Count Dooku

The Trials of Nute Gunray

It is, for all intents and purposes, a statement in Attack of the Clones that is meant to inform and nothing more. Speaking with Senator Padmé Amidala (the former Queen of Naboo) and Jedi Padawan Anakin Skywalker, Governor Sio Bibble of Naboo expresses his annoyance that “…after four trials in the Supreme Court, Nute Gunray is still the Viceroy of the Trade Federation.” As a viewer, we know why the Neimodian Viceroy was put on trial: for blockading and invading the planet Naboo. Yet, ten years following the Naboo Crisis depicted in The Phantom Menace, Bibble’s remark gives us a brief and to the point reason for Gunray’s freedom.

While the quote ensures that we have information about Nute Gunray as Attack of the Clones continues – a helpful bit of insight given that Gunray re-emerges later in the film as part of the Separatist cause – I often find myself wondering why, when Bibble references the four trials, that the Viceroy was able to avoid punishment for his crimes. In fact, this curiosity was was amplified recently when I read E.K. Johnston’s Queen’s Shadow, a novel which explores Padmé Amidala’s transition from Queen of Naboo to Senator. In the book, the trials are mentioned but details about the proceedings are scarce. Just as Attack of the Clones leaves us wondering what transpired during the court proceedings, Queen’s Shadow does the same, forcing us to fill in the blanks ourselves.

If, then, we put our minds to work filling in those blanks, we can certainly imagine, and even assume, that it was Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious), working behind the scenes, who manipulated the trials to ensure Gunray’s liberty. After all, it was Sidious who held influence over Gunray, convincing the Neimodian to attack Naboo and assuring the Viceroy, when questioned about the invasion’s legality, that he would “make it legal.” Never-the-less, even working under the assumption that Gunray received aid from his Sith benefactor, I cannot help but desire a story – probably in novel form, but I would even take a short-story  – which would highlight how the trials unfolded and the way(s) Palpatine manipulated the outcome of each proceeding to make the invasion “legal.” Additionally, such a story would have the added benefit of exploring the relationship between Palpatine and Gunray prior to The Phantom Menace, offering insight into why the Sith Lord chose the Viceroy and his Trade Federation as a tool in his galactic scheme.

Gunray and Sidious
Nute Gunray speaks to Darth Sidious.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

In turn, we can add another layer to Palpatine’s machinations by including Count Dooku. Becoming Sidious’ new apprentice following Darth Maul’s “death” in The Phantom Menace, Dooku (aka Darth Tyranus) acknowledges in Attack of the Clones that Nute Gunray came to him for help following the Naboo Crisis. Thus, we can assume that Dooku, working in tandem with his Sith Master, participated in the defense of Gunray as the four trials unfolded, offering support both openly and behind-the-scenes. But what Dooku’s support looked like is, again, another reason that the trials of Nute Gunray are worthy of narrative exploration.

At this juncture, I will readily admit that I am probably one of the few Star Wars fans who would be interested in a story of any type about Nute Gunray in general, and his trials specifically. Gunray is not a “sexy” Star Wars character, and is otherwise a pretty straight-forward villain. Never-the-less, as I have noted, I believe there is value in a story about Gunray’s trials, offering perspective and background on his relationship with Palpatine and Dooku, respectively. More importantly, what such a story could offer is insight into an element of Star Wars that is rarely explored with any real depth: the legal  and judicial system of the Old Republic.

While legal and judicial elements are mentioned at times throughout Star Wars stories (such as in Attack of the Clones and Queen’s Shadow) these and related elements are rarely developed with any meaningful depth. As a result, while fans have some basic understanding about laws, courts, judges, etc. in Star Wars, this information tends to be shallow and underdeveloped. For example, we know there was a Supreme Court thanks to Bibble’s comment about Gunray’s trials, but how many justices sit on the Supreme Court, and how they are nominated/confirmed, remains a mystery. In turn, while we know there were four trials in total, we do not know what charges were brought against Gunray, a point worthy of exploration that could shed light on whether the Republic had laws governing double jeopardy.

These are but a few thoughts which come to mind when I personally think about the legal and judicial system of the Old Republic. And, again, I believe a story about Gunray’s trials could shed light on a wide-range of topics regarding that system. Even more critically, though, shedding light on the ins-and-outs of the Republic’s legal system is necessary in further understanding why the Galactic Republic ultimately collapsed. While we know Palpatine ascended to the mantle of Supreme Chancellor, and was subsequently given emergency powers by the Senate at the outbreak of the Clone War – powers which gave him far-reaching control over the Republic and its bureaucracy – what we also know is that Palpatine was able to gain control over the courts. It is Jedi Master Mace Windu who tells us as much when, speaking to Anakin Skywalker in Revenge of the Sith, he exclaims that Palpatine “…has control over the Senate and the courts!”

Star Wars has, for the most part, done a good job of showing how Palpatine controlled the Senate as Supreme Chancellor, using his authority and powers to erode the institution. Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith, The Clone Wars animated series, countless books/comics, and more have tackled this topic from multiple angles, showcasing Palpatine’s tyrannical takeover of the Republic’s governing body. However, what Star Wars has not done very well is show exactly how he came to control the courts, using the authority and powers of his Chancellorship to dominate the legal/judicial system of the Republic. This is precisely where a story about Nute Gunray’s trials before the Supreme Court become a necessity. Such a tale would lay out critical details not only about the Republic’s legal system (i.e. – the number of justices on the Supreme Court) but would also show how, as he methodically took control over the levers of power in the legislative branch, Palpatine used the trials of Nute Gunray as a stepping stone towards his insidious transformation of the judicial branch to fit his evil agenda.

Haikuesday: General Grievous

Rasp, Rasp, Cough, Rasp, Cough
Cough, Cough, Rasp, Rasp, Rasp, Cough, Cough
Rasp, Cough, Rasp, Cough, Rasp


Qymaen jai Sheelal –
deadly Kaleesh warrior,
killer of Yam’rii.


Kaleesh warrior
turned into cyborg monster:
General Grievous.


Cybernetic dude.
One arm, two arm, three arm, four.
And some cool legs, too.


Fierce Separatist,
commanding the droid army…
…and the droid navy.


Death and destruction,
killing all of the Jedi.
Grievous’ purpose.


Grievous is his name.
Killing Jedi is his game.
What a nifty rhyme!


Rasp, Rasp, Cough, Rasp, Rasp
Cough, Rasp, Cough, Cough, Rasp, Cough, Cough
Rasp, Cough, Rasp, Rasp, Cough


Malevolent ship,
reaping havoc on Clone troops.
Can Grievous be stopped?


I have to be frank:
it’s funny when Grievous just
ignores Count Dooku.


Falleen victory,
but Bothawui invasion
halted by Sky Guy.


Blue, Green, Blue, Green, Blue
Spinning Sabers, Spin, Spin, Spin
Blue, Green, Blue, Green, Blue


Tano fights Grievous
in the sky of Ruusan’s moon.
A rookie mistake.


In Grievous’ lair,
a young Jedi Knight will die
but Fisto escapes.


Master Koth captured.
Grievous tortures the Jedi
for some amusement.


On Saleucami
Kenobi pursues Grievous
but it’s all for not.


Cough, Rasp, Rasp, Cough, Rasp
Rasp, Cough, Cough, Cough, Rasp, Rasp, Rasp
Cough, Rasp, Cough, Rasp, Cough


Tarpal’s sacrifice.
Grievous captured by Gungans,
exchanged for Ani.


“Wipe the witches out”
Dooku commands of Grievous.
Massacred ‘Sisters.


The planet Florrum.
Hondo’s gang is outgunned by
Grievous’ droid troops.


Battle of Zanbar:
a Grievous led army fights
Maul’s Mando soldiers.


Dooku’s bodyguard
at humanitarian
event on Raxus.


Grievous fights Quinlan.
Quinlan sort of beats Grievous.
It’s temporary.


Invisible Hand,
Grievous’ flagship during
Coruscant battle.


Polyphonic piece.
The “General Grievous” theme.
Revenge of the Sith.


Rasp, Cough, Cough, Rasp, Cough
Rasp, Cough, Rasp, Cough, Rasp, Cough, Rasp
Cough, Cough, Rasp, Cough, Cough


Grievous meets Sky Guy.
The two trade inane insults.
A brief encounter.


Tracked to Utapau,
Grievous is confronted by
Master Kenobi.


“Trained in Jedi arts,”
the cyborg tells Obi-Wan.
What a weird statement…


Green, Blue, Green, Blue, Green
Twirling Sabers, Twirl, Twirl, Twirl
Green, Blue, Green, Blue, Green


Find someone who will
look at you the way Grievous
looks at Kenobi.


Grievous flees the scene
and is pursued once again.
Ugh, how typical.

Seriously though,
have you noticed that Grievous
flees battles a lot?


Bursting into flames,
his heart shot by Kenobi.
So uncivilized.


Commander Karbin,
cybernetic Mon Cala.
He is no Grievous.


Here is a fun fact:
Mister Bones has some Grievous
programming in him.

Another fun fact:
I don’t have any Grievous
programming in me.


Rasp, Cough, Rasp, Cough, Cough
Cough, Rasp, Cough, Cough, Rasp, Cough, Rasp
Rasp, Rasp, Cough, Rasp, Cough


Hold up for a sec!
Grievous was a cyborg but
couldn’t get new lungs!?!?!

Are we surprised, though?
I mean, Padmé thought she was
having one baby.

Honestly, med tech
in Star Wars is advanced but
weirdly lacking, too.


Rasp, Cough, Rasp, Cough, Cough
Cough, Rasp, Cough, Cough, Rasp, Cough, Rasp
Rasp, Rasp, Cough, Rasp, Cough

Rasp, Cough, Rasp, Rasp, Cough
Grievous needs Albuterol.
Get his inhaler.


Haikuesday is a monthly series on The Imperial Talker, a new post with poetic creations coming on the first Tuesday of each month. The haiku topic is chosen by voters on Twitter so be sure to follow @ImperialTalker so you can participate in the voting. Now, check out these past Haikuesday posts:

Droids (February 2017)

Ahsoka Tano (March 2017)

Darth Vader (April 2017)

The Battle of Scarif (May 2017)

The Truce at Bakura (June 2017)

Queen Amidala (July 2017)

Ryloth (August 2017)

Cloud City (September 2017)

Millennium Falcon (November 2017)

Poe Dameron (December 2017)

The Death of Count Dooku

“Kill him…kill him now.” – Chancellor Palpatine

With the recent passing of Christopher Lee, the actor who played Count Dooku (aka Darth Tyranus), I thought it would be appropriate to do a small piece on the character he brought to life in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.

After serving with the Royal Air Force during World War II, Christopher Lee went on to have a prolific acting career. During his career, he would be cast several times as a villain in different movies. While I have a fond appreciation for his roles in other films, for me, his most notable role will always be his portrayal of Count Dooku. Despite his short appearances in Episodes II and III, Lee left an indelible mark on me with his performance as the leader of the Separatist Alliance and as a Dark Lord of the Sith.

And it is that very short time in Revenge of the Sith that I want to focus on. Well, actually, I want to narrow things down even more and focus on the moment right before Anakin decapitates the illustrious Count.

The young Skywalker, standing above the Count with a lightsaber in each hand, is goaded by the “imprisoned” Chancellor Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious) to kill the defeated Sith Lord.

“Kill him,” Palpatine tells Anakin, “kill him now.”

As he commands Anakin to “kill him now” the Chancellor turns his head towards Dooku, looking down at the elderly man who is also his apprentice.

Dooku's face when Sidious says

Dooku’s face when Sidious says “kill him now”
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode II: Revenge of the Sith

Hearing his Master’s order, Dooku looks at Sidious with an expression of utter perplexity on his face. Each time I watch Revenge of the Sith, and see his face in that moment, I feel a twinge of remorse for the Count and can’t help but wonder what goes through Dooku’s mind in that instance as he hears his Master order his execution.

In that moment Dooku may have realized his Master had always been playing him, and had intended from the very beginning to discard the Count once he ceased being useful to his Sidious’ machinations. The order to execute Dooku was just another part of his Master’s grand plan, and in the moment, was also a way to groom the young Skywalker as Sidious’ new Apprentice.

Or, maybe Dooku recognized that he should have acted against his Master, that he had waited too long to challenge Sidious.  As the Apprentice to Darth Sidious, it was Dooku’s responsibility to challenge his Master and take the mantle of Master from Sidious. The Rule of Two dictates that the Apprentice must challenge the Master, but in that moment, Dooku may have understood that his hesitation had cost him his life. Focused on executing his Master’s plans to destroy the Jedi, Darth Tyranus never enacted his own plan to destroy his Master.

It is possible, though, that Dooku thought nothing at all. Perhaps hearing the order for his execution just left Dooku far too bewildered to have any rational thought. Chances are, if I were in his place, I wouldn’t be able to think rationally either.

Honestly, I think it is better we don’t actually know what Dooku was thinking. Personally, I would be disappointed if there was some “official” statement that told us what Dooku thought in that moment. It is far more interesting to imagine the possibilities and decide for ourselves what he may or may not have thought in the last seconds of his life.

Besides, Christopher Lee captured that moment perfectly, his expression allowing us to connect with Dooku on a personal level even if it is only for a second. To evoke a response from the audience is the goal of any actor, but to do it with a single look is the sign of a very talented man. Mr. Lee, and his prowess as an actor, will surely be missed.

Qui-Gon Jinn, A Novel Character

“Finding him was the will of the force, I have no doubt of that.” – Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace

When I saw The Phantom Menace for the first time in 1999, I was absolutely stunned when Darth Maul killed Qui-Gon Jinn. At the time, my 14-year-old brain had to cope with the reality that sometimes the “good guys” can be defeated by one of the “bad guys.” Older now, I naturally have a different perspective on the scene and am not quite as shocked by Qui-Gon’s demise. Darth Maul was much younger and more physically gifted than the Jedi Master, and though Qui-Gon was likely more gifted in the use of the Force, Darth Maul was just the better all-around fighter.

Darth Maul stabs Qui-Gon Jinn Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Darth Maul stabs Qui-Gon Jinn
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Or, perhaps it had nothing to do with Darth Maul being the better fighter. Just as Qui-Gon states that finding Anakin Skywalker was “the will of the Force,” I would suggest that the death of Qui-Gon Jinn was also the will of the Force. At first, reluctant to allow Qui-Gon to train Anakin as a Jedi, it is only when the Jedi Master dies that the Jedi Council agrees to let his padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi, train the young boy. Qui-Gon’s death, then, functions as the catalyst the Force uses to propel Anakin along the path towards balancing the Force.

Qui-Gon’s story does not come to an end in The Phantom Menace, though.

At the end of Revenge of the Sith, Yoda explains to Obi-Wan that Qui-Gon Jinn has returned from the netherworld of the Force, noting that he will teach Kenobi how to converse with the former Jedi Master. Although the scene is brief, it never-the-less establishes that it is Qui-Gon Jinn, teaching from the beyond, who directed Kenobi in unlocking the secrets of existence after death. When Obi-Wan “disappears” in A New Hope, and reappears as a Force ghost in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, we now know that it was Qui-Gon Jinn who guided Kenobi in discovering how to do these incredible things.

Further, it is in Season 6 of The Clone Wars, in the episode titled “Voices,” that Qui-Gon reaches out to Master Yoda as an incorporeal voice, instructing the Jedi to travel to the planet Dagobah. There, Qui-Gon will reveal new realities about the Force, and will explain that both he and Yoda had been chosen to maintain their life force after death so that in the dark times ahead, there would still be light. Though Qui-Gon notes that he died before completing his training, which hinders him from appearing to Yoda, he reveals that Yoda will learn this ability as he continues on his journey of discovery.

Along with what Qui-Gon explains to Yoda about the Force, another rather intriguing point is also introduced in “Voices.” When Yoda explains to the Jedi Council that Qui-Gon has conversed with him from the beyond, Master Ki-Adi Mundi states that, “What Yoda claims is not possible…the dead are part of the Cosmic Force and lose their individuality.” Even Yoda, the wisest and oldest of the Jedi, does not at first believe in the possibility of maintaining one’s individuality after death. Knowledgeable about the Force they might be, but even the Jedi Council is limited in their understanding of the mystical power.

This fact, though, also reveals something about Qui-Gon Jinn: before he died, he had ascertained a unique understanding of the Force – an understanding that fundamentally differed from the Jedi Council’s own knowledge – and had kept this knowledge to himself.

At Odds with the Council

Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Anakin stand before the Jedi Council Photo Credit - Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and Anakin stand before the Jedi Council
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

In The Phantom Menace, the Jedi Council and Qui-Gon Jinn are clearly at odds, particularly over the fate of Anakin Skywalker.

  • While Qui-Gon is certain the boy is the Chosen One, the Council is not as certain.
  • The Council believes the boy is too old to be trained; Qui-Gon does not believe this should disqualify him from being trained.
  • Qui-Gon chooses to take Anakin as his padawan, but the Council states that the Jedi Code forbids his taking a second padawan.
  • Qui-Gon states that Obi-Wan is ready to face the Trials and become a Jedi Knight, the Council rebukes him by stating that they will decide when Obi-Wan is ready.

Four points of contention in only a minute. These may not be enough to argue that Qui-Gon is always at odds with the Council, but the interaction between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan only moments later can do it for me.

Obi-Wan: Do not defy the council, Master, not again.
Qui-Gon Jinn: I shall do what I must, Obi-Wan.

From this small exchange, we can glean that Master Qui-Gon has a tendency of refusing to follow the Council’s directive. His padawan implores him not to defy the Council once again, but Qui-Gon will do what HE feels he must do. I don’t know about you, but this leaves me wondering not only how, and how often, he has defied the Council in the past, but WHY he has done so. Was it in his nature to be defiant? Did he learn it from someone? Or was it perhaps a little bit of both? Whatever the case, there is a very obvious way he would have learned some of this defiance: from his own former Master, Count Dooku.

It is in Attack of the Clones where we learn Qui-Gon Jinn was once Count Dooku’s padawan. Given that Count Dooku left the Jedi Order after becoming cynical and disillusioned by it, and because he craved more power, it is hardly a stretch to imagine that Dooku held these feelings for quite some time, perhaps even while he was training his young padawan. As Qui-Gon’s master, Dooku would have exerted an incredible influence over his padawan, impacting the way the burgeoning Jedi would have understood the Force, the Jedi Order, and the role of the Jedi, amongst other things. The fact that Qui-Gon Jinn learned how to preserve his individuality after death probably did not come from Count Dooku directly, but his interest in discovering new realities about the Force would have certainly been planted by his Masters encouragement to question the Order’s views. It is also likely, though, that as Qui-Gon grew and formed his own, independent views, that he would have most certainly questioned his Master. Defiant he might have been towards the Jedi Council at times, Qui-Gon Jinn never left the Order, and his former Master did.

With all of this in mind, I am going to propose a novel idea. No, seriously, I am going to propose an actual idea for a novel.

My proposition is that a novel dedicated to Qui-Gon Jinn’s back-story be added to the Star Wars canon. With all that we know about Jinn, that he was apprenticed to Count Dooku, was defiant of the Jedi Council, believed that Anakin was the Chosen One, and was able to preserve his life force after death, I am curious to find out even more about this fascinating Jedi. What was he like as a child? What was his relationship really like with Dooku? Did he ever challenge his Master? What were his beliefs regarding the will of the Force? When did he begin training to preserve his life force after death? How and why did he consistently defy the Council? When was Obi-Wan apprenticed to him and, for that matter, what was Obi-Wan like as a child?

Such a book could certainly answer some of these questions about Qui-Gon, and could also be used to develop other characters, story-lines, events, and ideas. Plus, as it currently stands, a dark area exists in the Star Wars canon prior to The Phantom Menace, with only small pockets of information that provide clarity for this period. A novel dedicated to Qui-Gon Jinn would be a great way to start filling in the gaps in the timeline, and would help paint a small picture of what the galaxy was like prior to the crisis on Naboo.

It is my hope that someday we are able to explore the Star Wars universe through the life of this fascinating Jedi Master. In the meantime, I decided to play around with what the prologue for said novel could look like.

Qui-Gon Jinn: A Prologue

Master Yoda stood in the center of the icy Temple, watching the seven younglings walk towards him. Shivering and exhausted, the children looked up and around as they entered, awe struck by beauty of the icy hall. Behind them, the outside wind could be heard far down the passage, blowing through the entrance they came through.

Master Yoda standing in front of the entrance to the crystal caves on the planet Ilum Photo Credit - Star Wars The Clone Wars: Season 5, Episode 6 -

Master Yoda standing in front of the entrance to the crystal caves on the planet Ilum
Photo Credit – Star Wars The Clone Wars: Season 5, Episode 6 – “The Gathering”

The younglings had traveled for miles across the wintry landscape since landing in the Crucible, the Jedi training cruiser. They did not yet know why they were on the planet Ilum, only knowing that the ice-covered and wind-battered planet was one of the Order’s most sacred locations.

“Where are we, Master Yoda,” a female Chagrian asked the elder Master as the group approached.

“Come, gather round younglings. Share with you, I will, why you have come,” Yoda responded.

Moving into a half-circle around the old Jedi, the younglings watched as Master Yoda used the Force to manipulate an object on the ceiling. Reflecting a sliver of sunlight streaming in from an opening in the top of the hall, the object reflected the light onto the wall of ice behind Master Yoda. On command, the ice melted away revealing a passage way, and beyond, a cave.

“Arrived, you have, at The Gathering,” the Jedi Master remarked. “A rite of passage for young Jedi, this is. Into the cave will you go to find your Kyber Crystal.”

This time, a young Zabrak male spoke up.

“Master, what are Kyber Crystals,” the child asked.

“In harmony with the Force, the crystals are. The heart of the Jedi’s light-saber, the crystal is.”

The younglings, hearing that they would enter the cave to discover the most important component in the construction of their light-sabers began to talk excitedly. Finding their crystal would put them one step closer to becoming full-fledged Jedi.

Letting out a small laugh, Yoda silenced the group.

“Into the cave you must go if Jedi you are to become. Trust the Force, you must, if successful you hope to be. But be mindful, as the sun sets, slowly freeze, the entrance will. Once frozen, trapped inside will you be.”

Looking upwards, the younglings saw that the tall entrance was already beginning to freeze as the light from outside slowly moved downwards.

“Go now, enter the cave, and discover your crystal.”

Eager to discover their crystals and not wanting to be trapped inside, the younglings frantically rushed past Yoda and into the cave to begin their searches. All, that is, except for one.

A young human boy around the age of 10 stood in place, continuing to look at the ice that was slowly creeping downward from the ceiling and which, in a few short hours, would cover the entrance.

Turning, the Jedi Master saw that the child had not left his spot.

“Stand here when inside the cave should you be, Qui-Gon,” Yoda said. “Losing time, you are, yes. Trapped, by the ice if not you hurry.”

For a moment, the boy did not respond. Then, slowly, the youngling turned his head downwards to see the Jedi Master in front of him. Turning his gaze back to the ice, the boy finally spoke, “I will go in soon, Master. I just wanted a moment to admire the ice.”

“And what have you to say about the ice, hmmmm,” the Yoda asked.

“That if it is the will of the Force for me to be trapped, then it is the will of the Force,” Qui-Gon responded looking back at the Jedi Master.

Walking past Yoda, Qui-Gon ascended the few stairs to the caves entrance. Stopping at the opening, he gazed into the darkness beyond, feeling the Master’s eyes fixated on him as he stood there.

Turning his head and body half-way around, the child let out a small laugh.

“Besides Master,” Qui-Gon called back, “it’s just ice. If I am trapped, I will break it.”

Turning, the boy ran into the darkness of the cave.


***Content for this prologue was inspired by Star Wars The Clone Wars Season 5, Episode 6: “The Gathering.”***