4. Anakin’s attachment to R2-D2
In the sixth episode of Season 1 of The Clone Wars, “Downfall of a Droid,” R2-D2 is believed to be lost out in the vacuum of space after a battle with the Separatists. This episode and the one immediately after it demonstrate Anakin’s attachment to this astromech droid we all know and love so well. Anakin’s affection for the droid reminds us that in the Star Wars universe, droids aren’t just soulless machines. When Anakin finds out that R2-D2 is alive and on board General Grievous’s secret listening post, Anakin mounts a daring rescue. The Republic, of course, doesn’t want Artoo to fall into enemy hands for Grievous to discover the Republic’s secrets, but for Anakin, rescuing him is about much more than that.
Some might argue that Anakin’s primary flaw is his inability to follow the Jedi rule that forbids attachments, and this is another perfect demonstration of that. Artoo is his trusted friend, rather than just another astromech droid, and he’s not willing to let him go. The complexity of the episode is increased through a replacement droid Anakin has to take on named R3-S6. Anakin isn’t willing to give the droid a chance, and his reluctance proves to be well-founded when he discovers the droid is a spy for Grievous.
The next episode is aptly titled “Duel of the Droids” because Artoo and the spy droid face off with Artoo walking away unscathed while the R3-S6 is destroyed. Though Anakin was able to rescue Artoo, Obi-Wan disapproves of Anakin’s willingness to risk everything to save a droid, but because Anakin sees Artoo as a friend, this moment demonstrates the core difference between Anakin and Darth Vader: Anakin was driven by compassion while Vader’s anger choked it out.