THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR CLONE WARS SEASON 7 AND THRAWN: ALLIANCES
Order 66 stands as one of the most influential moments in Star Wars history. It marks the moment when the Republic was destroyed and the galactic Empire emerged under the rule of Sheev Palpatine or Darth Sidious/Emperor Palpatine. Most importantly though, this was the moment that the fate of the Jedi was sealed in a grim several days.
It’s no secret that the “Grand Army of the Republic” was foreshadowed to be something of an evil machination long before the order was given. The ending scene in Episode 2: Attack of the Clones pretty much smacks viewers over the head with the foreshadowing. After the battle on Geonosis where Obi Wan and Anakin are defeated by Darth Tyrannus/ Count Dooku, Dooku flees back to Coruscant, the center of the republic democracy. There he is seen meeting with Chancellor Palpatine, his entourage and Bail Organa the Senator from Alderaan who would become one of the father’s of the Rebellion. Dooku is the ruling Count of Serenno which affords him a place in the Senate and a sort of diplomatic immunity. As the camera pans out, we are shown a massive battalion parade of the various company’s lining up and boarding their Venator class Star Destroyers with the “Imperial March” theme playing in the background. Like I said, pretty obvious foreshadowing.
It takes several years from the ending of the Attack of the Clones to the Revenge of the Sith where the order was finally given. In this time the Jedi had been made generals in the Grand Army of the Republic and had developed close relationships with their clones under their command. Through the Clone Wars TV show we are shown the relationships in the 212th, the 501st, the 104th, the 21st, the 327th and the 41st corps between the troops and their Jedi generals. In their hubris, the Jedi didn’t believe something like Order 66 was possible, and for that, they paid the ultimate price.
We watched, most of us awestruck, as the clones that had fought beside their Jedi for years instantly turned without warning and gunned down their friends and mentors. In the final season of the Clone Wars TV show, we saw from Ahsoka’s perspective, first hand, as the 501st turned on their one time commander. She was forced to defend herself from the troopers she had come to see as a surrogate family who tried to kill her without any emotion. In the end, Ahsoka managed to save my favourite character, Captain Rex, and remove the inhibitor chip that had been implanted in his head to ensure the troops carried out the order with no resistance. Rex and Ahsoka fought their way off the Venator with the help of Maul, who had been imprisoned following the liberation of Mandalore. Maul used his anger and hate to literally rip the hyperdrive from the ship causing it to drop out of light speed and begin it’s slow agonizing crash to the surface of an unknown planet.
While Maul stole the ship Ahsoka and Rex were planning to use to escape, the two heroes were forced to stare down their friends and brothers who were trying to kill them instead of saving themselves from the crashing ship. Literally the entire company of troopers on that ship would rather kill Ahsoka and anyone else standing in the way of “galactic freedom” than save themselves by evacuating off the ship.
The order itself was something that Palpatine had come up with to ensure he could take the Jedi out in one fell swoop rather than trying to beat them all individually. He knew if he had to go after the them one by one he would never succeed, but by making them completely reliant on the clones for the war he had the perfect method to wipe them all out at once. The Clones were created by the Kaminoans for the purpose of serving as the troops the Republic would need to win the war against the CIS (Confederacy of Independent Systems/Droid Army). Strangely enough, they never hid any of the protocols that had been installed in the troopers. Had the Jedi deigned to look closely enough at the scans of the troopers, they would’ve discovered the inhibitor chips and the protocols for Order 66. If even one Jedi or member of the Republic had looked into the process a little more closely, then Order 66 would never have happened.
There were two occasions where the entire plot nearly came crashing down around the Emperor’s ears and they were both unrelated incidents that happened several years apart.
The first is explored in the Clone Wars show itself, with “Fives” CT-5555 having his implant activate early and shooting his Jedi commander on the battlefield. He was whisked away and scanned immediately by a random medical droid and discovered what was really going on. He escaped with the information and wanted to make sure it got into the right hands to stop something bad from happening. Fives decided to try and contact Rex and Anakin to explain what was going to happen to the clones, but Anakin didn’t believe him stating the Jedi would’ve been able to sense something like that. Fives decided to try and go as high as he could and inform the Chancellor himself. Not believing the Chancellor could be the one responsible, Fives infiltrated the Senate building and broke in the Chancellor’s office. Palpatine knew that if the information got out his plan would be ruined, so he spun a tale of Fives trying to assassinate him and sent Commander Fox to hunt him down without prejudice. Rex and Anakin also tried to apprehend Fives to bring him in peacefully. Fives was behaving erratically, trapping Rex and Anakin behind a ray shield while he mumbled and babbled about a plot to destroy the Jedi and take over the galaxy. Rex desperately tried to help his friend only to watch him get gunned down by commander Fox and his men without remorse.
The second occasion comes in the second Thrawn book by Timothy Zahn, the canon Thrawn Trilogy, not the OG Thrawn trilogy from Legends. The book is called Thrawn: Alliances and details two separate adventures, one from the Clone Wars and one from the Civil war that mirror each other, but the main point comes from the clone wars section.
During the Clone Wars, Anakin becomes concerned that Padmé has gone missing on a planet that borders Wild Space/Unknown Regions and tries to find her himself. He ventures to the planet, Batuu, that borders the Unknown regions and encounters a young Thrawn who is likewise investigating the planet for the Chiss Ascendency. Anakin and Thrawn find Padmé’s ship and one of her hand maidens dead while being attacked by the locals in Black Spire (the main settlement on the planet). The duo reluctantly pair up and venture to the planet Mokivj where Padmé’s trail leads. Anakin uncovers a factory where they are using a rare material, Cortosis to create fully coated Super Battle Droids.
Cortosis is unique in its properties that when energy is directly applied to it, the molecules allow for the energy to be dispersed through the entire material and causes a feedback which can temporarily, overwhelm a power capacitor. This makes it extremely useful for battling lightsaber users because every time the blade strikes the material, minimum damage occurs and the lightsaber overloads for a short time causing it to short out. Anakin thought they were merely using the material to make Battle Droids to deploy on the frontlines of the Clone Wars but he was very wrong. Near the end of the book he is attacked by Duke Solha, a Serennian like count Dooku, who was responsible for the factory and the mining operation on the planet. The Duke and his security men donned Phase II clone armour to do battle with Anakin and Thrawn in the factory itself. Anakin seeing the clone armour, believed they were going to use it to infiltrate the Republic army to try and kill either Jedi or the chancellor himself, which was close to the truth, but also way off. The armour was going to be deployed in the Republic army to make the troopers carrying out Order 66 even more formidable against the Jedi and to hopefully make losses a more manageable number. Following their defeat of Solha and his men, Anakin, Padmé and Thrawn dismantled the factory and destroyed the entire production line of the armour not knowing what they were actually stopping. They detonated the mine, causing it to implode and stop any side from having access to the Cortosis material for the duration of the Clone Wars.
Ask any Star Wars fan and they will likely say that Order 66 is one of their top three moments in all of Star Wars lore that was awe inspiring. I remember sitting in the theater watching it and just being so surprised that this is what was happening to the great characters I had grown to love over the previous two movies. Newer Star wars media has done a great job of diving into the grittiness of the order and the chaos that followed it in the first few days and months of the emerging Galactic Empire. It wasn’t executed perfectly, as we all know, several Jedi managed to survive. However, going from probably 10,000 – 20,000 Jedi in the galaxy to maybe a couple dozen is definitely 98% efficiency in my book.
Just think though, if someone had taken a chance on Fives and what he was saying or dared to look just a little closer and the clones and the armour facility on Mokivj, the galaxy far far away would’ve had a completely different story.
See you next week!