp. An early script draft points to Count Dooku orchestrating the murder, but the whole idea was scrapped.

Shmi Warka?

In an early draft of the script for The Phantom Menace, Shmi Skywalker is called Shmi Warka. It's not as though George Lucas was consciously obfuscating the fact that Shmi would be the mother of Anakin, because that's the entire premise of the film, and it's equally unlikely that Lucas just forgot that Anakin's last name was Skywalker, despite his encroaching senility. So, somewhere lurking in George Lucas' head is a morsel of scrapped story in which Shmi takes on the Skywalker name, either by her mother's second marriage, or a marriage of her own, or maybe it's just a nickname she got in college when she was a total hippie.