Yoda admits to Chancellor Palpatine that he is unsure of what awaits them in the future. Senator Padmé Amidala has just returned to Coruscant, and attackers assault her ship, killing her decoy. Her company joins Yoda, Plapatine, Master Windu, and Ki-Adi-Mundi, and she tells them that “everything in my being tells me” Count Dooku was behind the attack. This surprises everyone, especially Master Windu, who asserts assassination is not within the character of the former Jedi. Ki-Adi-Mundi agrees, stating that Dooku is “a political idealist, not a murderer.”
The Jedi are being played. Ironically, Dooku will tell them (part of) the truth later, but he will not be believed. When Obi-Wan confronts Count Dooku, Dooku tells him some of what is going on.
Dooku: What if I told you that the Republic was now under the control of the dark lord of the Sith?
Obi-Wan: No, that’s not possible. The Jedi would be aware of it.
Dooku: The Dark Side of the Force has clouded their vision, my friend. Hundreds of senators are now under the influence of a Sith lord called Darth Sidious.
What Dooku does not say is that he himself has been seduced by the Dark Side, and has become Darth Tyranus, replacing Darth Maul as the apprentice of Sidious. As Anakin/Darth Vader will try to do with Luke Skywalker later, Tyranus wants to recruit Obi-Wan to join him and overthrow Sidious. Dooku was led to the Dark Side because of his idealism: he desired to rid the Senate of corruption, but the Dark Side has corrupted him, too. His desire was to do good, but he was seduced to use the wrong means to try to accomplish his goals—the same path Anakin will follow later. As I commented in my review of A New Hope, “Darth Vader thinks of himself as a ‘benefactor’. His dream of spreading peace and stability through the Empire is what motivates him… and what excuses his use of power to control and destroy.”
The roots of Anakin’s thinking are already beginning to take shape in Episode 2. Anakin’s conversation with Padmé is telling. His disillusionment with government has him thinking dictatorship is what’s needed.
Anakin: We need a system where the politicians sit down and discuss the problem, agree what’s in the best interest of all the people, and then do it.
Padmé: That’s exactly what we do. The trouble is that people don’t always agree.
Anakin: Well, then they should be made to.
Padmé: By whom? Who’s gonna make them? You?
Anakin: I don’t know. Someone. Of course not me. But someone. Someone wise.
Padmé: Sounds an awful lot like a dictatorship to me.
Anakin: Well, if it works.
Despite Anakin’s denials he should be the one to make people agree, it is obvious he is becoming obsessed with power. After his mother dies, he vows he will never let something like that happen again. Anticipating a motivation for his seduction by the Dark Side in Revenge of the Sith, he tells Padmé, “Someday I will be… the most powerful Jedi ever! I promise you. I will even learn to stop people from dying.”
He is already taking the path toward the Dark Side by giving into his hate. Even though he knows better, he slaughters the Tusken Raiders, “not just the men… but the women… and the children too.” Padmé’s response, “To be angry is to be human,” is astounding for a compassionate person such as herself. She is letting her feelings for him cloud her judgment.
Why Padmé is continuing to fall for Anakin is perplexing. She is not your average schoolgirl with a crush on the star quarterback. She is a leader with a good head on her shoulders, yet she is taken in by a whiny, insecure young man who is – and acts – significantly younger than she. They do go through some harrowing experiences together, but that does not fully explain her willingness to sacrifice so much to be with him. There is an inference that Palpatine/Sidious is an influence behind getting them together and clouding their judgment, but that doesn’t fully explain how such a strong woman could be so easily swayed.
Even more disconcerting is watching the wise Jedi, Yoda, employ the clone army which was created for the Republic. The argument is the separatists have forced their hand by creating a huge droid army, but is keeping the Republic together worth the ethical problems of using clones in this way? How did the galaxy get to such a point where the creation of unquestioning, subservient clones is tolerated? For that matter, why are gangsters and slavery allowed, even if only in the Outer Rim? Is this just the price which must be paid for the freedoms of democracy, or did the “keepers of the peace” not care about what went on outside the Core planets?*
It would seem the Jedi are giving in to the same mentality which led Dooku, and is beginning to lead Anakin, to the Dark Side. As I’ve said elsewhere that “The power of the Force causes temptations for even the Light-Siders. Being one of the “good guys” doesn’t exempt people from questionable acts and decisions…. ‘The ends justify the means,’ they say. But we forget the byproducts which grow out of those means. What we teach others by our actions often destroy the benefits of what we accomplished.”
Yoda’s final words sum it up: “Victory? Victory, you say? Master Obi-Wan, not victory. The shroud of the Dark Side has fallen. Begun the Clone War has.”
*For a thought-provoking recent article about the “poor decisions, clouded judgment, and capitulation” by the Jedi, see Nick Cannata-Bowman’s recent article on The Cheat Sheet: ‘Star Wars’: Why the Jedi Were Bad for the Republic.