On March 7, Star Wars: The Clone Wars fans gathered together to watch the premiere of “The Lost Missions” on Netflix. We laughed, we cried, and we once again thanked the cast and crew for their magnificent work and unwavering passion for that galaxy far, far away.
Now that some time has passed, I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the women who played various roles in the final thirteen episodes. For some viewers, it is easy to overlook the involvement of female characters and the contributions made to further the plot. Some even go as far as to believe that it does not matter if the character is female, male, white, black, Hispanic/Latina(o), Asian, and so on. If the characters and the stories are well-written, then those are the most important details that matter. I am not a supporter of that way of thought. I am a firm believer and proud advocate of establishing and highlighting diversity in any genre who are equally well-written, especially in science fiction.
As Jane Espenson once said, “If we can’t write diversity into sci-fi, then what’s the point? You don’t create new worlds to give them all the same limits of the old ones.”
Tiplar and Tiplee (“The Unknown”)
Although the species name remains elusive, both Tiplar and Tiplee are based on a female Sith Lord concept art designed by Iain McCaig for Episode II: Attack of the Clones. When introduced back in March 2013, many fans (including myself) quickly noted the fact that both female Jedi were sisters. A few conversations throughout the fan community brought up the issue of attachment and how it could lead to the Dark Side of the Force, but both sisters clearly trained themselves to let go and not be consumed by the loss of that attachment. Although Tiplar’s death started a chain reaction of events, I would have preferred to have seen more of the sisters strategizing and working together.
After revisiting the episodes, one of my favorite moments was when Tiplee mentioned rumors about Separatists tampering with methods of biological warfare by developing an “anti-clone virus.” Being that I am a big fan of the Republic Commando series by Karen Traviss, I immediately recalled Doctor Ovolot Qail Uthan and her clone-targeted nanovirus, FG36. It remains unclear whether Tiplee’s line was intentionally pulling a reference from the Expanded Universe or not.
As for Tiplee’s future, I wonder if she will succumb to the same fate as her sister or if she becomes one of the few Jedi to escape Order 66.
Shaak Ti (“Conspiracy,” “Fugitive,” “Orders”)
Shaak Ti played a crucial role in the war, which was supervising the training of clone cadets on Kamino. Without her influence, units like the Domino Squad would not have surpassed the last stages of training. When Fives’ story came full circle and he found himself back on Kamino, it was only fitting that Shaak Ti oversaw his and Tup’s care. When Tup died, she bowed her head and raised her hand to her chest, as if paying respect to a fallen soldier. She was one of the few Jedi who understood that the clones were “living beings, not objects.”
“I am not a piece of hardware! I’m a living being!” Fives yelled out to Nala Se, who countered that he was Kaminoan property. When Shaak Ti heard this, she corrected Nala Se and added a bit of sass when repeating the word property, a term she would not ordinarily use. When she ordered that Fives be sent to Coruscant along with Tup’s data, she exchanged a small nod with him and he reciprocated in gratitude. Besides AZI-3, Shaak Ti was the only one who believed Fives and the message he wanted to make known before everything eventually deteriorated. Sadly, her belief was replaced with lies.
Unfortunately, the last words of the arc were exchanged between Mace Windu, Yoda, and Chancellor Palpatine. Given her role with the clones, I would have much preferred to hear her perspective and the conversation transpire between her and Chancellor Palpatine.
Nala Se (“Conspiracy,” “Fugitive,” “Orders”)
One of the characters that underwent a dramatic change in personality was Doctor Nala Se. She had previously appeared in “Shadow of Malevolence,” where she worked to rehabilitate wounded clone troopers in Kaliida Shoals Medical Center, a space station in the Outer Rim. When the medical center was threatened by General Grievous, not only was she dismayed by the fact that she could not evacuate every clone to safety, but she refused to leave the remaining clones behind. Se even thanked Anakin Skywalker for his valiant efforts against Grievous and firmly said, “Do not take the lives you saved lightly.”
Se was also a chief medical scientist and one of the primary clone engineers on Kamino. However, unlike her first appearance, Se lied, wanted to deactivate both Tup and Fives, collaborated with Count Dooku in secret, drugged Fives, and was ultimately responsible for the creation of the organic biochip implanted in the brains of each clone trooper. Additionally, she also saw the clones as nothing but “Kaminoan property. ” What happened to the Nala Se who nearly sacrificed her life to save the wounded clones back in season one? Did her passion for science cloud her morals and principles?
Despite being one of the antagonists in this arc, her involvement in the medical and science fields are something to be admired–as long as both professions do no harm.
Padme Amidala (“An Old Friend,” “The Rise of Clovis,” and “Crisis at the Heart”)
Able to handle herself in any situation and looking absolutely magnificent while doing so, Padmé Amidala always held firmly to her beliefs and continually risked her life to do the right thing. Unlike Anakin Skywalker and his “aggressive negotiations,” the Senator of Naboo often fought battles with her words as weapons in the political arena. Though, that did not mean that she would not draw out a concealed blaster pistol and point it at an intruder, as she did to Rush Clovis.
Throughout the series, Padmé was not the damsel-in-distress type, even though she fell into those kinds of situations from time to time. Nevertheless, she knew how to spring herself out of a trap or recognize when to employ patience when backed into a corner. She normally exhibited maturity well beyond her years, even more so in this arc, while her husband was quite the opposite. Anakin’s refusal to trust Padmé in her attempt to work with Clovis demonstrated that he did not have faith in her ability to defend herself. He was so consumed by his jealousy that he did not trust his own wife’s judgment, and instead, revealed aspects of his personality that even Padmé was shocked to witness.
Padmé had always been a straightforward character with no need for growth or character development. Her interactions with other characters and the missions she embarked on solidified the politician she set out to be–a compassionate individual with the voice and influence to help those with needs greater than hers. Her appearances throughout the series–in this last arc especially–added more depth to the person we saw in the films.
Teckla Minnau (“An Old Friend”)
Loyal handmaiden to Senator Padmé Amidala, Teckla Minnau was a resourceful young woman, actively providing moral support for Padmé on many occasions. In “Pursuit of Peace,” when Padmé had to rally the Senate against a bill that would increase the number of clone troopers in the war, Teckla was there to offer comforting words. In an hour of great need, she reminded Padmé that she was a person with compassion and not a cold politician, always finding it in her heart to care about the well-being of others. For Padmé, Teckla was a clear voice and an inspiration in a crowded room filled with opposing and limited views.
Sadly, Teckla met her end when she was shot and killed by the bounty hunter Embo on the planet Scipio. Her brave actions allowed Padmé and Clovis to gain access to incriminating evidence and expose the InterGalactic Banking Clan council leaders as embezzlers. What makes Teckla’s passing all the more heartbreaking is the fact that, unlike most of the women here, she was a mother. Knowing that she had children waiting for her back on Naboo, she did not have to risk her life, but she carried out the mission anyway in order to shed light on something that was bigger than her. Sometimes, being a hero means doing what is right, even when it puts you in harm’s way.
Julia, Queen of Bardotta (“The Disappeared, Part I and II”)
Queen Julia was no doubt a self-assured woman with a strong spiritual connection to the Force and boundless compassion for her people. That said, however, she did fall into the damsel-in-distress cliché. “I knew you would save me,” she said, having made little effort to save herself. This was later followed by, “I saw the Witch when I looked into the Force. Jar Jar, I knew you would stop her.” Although she contacted the Republic for assistance in an attempt stop her planet’s doom-and-gloom prophecy from taking place, she knew someone else would come and fix the problem for her. Despite this flaw, she refused to let her captors achieve their malicious goals, and after Jar Jar saved her, she returned the favor by pushing him out of immediate danger.
Mother Talzin (“The Disappeared, Part II”)
An extremely powerful witch and a master of dark magic, Mother Talzin returned to cause more mayhem in the galaxy. Seeking a greater connection to the Force and power that would rival that of the Jedi and Sith combined, Mother Talzin sacrificed people for her personal gain without any remorse. She was a woman with a plan and a vision, and if innocent lives had to pay the price of what she wanted to accomplish, then in her perspective the end justified the means. Unfortunately for her, Talzin’s plans fell into ruin and the connection she so desperately desired was severed.
What if she had been successful, though? According to Dave Filoni in a recent interview with IGN, he stated:
Talzin, obviously, her story isn’t finished at all. So I’m excited that we have the crossover with the comics coming, working off our scripts from Dark Horse, that get a bit more into the whole Darth Maul story that she’s much more connected to than this. But I did feel that it was an opportunity to show that there is a need from her to have a connection to the Force. So the big question I think, as an audience, is you come out of that with, “Why?” Well, ultimately in Star Wars we know that evil always wants power, and power means control. But what does she want that particular power for and why, and how does she know so much about it? So these are all questions that we get into quite a bit. I think in the Dark Horse comic you’ll see some of those threads come to light a bit.
With the Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir comic book mini-series set to be released on May 21, 2014, the audience will discover more about Talzin’s malicious intentions. Despite her role as a malevolent individual (with some maternal tendencies), Talzin is a rare and distinct character in the Star Wars universe mostly because she is one of the few women who resembles a Sith lord. When it comes to the films and The Clone Wars series, there is a severe lack of women in that category of characters. Since her story is not over and she has a grander scheme in mind, here’s hoping Mother Talzin’s character continues to pave the way for similar characters to take shape and diversify the future of storytelling in the Star Wars universe.
Jocasta Nu (“The Lost One”)
Chief Librarian of the Jedi Archives, Jocasta Nu is the information specialist and the individual most equipped to handle research queries. Not to deviate from Star Wars too much, but librarians are an important resource in our own society. We live in an age filled with information. People have even questioned the need for librarians, claiming that Google and other search engines already provide everything that is needed. However, did you know that when you put a dash before a word in a search engine, the dash is meant to exclude all results that include that word (e.g. star wars -trek)? Did you know that an asterisk acts as a placeholder for an unknown term (e.g. may the * be with *)? Have you ever used the advanced search of a search engine to refine and narrow your results?
Although information is a powerful thing, it can also be overwhelming. An information specialist, like Jocasta Nu, is trained and prepared to facilitate. Jocasta provided the Jedi Council with the necessary information to follow through with a mission revolving around the late Master Sifo-Dyas. The Jedi could have searched the records themselves, but the area of expertise belonged to Jocasta Nu, a fellow librarian and facilitator of information access.
Rig Nema (“Voices”)
Based on Iain McCaig’s early concept design of Mace Windu from Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Rig Nema was both a Jedi Master and doctor at the Jedi Temple. She was a competent professional with expert knowledge in her field. In order to determine Yoda’s affliction, Nema stepped in without hesitation and recommended a dangerous procedure, known as a deprivation ritual, that she believed would help uncover answers. Even when the procedure appeared to worsen Yoda’s condition, Nema confidently held her ground in a room with opposing views. She had given them fair warning about the ritual, but if it was not for her efforts, Yoda would not have received Qui-Gon Jinn’s next set of instructions. In the end, Nema’s recommendation allowed Yoda to reach the source of Qui-Gon’s voice and contributed significantly to the plot in a way that her fellow Jedi colleagues could not.
The Force Priestesses (“Destiny” and “Sacrifice”)
Holding the secrets to immortality, these five mysterious Force-sensitive beings represented confusion, anger, sadness, joy, and serenity. Known as the Priestesses, the five women existed in a state between the living Force and the cosmic Force, possessing the ability to manifest themselves before the living at will. Although not much is known about them, the Priestesses had the power to determine who was worthy to retain one’s identity after death. This was believed to be impossible by Yoda, because when a living thing died, that life passed from the living Force into the cosmic Force and became one with it–loosing its identity and sense of self.
The Priestesses carefully watched and studied all those who were strong with the Force and appeared to have foresight into the future, “[Yoda] is to teach one that will save the universe from the great imbalance. For this, the great gift will be his.” Their influence and trials helped Yoda become worthy of immortality after death, perhaps even affecting the events we will see unfold in the future sequel films. After all, Qui-Gon revealed to Yoda that he must manifest his consciousness after death, if he is to preserve the Jedi Order. Luke Skywalker must have had some contact with Yoda in order to do just that. Yoda’s preservation of identity following his death was only made possible with the instruction of the Priestesses.
Ahsoka Tano (“Destiny”)
In an attempt to have Yoda resist great temptation as part of the trials to achieve immortality after death, the Five Priestesses devised an illusion in which the Master Jedi was presented with two scenarios. The first brought Yoda back to the Jedi Temple, where he found the dead bodies of a handful of Jedi, including Mace Windu and Petro. A dying Ahsoka Tano caught his attention, “You told me I would finish my training, but the council expelled me. Will I still become one with the Force when I die? Will I be a Jedi?” Ahsoka was merely an illusion made to pull on Yoda’s emotions, since he was the one who originally assigned Ahsoka as a Padawan to Anakin Skywalker and later expelled her from the Jedi Order.
It is intriguing that Ahsoka was chosen for this illusion. It could have been Obi-Wan Kenobi or Plo Koon dying in his arms, but it seemed Yoda held the most regret when it came to Ahsoka leaving the Order. So much so, that the Priestesses played on that and forced him to confront his mistakes because the real Ahsoka could be asking herself those very same questions. Then again, what appeared to be a mistake turned out to be Ahsoka’s salvation, since she was spared from Order 66.
In the second scenario, Yoda traveled to a world without war. He peacefully watched over an Ahsoka who never left the Order, and that, combined with everyone else alive and well, was his greatest temptation.
Last but certain not least is the young Jedi Katooni. When Ahsoka died in his arms and he began to feel his world unravel, Katooni appeared from the shadows and offered him a world without war. Katooni was a representation of innocence and the Priestess of serenity chose her, since someone so young and full of light would harbor no words of ill intent. She was merely a gateway to a better place–a place where the Jedi thrived and a new generation of younglings had a future.
General viewers of “The Lost Missions” might have overlooked and dismissed these women as trivial background characters, but each woman contributed significantly to the progression of each story. The gender diversity incorporated into these episodes was both enriching and refreshing. It is with great hope that future Star Wars projects continue to do what Star Wars: The Clone Wars did so well and not lose sight of the fact that a large portion of the fan community is female, desperately seeking for representation in a universe with endless possibilities.