Tales of the Jedi was released today, giving us a series of six animated shorts centered around two Jedi who leave the Order: Ahsoka Tano and Count Dooku. This will be part one of two in my review of Tales of the Jedi, as this will focus on the three episodes about Dooku. To read my review of the three episodes about Ahsoka, head here.
Dooku is the focus of three episodes: “Episode 2: Justice,” “Episode 3: Choices,” and “Episode 4: The Sith Lord.” Let’s dive in to our review! Full spoilers are ahead.
Episode 2 shows Dooku and his apprentice, Qui-Gon Jinn, travel to a ravaged world to investigate the kidnapping of a Senator’s son. They discover that the town has kidnapped the son because of his father’s corruption in overlooking the people of the planet, and the son has come to agree with them. When the Senator arrives with his armed guards, Dooku and Jinn fight to protect the people of the planet from them. Furious, Dooku begins Force choking the Senator, ready to kill him, but Qui-Gon frees the Senator’s son so that the kid can stop Dooku. He does, and the son promises to make his father’s errors right. Dooku tells Qui-Gon that the apprentice is a wiser man than he.
Episode 3 shows a different mission Dooku takes, this time with Mace Windu. They travel to Raxus Secundus to retrieve the body of a fallen Jedi Master. Windu wants to simply follow the Council’s orders and retrieve the body, but Dooku also wants to investigate the suspicious nature of it. He does, and the Jedi discover that the Senator’s guards killed the Jedi Master. The guards kill the Senator, upset about the corruption in the Senate. Dooku admits that, while he doesn’t condone their methods, they do have a point. Back on Coruscant, Dooku and Windu attend the Jedi Master’s funeral, after which Windu is promoted to the Jedi High Council to fill the fallen Master’s seat, much to Dooku’s dismay.
Episode 4 picks up with Dooku entering the Jedi Temple archives and using Sifo Dyas’s code to erase Kamino from the records. He then speaks with Jocasta Nu, who tells him that the whole Temple is buzzing because Qui-Gon Jinn had just encountered a Sith Lord on Tatooine. Later, Dooku speaks with Qui-Gon and Yaddle. The Council is skeptical that this attacker was really a Sith, but Dooku is convinced and says he has been warning them. Qui-Gon heads off to Naboo, where he is killed by this Sith. In the aftermath, Dooku mourns his apprentice’s death, and Yaddle tries to comfort him. Dooku leaves the Temple and meets up with his new Master, Darth Sidious, in a warehouse on Coruscant, but is followed by Yaddle. He fights the Jedi Master, and despite her efforts to stop him and to turn him back to the light, Dooku kills Yaddle, cementing his place as Sidious’s apprentice.
These episodes were fantastic. Getting the chance to see Dooku as a Jedi on-screen is something that’s really cool and long-anticipated, and we get to see his interactions with Qui-Gon, Mace Windu, and more.
The brilliance of it all is that Dave Filoni kept this as the exact same character that we’re used to from the prequel trilogy and The Clone Wars, as it feels perfectly like the Dooku we know – yet shows him (at least for part of it) as a Jedi, and a noble one at that. The first two of these episodes both deal with Dooku discovering some of the corruption in the Senate, as two different Republic Senators on two different worlds at two different time periods are disliked by the people for their selfishness and ways they are harming the people they serve. And as Dooku actually fights against one, the Senator tells him that the Jedi serve the Senate – to which Dooku responds that actually the Jedi serve the people of the Republic. That’s precisely his view of the Jedi, and it should be how they operate, but we see that his opinions on the Jedi Order are actually true. They don’t really want to rock the boat that much.
That shows up in the second episode, where he tell Mace Windu that his devotion to the rules is at times admirable and at times maddening. The message isn’t subtle, either, that the Council promotes the one who wants to follow the rules and listen to the Council over the one who doesn’t. That’s understandable, of course, but it only fuels Dooku’s growing dissatisfaction with the Order. It becomes very apparent why he would decide to leave the Jedi Order.
He did wind up leaving, and it actually happened well before the third episode. That’s the part that I think might confuse some people, but let’s be clear: this is not retconning anything in Dooku: Jedi Lost. That story tells how Dooku came to leave the Order, and that all is still untouched. At some point in between the second and third Dooku episodes, he left the Order, but he remained friendly with the Jedi. Earlier this year, the book Padawan mentioned that Dooku would return to the Temple and meet with the Jedi Council at times, so that’s why his presence in the Temple in this episode isn’t viewed as strange, even though he has left the Order. But also by this time Sidious has twisted his heart, meaning that both Dooku and Maul were serving Sidious at the same time (Dooku knew about Maul, too). He has killed Sifo Dyas, ordered the clone army, and wiped Kamino from the Temple archives (which we actually see in this episode, which was cool).
Yet even still, we see that Dooku’s turn to the dark side at this point in the episode isn’t complete, nor is it beyond repair. He’s still around the Jedi, and still seems to care – particularly for his apprentice, Qui-Gon. And the tragedy is that the very things that Dooku had been warning the Council about for years, which led to his leaving the Order, were the things that got Qui-Gon killed. The Council’s arrogance to not even fully believe Jinn’s testimony about this Sith Lord frustrated Dooku. And he blames the Council for Jinn’s death, even though he knows about Maul. And Dooku is not totally alone in regret, for Yaddle expresses it too, having stepped down from the Council because of the events and therefore not traveling for Jinn’s funeral (explaining her absence there in The Phantom Menace and subsequent films). One can’t help but wonder whether more Jedi, like Yaddle, had begun to see things earlier if not only could they have kept Qui-Gon from falling in death, but also could have kept Dooku from falling to the dark side. I believe they could have. It truly was the Duel of the Fates, in more ways than one, when Qui-Gon fought Maul. The fate of Jinn, Anakin, Dooku, the Jedi, and the galaxy really hung in the balance.
Dooku mourns Qui-Gon’s death. He’s saddened by it, and upset at Sidious for it, saying it was never part of the plan. But while Dooku mourns the loss of his apprentice, Sidious is flippant about his own. Sidious simply says that they both lost an apprentice, yet it’s clear that they are processing it differently. It shows that there is more light left in Dooku at this point than Sidious, and Yaddle confronts him trying to win him back to the light. It’s the battle for light and darkness, and the darkness wins out in Dooku’s heart. But not before Yaddle gets her own epic moment: having slammed a door on her Dooku presumes Yaddle dead, but with the triumphant Force theme blaring Yaddle opens the door, allowing light to shine forth and cause both Dooku and Sidious to stagger back. It’s a temporary victory, for the effort drains her of her strength, but it’s both heroic and symbolic. Dooku has slammed the door shut so that no light gets through, but Yaddle throws the door back open. The light is still open to Dooku, so long as he might choose it.
But he does not. Instead, he kills Yaddle, cementing his fall to the dark side. I love getting to see Yaddle here, and it explains so much about her and fits so well with the films. But I’m also very curious about what the Council did after it; what did they think happened to her? She stumbled upon the whole secret a decade before the rest of the Jedi would, but she could not keep it from happening.
Overall I thought these episodes were fantastic, particularly “The Sith Lord.” Seeing Dooku as a Jedi, seeing Qui-Gon Jinn again, and seeing how well the stories fit into the prequel trilogy and add to our understanding of it made for a fantastic combination – not to mention the absolute top-notch animation and Kevin Kiner’s always-fantastic score. This show looks gorgeous and sounds great. The Dooku episodes were a story that was every bit as good as it, and even though the episodes were shorter, they managed to perfectly capture the feel. In an age of streaming and shows, where more is always better, this is an example of doing more with less.
It’s great, and I hope that we see this Tales of the Jedi format extended to other Jedi – and even other eras – moving forward.