Season 3 is when “The Clone Wars” truly shoed parallels between the fantastical soap opera that is its source material and the reality that we live with every day. It delved into politics and the roots of self-interest corrupting organizations and ruining communities. I didn’t expect it to get as deep as it did, but again, this cartoon series has added layers to the Star Wars universe that I didn’t know I needed until I saw it.
The Most Dangerous Weapon – Money
When Ahsoka helps to thwart an assassination attempt against General Padme (episode 7, “Assassin”), the general shares with the young Padawan that the root of corruption lies in greed and self-interest. The Trade Federation isolates commerce and restricts aid to planets that they feel are not living by their rules. This includes shortening much-needed food supplies to Mandalore (episode 5, “Corruption”).
It shows that the fuel to the fire of war is not the Jedi or Sith, but by politicians hedging their bets on who will win and financially crippling those that aren’t on their side. It showed a very human element to the universe. Though we’re following the extraordinary story of Jedi’s bringing balance to the universe, the universe is made up of planets full of inhabitants whose lives are affected when things go south.
There is even a subplot to break Ziro out of jail because he holds information that would put the Hutt council in jeopardy. It isn’t over saving an individual, it’s about keeping the status quo. Ziro ends up dying at the hands of a jilted girlfriend. Also, the episode holds the only song and dance number I’ve seen in a Star Wars story (episode 9, “Hunt for Ziro”).
The cartoon has the ability to explore story arcs that might be too expensive and time-consuming to shoot for the movies, but seeing the different groups affected by these ongoing wars is humbling. The wars across the stars are leaving a lot of people hungry and destitute.
Revenge Served Red
Asajj Ventress is the right hand of Count Dooku, but the emperor wants her out of the picture (episode 12, “Nightsisters”). He thinks he’s killed her, but he just manages to make her vengeful. We learn that Ventress is from an order of witches called the Nightsisters and they’re the female version of Darth Maul. They belong to a matriarchy where the male warriors live separate from them but are given projects when called upon. Ventress travels to where the male warriors live to find a Darth Maul-replacement to plant as Count Dooku’s new subordinate. She picks a decent guy named Savage that the sisters perform a ritual on giving him dark force power and making him a Darth Maul lookalike.
I spent a lot of time on this episode because it shaped a lot of backstory for me. Darth Maul is actually from a species that has a matriarchy and the evil that courses through his veins actually originates from a coven of witches. When Savage fails for Count Dooku he returns to the coven who sends him on a new mission – to travel to the dark depths of the universe to retrieve Darth Maul.
What I noticed in this season is strong, three-dimensional female characters for good and evil. They weren’t featured heavily in the movies, but it turns out they played large roles in shaping the universe.
The Chosen One
I’m going to state my peace now – if we see future films with Darth Vader as a character, I won’t be mad. He has the most layers and depths to explore any of the characters in Star Wars. Anakin being tested on Mortis was a moment that I said out loud, I wish this was in a film (episode 15, “Overlords”). The force wielder wants to know if Anakin is good or evil and Anakin proves that he has the strength of both of them combined. A Jedi (Sith?) more powerful than both good and evil. The evil side gives Anakin glimpses into his future, which causes a crazy Anakin to try and fly back to the council to burn everything to the ground before he can ever hurt Padme and become a scary-looking guy in a black face mask, but the force wielder stops this.
The force wielder kills himself and in doing so, kills his son, causing the force in the universe to balance out again. With his dying breath, he erases Anakin’s memories of the future and tells him that he has the strength to make great change, but he has to be careful of his heart. What I believe the time on Mortis taught us is that if money is the root of all corruption, war, and evil, then love thrown into the mix will be what causes an explosion.
It felt like a large portion of this season was through the eyes of Ahsoka. That whatever happens in this series, it will be her interpretation of how things went down. She is very protective of her master, but she has visions of things going south. Ashoka has seen an assassination attempt on Padme. She has seen force wielders try and control Anakin. She’s got a front-row seat to the biggest battle between good and evil in Star Wars history.