This episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars showed me something I’ve never seen before on-screen in a Star Wars film or show.
“Belief is not a matter of choice, but of conviction.”
1. Space Jedi
I know this is going to sound crazy, because the only Jedi, technically, are space Jedi, but Plo Koon does Jedi shit in space. He is using a lightsaber to take out a spacecraft. He force pushes a Clone Trooper to use as a projectile. He turns another pod around by his will. This is the type of Star Wars action I used to play with my toys when I was a kid. I used to make my Luke figure ride on top of the Millennium Falcon and then jump off onto a TIE Fighter (I didn’t have a TIE Fighter toy, so it was usually the Justice Jogger).
I know this is far from the best critical analysis of my career, but this episode scratched a very particular itch, and I was, to quote my pal Vince Ostrowski, hooting and hollering while watching it.
2. More clone benevolence
Plo Koon is now the second Jedi we’ve met to really show compassion for the Clone Troopers. In the movies they aren’t called bucketheads or anything, but you got the impression that they were barely considered, if considered at all. Hell, one of the Troopers on Plo’s pod says as much, and Plo corrects him to say that he does care, and that their lives matter quite a bit to him.
This isn’t just storytelling for compassion’s sake, it makes the execution of the Jedi at their hands even more tragic. Order 66 is an area I would like to read more about/explore – were the Troopers aware of their actions? Afterwards, did they regret it?
3. Lucasfilm loves the shot of the folks near the big gun
There were a couple of Separatists – I can’t remember if they were droids or not, but I would presume they were – standing near the Malevolence’s ion gun when it went off. This is a shot that Lucasfilm loves – and the callback here was appreciated.
It also shows how the intensity of the weaponry progressed in the 20ish years between this and the Death Star. This weapon, considered advanced, would have taken out dozens, if not hundreds, if not a few thousand, lives if utilized on its largest possible scale. The Death Star takes that number and – pardon the pun – blows it up.
4. Anakin’s gaming
We get a nice image of Anakin trying to both be a good Jedi and also do what he feels is right. He lambastes Ahsoka for talking back to the Jedi Council, but he’s just as quick to ignore them. You get the impression that his natural abilities allow him to defy them and get back before they notice. Anakin is clearly the most naturally skilled of all the Jedi, and he has an advantage – or disadvantage if you’re a Jedi – of having a moral code instilled in him before he became a Jedi. Because he was older when he entered the Academy, he already saw how “good” people acted, and “good” people don’t leave friends to die.
5. This is why the Jedi didn’t survive (because they’re dicks)
One of the most perplexing decisions of the prequels was the decision to make the Jedi, well, bad. I don’t mean evil, I mean that they are the definition of detachment. The Jedi appear to be Lucas’s critique on organized religion (maybe?), where instead of focusing on helping people, they are focused on pushing their dogma. While that’s an okay storytelling device, it is weird that the first three Star Wars films are all about ascending to the rank of Jedi, only to find out that the Jedi aren’t all that great. Again, that’s an interesting story, but Lucas bungled almost every part of it.
Here, we see that attitude in full display: Sure, Plo Koon is out there, but he doesn’t matter as much as ‘the mission’does. This is standard military thinking but, again, the Jedi were always presented as being more of a spiritual force than a military one. The paramilitary aspects of the Jedi always rubbed me the wrong way, even though we hear Obi-Wan called “General Kenobi” in A New Hope.Continued below
The Jedi want to have it both ways – they want to be morally superior, but also operate as a strike force. That’s a recipe for disaster – a disaster we know eventually comes home to roost.