Part 4: The Temple Destroyed
The fall of the Jedi Order was as stunning as it was predictable. The swiftness with which the Jedi were eradicated was shocking, the scope of the tragedy devastating, however, the proverbial writing was on the wall regarding the Order. The seeds of that fall can be seen across the canon timeline, including The High Republic Era and the Fall of the Jedi Era. As I mentioned in part one of this series, I decided to go back and look at these cracks in the temple after finishing Into the Dark, because I was so struck by the differences in how the Jedi interact with each other and with the Force. In part 2, I discussed the fraying of the tether between the Jedi and the Force. In part 3 of this series, we covered the growing threat of the Sith and the inaction on the part of the Jedi. In part 4, we will cover the animated series The Clone Wars as well as Revenge of the Sith, where the Jedi are all but wiped out. For so many fans, this period is both thrilling and heartbreaking as we get the action and excitement of the Clone Wars as well as the devastation of Anakin’s loss.
At the start of The Clone Wars, Anakin is an adult, a Jedi Knight, has Padawan Ahsoka Tano by his side and continues to work extensively with his former Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi. This Anakin is much more fun and interesting than he was in Attack of the Clones, primarily because this is Anakin in his prime. He is confident, engaging and seems more comfortable in his role as a Jedi. His relationship with Obi-Wan is fantastic and he is a good Master to Ahsoka. He seems to have a good rapport with the Council. His relationship with Padmé is solid, and he works well with Rex and the other clones. However, the undertone of darkness is there.
We feel that darkness growing with the anger, pain and sadness Anakin clearly feels and exhibits during the Deception Arc (Season 4, episodes 15-18), where Obi-Wan’s death is faked so he can infiltrate the criminal underworld and his survival is known to very few, and Anakin is not among them. This is a point where I feel that most of the Council knew how upset Anakin was and they should have stepped in to help him process those emotions. This echoes the lack of interaction after Yoda feels Anakin’s pain in Attack of the Clones across the galaxy. They saw problematic behavior from one of the most powerful Jedi in the Order and chose to do nothing. Anakin continued to slide unchecked towards the dark side as a result of this inaction.
The Council fails both Ahsoka and Anakin during the Ahsoka Betrayed Arc (Season 5, episodes 17-20). Anakin is fighting the Council and the Republic to save Ahsoka, who stands accused of murder and treason, with only Padmé believing him. He must wonder why they are so convinced of her guilt, despite the fact that these actions were totally out of character for her. Now, we know that this is in part Palpatine isolating Anakin in order to have greater control over him, however the Council somehow does not connect the dots. If Ahsoka had been executed by the Republic, it would have pushed Anakin to the dark side even faster. No one blames Ahsoka for her choice to leave the order—especially Anakin, and he makes it clear that he himself has considered leaving. It would make his life with Padmé significantly easier, and had I been in Anakin’s position, I would have left. If he had, who knows what the consequences would have been. His trust in the Council was broken due to their rush to judgment, and I believe this is the beginning of the end in terms of Anakin’s relationship with the Jedi who might have been able to help him.
It becomes clear as the series progresses that the Jedi Order is not functioning as it should. The most notable example of this is the Umbara Arc (Season 4, episodes 7-10). A Jedi is sacrificing clones, purposely getting as many as he can killed in the fight against the Droid Army, and he is now in command of Anakin’s troops. I do not want to sound like a broken record, but HOW DID THE COUNCIL MISS THAT KRELL TURNED?!? Did they investigate in the aftermath and check in with other Jedi across the galaxy to ensure that this was not happening on other planets? The clones knew that he was getting a lot of troopers killed, and they were concerned. This also brings to the forefront again that there is something going on with the chips implanted in the clones, as we watch some clones start to question their Jedi leader while others are insistent that they have to follow orders. This arc left me with so many questions. Were there other Jedi who did not value life? How have they strayed so far from the will of the Force?
Then there is the issue of Sifo-Dyas. He was the Padawan of an irresponsible Master, who was only considered irresponsible because the Council was shortsighted. He was kicked off the Council for advocating for having a standing army for the Republic, and then had the Kaminoans create the clone army without the permission of the Council or the Senate. He was used by Chancellor Valorum to go on a secret mission of which the Jedi were not aware, and he was eventually murdered by Dooku, who ordered his shuttle shot down and then covered up the death to make it look like he died in battle. No one investigated this further, and Dooku was able to manipulate everyone without the Council suspecting. Sifo-Dyas’ tragic fate is closely linked to Dooku’s, and they were both lost to the Order through the Council’s incompetence or negligence. Failure after failure after failure on the part of the Council.
This brings us to Revenge of the Sith. It is clear from an exchange between Obi-Wan and Anakin that the Jedi, and especially Anakin, spend a significant amount of time working directly with politicians. This is further blurring the line between the Jedi as peacekeepers rather than an enforcing sect of the Republic. At this point, they are not independent in any real way. They are generals in the Republic Army. Anakin goes to Yoda regarding his visions of Padmé and Yoda is literally of no help, advising Anakin to let go of everything to which he is attached, but does not give him concrete tools or techniques to do this. He has had attachments for so many years at this point, that letting them go is virtually impossible.
Among the biggest missteps of the Council is allowing Palpatine to put a representative (Anakin) on the Council. They are quite contemptuous about it, which only alienates Anakin further. To add insult to injury, they then have Obi-Wan ask Anakin to spy on Palpatine, off the record and without fully explaining their concerns. Anakin, who has been friends with Palpatine for years, does not appreciate being put in this very uncomfortable position that is counter to the Jedi Code and his own moral code. Yoda and Mace Windu make it clear that they do not trust Anakin, yet they put him in a very precarious position on many levels. In having Obi-Wan tell Anakin about his new assignment, they effectively drive a wedge between Anakin and the person to whom he is closest within the Jedi Order, and leaving him even more vulnerable to Palpatine’s machinations.
Palpatine, on the other hand, is seemingly open and honest with Anakin. He explains his worries, talks about the strengths and weaknesses of the Jedi and the Sith. He is a much more fatherly mentor than Obi-Wan and uses that to his advantage. He has been grooming Anakin to become his apprentice for years, which is more clear than ever in their conversation at the opera on Coruscant. Palpatine has seen what the Jedi have failed to see, or what they have turned a blind eye to—he knows about Padmé, he knows about the visions (might Palpatine have been behind them?), and he promises not only an acceptance of that attachment, but a way to save Padmé. Anakin did not stand a chance. He knows that he is straying from the path of the Jedi. He has no one to talk to about his fears, no coping skills, and has been manipulated for years by a Sith. When Anakin finds out that Palpatine is a Sith, he still gives him the benefit of the doubt, and chooses him over the Jedi, because Palpatine treated him with care and respect, unlike the Council who have made it clear that they do not trust him.
The Jedi lost their way. Gone are the Wayseekers, a way for Jedi to stay in the Order and yet be free of the Council to focus on their personal connection to the Force. They trained independent thinking out of the Jedi — they were forced to conform or be ostracized. Most importantly, the most powerful among them, Yoda, stopped listening to the Force. The Sith were not discovered for years, even after Dooku told Obi-Wan that there was one with great influence in the Senate, and I am certain that it was in part because the Council discouraged Master Kostana from her research into the Sith relics (as discussed in part 2 of this series). Their own shortsightedness in their response to the Sith threat led to their doom. It was exacerbated by the inability to follow up on the chip placed in the brains of the clones, allowing Order 66 to be carried out. The fact that Shaak Ti faced opposition at every step when trying to figure out what had happened during the Clone Protocol 66 Arc (Season 6, episodes 1-4) should have been a red flag. The fact that no one counseled Anakin about his emotions and how to process them, when they knew he was a child with attachments, when they knew of his struggles as an adult, is inexcusable. The Jedi Council failed, and Jedi across the galaxy paid the price for their arrogance. Anakin paid the price.
What do you think about the fall of the Jedi Order? Do you think that Rey will train a new generation of balanced Force wielders? Do you think that the concept of a Jedi Order is doomed? Leave us a comment on Instagram or send Anna a DM here!