Tales of the Jed follows two influential Force users throughout the Prequel Era of Star Wars. Last week, we covered Ahsoka’s path through the complex Clone Wars and her emergence as a leading figure in the Rebellion. This week, we’re looking at the other path–that of Count Dooku, who trained Qui Gon Jinn and eventually founded the Separatist movement that would nearly tear the galaxy apart.
Dooku’s story has been explored only briefly in other media. A novel, Jedi Lost, follows Sith aspirant Assaj Ventress as she digs into Dooku’s past to learn why he abandoned the Jedi Council. The three episodes of Tales that star the once-valorous Jedi do a good job of explaining exactly what happened to make him distrust the Republic.
The first Dooku episode, titled Justice, is probably the earliest Star Wars period we’ve ever seen depicted on-screen outside a video game. This adventure takes place decades before the events of The Phantom Menace, with a young Dooku and Qui Gon Jinn looking for a missing Senator’s son. They arrive in a run-down village where the townsfolk won’t even talk to them.
After some tense negotiations in a bar, the villagers agree to take the Jedi to the kidnapped boy. The Senator’s son says he understands why his captors took him and tell the Jedi that their living situation is untenable. His father should be ashamed of the policies that have allowed this town to fall to ruin. Just then, the Senator arrives, having been tipped off by a starving townsperson eager for any kind of reward.
Dooku and Qui Gon fight the Senator’s men to a standstill before his son can calm him down. While the day is saved, Dooku’s faith in the Republic has been shaken. How can the Jedi allow such misery to ferment under democratically-elected leaders?
The next time we see Dooku, at least a decade has passed. He’s grown out his beard, and now spots of gray are peeking through his hair. His Padawan, Qui Gon, is now a teacher in his own right, and, instead, Dooku travels with fellow Knight Mace Windu. The two are assigned to determine the fate of a missing Jedi named Master Katri, so they travel to the last planet where she is seen alive.
There, yet another Senator rouses Dooku’s suspicions. When the Senator tells the Jedi that Katri was ambushed in the woods by extremists and gunned down, they ask to see the location where it happened. The Senator obliges, but Dooku determines that the scene of the crime doesn’t support the Senator’s version of events. It turns out, the traitors are his own honor guards, who gun him down before he can tell the Jedi what happened.
Dooku and Windu apprehend the traitors and turn them over to the Republic. However, once again, Dooku’s faith in the Jedi is shaken. Katri was assassinated because she was a servant of the Republic, and the Senator was using his position to enrich himself at the expense of the planet he was supposed to represent in the Senate. Dooku is sympathetic to this complaint and quietly continues his conversations with the imprisoned extremists.
The Sith Lord
The final Dooku episode takes place alongside the events of The Phantom Menace and focuses on the final hours of Jedi Master Yaddle’s life. Yaddle, a female member of Yoda’s species, famously appeared in the background of The Phantom Menace before vanishing in the other two prequel films. It turns out that Count Dooku cut her down at the behest of his secret master, Darth Sidious.
In the years between the two episodes, Dooku has completely fallen to the Dark Side and joins Palpatine’s quest to destroy the Republic. When Master Yaddle learns of his betrayal, she pleads with Dooku to help her take down “the Sith Lord,” whose identity she never learns. Dooku refuses, and the two engage in a short but brutal lightsaber duel.
In a few short episodes, we see a man with strong morals corrupted and twisted by the Dark Side over genuine concerns regarding the Republic’s complacency in the face of real abuses of power. Dooku’s transformation resembles that of Anakin Skywalker, though we know that he doesn’t get the redemption that Anakin does in his final moments. Still, it’s fascinating to see the beginning of the chain, with Dooku training Qui Gon, and the end of the chain, with Anakin training Ahsoka–an unbroken lineage of Force mastery that starts and ends with a Jedi leaving the Order behind.