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Children of the Force

October 12, 2009

The third episode of broadcast season 2 of The Clone Wars is the third episode of the second production season; it’s also the first episode to be seen that demonstrates the quantum leap in production values between the two seasons. The lighting is more atmospheric and the CG character models are far more expressive. In terms of just sheer look-and-feel, the closest comparison would be to the difference between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.

In Children of the Force, Cad Bane continues his mission to kidnap Force-sensitive children on behalf of Darth Sidious, using the Jedi holocron as his guide. Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Mace Windu must set things right before Bane’s client can achieve his goal.

Cad Bane consults with Darth Sidious

Cad Bane consults with Darth Sidious

The fortune cookie for this week’s episode advises that “[t]he first step to correcting a mistake is patience.” Again, this refers back to the previous episode, Cargo of Doom, where Ahsoka advised Anakin to be patient in his pursuit of Bane.

But the two most interesting moments in Children of the Force are casual asides that are almost glossed-over. The Star Wars films (and each of the prequel films in particular) have always possessed a rather subversive quality, where the main thematic point is often hidden due to deliberate misdirection on George Lucas’ part. Recall the Battle of Geonosis, where the Republic battles the Separatists in an epic struggle of Good versus Evil, and yet the cinematic language says otherwise.

The first moment to look out for is when Anakin and Ahsoka land on Naboo. Ahsoka asks to “take the lead” because she has “a score to settle”. Anakin, not the wisest of the Jedi, agrees to Ahsoka’s request without hesitation. This is a direct contradiction of the fortune cookie: patience, a foregoing of Ego-driven impulses, is quite opposed to personal vendettas and an all-too-eager pursuit of one’s enemies. The Force was not guiding Anakin and Ahsoka that day.

Anakin Skywalkerand Ahsoka Tano arrive on Naboo in pursuit of Bane

Anakin Skywalkerand Ahsoka Tano arrive on Naboo in pursuit of Bane

The second moment occurs after the interrogation of Bane. Chancellor Palpatine wants a full report on the Jedi’s progress on the matter; Obi-Wan objects, stating that this is purely an internal matter, but Anakin counters with the observation that as the Jedi are acting as a military force, they are now subject to full governmental oversight.

This is how the Jedi Order has become irreparably compromised. By becoming Generals in a (manufactured) war, the Jedi can no longer function as autonomous peacekeepers, instead acting on behalf of the Chancellor himself. Once they discover the truth — that they have been working in the service of a Sith Lord — they cannot confront him without it being an act of treason.

They have been boxed into a corner from which they cannot hope to escape. This will be their ultimate undoing, and in reality, the Chosen One has very little to do with it.

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