I recently rewatched the Season 6: The Lost Missions episodes of Star Wars Clone Wars. In having just viewed the first four episodes that form the story arc around the origins of Order 66, a few things irked me, and thus I have taken to writing up this particular review/analysis. Warning – SPOILER ALERTS!!!
Before I launch into the actual critique, I have to saw that I am a Star Wars fan, and have loved the whole animation series that Lucasfilm brought us in The Clone Wars. Having seen 2014 introduce via Disney XD a new Star Wars animated series in Star Wars Rebels, I look forward to Season 2 launching later this month, and now appreciate that Asoka Tano will live on and see her return to the screens.
In the launch episode The Unknown, clone trooper CT-5385 Tup’s chip malfunctions which results in the execution of a Jedi midway through battle against the Separatists. This action causes the Republic forces to withdraw and concede the battle, but it also is recorded and noticed by the Separatists. The decision by Count Dooku and his cause for concern goes right up to the top and Darth Sidious, who together masterminded Order 66 and the implantation of the “tumour” in every single clone – discovered in the third episode, thanks to the unwavering support and determination of Clone Trooper CT-5555 aka Fives.
For now, though, the Jedi are alerted to the trance-like state of Tup, and their cause for concern is based on the health and well-being of the clone. Tup’s only understandable babble in his state of mind is that “good soldiers follow orders”. The Jedi may not understand what he is saying – but they are aware that there was no indication of deception on the part of the clone trooper. This fact is certain because we know that the Jedi can sense deception. If the Jedi investigated this initial incident properly, key questions that would be reported back to the council would include: What is the order that Tup thinks he was following? Was the execution of Jedi master Tiplar a manifestation of that order being followed? The Jedi are naturally concerned and decide that further investigation of the trooper on Kamino is required.
Initially, the dispatch of Tup in the transport gets nowhere fast – it is attacked and intercepted by Separatists. When Anakin investigates, the Jedi learn that the Separatists are also interested in capturing the same clone trooper. Now, at this point, as a Jedi, I would start questioning why that one trooper is such a hotly contested property. Fortunately, Anakin is able to rescue Tup from the clutches of the Separatists when they attempt to transport the injured trooper. The Jedi line of thinking was that Tup may have been infected with a virus to explain his behaviour. All preliminary scans indicated an otherwise healthy and fully functioning clone trooper.
Once on Kamino (Episode 2: Conspiracy), a political struggle over the fate of Tup ensues, between Nala Se as Chief Medical Officer, and Shaak Ti as Jedi General in charge of the clone troopers. On the one hand, the Kamino Government view the clones as their property whereas the Jedi recognise the clones as fully human in individuality. The insistence by Nala Se that the cause must be a virus should have been viewed as a narrow point of view to hold on to by the Jedi/Shaak Ti. Shaak Ti was on the right path in arguing for an atomic brain scan. Unknown to Shaak Ti, Nala Se along with Lama Su, the Kamino Prime Minister, are following the Sith Lord orders to minimise and prevent the Jedi from digging too much into the clone troopers. Fortunately, having Fives loyally fighting for Tup, Fives takes matters into his own hands and proceeds with the atomic brain scan. Teaming up with the droid AZ-3, Fives succeeds in getting the inhibitor chip/tumour removed, but Tup unfortunately dies shortly after. Whilst we the audience see the deception of the Kamino in teaming up with their “true client” the Sith, the Jedi could be a little more perceptive in detecting this deception. Nala Se knew exactly what the inhibitor chip was and its function, but she misled and misdirected Shaak Ti – repeatedly claiming that the cause must be a virus.
The deception continues on in the third episode (Fugitive), where Fives witnesses the swapping of cases between one containing the tumour/inhibitor chip, and an empty one. Fives is in the best position, just like the audience, to see what is really going on. If only Fives stood up and pointed out directly to Shaak Ti, who is in the same room, the swap, Shaak Ti would have been alerted to the deception. It can only be assumed, but even then, maybe not so, that Shaak Ti would have been briefed by Anakin from the events of Episode 1/The Unknown – to warn Shaak Ti that the Separatists were also eager to get their hands on Tup/the inhibitor chip. Shaak Ti is bound by her honour and code to abide by the agreement that the final destination of the evidence and tumour were transported to the Grand Republic Medical Facility. She is able to exert her greatest influence and power on the matter by stating that the material would get their, but first via the Jedi Council.
Throughout the third episode, Fives runs his own investigative path and discovers more about the inhibitor chip – the presence of it in itself is not an isolated incident, but its part of the clone trooper design, implanted at the third stage of development of every clone trooper embryo. Shaak Ti again has the opportunity to see the evidence for herself, even if she is only following the crumbs that Fives has worked so hard to uncover. Nala Se attempts one last attempt to cover up the true nature of the inhibitor chip stating that it inhibits the aggressive nature of the clone template – Jango Fett. At this stage, the end of the episode, Shaak Ti accepts this response and concedes that all evidence including Fives will be brought before Chancellor Palpatine.
In the final episode of this story arc, Orders, the fugitive Fives has his one chance to explain his story and knowledge to Anakin and Rex. However, Anakin disbelieves that the Chancellor could be part of the conspiracy. It is purely based on what Fives claims Palpatine said to him in private, versus what the Chancellor claims – we do no see that crucial scene, but we do know that immediately after, Palpatine frames and claims Fives attempted to assassinate him. When Fives goes to underworld part of Corusant and gets his one-on-one session with Anakin and Rex, instead of allowing them to take him into their custody, he creates and sets up his fate. Had Fives chosen to freely give himself up to the Jedi, then they could have protected him from the squad of troopers that the Chancellor has dispatched to execute Fives.
The dismissive nature of Anakin is representative of the general Jedi sentiment – at that point during the Clone Wars they were yet to be suspicious of the Chancellor as the possible Sith. This same sentiment was prevalent in Obiwan in Attack of the Clones, where Count Dooku makes the same claim/confession that the Sith control the senate. The dark side of the force that clouded the collective Jedi judgement ensured that Shaak Ti could not be a more effective investigator throughout the storyline. Had the Jedi Council reviewed all the facts before them, and took Fives’ position seriously, they would have managed to see how the Sith had been in control the whole time.
Another crucial clue for the Jedi was the later discovery in Season 6 that the Separatists/Sith had orchestrated the creation of the Clone Army. Even with that revelation, the true identity of Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious remained undiscovered. One can only wonder what would have happened if the Jedi and Republic had the means to intercept and monitor all communication channels of key planets like Corusant and Kamino. No doubt, if a true monitoring capability existed, the channels of communication used by Darth Sidious to regularly update and contact Count Dooku and the Kamino leaders from these episodes would have been detected. Naturally, with the Chancellor in control of the Republic, such monitoring would not have been possible or allowed.
Whilst it is easier for us to analyse and think that the Jedi were just completely missing the plot in terms of connecting the dots of evidence scattered throughout this particular storyline, it also highlights that they were unwilling to consider the chancellor a potential enemy let alone Sith Lord. Whilst Fives carried the truth with him to his death, his lack of trust in Rex as his commanding officer and General Skywalker was a shortcoming that led to his undoing. Whilst he succeeded in having his few moments of private conversation with the two, he also did not help build his own case and convince them of the truth of his story. Had Fives thought the plan through in more detail, perhaps he would have recognised that speaking to Rex and Skywalker was only the first step to getting his side of the story heard. Shaak Ti’s role in the entire affair was somewhat disappointing since she could have helped to work with Fives in uncovering the plot. However, the storyline was written intentionally to frustrate us and maintain the tension – as part of the Clone Wars series, the Jedi could not learn the truth in order for Order 66 to be successful at the end of Return of the Sith.