Clones: The Forgotten Victims

Clones: The Forgotten Victims

Spoilers, always.

“Clones can think creatively. You will find that they are immensely superior to droids.” – Lama Su

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Clone Troopers | Attack of the Clones

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.

Purge

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Caleb Dume (later Kanan Jarrus) and Depa Billaba | Kanan: The Last Padawan (Marvel)

“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?

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Clones Grey and Styles | Kanan: The Last Padawan (Marvel)

A New Beginning

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Clones Rex, Gregor, and Wolffe | Star Wars Rebels

“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.

 

 

 

Fading Light

Caution: spoilers for The Clone Wars, Rebels, and Tarkin ahead. 
“And my attack on the Temple was an attack on what the Jedi have become: an army fighting for the dark side, fallen from the Light that we once held so dear.” –Barriss Offee 

The Jedi Order. Peacekeepers and guardians of the Old Republic. For many generations, this monastic group stood as a bastion of hope for myriad sentients throughout the galaxy. However, this time of relative peace and justice was not to last.

In today’s entry, I’d like to discuss the fall of the Jedi Order and the various factors that led to its destruction by the Sith. I’ll try to go into as much depth as possible (hopefully) without scaring off or confusing newer fans.

Reason #1: Sheev Palpatine (Darth Sidious)


There’s no getting around this. Palpatine is pretty much the reason for (nearly) all of the following causes of the Order’s annihilation. Darth Sidious’s existence was the culmination of hundreds of years of Sith planning and it was because of his machinations that he was finally able to take revenge on the Jedi.

The Legends novel Darth Plagueis is no longer considered canon, but it is still an excellent read that shows how the Sith pulled the strings that led to the fall of the Republic and the Jedi. (Note: The canon novel Tarkin by the same author mentions some concepts from the Plagueis novel meaning that at least some of the story is still canon.)

Reason #2: War


Palpatine was smart. He knew the Jedi had been in power for centuries and that the Sith (because of Darth Bane’s Rule of Two) were outnumbered. They would lose badly in open confrontation against ten thousand Jedi. So he set up a Morton’s Fork for them in the shape of a galaxy-spanning war.

The Jedi were presented with two unfavorable choices: A: The Jedi do not get involved in the Clone Wars and let the Republic deal with it. Unfavorable outcome: Millions of innocents die and the public accuses them of not protecting the citizens of the Republic.  B: The Jedi join the war against the Separatists, trading their status as peacekeepers for the mantle of military leadership. Unfavorable outcome: The public grows tired of the extended war and loses faith in the Jedi. Some even accuse the Order of being warmongers.

Ultimately the Jedi chose option B, and sure enough, the public (as seen in TCW) began to distrust the Jedi. In choosing to involve themselves in warfare, the Jedi lost the support of the people who once adored them. Rumors of Jedi corruption began to spread. Palpatine fanned the flames of distrust and more Jedi continued to die in battle.

As death and political corruption began to seep into the fabric of the Republic, the dark side of the Force strengthened.

Reason #3: Jedi repression 


This point is a little more difficult to flesh out because I don’t want to stereotype an entire group made up of different individuals and species (who might have different ideas or beliefs.) Instead I think it’s wiser to turn to the Jedi Council and its teachings for this particular failing.

The Jedi Code forbade attachment. While I understand why they believed it was dangerous (love and passion can lead to other emotions like hatred or anger if not tempered by wisdom), forbidding Jedi from all emotional attachments seems like a very knee-jerk way to prevent your members from falling to the dark side.

One of my favorite quotes about Jedi relationships comes from the Legends video game Knights of the Old Republic: 

“Love doesn’t lead to the dark side. Passion can lead to rage and fear, and can be controlled… but passion is not the same thing as love. Controlling your passions while being in love… that’s what they should teach you to beware. But love itself will save you… not condemn you.” 

Jolee Bindo fell a bit more on the “grey” side of the Jedi moral spectrum, but he was absolutely right. You can’t make human (or any sentient) emotions disappear by endlessly reciting the mantra “there is no emotion. There is peace.”

We don’t have to look much further than Anakin’s example to see how this particular Jedi fallacy worked out.

Reason #4: Jedi arrogance



(I know I warned you about spoilers before, but if you have not seen the fifth season of The Clone Wars, do not read the following segment.)

Do you see those faces? The ones that punch me in the feels every time? The ones that spell “the Jedi Order failed us in a huge way?” This scene proved to me once and for all that an animated work could be just as powerful as a live-action work.

The final three episodes of TCW season five show Anakin’s Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, framed for a crime she did not commit (bombing the Jedi Temple.) The Council refused to believe her, stripped her of her title and military rank, and turned her over to the Republic courts to be tried. If not for Anakin discovering the identity of the one truly responsible (Ahsoka’s friend Barriss Offee) she would have been executed.

Despite committing terrorist acts, Barriss falls squarely into the trope “extremist was right” in her confession speech. Here’s the full quote:

“I did it. Because I’ve come to realize what many people in the Republic have come to realize. That the Jedi are the ones responsible for this War. That we’ve so lost our way that we have become villains in this conflict. That we are the ones that should be put on trial, all of us! And my attack on the Temple was an attack on what the Jedi have become. An army fighting for the Dark Side, fallen from the Light that we once held so dear. This Republic is failing! It’s only a matter of time.”

That speech still gives me chills when I hear it. It even touched a nerve with Palpatine judging by his blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reaction. She did horrible things and turned to the dark side, but it didn’t change the fact that she was right! 

Afterward, the Council’s apologies to Ahsoka were hollow at best (e.g.”The Force works in mysterious ways. You passed your trials and can become a Knight.”) She rightly refused to return and left the Order, shattering her Master’s faith in the Council forever.

Ironically, this decision saved her life when Order 66 was initiated, but I can’t help but wonder if she’ll blame herself for Anakin’s fall during their inevitable Rebels reunion. Another topic for another post.

Reason #5: Jedi complacency 

The Jedi hadn’t fought a Sith Lord for approximately one thousand years. They wrongly believed their enemies to be extinct and as such, were not truly prepared for their resurgence.

Reason #6: Jedi Temple location 

Another short point. In Tarkin, it’s revealed that the Jedi Temple was erected over the site of an ancient Sith shrine. The Jedi (wrongly) assumed that they’d neutralized this location, but its dark energies continued to seep into the Order, weakening them further.

When the Emperor transformed the Temple into his own Imperial Palace, he often retreated to this shrine to meditate and ponder the nature of the dark side.

Conclusion: There’s absolutely no way I can cover every reason the Order fell, but it did and the repercussions for the galaxy were huge. The Empire expanded unchecked, crime lords exploited innocents, and it was a dangerous time to be born a Force-sensitive.

As we’ve seen in the trailer for Rebels S2, Imperial Inquisitors would descend upon anyone found to have this gift regardless of age. If these “children of the Force” could not be recruited, the Inquisitor’s job was to exterminate them before they could become a threat to the Emperor.

That’s all for now! Thanks for reading.

If you ever have any suggestions, please don’t hesitate to contact me!


“Never give up hope, no matter how dark things seem.” –The Wrong Jedi Episode moral