Star Wars theory: Did Count Dooku haunt Anakin Skywalker?

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002).. Count Dooku (Christopher Lee).. Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd., All Rights Reserved
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002).. Count Dooku (Christopher Lee).. Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd., All Rights Reserved /

Given our new knowledge of Sith powers, we must ask the question. Did Count Dooku haunt Anakin Skywalker throughout Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith?

In Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Anakin Skywalker is faced with a pivotal decision on which the entire saga hangs. His mentor, Chancellor Sheev Palpatine, has been unmasked as the Dark Lord of the Sith influencing the Republic. One of his idols, Jedi Master Mace Windu, stands over Palpatine ready to deliver a killing blow.

This movie, and indeed the entire trilogy of prequel movies has prepared us for this decision. Anakin wants to do what is right, but he also wants to protect those he loves. He has been beset by visions of his secret love and wife, Senator Padme Amidala, dying painfully. Palpatine is his best link to saving his wife.

More from Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Initially, Anakin made the decision to follow his morals and not his fears, reporting Palpatine to the Jedi Council. Mace Windu and three other Jedi Masters showed up to arrest the newly uncovered Sith Master, and while the other three Jedi — Masters Kit Fisto, Sassee Tinn and Agen Kolar — were killed, Windu had successfully subdued Palpatine. On the spot, he made the call to move to execution.

Anakin bursts into Palpatine’s chambers to discover this scene. Palpatine, disfigured by his own Sith lightning, begs for help. Windu makes his case to deliver swift and brutal justice. Anakin pauses, clearly warring against an internal voice calling him to stop Windu, to save Palpatine and therefore Padme.

What if that internal voice was not his own? What if there was a voice in his head, speaking to him, stroking his fears, and ultimately providing the final push over to the Dark Side of the Force? What if that voice was Count Dooku?

To make sense of that statement we need to jump forward in time around 54 years. We again are with Sheev Palpatine, impossibly still alive, with his granddaughter Rey standing before him. He explains his sinister plan: for Rey to strike him down in anger, which will grant her immense power but only through Palpatine and some number of the Sith of old embodying her.

It is a path to immortality, if a twisted one. The Sith, Palpatine explains, live on through him — and if Rey kills him in anger they will live on through her. This was a plan he first tried to implement with Luke Skywalker in his throne room on the second Death Star. Then he was killed (or not killed; we’re still fuzzy on the details) through a heroic and selfless act by Darth Vader to save his son. Eventually this time he will be killed by his own lightning reflected back by a calm Rey, supported by the Jedi voices that came before her.

We don’t get more exposition than that during the movie. What is this “Sith possession” thing and where did it come from? Is Palpatine the only Sith with that power? Has it happened before? We cannot answer those questions definitively, but we can look into the other films to try and find a little context.

Chronologically our first Sith death was in Episode I: The Phantom Menace when Obi-Wan Kenobi strikes down Darth Maul. This doesn’t fit the Palpatine / Rey paradigm, as Obi-Wan is fighting in self-defense and Maul doesn’t actually die.

With Darth Vader dying from his wounds and Emperor Palpatine killed (or not killed!) through a selfless act, that leaves just one other Sith killed on screen. In the opening moments of the aforementioned  Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Count Dooku — i.e. Darth Tyrannus — is killed by Anakin Skywalker.

Does troubled young Skywalker kill Dooku out of anger? From what the context tells us during this scene, the answer seems to be ‘yes’. While fighting, Dooku tells Anakin, “I sense great fear in you, Skywalker. You have hate. You have anger! But you don’t use them.”

A few moments later, Anakin has disarmed the Count and holds both blades crossed at his throat. His eyes are tight with what appears to be rage. Palpatine, pretending to be a helpless bystander, goads his future apprentice on.

“Do it!” he hisses.

Skywalker does, beheading Dooku as he gives in to his base emotions. He almost immediately feels regret, but Palpatine works to dismiss it. “It’s only natural…You wanted revenge. It wasn’t the first time,” referring here to Anakin’s slaughtering of an entire village of Tusken Raiders, an action certainly done in anger and rage.

Therefore we have met the criteria; a Sith Lord is struck down in anger. But would Count Dooku have had this power to live on inside of his killer, as Palpatine himself had (or at least expected to have)?

While we don’t know for sure, a clue comes to us from that chamber on Exegol in Episode IX. Some great number of the Sith from the past are present there; they have survived through this method of murder. While Dooku is technically an apprentice to Palpatine, the traditional method of transmission would have been an apprentice killing their Sith master. Dooku is extremely powerful, a successful Jedi in his own right and now a Sith. More so than the average Sith apprentice he would likely be capable of any Sith power available.

Our conclusion is thus that Dooku could have lived on by embodying his killer, a future Sith himself in Anakin Skywalker. The question then becomes: what if he did?

From what we can see in the movie, Anakin’s vision of Padme’s death either begin or intensify after he has killed Count Dooku. These visions are a twisted glimpse into the worst part of the future, and they quickly lead the tormented Jedi down a dark, confusing road.

He opens up to the seeds of darkness being planted by Chancellor Palpatine every time they are together, and the disguised Sith Lord seems to know exactly where to press — perhaps informed by Dooku himself?

On the night in question, when Anakin chooses to save Palpatine and thus doom the Republic, he is clearly conflicted. His inner moral compass is being overwhelmed by his fear of what will happen to Padme. As Mace Windu and the other Jedi Masters march on the Chancellor’s office, he stands in a room at the Jedi Temple, conflicted. Could this inner battle be not with himself but with a voice inside that unknowingly belongs to Darth Tyrannus?

That voice stokes the fire of his fears, reminding him that Padme’s only hope is the knowledge that Palpatine holds. It blows on the embers of his resentment, directed at a Jedi Council that forced him to betray his friend and mentor. It tells him there is still time; it tells him that if anyone can control Palpatine, it’s the great Anakin Skywalker, the Chosen One.

When he bursts into the office, his shattered psyche is no match for the machinations of Dooku. Anakin does the unthinkable, intervening and saving a Dark Lord of the Sith. The little boy on Tatooine who abhorred slavery and wanted to protect everyone decided to sacrifice everyone in the galaxy to save his wife.

No wonder Anakin’s guilt and shame drove him to become a full Sith Lord himself. And no wonder it took him nearly two decades and the love of his son to break free of the dark side and finally overthrow Palpatine.

This is certainly just a theory, but it’s an eerily perfect one. Something we never expected could help one of the saga’s most important pivot points make even more sense. The layers to the Force and to Star Wars just keep coming.

Years ago, when the author was in high school, I stumbled on a story that predicted something very close to this. You can find it here. What that story highlights is that a dark voice in your own thoughts is a difficult foe to overcome.

dark. Next. The Rise of Skywalker: 3 questions about Palpatine’s return

Did Count Dooku live on, terrorizing the galaxy for years behind a faceless black mask? It’s an interesting idea, and a chilling one.