To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and the all-new episodes coming thanks to #CloneWarsSaved, we’re undertaking a full chronological rewatch of the five original seasons, The Lost Missions, and the theatrical release. We’d be honored if you would join us and share your thoughts on the award-winning series.
“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
It’s easy to get swept up in the story of the Jedi generals and the Republic’s clone army as we watch them get cut down by wave after wave of soulless Separatist droids, but this episode is where the series begins to examine the other casualties — namely the civilian devastation — in a more visceral way, shining a light on the government’s shortcomings as an entity to adequately protect and serve the galaxy.
On the ground, as the Twi’leks wait for supplies that may never come, whatever respect Cham had for the Galactic Senate seems to be waning while his people pay the price. “War turns promises into hopes,” Master Di says. Perhaps not everyone on Ryloth qualifies as an innocent bystander, as Cham is actively participating in the conflict to fight for his people. However, the fact that he and his cohorts have their families with them illustrates the desperation of their quest, not for dominance but for defense. Their fight is more about flight than dealing any real damage to the invading forces.
And Jedi Master Di is with them until the end, ultimately giving his life content in the knowledge that he was able to help the Twi’lek people to survive for another day. His sacrifice is noble, but watching a Jedi get cut down by the opposition is yet another reminder of the Republic’s weaknesses and the Jedi’s own vulnerabilities. Fighting machines with flesh-and-blood soldiers surely gives the Republic a tactical advantage in terms of creative solutions and abstract thinking, but it’s far easier to rebuild a battle-damaged droid than it is to patch up a clone or train a new Jedi to lead the troops after a fatal confrontation.
Meanwhile, on Toydaria Bail and Jar Jar are pleading for help in what they see as a humanitarian crisis while the Trade Federation makes a play for political gain. Jar Jar’s clownish antics, including a conceptual piece of Gungan art that is as much a needed dose of levity as a successful distraction, and Bail’s shrewd negotiation skills make the pair a formidable force, with a little emotional heartstring pulling by Senator Orn Free Taa. Despite his reputation for corruption, getting fat off the kickbacks from a cushy life on Coruscant while the people he represents starve, his descriptions of crops burning and his people suffering make it difficult to turn a blind eye.
This is the hard truth about conflict — it’s impossible to remain neutral with a war raging all around the galaxy; peaceful worlds must choose a side or risk condemning their world to invasion. And even if they don’t become directly embroiled in the fight, by refusing to make a choice, they end up on the side of allowing the suffering to continue. Win or lose, by choosing to fight you can at least be satisfied in knowing that you did all you could and stood up for what was right.
And every choice has consequences. Try as he might, the Toydarian King’s compassion for the people of Ryloth caught in the middle of the conflict outweighs the wisdom of his courtroom-style hearing on the matter. Yes, the Republic may be using his goodwill to bypass a Separatist blockade and sustain a Republic military base. But in this case, doing the right thing politically and staying out of it would have been to essentially condemn the people of Ryloth.
By helping the innocents, albeit on the sly and in a manner that is more of a stopgap than a solution, the king could be condemning his own planet and sacrificing their neutrality. In the end, he realizes that although seeking to protect his people by staying out of the war may seem like the most prudent course of action, it may no longer be sustainable. Today the war came to Ryloth. But what about when it comes to Toydaria? Evil prevails when good people stand by and do nothing.
“Do not let them suffer because war came to them,” Bail pleads.
- This episode is a prequel to the Season One premiere, “Ambush” and the Ryloth Trilogy.
- Someone was having fun with puns when they named Jedi Master Di and Admiral Dao. The first, full-name Ima-Gun Di, is a pun on his imminent demise. (Get it? I’m gonna die.) The second is an anagram for D.O.A. or dead on arrival.
What did you think of the episode? Tell us in the comments below and share on social with #CloneWarsRewatch!
Next up: Come back Tuesday when Jedi Master Yoda must outsmart Ventress and her droid army in “Ambush.”
Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Want to talk more about The Clone Wars? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver what you thought about today’s episode.