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TFN TCW Review: "The Lost One"

Posted by Eric on April 4, 2014 at 01:00 PM CST

The Clone Wars Season 6 Episode 10: "The Lost One"

No mystery in the prequel era involves more doubt, misunderstanding, and duplicitousness than the secret creation of the clone army. The appearance of the army made the Clone Wars possible, and the Clone Wars made Palpatine's New Order possible. The Sifo-Dyas mystery was the centerpiece of the web of backroom deals that led to the outbreak of war, and I was extremely excited to find out how The Clone Wars would explore it. I don't think I could have been more impressed with what I saw. In the limited time that it had available, "The Lost One" re-opened a "cold case" that had baffled the Jedi Order for more than a decade, but the answers the Jedi found only raised new questions. Because the shroud of the dark side remained firmly in place, the Jedi would not be able to win the war without losing everything.

This episode reintroduced one of the prequel trilogy's most fantastic mysteries: the identity, motivations, and actions of Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas. I really enjoyed returning to the mystery surrounding the creation of the clone army, a mystery that represented one of the Jedi's biggest blind spots during the war. In addition to focusing on his actions, this episode also gave us clues to his personality and ideology. We learned from Yoda that, while serving on the Jedi Council, Sifo-Dyas possessed extreme ideas and foresaw a great conflict for which the Republic needed to be ready. The fact that he was removed from the Council because of these ideas speaks to the lack of foresight of senior Jedi in the years leading up to the Clone Wars. They could not detect the looming specter of war, and even if they sensed that dark times were upon them, they didn't want to become warriors until they had to. Instead, they chose to spurn Sifo-Dyas and remain in their contemplative bubble.

Later, when Dooku was dueling with Obi-Wan and Anakin, he told the Jedi that Sifo-Dyas had understood the need for the clone army. This must have seemed like a puzzling statement to Obi-Wan and Anakin, who knew that Dooku was leading the effort against the very army that he had helped create. They could not have been sure of Sifo-Dyas' relationship to Dooku any more than they could have understood what Sifo-Dyas was thinking when he placed the order for the army. That scene was a great reminder of how complicated the political beginnings of the war were. As audience members, we have the complete picture -- or at least as complete as the storytellers have seen fit to present -- but the Jedi were actively struggling to piece together the various mysteries of the war even as they were fighting it. Dooku's revelation that he was Tyranus, the man who had helped Sifo-Dyas create the clone army, clearly raised many troubling questions for the Jedi about how much Sifo-Dyas knew about Dooku's plans.

Dooku was the central Sith actor in this episode, but it's also important to consider how Palpatine played his part. When Yoda visited him to discuss Sifo-Dyas, Palpatine must have needed to marshal all of his willpower to avoid looking suspicious, worried, or angry. The Jedi were slowly grasping at one of the most important strands of his plan: the artificial war he had launched to weaken the galaxy and its protectors. He obviously put on a good show of being clueless and disinterested when Yoda mentioned Sifo-Dyas, even pretending to forget the Jedi's name a few seconds after first hearing it. But Palpatine was worried, as his conversation with Dooku indicated. There were loose ends in the history of Sifo-Dyas, and Palpatine now had to ensure that those ends were tied up. The trail leading the Jedi to him had warmed up, and he must have sensed the potential for his plan to unravel. Force-choking Dooku was not only an outlet for some of his anger but also a reminder to him about how important it was that he not screw up again.

Yoda's interaction with Palpatine was short but full of meaning. When Palpatine asked him what he was investigating, his response was that it was Jedi business not worth the Chancellor's trouble. I can only see one explanation for Yoda's hesitancy to discuss the Sifo-Dyas situation with Palpatine: He viewed the matter as one of the utmost sensitivity and did not want to involve any more non-Jedi than was absolutely necessary. He must also have realized that, in a situation where the Senate and the Jedi were already intertwined, it was best to avoid further entangling government officials as much as possible. It would not be the first time that the Jedi thought poorly of the bureaucracy. They viewed it as a natural enemy of swift, decisive action. Yoda's response to Obi-Wan when he asked how the meeting had gone (that he had "as much success as usual" with Palpatine) reflected the older Master's disdain for doublespeak and passing the buck. It was not personal animus toward Palpatine, but rather a general frustration with politics as it operated in the Republic.

Yoda probably also worried that the Chancellor would be uneasy with the idea that the Jedi were investigating the origins of the Republic's army. Palpatine had always staunchly supported escalating the war with the intention of driving the Separatists into submission. Yoda could not be sure that he would endorse an investigation that could undermine the Republic's best hope for defeating the enemy. Even without considering what Palpatine really knew and what he was really up to, it was fascinating to imagine how Yoda viewed the Chancellor's motivations and goals.

The centerpiece of "The Lost One" was the Jedi Order's search for and reaction to information about the disappearance and death of Sifo-Dyas. This search showed the Order struggling to understand how all the pieces of Palpatine's plan fit together, even as they failed to recognize that the pieces were all part of one massive plan. This episode reflected both Palpatine's skill at deceiving the Jedi and the Jedi's own arrogance and mistakes leading up to the war. When Yoda mentioned that the Order had unwisely removed Sifo-Dyas from the Council because his notions of preparing for war seemed farfetched, Obi-Wan grimly acknowledged their mistake by saying, "It's not the first time we've been wrong recently, is it?" Not only was it not the first time, but it would not be the last time. The last, most fatal mistake would be alienating Anakin Skywalker and pushing him further into the arms of the Chancellor.

The Jedi could not be fully blamed for their failure to perceive Palpatine's ambitious agenda. Part of the difficulty -- and something that Palpatine had counted on as he planned his takeover -- was that a thorough search was basically impossible. Records were either incomplete or inaccurate, and crucial pieces of the puzzle were missing, destroyed, or (in the case of key participants) dead. Jocasta Nu's Jedi Temple records stated that Sifo-Dyas had died on Felucia when negotiations between warring tribes failed, but as we later learned, Sifo-Dyas had never even reached Felucia. When Lom Pyke revealed that Tyranus had paid the Pykes to shoot down Sifo-Dyas' ship and recover his body, he was unknowingly exposing a massive failure of the Jedi Order's ability to track its own Knights.

This failure reflected the creeping disarray and darkness that had infected the Council's planning and oversight of the Order during the last few decades of the Republic. Not only could they not follow the movements of one of their most senior members, but they couldn't even confirm that he had really died on Felucia. When Obi-Wan and Anakin visited Felucia, they were told that there had been a second Jedi with Sifo-Dyas when he "died" there. But upon visiting former Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum, Yoda learned that the second man had been a civilian named Silman, Valorum's personal aide. Even the evidence that the Jedi could assemble was contradicting itself. Furthermore, in that conversation with Valorum, Yoda was forced to confront the creeping intrusion of politics into Jedi business. The fact that Valorum was able to task Sifo-Dyas with a mission to the Pyke Syndicate without the Council's knowledge showed the continuing breakdown of effective Council oversight. Stretched thin even before the beginning of the Clone Wars, the Order lost track of what some of its members were doing, and the consequences proved to be very serious.

One of the key moments in this episode was when the Jedi learned that Dooku was Tyranus. We have known this since 2002, and the importance of the fact has gradually become part of our standard stock of knowledge about Palpatine's plan. The Jedi, however, were utterly clueless as to the connection between the two men until the events of this episode. Lom Pyke's revelation must have felt like a stun blast to the chest. Finally, the Jedi knew that the Sith had engineered the clone army.

The final scene of the episode, where the Jedi Council discussed the shocking news of Dooku's connection to Sifo-Dyas, was the best scene in the episode and one of the most fantastic scenes in the series' history. Yoda said what was on everybody's mind when he bluntly declared, "Our enemy created an army for us." As the Jedi grappled with this terrifying and confusing new reality, Mace Windu injected another concern into the conversation: If the public were to learn this news, their confidence in the army would vanish and there would be "mass chaos" that could topple the entire government.

Mace was right -- the clones were a symbol of hope and order to make citizens who nervously eyed the chaos, cruelty, and death that the Separatists represented -- but his warning omitted a second potential danger: What if the rest of the Jedi learned that the clone army they were leading had been provided to the Republic by their mortal enemies for unknown purposes? What would happen to the Jedi generals' confidence in their men? The Council faced a collapse of the Jedi leadership structure of the army as well.

Yoda eventually declared that the clones deserved the Jedi's trust, having saved countless Jedi's lives, including his own. The Jedi, he concluded, would have to continue to trust and cooperate with the clones in order to quickly win the war before their enemy's plans came to fruition. The utter tragedy of Palpatine's grand plan for the Jedi Order was laid bare in the subtext of Yoda's words. The Jedi were racing against time to defeat the enemy before its hidden agenda was fulfilled. As if that weren't grim enough, they had to do so while knowing that the troops they were leading into battle had been requisitioned and designed by the leader of the opposing force. No doubt many Jedi Council members were recalling clone trooper Tup's murder of Master Tiplee and connecting the two mysteries.

Those are the highlights of this episode, but I want to address a few more elements that I enjoyed. First of all, I liked seeing former Chancellor Valorum again, even if his appearance contradicted an Expanded Universe comic by depicting Valorum as alive after 21 BBY. (That comic saw him killed in a transport explosion engineered by Palpatine.) When it comes to clashes between The Clone Wars and the EU, I have always maintained that The Clone Wars deserves to take precedence because its storytelling has consistently demonstrated the ability to tell more interesting stories that more accurately reflect the direction of events in the Star Wars as designed by George Lucas. In the case of this episode, Valorum's inclusion was important because he was a reminder of the early prequel-era political environment in which Palpatine was manipulating machinery into place for his ascent. He served as a bridge between the last truly glorious days of the Republic and the earliest days of Palpatine's Republic-to-Empire transition agenda (which can be said to begin upon his ascent to the position of Chancellor).

I also liked seeing Dooku take care of business in this episode. I have no doubt that his Master's Force-powered outburst spurred him to handle his latest assignment with deadly seriousness. As a loyal servant of Darth Sidious, he recognized the grave peril in which his master's plans had been placed as a result of his slip-ups. Say what you want about Dooku's actions and ideology -- and I could say a lot -- but the man was focused, loyal, and highly-skilled. Watching him swiftly progress through the Pyke Syndicate's guards reminded me of how lethal and brutal he could be when he was dead-set on covering up his tracks. I loved the way the episode cut between Silman's half-delirious explanation of what had happened to him and Dooku's ominous, unstoppable advance deeper into the building. Later, as I watched him duel both Anakin and Obi-Wan with one hand literally behind his back, I reflected on how skilled a swordsman he was -- and, by implication, how ferociously Anakin must have been fighting to wear down his defenses in Episode III, at the culmination of Palpatine's years of preparation for his new apprentice.

Speaking of the culmination of planning, this episode did a fantastic job of hitting several different angles of Palpatine's agenda and depicting action, tension, mystery, and foreshadowing. Silman summed up the episode's message to the Jedi when he said, "All is deception." Truly, the Jedi were sinking ever deeper into a web of deception. Yoda seemed to recognize this when he declared that the Council had to keep Sifo-Dyas' work with Tyranus a secret and continue leading the clone army into battle. Facing the question of whether he was leading the Order down the right path, Yoda said that he was not sure. They may not be taking the right path, he said, but they were taking the only path. In the final analysis, this was how Palpatine so expertly outmaneuvered an entire council of highly perceptive Force users: By presenting them with a fait accompli. Trapped within the politics and tactics of the Clone Wars, the Jedi had no choice but to, as Yoda acknowledged, play the hand they had been dealt.


You can find all of my TCW episode reviews on TFN's review index page.

Related Stories:

TFN TCW Review: "Sacrifice"
TFN TCW Review: "Destiny"
TFN TCW Review: "Voices"
TFN TCW Review: "The Disappeared, Part II"
TFN TCW Review: "The Disappeared, Part I"
TFN TCW Review: "Crisis at the Heart"

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