The Meaninglessness of the Clone Wars

I can’t get into Star Wars: The Clone Wars. It’s sat in my Netflix queue for literally years, and I’ve only made it six episodes into season three, and most of that has come half an episode here, half an episode there. I don’t think I’ve ever watched more than two episodes at a time. The show completely fails to engage me.

I’ve been thinking about why that might be, given my enthusiasm for pretty much all things Star Wars. And it comes down to stakes. This is a show about a single, galactic conflict, and none of it matters. Not just because we know how it ends. I love Star Wars Rebels, and I know how that conflict ends. The Clone Wars are different. For one, because we know Palpatine’s basically in charge of both sides, the “war” is like watching one guy play chess against himself. No matter what happens, he wins, and so the individual conflicts within it aren’t part of something bigger.

But, second, even setting that aside, I don’t feel the weight of the non-secret stakes, either. With the Rebellion, you had an obviously evil empire oppressing people, and a band of freedom fighters fighting for, well, freedom. It mattered who won. But why is the Republic fighting the Clone Wars in the first place? Is it because its existence is threatened by an outside foe? No. It’s because a bunch of worlds, disatisfied with its rule, want to … leave. They don’t want to destroy the Republic or enslave its citizens. They don’t even want to enslave their citizens. They just want to do their own thing. And this is bad. So bad that the Republic needs to mobilize all its forces and fight a costly war to stop it. But … why? I know the writers think the war’s important. George Lucas thinks the war’s important. But that doesn’t mean it is important. It just isn’t. And the secret stuff doesn’t make it any more important, because of the whole “chess against himself” thing.

I’ll still probably finish the show. It may just take me another several years.