“Clones can think creatively. You will find that they are immensely superior to droids.” – Lama Su
Today I’d like to talk about the clones that comprised the majority of the Grand Army of the Republic. I certainly know how to pick unpopular topics, don’t I? Regardless, I implore you to continue reading. There is much to discuss here.
I understand why people didn’t like the idea of a clone army in the prequels. Really, it was hard to care if nameless face #500 died while fighting generic droid #501. Add in the uncanny valley effect of CGI troops and you can easily see why these guys weren’t very well-received by moviegoers.
I know I’ve mentioned it before, but The Clone Wars really fixes or supplements a lot of the deficiencies in the prequel trilogy. One thing the show excelled at was giving the clones humanizing traits like nicknames, unique personalities (major props to voice actor Dee Bradley Baker for this!), or helmets emblazoned with kill counts. Another aspect of the show that I really enjoyed was how it depicted specific Jedi like Yoda, Plo Koon, Anakin, and Obi-Wan valuing and trusting their troops (disregarding Pong Krell, of course.) These Jedi Generals often encouraged individuality and allowed them to think creatively in combat.
Regardless of the character development, the clones’ ultimate purpose was a foregone conclusion. Anyone who’d seen Revenge of the Sith knew that they would someday murder the very Jedi they’d served with in cold blood. Absolutely heinous, right? Well, I’m going to suggest something rather different. I’d like to posit that the clone troopers were just as much victims of Palpatine’s schemes as the Jedi Order was. I’ll elaborate below.
“It was at the end, the end of the war. Our fellow soldiers, the clones, the ones we Jedi fought side by side with suddenly turned and betrayed us. I watched them kill my Master! She fought beside them for years and they gunned her down in a second! Then they came for me. Later, they said they had chips in their heads that made them do it, that they had no choice.” –Kanan Jarrus
I can’t fault anyone who’s seen Episode III for assuming that the clones were merely Manchurian Agents–trained soldiers set off by a trigger word or secret command. However, the truth is far more sinister. One of the last story arcs in The Clone Wars introduced the concept of an inhibitor chip installed in the brains of every clone embryo produced on Kamino. A clone trooper dubbed “Tup” had his chip prematurely activate in the middle of a battle and he immediately murdered the Jedi General Tiplar. Though the Jedi nearly discovered and unraveled Sidious’ entire plot then and there, it was covered up through the murder of another Clone, Fives. The Kaminoans then spun the story so that the chips were responsible for repressing Jango Fett’s violent nature in each of the clones.
So what are the moral ramifications for these inhibitor chips? Well, these nasty things overrode the will of sentient beings en masse. I would say that makes the clones just as much victims of Order 66 as the Jedi they murdered. Think of it this way–you’ve served with someone for years in a galaxy-wide conflict. One day, you awaken from a daze and discover that not only did you kill someone you respected and cared about, but you can’t really remember doing it. Dave Filoni has mentioned that those who did remember fell into deep depression (or worse.) To make matters worse, because of their rapid aging, the Empire soon decommissioned clones without pay for their service in the Clone Wars and forced them into manual labor. How’s that for gratitude?
A New Beginning
“I didn’t betray my Jedi. [indicates scar on temple] Wolffe, Gregor, and I all removed our control chips. We all had a choice.” –CT-7567 “Rex”
I still remember the fervor the fandom expressed when Dave revealed the return of Rex in Rebels. Who would have thought that a clone could produce such a passionate response from fans? That is the power of good writing and character development. I was thrilled too and it’s easy to see why this character is so beloved. He’s brave, loyal, and a good friend of another returned favorite–Ahsoka Tano.
Of course, not everyone was thrilled to see the return of clone troopers. Kanan still bore a lot of the childhood trauma of seeing his master gunned down. Rex and his group had removed their chips and had not participated in the Jedi slaughter, but Kanan still had prejudices to work past. I think a lot of the fun of Season 2 was seeing Rex and Kanan work past their differences and Kanan’s abiity to finally forgive the clones.
I really hope to see more of the clones in the upcoming third season of Rebels. It would be even more awesome to see additional disaffected clones defect to the Rebellion like Rex ded. I’d love to learn what happened to Kenobi’s clone, Cody, for instance. A man can dream, can’t he?
Oh! Fun fact for the day. There is exactly one known clone still alive during the time of The Force Awakens. Clone trooper 6116 “Kix” was one of the clones to discover the awful truth behind the inhibitor chips. However, Dooku had this clone kidnapped so that he couldn’t tell anyone the truth about Sidious’ plot. A Republic force attacked the ship Kix was held on before it could reach Dooku. The ship’s droid jumped to a random point in hyperspace and the ship ended up on a desert planet called Ponemah where Kix would remain frozen for 50 years.
Decades later, a pirate named Sidon Ithano was looking for Count Dooku’s treasure (rumored to be stolen kyber crystals) and found the frozen clone trooper. Upon awakening, Kix demanded that he speak to General Anakin Skywalker regarding what he had learned. Whoops. With the Republic and the Clone wars long over, Kix decided to join Sidon and his crew in exchange for information on lost Republic bases.
That’s all for now! Thanks for reading.