Blinded, Are The Knights
Luceno’s Labyrinth of Evil and Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars microseries (ran from 2003-05) present the Battle of Coruscant in different lights, a continuity dilemma that has always irked me, to some degree, as they were likely in production around the same time. While I favor Luceno’s version in terms of the gritty realism, the scope that the microseries was able to present through its trademark exaggerated visual style (i.e. Saesee Tiin leading the fighters into space, where a massive battle was already raging) also makes it one of the two to three most memorable storylines of the short-run series. Labyrinth does this event in Galactic history well in that it provides backstory for the giant, overreaching question that is not even approached in the microseries – HOW!? Just as many would question Roosevelt’s administration following the Japanese assault on a crucial US Naval Base in 1941, or those who accuse the second Bush administration of prior knowledge of 9/11, how on earth could the capital planet be invaded without some sort of inside assistance? Of course, we, standing outside the fourth wall, know a great deal about that “inside assistance,” but it is an assumption that the writers of the micro-series should not have presumed, I would argue.
Luceno provides the needed backdrop, albeit simplistic- the “shield generator,” as referred to by Shaak Ti, was deactivated or destroyed. Thoughtful characters such as Padme seem baffled by this, but, as is the tragedy of the Prequel Trilogy, the dots are a bit too far apart for connecting. Windu also suggests some skepticism as to the timing of this assault, as it came at the end of a lengthy operation intended to root out the truth about Darth Sidious.
As a practical matter, one would believe that the value of Coruscant to the Republic surely warrants some sort of backup security measures out of the hands of one single person (similar to modern-day nuclear codes), even if he is the Dark Lord of the Sith masquerading as Supreme Chancellor. However, one would have to acknowledge that logic is seemingly defied at many points throughout the Clone Wars, the excuse for which is that everything is interwoven into the brilliantly hideous plan of its curator. Dooku’s mark is surely on this treachery as well, as he assists Grievous in commandeering a Republic gunboat that takes him directly to 500 Republica, hoodwinking Windu and Kit Fisto long enough for Grievous to lay waste to Palpatine’s security detail, made up of nameless Jedi and his trademark red guards.
The level of coordination is absolutely flawless, and we as the reader/viewer are led to believe that this is all due to Jedi being extended to the Outer Rim sieges on Palpatine’s orders. Perhaps we should even assume that, should Kenobi and Skywalker have been allowed back home, they could have disrupted this plot. Yoda harps on the ability of the Dark Side to cloud everything many times throughout the films and the EU, but while this is truly Grievous’ “finest hour,” as Sidious transmits to him during Luceno’s novel, it is, first and foremost, a staggering failure for the Order. All practical matters aside, if we as fans are to believe Yoda when he definitively tells Luke “No” when asked if the Dark Side is stronger, and are also expected to make all of these logistical leaps in assuming Palpatine could, in the blink of an eye, disable the planetary defenses for the Republic capital, the greatest leap of all is accepting that the Jedi were absolutely, totally blinded to all of this. Mace wishes to tell the Senate in AOTC that the Order’s ability to use the force has “diminished.” The way I see it, in this instance, Palpatine turns it completely off, as easily as he flips the switch on the planetary shield. And that is a small detail worth exploring.
More to come this week! And we’ll make sure to talk about Kit Fisto’s blue lightsaber.