Star Wars Reveals the Corruption of the Jedi

Friday's episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars focused on Ahsoka Tano, the former Jedi who is now beginning to make her own way in the galaxy. The episode may have set up Ahsoka's live-action future in The Mandalorian. It also revisited one of the major themes of her story arc and one of the more subtle themes of the prequel trilogy era. That theme is the corruption of the Jed Order. It's a theme that was present as early as Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. It's part of what inspires Luke's self-imposed exile in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It rears its head again in The Clone Wars episode "Dangerous Debt." SPOILERS for the episode follow.

After leaving the Jedi Order, Ahsoka crash-landed in the undercity of Coruscant. That's where she met the Martez sisters, Trace and Rafa. Trace is the younger sister, an innocent mechanic who dreams of flying off in the ship she built, the Silver Angel. Rafa is the older sister, who has made her way through gambling and deals with members fo the underworld. While Ahsoka hit it off well with Trace, Rafa can't bring herself to trust Ahsoka. Neither of the sisters is aware that Ahsoka was once a Jedi. That's for the best as the sisters' history with the Jedi comes to light in "Dangerous Debt."

In The Clone Wars episode "Hostage Crisis," the bounty hunter Cad Bane took a job to break the Hutt crime lord Ziro out of prison. The Jedi chased the criminals and Bane shot a transport in the Coruscant portal. To avoid a crowded landing platform, the Jedi veered the ship to the side, crashing it into the portal wall.

What that episode didn't reveal is that the Martez family lived on the other side of that wall. Rafa and Trace's parents died saving their daughters from the crash. Later, the Jedi Luminara Unduli visited the girls. She told them that she had to make a choice and that the Force would be with them. The sisters found this patronizing since the Jedi offered no practical help. They've resented the Jedi ever since.

This is another example of how the Jedi during this era had lost their way. They'd become so wrapped up in tradition and politics, both internal and involving the Republic, that they'd lost sight of their true path. Here, Luminara is so caught up in the Jedi tradition that she's blind to the pain of the innocents she's supposed to be helping and protecting.

It isn't a coincidence that Luminara was also the master of Barriss Offee. Barriss was the Padawan who bombed the Jedi Temple after losing faith in the Jedi Order. This was due to their involvement in the war between the Republic and the Separatists. She framed Ahsoka for the deed, but Anakin Skywalker found out the truth. Despite this, Ahsoka still chose to leave the Jedi Order. While she disagreed with Barriss' actions, she felt the Padawan had a point when it came to the Jedi losing sight of their role as peacekeepers.

Ahsoka reflects on this in the novel Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston. The novel is set years later, after the fall of the Republic and the execution of Order 66. In light of the rise of the Empire, Ahsoka feels that Barriss had a point:

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"Barriss Offee was wrong about a lot of things. She let her anger cloud her judgment and she tried to justify her actions without considering their wider effects. She was afraid of the war and she didn't trust people she should've listened to. But she had a point about the Republic and the Jedi. There was something wrong with them, and we were too locked into our traditions to see what it was. Barriss should've done something else. She shouldn't have killed anyone, and she definitely shouldn't have framed me for it, but if we'd listened to her—really listened—we might have been able to stop Palpatine before he took power."

New episodes of the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars debut Fridays on Disney+.

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