In this collection of episodes we get a look at some different perspectives of the Clone War, and violence in general. Despite the Jedi’s stance as peacekeepers and diplomats, they often find themselves using violence to solve their problems. These episodes showcase both the merits and dangers of such an approach in two different stories about species outside of the galactic warfront.
If you want to catch up on the episodes I’ve covered so far in this series, then follow this link to the archive of the parts of this journey I’ve started on.
Season 1, Episode 13: Jedi Crash
It occurs to me that a lot of these episodes start with narration from Wullf Yularen telling the audience that the Republic is in dire straits during this war, that their backs are up against the wall. It’s funny, because after watching a dozen or so episodes of this series, that feels far from the truth. What with the resounding victory after victory on display.
Anyway, during this bit of bad war, we start with Anakin and Ahsoka coming to rescue Twi’lek Jedi Knight Aayla Secura and her cruiser from an overwhelming attack, during their escape, Anakin is badly injured and the ship they’re escaping on makes a wild Hyperspace jump, almost sending them into the direction of a (relatively) nearby star.
And that’s all just the first few minutes. From here the trio and the remaining clone troopers that survive crash land on a lesser known world, needing to split up and find someone to heal the wounded Anakin. The bulk of the episode deals with Ahsoka dealing with the paradoxes of the Jedi teachings and a philosophical debate about the Jedi’s actions as a part of fighting a war for the Republic.
The first point is something I imagine all Jedi have to deal with; dealing with having to show compassion for all life in the galaxy, but not grow attached with any of it enough that it could prove detrimental. Secura tells Ashoka that its something they need to do, especially when it comes to potentially weighing the life of a single person against a thousand.
Although, this is hardly that kind of situation.
The eventually Jedi find a village of alien settlers a day away from their crash site, a small community of people who have removed themselves from inhabited space as an act of protest against the war. Thus they are initially turned away by the village elder of a race of Irish accented Lemurs. He claims that the war is unjust, and the Jedi have simply become a cog in the grand war machine.
And to be honest, he’s got a point. The Jedi’s place in the war is something I like seeing discussed, as they’ve always been painted as diplomats and peacekeepers. But as the elder says, violence begets violence. He gets into a debate with Secura, one that argues pacifism against fighting for a just cause/to protect the weak.
It’s not an easily solved debate, but in the end he does agree to send his son, who is the village healer, with them to help Anakin. That’s pretty much it, the main point of interesting being the moral debate between the elder and Secura. They both have points with merit, but both also have their problems too, which we’ll be seeing the next episode.
Season 1, Episode 14: Defenders of Peace
In what has to be a coincidence so unlikely that the force itself made it happen; the separatists land just outside of the village the Jedi are hiding out in while they wait for Anakin to recover. As they land, the elder forces the Jedi out, saying his people would rather die than fight.
I’m guessing some of the people you lead would probably take exception to that, but Anakin surprisingly takes the more mature stance and respects their wishes, leaving quickly before the droids show up and turn the village upside down.
The droids are being lead by a fat, Neimoidian scientist who acts like a right bastard and talks down to the village elder as his droids flip huts and turn everything inside out. The Neimoidians in the Clone Wars, without exception, have all been the most cartoonish villains we’ve seen every time they show up.
Not even pretending to hide their ill intent or utter disdain for everyone they meet, except for those more powerful than them, then they’re begging, groveling or trying to bargain. It seems like the scientist is there just to swing his big alien dick around and make himself feel superior, but later on we find out that he’s on this neutral world to test a new weapon, one that destroys all organic matter but leaves machines and droids unscathed.
It just looks like a big old fire bomb to me.
After testing it on a bunch of trees, then Neimoidian informs Count Dooku that he intends to test it on the village next. And it’s up to the Jedi, who realise what’s going on, to stop them. What makes this episode interesting is the elder’s utter refusal to accept any help nor fight back against the potential death of all his people.
In the previous episode, his argument for pacifism seemed pretty reasonable, maybe even appealing, but now he finds himself in a position where that very pacifism could lead the death of his people, he seems more like he’s being stubborn for the sake of being stubborn. Dying for what you believe in is admirable and all that, but if it’s going to cost the lives not just yourself, but all of the people you’re supposed to be responsible for, that that feels more like bullheadedness than simply sticking to your morals.
It’s something his son eventually realises, that standing by tradition is pointless when there isn’t going to be any tradition left at the other side of it. Thus some of the villagers and the Jedi fight off the Separatists and destroy the fire weapon in the process. It reminds me of the battle with the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi.
In the end, the Republic show up and rescue the Jedi, with the final shot having the elder looking up into the sky and wondering what the cost of them helping the Republic might be on their people. I get the whole debate you’re having, but your argument falls incredibly flat when the stance you tried to take would have resulted in the deaths of your entire people.
I get the moral debate going on here, but this second episode did a poor job of making it seem like an even-sided debate, and instead make the elder seem like a terrible leader, willing to let his people die for the sake of tradition.
Season 1, Episode 15: Trespass
And now for something completely different.
This stand-alone episode sees Anakin and Obi Wan coming to the frozen planet of Orto Plutonia, a frozen wasteland orbited by the moon of Pantora. Accompanying the Jedi are two Pantoran diplomats, all there to investigate a Republic listening post that has gone silent.
What with this frigid planet and the blue skinned aliens, I feel like the Chiss are getting their vibe ragged on, which, if you’re interested, are my favourite alien Star Wars race. Fun Fact: the first time we see a Pantoran in the franchise is during a brief scene in Revenge of the Sith, where we see the blue skinned alien in foreground, that particular character was played by George Lucas in a cameo that was apparently forced on him.
While we initially believe the listening post has been destroyed by Separatists, it actually turns out to be a indigenous alien species that even the Pantorans weren’t even aware of; the Talz. This is a major change from the old Star Wars Canon, where the Talz were a race known around the galaxy since the days of the Cold War between the Sith Empire and the Galactic Republic almost 4000 years before.
The Jedi try to make peace with the Talz when they realise the truth of the situation, but the chairman of the Pantorans uses his influence and highly imperialistic attitude to try and start a war with the creatures, for no real reason aside from some classic Imperial classism. The chairman seems like a bigot and an asshole, and the weak-willed senator is pretty ineffective in dissuading him from trying to start a pointless war with what are essentially big friendly snow Wookiees.
This is a first contact situation, and the Talz actively want to live peacefully with the Pantorans. But, despite literally everyone around him telling him otherwise, the Chairman declares war on the Talz. Which proves to be a very poor decisions, because while at a technological disadvantage, they have every other advantage going for them and trap the Chairman and his clone trooper escort on a cliff edge.
After some coaxing from the Jedi, the senator is convinced to go over the chairman’s head and contact her government’s council, who counteract his orders right away. Because he’s an insane racist, his actions make no sense. In the end, peace is brokered by the Senator, who tries to pawn the job off on Obi Wan, who refuses justly.
It all ends well, with the chairman dead, peace between the Pantorans and the Talz and the little senator finding some bottle to do her job probably.
This episode was refreshing, and not just because it was set on an ice planet. It was a story that didn’t focus on the Clone War. It was a story showing the Jedi being Jedi for a change, acting as mediators and diplomats instead of generals. I liked it.
The first two episodes in this batch mostly focused on the moral dilemma of the Jedi’s place in the war from the perspective of an outsider. Putting the arguments of pacifism and peace vs. the necessity of peacekeeping how pacifism can just lead to people inevitably walking all over you. It ended up being a pretty one sided debate by the end that sided on the unfortunate necessity of war the Jedi’s place within it. The second episode however gave a glimpse of the Jedi as they were supposed to be; mediators and diplomats.
Jedi were never supposed to be cowboys, running around with Lightsabers drawn. That was always supposed to be a last resort. Although I feel like an action driven series will end up losing out on that aspect of the lore. I enjoyed Trespass more than the two episodes that preceded it, but there was some good moral dilemma in there, if the execution left something to be desired.
Next time is:
- Season 1, Episode 17: Blue Shadow Virus, and
- Season 1, Episode 18: Mystery of a thousand Moons