The six-episode animated anthology Tales of the Jedi isn’t required Star Wars viewing, especially when compared to its marvelous contemporary Andor. But for three of its episodes, it offers an important if abridged reminder: The Jedi are terrible and Count Dooku was right to become disillusioned and leave the Order.
Now, should Dooku have become a Sith Lord? No, and Tales of the Jedi doesn’t do a great job of explaining how he went from ex-Jedi to a man who would murder Yaddle, if somewhat reluctantly, although a great many lies and promises from Palpatine were presumably involved. But the Star Wars franchise has repeatedly shown the many, many flaws of the Jedi system, and why characters like Dooku, Ahsoka, and several of the Jedi who ended up becoming Sith Inquisitors would find it irretrievably broken.
The first two of Dooku’s episodes in Tales, “Justice” and “Choices,” are set before his appearance as Darth Tyranus in Attack of the Clones, before he left the Jedi to become the new Count of his home planet of Seranno. Both episodes also feature corrupt Galactic senators who exploit and abuse their people, but notably, Dooku was not sent to help those people either time. In the first, he’s sent to rescue the Senator’s son who was kidnapped to protest their abuse, and in the second, he’s sent to retrieve the body of a murdered Jedi, but against the Jedi High Council’s directions decides to investigate it and discovers yet more Senatorial corruption.
“We serve the people of the Republic,” Dooku idealistically tells one of those senators, but that’s clearly not true. As Mace Windu makes abundantly clear in “Choices,” he feels they shouldn’t investigate their fellow Jedi’s murder or why it might have happened, which not only seems discompassionate but actively foolish, given they’re ignoring problems that are getting their members killed.
Of course, it’s hardly the only time the Jedi ignore problems right under their noses. Much has been made of the Jedi’s utter inability to detect the rise of the Sith right under their proverbial noses in the prequels, allowing one to not only take charge of the Republic, but transform it into a totalitarian Empire. And it’s not like the Jedi didn’t have warnings that something was up—in the third Dooku episode in Tales, “The Sith Lord,” Qui-Gon Jinn tells his former Master about encountering a Sith Lord during the events of The Phantom Menace. Yaddle says it’s not that the Jedi High Council disbelieves Qui-Gon, but it doesn’t want to raise “undue alarm”—alarm that the most patently evil force in the galaxy has reappeared. It’s not just blindness, but willful ignorance, and it costs many, many people throughout the galaxy their lives.
Even before the fall of the Republic, this happens multiple times in the novel Dooku: Lost Jedi. Jedi Lene Kostana warns the council of the sudden influx of Sith artifacts that seemed to be reemerging through the galaxy, to no avail. When Dooku’s friend and fellow Jedi Sifo-Dyas has a premonition of the destruction of the agricultural world of Protobranch, Yoda and Council forbid them from heading there to mitigate the destruction based solely on a vision; Dooku, Sifo-Dyas, and Kostana disobey the order but unfortunately arrive too late to help all of the planet’s inhabitants.
Dooku sums up the problem with the Jedi—as epitomized by the supposedly wisest among them, Yoda—perfectly in the novelization of The Clone Wars:
“The Jedi Order’s problem is Yoda. No being can wield that kind of power for centuries without becoming complacent at best or corrupt at worst. He has no idea that it’s overtaken him; he no longer sees all the little cumulative evils that the Republic tolerates and fosters, from slavery to endless wars, and he never asks, ‘Why are we not acting to stop this?’ Live alongside corruption for too long, and you no longer notice the stench.”
This quote is also a great example of a major problem with Star Wars: It knows the Jedi are terrible, but doesn’t have the courage to outright admit it. We’re shown time and time again how the Jedi have failed—Anakin, the Republic, Ben Solo, and so many others—but the only two people to seemingly realize the Jedi are a fundamentally broken institution are Luke Skywalker and Yoda in The Last Jedi, but even then the movie pulls back as the Force Ghost of Yoda destroys Jedi texts and Uneti tree on Ahch-To.
Luke: “So it is time for the Jedi Order to end.”
Yoda: “Time it is… for you to look past a pile of old books. … Pass on what you have learned. Strength. Mastery. But weakness, folly, failure also. Yes, failure most of all. The greatest teacher, failure is. Luke, we are what they grow beyond. That is the true burden of all masters.”
No one has failed harder than the Jedi order, from The Phantom Menace to Luke’s moment of fear and weakness when he nearly murdered his nephew, sending him careening down the path of the Dark Side. But neither Luke nor Yoda ever admits the Jedi were wrong to serve politicians over people, to ignore injustice like slavery, or to deny its followers the freedom to form attachments. How much of the horrors of the Empire could have been avoided if Anakin did not have to hide his marriage to Padmé? How much longer would the Empire have gone on if Luke’s attachment to his father—his continued belief there was good still in him—hadn’t brought him back to the Light?
It’s no wonder that some Jedi, like Dooku, became disillusioned with the Jedi and quit the order. But Star Wars has had a bad habit of having them fall to the Dark Side, as if finding fault with the Jedi automatically turned one evil. Dooku is the prime example, even considering his desire to do right despite the constrictions placed upon him in Tales of the Jedi and Jedi Lost. But many of the Sith Inquisitors that have been running around Disney’s Star Wars canon are also described as former Jedi who doubted their order, including the Grand Inquisitor, the Fifth Brother, the Sixth Brother, the Seventh Sister, the Eighth Brother, the Tenth Brother, and perhaps more. That’s a lot of people!
In fact, the only main character to realize the Jedi were terrible and not turn evil was Ahsoka after being falsely accused of bombing the Jedi Temple… but by The Book of Boba Fett, she’s palling around with Luke Skywalker as he begins to rebuild the Jedi, as if all they needed was new management.
But Count Dooku knew before just about anybody that the Jedi Order was fundamentally broken, and that he couldn’t effect change from within it. Did he over-correct and then end up murdering a lot of people? Yes, definitely. But that doesn’t mean he was wrong about Jedi.
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