Some lessons go beyond victory

The final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars delved deep into mysteries of the Force, as well as exploring previously unanswered questions surrounding the events of the prequel trilogy during which it takes place.

Fans were lucky to get that much closure.

The sixth season, which was shortened and obviously focused on tying up loose threads for the then-canceled series — coming after Disney bought Lucasfilm and planned an animation slate of its own — didn’t contain the stories Clone Wars was intended to tell before its end. Darth Maul’s fate after being recaptured by Lord Sidious, Ahsoka Tano’s return to the Grand Army of the Republic following her break with the Jedi Order — though connected, those storylines would have to wait to be settled in future, non-screen media.

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Instead, “The Lost Missions” picked up threads left dangling by Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones, which gave us a chilling mystery of a dead Jedi Master’s rogue agenda that dovetailed — somehow — with a Sith plot to bring down the Republic, sparking the Clone Wars and putting the Jedi on the front lines as generals when they should have been keeping the peace as they had for generations.

But even though Season 6 essentially puts all the dark side cards on the table for the Jedi, nothing can change the fact that when the animation ends and the live-action/CG Battle of Coruscant begins after the opening crawl of Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, the light side will fall until a New Hope can arise many years later. But it’s still that knowledge uncovered during 2014’s “Lost Missions” that will let the light shine even further, to the Episode VII-IX trilogy now playing out on movie theater screens.

It all begins with a shot heard ’round the upper echelons of the Republic.

Looking back at Sith plot threads in The Clone Wars’ final season

A pensive Darth Sidious in Star Wars: The Clone Wars
A pensive Darth Sidious. (Lucasfilm/StarWars.com)
‘Good soldiers follow orders’

The famous words of Chancellor Palpatine that begin the end of his multifaceted plan for Sith dominance, the order for the clone army to betray the Jedi, almost gets derailed due to random chance and the tenacity of some very human clone troopers.

Clone trooper Tup “shoots first,” you see, becoming confused during a pitched battle with the Separatist droid armies and turning his blaster on Jedi Master Tiplar, executing her. He’s immediately restrained, but the damage is done — and before the Republic forces can unravel the mystery, Separatists alert Count Dooku and, in turn, Darth Sidious, who act quickly, with help from duplicitous Kaminoan cloners, to keep their secret weapon safe.

Tup’s fellow trooper Fives learns that the secret to the clones’ programming isn’t sleeper conditioning, per se, but rather an “organic chip” disguised as an inhibitor (sort of like a droid’s restraining bolt). But before Fives can make anyone in the Jedi or clone forces believe him, he’s discredited and killed.

So many times in this first arc of the season, the Jedi come close to grasping the truth, but, blinded by the dark side, they don’t want to believe what’s right in front of them.

Commerce, cons and comic relief

The next arc puts Senator Padme Amidala’s slimy old flame, Clovis, in a position to expose the Banking Clan’s shell-game (yay, more Star Wars economics!), but he ends up getting maneuvered into accepting a puppet post at the head of the banks but beholden to the Separatists, who get a sweetheart deal and then attack before retreating, allowing the Republic — and Palpatine, personally — to take control of the entire system for everyone’s own good. Hey, even a Sith Lord needs to fund his machinations somehow.

(I’m just going to skip over the two episodes of “The Disappeared,” which unites Jar Jar Binks and Jedi Master Mace Windu against a mystic cult taken over by the Nightsisters‘ Mother Talzin. Okey-day?)

The lost Jedi

Next we find Jedi Master Plo Koon tracking down a ship and lightsaber that once belonged to Sifo-Dyas, the Jedi Master who purportedly ordered the creation of the clone army for the Republic years earlier. Again, the Jedi Council comes close to unmasking the Sith, and Obi-Wan Kenobi finally connects the dots that the man named Tyranus who oversaw clone template Jango Fett was none other than former Jedi and now Sith Lord Count Dooku. Tracking down Sifo-Dyas’ aide in the captivity of the Pyke Syndicate, much becomes clear when Dooku swoops in to kill the witness and reacts to being called Tyranus by the betrayed gangster lords:

“I told you everything you needed to know on Geonosis all of those years ago,” Dooku taunts. “Sifo-Dyas understood, that is why he helped me.”

Anakin and Obi-Wan engage Dooku in one of the series’ most thrilling lightsaber melees (which is saying something, because Clone Wars has a lot of great duels), but of course he slips away — and still the Jedi are oblivious to who his master may be, or even whether he’s the master or apprentice.

Yoda’s quest

Just when things calm down and focus turns back to ending the war, Yoda — the Jedi Order’s little green rock of dependability — starts hearing voices. Specifically, it’s the voice of Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), his former student and Obi-Wan’s master, who discovered Anakin on Tatooine and brought him back to the Jedi for training.

It’s not the first time Jinn has appeared in the series: During the equally trippy “Mortis” arc, a vision of the dead Jedi Master appeared to Anakin and Obi-Wan as the Chosen One faced temptation in a bizarre cosmic realm that was a mysterious nexus of the Force, different from but similar to Yoda’s experiences, and referenced heavily in the final season of Star Wars Rebels.

Surrendering himself for medical and mental evaluation due to the waking vocal visitations, Yoda ultimately gets Skywalker and R2-D2 to help him slip away when Jinn’s voice beckons him to Dagobah — “one of the purest places in the galaxy,” his disembodied old pupil assures him when he arrives.

We know that Dagobah is where Yoda will later end up in exile and await young Luke Skywalker. but first he encounters horrifying visions of what’s to come in the same dark cave where his future student will one day see his own destiny. This begins Yoda’s efforts, which Obi-Wan would later join off-screen, to learn the power of retaining your identity after physical death, truly mastering both the Living and Cosmic aspects of the Force.

Master Yoda faces a vision of the ancient Sith Lord, Darth Bane.
Master Yoda faces a vision of the ancient Sith Lord, Darth Bane. (Lucasfilm/StarWars.com)

To achieve this somehow more pure but less physical version of the death-defying power Sidious later dangles to sway Anakin to his side, Yoda must journey from Dagobah to a distant wellspring of life energy where he meets mysterious, masked cosmic beings who have truly ascended as he one day hopes to. After making Yoda face a twisted avatar of his own inner evil, these priestesses send him on one last jaunt, to Moraband, ancient homeworld of the Sith, where Jedi such as they once were sacrificed.

It is here that Yoda faces a vision of Darth Bane, who originated the Sith “Rule of Two” to prevent their extinction, to test his bravery and resolve (with the voice of Mark Hamill) — but the fearsome phantom is not the greatest challenge. Sidious and Dooku sense Yoda’s presence on Moraband, and use dark Sith sorcery to confront him with a vision in which he and Anakin nearly defeat and unmask the Sith during a thrilling chase near the Siths’ abandoned industrial Coruscant hideaway. Only after proving he’d make the ultimate sacrifice here does Yoda gain the priestesses’ blessing to train with the lingering voice of Qui-Gon, setting him on the path that would reverberate into Episode VIII — The Last Jedi and beyond.

“There is another … Skywalker.”

The future of the Force

By the end of The Clone Wars series, and before the events of Revenge of the Sith, Yoda knows already that the Jedi are doomed. But he has seen that the future of good in the galaxy and the soul of the Force can outlive the dire events to come, and even outlive the Jedi. Thanks to his new mystical training, it’s a lesson he is able to retain and then impart, many years and one peaceful death later, to Luke, appearing as a ghost again to the disillusioned Jedi in his own hermitage on a remote Ahch-To island to prod him to become the legendary hero the galaxy needs, if only to save the flickering Resistance from forever being snuffed out and inspire Rey to carry the torch after him.

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Jayson Peters
Digital, social and print media pro. Nerdvana's founder, curator and editor.
http://jaysonpeters.com