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The Usefulness of Perpetual Conflict

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Screenshot: Setsuled

One of the more memorable Clone Wars arcs, and a good one for the Halloween season, is the three part story about Asajj Ventress in season three. Beginning with “Night Sisters” and concluding with “Witches of the Mist”, the story written by Katie Lucas uses the character of Ventress to discuss what would seem to be the obviously counterproductive practices and beliefs of the Sith.

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The prequels and certainly Disney’s sequel trilogy spend plenty of time talking about drawbacks in the Jedi philosophy. But what about the Sith? How can their devotion to hate, and above all their practice of murder between masters and apprentices, really be sustainable?

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The story begins with Darth Sidious (Ian Abercrombie) ordering his apprentice, Dooku (Corey Burton), to execute his own apprentice, Asajj Ventress (Nike Futterman). Not because Ventress had shown any sign of insubordination or incompetence. It just felt like the right time to Sidious. Naturally, Dooku is resistant to the idea of turning such a valuable ally into a dangerous foe.

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They really should’ve updated the count’s cgi model by this point. As the show started leaning towards more and more realistic character designs, his big Easter Island statue head looked more and more out of place.

After leaving her for dead in the middle of a battle with the Republic on the pretext that she’d lost the battle, events go pretty much as Dooku feared with Ventress turning into a bitter enemy and forcing him to find a new apprentice, Savage Opress (Clancy Brown), who turns out to secretly be Ventress’ own servant planted to assassinate him. In a telling bit of dialogue after Ventress has ordered Opress to kill his own brother, she tells him that one must never sympathise with one’s enemies. This is a good thematic follow-up to the excellent political episode preceding this trilogy, “Heroes on Both Sides”, in which Padme reaches out in secret to a senator on the Separatist side.

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And it’s all a good lead up to her line in Revenge of the Sith: “Have you ever considered that we may be on the wrong side?” and Anakin’s immediate, disgusted reaction. Notice that she didn’t say they were on the wrong side, she only asked him if he considered it, she’s asking specifically about his comprehension of his own principles and it frightens him. Under Palpatine, the Republic is in a state where its devoted servants only see the enemy as thoroughly evil.

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We know what Palpatine manages to accomplish by sewing seeds of chaos and hatred—he inspires a strong desire for stability at any cost. Ultimately, the actions of the Ventress three parter contribute to this overall goal. Keeping his servants busy with their internal drama prevents them from starting to look at the bigger picture. Allowing them to fight amongst themselves also helps to prevent any from becoming too powerful to threaten him.

Illustration for article titled The Usefulness of Perpetual Conflict
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The episodes also have great visual design and some pretty good sabre fights.

Clone Wars is available on Disney+....

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