Star Wars: The Clone Wars Revisited - 2.03 Children of the Force
Ten years ago, George Lucas and Dave Filoni introduced the world to Star Wars: The Clone Wars, an animated series that filled in the gap between Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The story takes place during the Clone Wars, with the Jedi-led clone army facing off against the droid armies of the Separatist Alliance. With the announcement of a surprise seventh season by Disney, The Digital Fix will be revisiting the animated series, looking back at the most important episodes and story arcs of the show’s five seasons, highlighting the elements that made this show so beloved by Star Wars fans.
We return with the episode Children of the Force, which originally aired back in 2009...
Children of the Force concludes the first arc of season two and sees bounty hunter Cad Bane finally captured by the Jedi, but not before two Force-sensitive infants are kidnapped from their homes. The Jedi need Bane in order to retrieve both the holocron and the children, but Bane isn't willing to talk. So, the Jedi resort to a rather extreme measure and coerce Bane with a collective Jedi mind trick.
This scene is insightful because it actually corroborates some of Count Dooku's beliefs: namely that the Jedi have become corrupted. While on the surface it seems right that Bane should be made to tell where the kidnapped children are, it's being accomplished by what is essentially mental torture (while Bane resists, you can tell by the end of the scene that he is in real pain).
One of the underlying messages in this episode is: at what point does one cross the line in trying to do the 'right' thing? At what point to the Jedi become the bad guys in the course of attempting to recover the missing children? Perhaps Dooku has a point after all...
Ahsoka serves as an audience surrogate for most of the episode, her reactions (especially her disturbed reaction to Bane) serving as a mirror for how the audience should feel. That she becomes upset at all is telling as it was her idea for the older Jedi to use the mind trick collectively in the first place. While it's not always front and center in the story, many episodes show glimpses of how Ahsoka grows and matures over time and, in this case, realizes that even a simple suggestion can have horrifying consequences (she clearly did not realize that this would cause Bane so much pain).
Meanwhile, the missing children are being held in a secret facility on Mustafar. Yes, the same Mustafar where Anakin and Obi-Wan will have their climactic duel in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. From time to time The Clone Wars makes a point of visiting (or revisiting) locations that are or will be important in the live-action films and this episode is one such example. It's spooky to watch Anakin step onto Mustafar when you the viewer know that in a few short years his entire life will change on that very planet.
As for what Sidious wants with the children...it's not made entirely clear beyond the fact he wants to train them as spies skilled with the Dark Side of the Force (given that these are infants Sidious is definitely investing long term). Interestingly, the Sith Lord's dream of an army of Force-sensitive spies is partially realized through the Inquisitors in Star Wars: Rebels.
As with most episodes in the series, the status quo is re-established by the end of the episode: the children are safe and back with their families, the holocron is safe at the Temple and the Jedi are still no closer to learning the true identity of Darth Sidious. It's one of the frustrating points of the series: due to how Episode III plays out, the Jedi can never learn the truth of who Sidious is (anyone who gets close usually dies by the end of the episode).
Children of the Force provides a satisfying conclusion to the holocron arc and it gets season two off to a good start.