Photo credit: Lucasfilm
12. Anakin murders Count Dooku
While not always perfectly executed, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith does bring Anakin Skywalker’s story to a fitting conclusion. One of the ways it does this is by cultivating a strong sense of tragic inevitability.
Throughout the film, Anakin Skywalker is presented with a series of important choices. In many cases, had he shown better judgment in his decision-making, his life, and the galaxy as a whole, would’ve been better off. But as the audience knows from the rest of the Star Wars saga, Anakin usually falls short when making tough calls.
Appropriately, Revenge of the Sith puts Anakin in a situation that, while difficult, is morally clear-cut. Having defeated and literally disarmed the evil Count Dooku, Anakin is presented with two choices. He can follow the code he is sworn himself to and take his enemy into custody. That would be the proper moral choice given the circumstances.
However, the lingering humiliation and anger he felt toward Dooku for defeating him in Attack of the Clones cause him to consider another course of action. With only a few words of encouragement from Chancellor Palpatine, Anakin chooses to execute a defenseless man.
Although killing Dooku isn’t among the top-five worst things Anakin does in Revenge of the Sith, it is one of the most telling. No longer the conflicted young adult he was in Attack of the Clones, Anakin is a man capable of defeating powerful adversaries and embracing moral relativism.
But notably, he shows some hesitation in committing a war crime. Consequently, the viewer can’t help but hope that he’ll find some way to pull out of the downward spiral he’s in.