Everyone knows that Count Dooku is a Sith Lord. The Clone Wars made that very apparent. However, do you remember the first time you were introduced to the Count? For many fans such as myself, Attack of the Clones introduced the former Jedi. It occurs to me that I think I always knew that Count Dooku was a Sith. That is to say, through Lucasfilm’s marketing of the movie, I believe I knew Count Dooku was a Sith before I ever saw Attack of the Clones in theaters. With that in mind, I wondered how would my interpretation of the movie would change if I viewed it through the lens of not knowing Count Dooku’s no-so-secret identity. I decided to test it out and indulged myself with a viewing at home recently. Here is what I discovered.
The opening crawl of Attack of the Clones names Count Dooku as the mysterious leader of the Separatist movement. The crawl mentions nothing about him as a Jedi, Sith, or otherwise force user. That comes shortly thereafter though. Once the Queen’s starship lands on Coruscant, it explodes. It is not until Padme meets Yoda and the other Jedi at Chancellor Palpatine’s office that the suggestion Dooku might be someone more nefarious is raised. Padme believes Dooku is behind her assassination attempt. Ki Adi Mundi quickly quashes that notion by stating Dooku “is a political idealist, not a murderer.” Mace Windu adds that Dooku was once a Jedi, and that he couldn’t assassinate anyone. For the first time, audiences learn that Dooku has some Force abilities. The Jedi also hold him in high regard.
After the revelations in Palpatine’s office, Attack of the Clones largely ignores the Count for some time. However, there is one clue that should be kept in mind for later. When Obi-Wan Kenobi investigates the clones on Kamino, he has the chance to talk to Jango Fett. During their conversation, Jango mentions a man called Tyranus recruited him. This doesn’t mean much at the time, but obviously means more later.
Count Dooku finally makes his onscreen debut after Obi-Wan arrives on Geonosis. While investigating a Geonosian palace, Obi-Wan observes Dooku negotiating with Separatist leaders. He hopes to persuade the Commerce Guild and Corporate Alliance to join the movement. That in itself isn’t so bad on the surface. However, things take a dire turn. Nute Gunray is among the Separatists. The first time I saw this, I didn’t think much of it. I already knew Dooku was a “bad guy.” However, through the lens that I didn’t know anything, this sends up a red flag. Gunray was rather despicable in The Phantom Menace. Yet, Dooku casually negotiates with him here. Furthermore, Gunray insists on Amidala’s death before he’ll join the movement, and Dooku reassures him. This spoke volumes about Dooku during this viewing. He isn’t simply the idealist the Jedi claimed he was.
One of the most important scenes for Dooku arrives shortly after his meeting with the Separatists. Obi-Wan has been captured and is held by the Geonosians. Dooku arrives and pleads that this situation is a big mistake. Over the course of this scene, Dooku’s words walk back some of the damage to his reputation. First, he mentions that he was Qui-Gon’s master and that Qui-Gon would join him despite Obi-Wan’s denial. Next, he declares that the Republic and the Senate are under the control of the Sith. Unfortunately, Obi-Wan doesn’t believe him despite Dooku’s claims to the truth of the matter. Finally, he pleads with Obi-Wan to join him and together, they could destroy the Sith.
Taken together, these events seem to suggest maybe Dooku isn’t the villain. The Jedi identified the Sith as villains in The Phantom Menace. Dooku wants Obi-Wan to help destroy them and save the Republic. What villain would do that? The obvious answer is one that is trying to manipulate someone. However, that isn’t clear at the time under the lens that it isn’t certain Dooku is a Sith. Granted, his earlier conduct with the Separatists calls his motives into question. Although, Dooku also declares that the dark side of the Force has clouded the Jedi’s vision. At this point, it is difficult to know what to believe.
From this point on, however, Dooku’s conduct reveals his true nature. Notably, he oversees the arena battle that was to be the execution of Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Padme. Furthermore, he reassures Gunray yet again that Padme will die. Then, when the cavalry charge that is the rest of the Jedi arrives, he oversees the fight against them, and he even asks for their surrender. After the Jedi refuse, he pronounces a death sentence upon them.
Of course, he then takes custody of the Death Star plans from Poggle the Lesser. Poggle warns of the dire consequences should anyone discover what they were going to build. Not to be overlooked, Dooku promises to deliver the plans to an unnamed master. The Death Star is not a battle station designed to promote harmony and foster good relations. Score one against Dooku.
If all that weren’t enough, Dooku engages Obi-Wan, Anakin, and then Yoda in a series of duels. He utilizes Force lightning, which is typically a Sith trick. His lightsaber employs a red blade. These things by themselves scream “Sith!” but are not definitive. Yoda declares that he senses the dark side in Dooku, and in response Dooku proclaims that he is more powerful than any Jedi. For me, everything up to this point clearly spells out that he has fallen to the dark side.
In addition, it is clear that Dooku just isn’t as good as Darth Sidious as hiding from the Jedi. Granted, he revealed himself. He could have taken a more cautious approach and set himself up as a figurehead. He might have rallied countless worlds to his cause and championed them as a force (no pun intended) for justice and reformation given the corruption in the Republic. However, as Star Wars fans come to find out, he surrounded himself with dark side Force users and other nefarious individuals. He didn’t hide his use of the dark side. Perhaps that was by design to draw attention away from Sidious.
If it were possible that there was any doubt as to what Dooku was before, it is eliminated when he reaches Coruscant. After he departs his starship, he is greeted by Darth Sidious. In addition, Darth Sidious addresses him as “Lord Tyranus.” This was the man Jango Fett identified earlier in the film. So, not only is Count Dooku definitively outed as a Sith in this scene, a major conspiracy is introduced. The Sith are in control of the Separatists, and they are responsible for some part of the Republic’s Clone Army.
In conclusion, watching Attack of the Clones while suspending your knowledge of Dooku’s identity as a Sith only manages to mitigate any surprise by a small degree. Dooku only receives a few fleeting mentions in the earlier part of the movie before he is introduced in the middle of the film. The warnings he offers Obi-Wan about the Sith are soon diminished by his conduct at the arena before being completely abolished in his fight with Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Yoda. With all of this considered, it doesn’t appear that George Lucas really attempted to disguise Dooku as something other than a villain. At least, given the structure of the movie, it didn’t appear to be a major concern.Powered by Sidelines