3 things the Clone Wars finale reveals about Order 66 — and 3 huge questions we still have
The most famous order in all of Star Wars just got even more complicated.
The four-part Clone Wars finale was essentially Order 66: The Movie. In Revenge of the Sith, the whole thing happens in about three minutes. The Clone Wars Season 7 lingers on the events of Order 66 for nearly a full hour, revealing a bunch of interesting new details and raising some major new questions.
Here's all the new info we got about Order 66 in The Clone Wars finale, how it changes the way we think about Star Wars canon, and three big questions it leaves unanswered.
Spoilers ahead for The Clone Wars finale.
What the Clone Wars finale reveals about Order 66
Clone Wars spends a lot more time with the Clone Troopers tasked with carrying out Order 66, so we got a lot more details about how it went down than in Revenge of the Sith. Here are some new pieces of information we got in "Victory and Death" for the very first time.
- The Clones were apparently aware that Palpatine and Darth Sidious were the same person. One Clone even mentions Darth Sidious by name.
- The Clones were apparently under orders to kill former Jedi as well as active Jedi, too.
- Order 66 was more important to the Clones than preserving their own lives, which means if your spaceship was crashing, you tried to kill the Jedi first before saving yourself.
These new revelations raise three major questions.
3. How did the Clones determine if you were Jedi-enough to kill?
One of the best scenes in the Clone Wars finale is when Rex tries to talk his fellow Clone Troopers out of killing Ahsoka. Basically, Rex floats the same fan theory we've all had before this season happened: The Clones didn't go after Ahsoka because she wasn't on the list and or part of the Jedi Order. Turns out, Ahsoka was with a bunch of Clone Troopers when Order 66 happened. Had Ahsoka not run spice with Trace and Raffa, she wouldn't have been on that ship when Order 66 came through.
So, this is the question: Would the Clones have hunted for her anyway? What were the criteria for killing a Force-user? The Clones aren't particularly interested in killing Darth Maul once Order 66 comes through, only Ahsoka even though Maul is probably more dangerous to Palpatine than Ahsok — partially because he actually wants to screw up Palpatine's plans.
So, you've got two people, one a former Jedi, one a former Sith, which one do the Clones shoot? Turns out, they go after the former Jedi. But why?
As the larger Star Wars canon shows, there are plenty of people who can use or feel the Force who are not trained as Jedi. Maz Kanata and Chirrut Îmwe cannot be unique cases. There must be tons of people with Force abilities that weren't touched by Order 66. But why? If you weren't on the kill list, how did the Clones interpret Order 66? What did they do, check your midi-chlorian count?
2. Were Clone Troopers loyal to the Sith or the Empire?
Because the Clone Troopers mention Darth Sidious by name, you've really got to wonder if their programming comes from some of Palpatine's "Sith Loyalist" stuff that ends-up showing up in The Rise of Skywalker.
Prior to The Clone Wars finale, it mostly seemed like the Clones were loyal to the Republic, and had been told that the Jedi tried to kill Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, and thus, the Jedi were all guilty of treason. On some level, you don't actually need to tell the Clones that Palpatine is also a Sith Lord named Darth Sidious.
They were bred to fight for the Republic, so if the Jedi were reclassified an enemy of the Republic, that seems like enough. When Palps took over the Senate, it's not like he said, "Oh, by the way, I'm a Sith Lord, too." And yet, the Clones here mention their loyalty to Darth Sidious, implying the programming might have more Dark Side magic to it than we thought.
If the Clone Troopers were loyal to Darth Sidious — and not necessarily the Republic — that makes a certain amount of sense when you consider the transfer of power that is happening while the Republic becomes the Empire. But, if the Clone Troopers were, in some ways, the forerunners to the Sith Troopers from The Rise of Skywalker, this leads to another question...
1. Why did the Empire stop using the Clone Army?
I know. I know. Why am I bringing this up? Haven't I see the countless subreddits devoted to this topic? Have I not read all the messages in my inbox in which people try to explain it to me? And yet, here we are again.
At the very end of The Clone Wars finale, we jump ahead slightly to a moment where Vader is presumably searching for Ahsoka and finds one of her lost lightsabers. In this scene, it seems like we're meant to think the Clone Troopers are no more because they've been replaced by Stormtroopers. Or maybe not. There's actually not a ton of canonical material about this period. We know that the earliest Stormtroopers were Clone Troopers. That just makes logical sense. But we also know that roughly 15 years later, around the time Rebels starts, most of the Clone Troopers have been replaced by Stormtroopers who, apparently have all been actively recruited. These Stormtroopers are notoriously bad at hitting targets (see The Mandalorian for canon proof) and, are, in all other ways, totally less efficient than the Clone Troopers that preceded them.
Plus, unlike the Clone Troopers, regular Stormtroopers don't have this little chip in their head, and they certainly don't have built-in Sith Loyalty to Darth Sidious. Years later, First Order Stormtroopers are even less efficient and reliable than Imperial Stormtroopers. In The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker, we learn Stormtrooper defection is fairly common. Kylo Ren even says the Snoke should have considered using a clone army. Yeah, good point Kylo Ren. I heard you're shredded. I heard you got an eight pack. But I also think you're right.
So, why didn't Palpatine, or Snoke, or anyone use a Clone Army again? So far, the Clones in The Clone Wars totally carried out their orders without any regard for their own personal safety and literally all died while 100 percent loyal to Darth Sidious. Basically, one guy, Rex, was able to avoid becoming brainwashed, but, he had the help of a Jedi.
Considering that the Clones helped Palps rise to power and some ex-Stormtroopers helped end his reign, you really got to wonder why he didn't just keep these clones around. Of all the people in Star Wars canon, the Clones did their jobs the best and will the least amount of fuss. No wonder they beat the Jedi.
The Clone Wars is now streaming in its entirety on Disney+.