Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 4 is a tragically great season for parents to let their kids watch. Although my four and six-year-old kids are too young to watch anything beyond Season 1, this season deals with an overarching theme that is quite relevant in the history of the world: doing the right thing.
Youth Does Not Mean Unworthy
The Clone Wars: Season 4 has multiple stories relating to betraying and keeping trust, following orders, bigotry, and slavery. Early in this season, an underwater world’s peaceful alliance is terminated by a misleading shark of a character, Riff Tamson. His disruption of peace allows the world to collapse into war, only with the intention of leading it once both sides destroy themselves.
As a parent, there are important messages within this story arc during these first few episodes. An ultimate alliance crumbles under the words of a power-hungry corruptor, diminishing one side’s newly youthful leadership. Parents have a wonderful opportunity to emphasize to their kids that one’s youth does not mean they are ill-equipped to take a leadership role. It’s important to note how those in power were quick to dismiss the young soon-to-be king, Prince Lee-Char. On the contrary, kids need to know that being young shouldn’t diminish their voice. They need to know their age doesn’t represent a lesser status in politics or in life.
Although Lee-Char is young and inexperienced, it’s equally satisfying to watch his determination. He wants to do the right thing, and he’s willing to take the opinions of others into account, despite having the ultimate say in the matter. Admitting you need help, or learning you’re wrong, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be a leader. Being a leader means always, and I mean always, having the courage to say, “I don’t know,” or to look to others for guidance. A leader doesn’t have to do or know everything, but it should always be understood that one’s age shouldn’t be indicative of such knowledge.
One final note for kids to learn from these earlier underwater adventures is the ultimate stance: It’s never too late to do the right thing. Although one side’s leader was manipulated into betraying an old alliance, it doesn’t mean he can’t see the fault in trusting the wrong person. In these moments, your kids will learn that being wrong or being afraid to admit it doesn’t mean responsibility to do the right thing leaves us.
If you’re looking to find the right words to describe such a scenario to your kids, perhaps you should look to Albus Dumbledore, because when is it wrong to quote Harry Potter? “Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon, we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy (IMDb).”
Asking Questions Doesn’t Diminish Loyalty
As you and your kiddos dive further into the season, you’ll see Captain Rex and his soldiers have a substantial change in routine. General Anakin Skywalker is pulled away for another assignment, while Jedi Master Krell assumes command of a mission to take certain enemy strongholds. Krell dislikes clones, and it’s easily apparent. He changes the initial strategy and then constantly orders all-out assaults, despite not scouting ahead and understanding the scope of their target’s strength.
Parents have an opportunity to highlight how bigotry can affect decision-making. Krell thinks that clones are a lesser kind of being, which is why he doesn’t care about heavy casualties. It stands to reason that his inability to make plans that don’t result in loss of life are strictly attributed to his hatred of clones. If Krell truly cared about them, he would listen to reason when Rex proposes alternatives that would possibly save lives. Rex does follow Krell’s orders. Though, he questions those orders again and again, because he’s seeing how many of his men are dying on the battlefield, when in fact better planning could’ve prevented such bloodshed.
Ultimately, Krell betrays his unit and is captured, but I do not get the sense that this betrayal was always his plan. If, in fact, his decision to become a turncoat is because he felt a change in momentum, then his entire command, which is filled with massive casualties, presents only one story. Krell hated clones and made tactical decisions that would get the most of them killed during each battle. This is a sobering moment as a parent, because you have to tell your kids that there are people who want to do harm to others. What’s even scarier is that people in power, like Krell, will use that position to do harm to others, because he views them as lesser – and ultimately, it will only further his own gains.
Equal Measures for All
Everyone is equal, and that’s the way it should always be. As for the clones, their engineered lives should not take away the fact that they have their own personalities. They have their own thoughts. They will follow orders while risking their lives to defend those they’re meant to protect. Being able to commit to service should automatically earn gratitude and respect, regardless of who you are. If you need a perfect example of service being voluntary, which the clones should have, look to Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) and the Season 2 episode, “The Measure of a Man.”
In TNG, Data is seen by those aboard the Enterprise as a valued member of the crew, one able to make decisions and offer suggestions to improve upon a mission; however, “The Measure of a Man” questions Data’s right to have personal freedom like all living people, because someone believes his mechanical nature should only be viewed as property – and ultimately, slavery. It is abundantly clear that there never was, is, or ever will be an excuse for slavery. It was and will always be wrong. In The Clone Wars: Season 4, the Jedi find themselves within a society that depends on the servitude of clones. They also encounter a civilization that thrives on slavery as their primary means of labor (Episode 12).
Parents can teach their kids the simplicity of how wrong slavery is by showing them how characters are treated. Depending on age, this could be an opportunity for parents to dive into the history of the world and discuss how civilizations have been built off the backs of slaves. Parents can use Krell as an additional example for those who actually kept slaves. He saw clones as disposable. He didn’t use his position of power to better those he commanded. Krell only saw what he wanted and did what he wanted with that narrow view.
The Clone Wars for All
Star Wars: The Clone Wars has done a wonderful job of expanding upon various social issues throughout this season. It’s important for children to learn right from wrong at a young age. Doing the right thing might not always be as simple as following an order, but The Clone Wars puts it into perspective in a way that is easily grasped and a positive reason for kids to watch.
Until next time, happy parenting and happy geeking.