Palpatine had plans to ensure no one tried to overthrow him. One of those schemes became known as Operation: Knightfall in Star Wars.
Revenge of the Sith served as the finale of Star Wars before the release of the sequel trilogy. In media released after the final prequel film, the attack of the Jedi Temple became recognised as Operation: Knightfall.
Fall to the dark side
After the duel in Palpatine’s office, the hidden Sith Lord orders his new student, Darth Vader to slaughter the Jedi in the temple. This event became known in Legends as Operation: Knightfall. In Canon, it’s known as the Attack on the Jedi Temple.
Anakin’s fall to the darkness started when he was 9 and left his mother to fulfil his dream of becoming a Jedi. However, this desire turned into a nightmare when the council refused to acknowledge his abilities.
From Shmi’s death at the hands of the Tusken Raiders to Padmé’s demise in childbirth, there’s other contributing factors that should be taken into consideration. Another factor, besides Palpatine’s influence was Ahsoka’s departure from the Jedi Order, which crushed Anakin and left a Snips-sized hole in his heart.
Why didn’t the clones shoot Anakin?
One of the most confusing parts of Operation: Knightfall that wasn’t explained was why the 501st didn’t shoot Anakin.
We know the special legion of 501st troops Anakin assigned Ahsoka when she served on Mandalore with Rex tried to kill her. According to the Ahsoka novel, the captain didn’t become a mindless zombie affected by the command because of the removal of his implant.
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The Clone Captain, who held great affection for his former commander, helped her fake her death and his own. He removed his armor and placed it on the body of one of his fallen brothers and buried him. To make it more convincing, Ahsoka placed her lightsabers on top of the grave so it appeared they’d killed each other. After this, the pair went their separate ways.
After what happened with Fives, we can assume Rex thought through what his brother detailed. This led to him having his chip removed. What we should keep in mind is Rex didn’t serve as the leader of the 501st when Operation: Knightfall happened. Commander Appo took over the clone leadership in his absence.
We have to assume Palpatine assigned the 501st to Anakin and had the order altered in these soldiers so they wouldn’t shoot him when the occasion arose.
The Clone Biochips
During The Clone Wars series, we meet a vast array of Clones, including CT-5385 or Tup, who served within in the 501st legion under Anakin. During a mission, he gets reported missing by his general but reappears after five rotations.
However, the biochip in his head malfunctioned, and he killed his commanding Jedi. The activated command became known as Clone Protocol 66. To verify, according to Star Wars Fandom, this is an alternative name for Order 66. The triggering of this condition activated prematurely.
Clone Trooper Fives, a former member of Domino Squad and one of the newer soldiers in the 501st started investigating the incident. He discovered each of his brothers’s brain contained a biochip. This made it impossible for the individual to defy the order.
Palpatine framed the trooper for attempting to assassinate him when he got too close to the truth. Fives never had the chance to tell Anakin what he’d learned about the implants, but Rex felt something wasn’t right. This’d explain the scar on his head when we catch up with him in the Rebels episode, ‘The Lost Commanders’.
The emergency beacon
During the prologue of the novel, A New Dawn, a young Caleb Dume (later Kanan Jarrus) questions Master Obi-Wan Kenobi on whether the emergency beacon the Jedi used to summon their recruits to the Temple could tell them to stay away.
Kenobi sent out the recording seen in the premiere of Star Wars: Rebels. This ties in with the book and confirms that he followed through with Dume’s suggestion.
What happened during the raid?
From the information available, Vader led his squadron into the Temple with their leader, Commander Appo (not Rex) leading the charge. He ordered his troops to slaughter every Jedi.
The Jedi inside did everything they could to defend the establishment but to little effect — finding themselves overwhelmed. Anakin tampered with the beacon to summon the Jedi to return.
In the Jedi Council Chamber, a class of younglings hid. The Sith apprentice killed them without thinking twice.
Senator Bail Organa witnessed Padawan Zett Jukassa being cut down. Since he was a witness, the clones attempted to kill him but was told to stop by another Clone.
Sometime later, Vader fought Jedi Battlemaster, Cin Drallig and murdered two of his students, Bene and Whie Malreaux.
Sidious, pleased with his apprentice’s progress, ordered him to depart for Mustafar where he was to take care of the Separatists.
Lying to Amidala and the emergency senate meeting
After the slaughter at the Temple, the former Jedi Knight returns home to his pregnant wife. He tells her he is being directed to the Mustafar system. However, he lies to her face, telling her the Jedi betrayed the Republic.
The Chancellor calls an emergency meeting of the Senate as the fires in the Temple are extinguished. It’s here he declares the Jedi traitors, and he is changing the Republic into an Empire.
The security hologram revelation
As they examine the remains of the Temple, a visibly shaken Obi-Wan questions Yoda who lead the attack.
Obi-Wan watches the security footage in horror as he witnesses his best friend murder Cin Drallig and his students before he bows down to Palpatine. Yoda tells him they need to end the Sith. It’s here Kenobi realizes there’s only one person who can tell him where Anakin has gone: Padmé.
At the senator’s apartment, the Jedi Master dreads the conversation to come, but knows it needs to happen. He asks if she’s seen Anakin and tells him she has but she lies when asked where. Kenobi pushes forward and tells her that her husband is in danger.
Padmé refuses to believe Anakin has fallen, but realizes Obi-Wan wouldn’t lie to her. He explains what he and Yoda saw in the security hologram. Her longtime friend explains Palpatine played everyone and was the Sith Lord they’d been looking for. She goes into shock, unable to comprehend that her husband would commit murder.
As the Senator’s devastated friend gets up, he asks if Anakin is the father of her child. When she doesn’t respond, he apologises and leaves, unbeknownst to her to head to her ship.
The Ahsoka Prologue
The Ahsoka novel’s prologue tells us want went down on Mandalore during Revenge of Sith when Rex isn’t present during the attack on Coruscant’s Jedi Temple.
We recall from the prologue and the Star Wars Rebels episode the ‘Lost Commanders’ that Rex had his biochip removed before Order 66’s activation. His brothers, Gregor and Wolfe did the same. However, in the mentioned Rebels episode, Wolfe showed signs of PTSD as evident when he calls Kanan and Ezra Jedi.
This lead to Rex saying, “They’re not the ones who betrayed us.” It’s also apparent the trio were in the dark about who ordered the kill on the Jedi. They assumed their superiors had turned on them rather than the opposite.
Several times throughout the novel, it’s stated Ahsoka tried several times over the years to contact Anakin through the Force. When she didn’t get a read from him, she assumed he’d become a fatality.
Despite giving up on her search for Anakin, Ahsoka held onto hope that she would reunite with him someday. Though, when she did on Malachor, it was not the reunion she expected. Vader wasn’t the man she remembered.
As Obi-Wan’s Force Ghost would say to Luke years later, “He’s more machine now than man. Twisted and evil.” When Ahsoka faces her former master, Vader is at the top of his game. When Kenobi speaks to Luke, Vader has lost his touch after discovering his son.
Operation: Knightfall helped to show the end of the Jedi Order. It showcased Palpatine’s power and how he could lift a finger and get Anakin to do exactly what he wanted. The manipulations served as the beginning of the bigger problem that spelt the end of the Jedi.
What do you think? Should the Operation: Knightfall name be re-canonized? Let us know below!