Count Dooku: A complex villain

(L-R): Count Dooku and Mace Windu from "STAR WARS: TALES OF THE JEDI", season 1 exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.
(L-R): Count Dooku and Mace Windu from "STAR WARS: TALES OF THE JEDI", season 1 exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved. /

In the twenty years since Dooku’s first appearance, opinions have wildly shifted on what the fallen Jedi Master’s true motivations were.

The new animated series Tales of the Jedi has added another layer of depth to the man who came to be known as Darth Tyranus. Here we witness Dooku as a younger man, still a respected member of the Jedi order.

Seeing the Master of Qui-Gon Jinn without his notable white mane of hair truly shows us a time in the galaxy previously unexplored in an on-screen capacity. There have been a handful of books and comics that delve into this chapter of history, but Star Wars is an inherently visual medium, with the motion of the screen being its true home.

By that same note, we have heard vague mention of Dooku’s reasons behind leaving the Jedi order and becoming one of the “Lost Twenty”, the only members of the order to ever attain the rank of Master yet still choose to leave of their own accord. Indeed, there is a deleted scene from Attack of the Clones titled “The Lost Twenty” that explores this very question. In it, Obi-Wan Kenobi asks the Jedi Archivist Jocasta Nu: “I never understood why he quit.”

She replies with: “Well, one might say he was always a bit out of step with the decisions of the Council.”

This very theme is expanded on in Dooku’s episodes of Tales of the Jedi. The old Jedi begins to see the Senate and the Republic it serves as a stagnant and corrupt body that serves only to further its own existence and not to improve the lives of the countless people who live within it. With a young Qui-Gon in tow, he witnesses the very corruption he speaks of firsthand and the great toll it extracts on the galactic citizenry. The political comparisons that can be made with our own world are easy enough to see but have never been laid out in such meticulous fashion until now.

Dooku’s descent into darkness is not an instantaneous one. He did not ‘snap’ like a cartoon villain and suddenly become evil. After witnessing a lifetime of evil as a protector of the weak, he had begun to lose faith in the system he had served for so long. The loss of his faith in the light was one by a thousand cuts.

By the time we see his meeting with Sidious after the death of his apprentice, we understand that he is already familiar with the Sith Master but has not given himself over to the dark side completely… yet. In many ways it is a grim facsimile of the corruption of Anakin Skywalker.

Being able to witness Dooku’s true fall to the dark side was a very special moment and one that was surprisingly emotional. Despite being a major villain of the franchise, Dooku has always been outshone by his counterparts. Vader and Maul are iconic personifications of fear and the Emperor is… well the Emperor. Dooku on the other hand just seems like some guy. Now, however, we understand that his descent into darkness is the most human, if tragically misguided.

Despite being only six short episodes long, Tales of the Jedi has provided a huge wealth of characterisation ranging from the decades before The Phantom Menace to the aftershock of Revenge of the Sith all in the uniquely stylish animation from The Clone Wars and The Bad Batch.

All six episodes of Tales of the Jedi are available streaming on Disney +.

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