Warning: This article contains minor SPOILERS for Dooku: Jedi Lost
The Star Wars story began with the ancient feud between Jedi and Sith, and The Rise of Skywalker looks to reveal that the war has never ended. And the storytellers are determined to make fans realize that the return of the Sith was Yoda's fault, more than anyone else in the galaxy.
That placement of blame will be controversial for fans of the Star Wars prequels, since there are plenty of people to charge with aiding the rise of Emperor Palpatine, Lord of the Sith--the Senate, Anakin Skywalker, even the Dark Side of the Force. While the master plan devised by Sheev Palpatine (the real hero of Star Wars) relied on hundreds if not thousands of galactic pawns and players, the rise of the Sith only happened because the Jedi allowed it. And finally, the Star Wars lore has been updated to leave no doubt who's most to blame.
For all his wisdom, Yoda didn't just fail to sense the return of the Sith before the Jedi could stop it... he actively prevented others in his order from watching, preparing, and defending a Sith uprising they actually sensed was coming.
Some Jedi Knew The Sith Could Return
Controversial as it may be to suggest--no, confirm that Yoda's blindness or arrogance allowed Darth Sidious to take over the galaxy (enslaving and killing untold millions, perhaps billions), it's not actually us that is doing the confirming. The Star Wars prequels do a good enough job demonstrating Yoda's failure to see beyond the "clouded" future, allowing some to speculate that obscuring the Jedi's senses could have been part of Darth Sidious' mastery of the Dark Side, allowing him to hatch his plan in secret. But now that the time period leading up to the arrival of Sheev Palpatine and Anakin Skywalker has been explored, it's clear that not all Jedi were as fooled or inactive as those on the Jedi Council.
The insights come from the newly released audiobook Dooku: Jedi Lost written by Cavan Scott. The book tells the tale of Count Dooku's departure from the Jedi Order, and paints a very different picture of the Jedi prior to "The Chosen One" emerging. Especially when it comes to the Jedi Master Lene Kostana, whose knowledge in Sith artifacts and history make her one of the most compelling members of the Order for young Dooku. Most importantly, Lene accepts that the Sith have gone missing for a thousand years... but knows that doesn't mean they're gone for good.
So if high-ranking Masters of the Jedi Order felt that the Sith were not extinct, but possibly waiting to return in force... why weren't their voices heard in the prequels when they might have saved the galaxy? Simple.
Yoda Stopped Jedi From Planning For The Sith
There have always been obvious drawbacks, contradictions, and flaws in the depiction of the Jedi in the Star Wars movies and expanded universe. After all, the order demands Jedi cut all ties to family, loved ones, and friends (making it inherently difficult to call them the obvious 'good guys'). It's for that reason that Anakin rebelled, and recent stories have dropped plenty of evidence that only the similarly doubting Qui-Gon Jinn could have saved Anakin by actually hearing his concerns.
But then, hearing opposing opinions and acting with a sense of urgency is not a strength of the Jedi Council in the prequels. That trilogy is as much a story of Yoda's deception and fall as Anakin's, leaving them as two of only a handful of Jedi who survived. But in a key passage from Dooku: Jedi Lost, Lene Kostana urges Yoda to exercise vigilance, and view the power of Sith artifacts--still strong with the Dark Side--as reason to believe their job of protecting the innocent may not be over. Advice Yoda dismisses as he always has, dooming billions to tyranny. We've transcribed the passage below:
"Master Yoda, Dooku saw something down there. We need to know what it was!"
"What's done is done. Repressed the memory, his mind has. The way he should. The way he has been trained. Much darkness dwells in that collection. That he felt something, surprising it is not. Gone it now has. And gone it will remain. Meditate you must. Cleanse your mind. Help we will."
"Ignoring the past as always?... It's quite simple, Dooku. I believe the Jedi must be prepared for a Sith uprising. Whereas Master Yoda thinks such preparations are--"
"Unnecessary... gone, the Sith are."
"But what if we're wrong? What if reducing them to a footnote of history is playing into their hands? Younglings like Dooku should be trained to identify and combat their relics. Relics that are still scattered across the galaxy!"
"Found more, you have?"
"Not yet. But they're out there, I know they are. It's alright for you and the Council, sitting safe in your spire. Something's coming Master Yoda. I can--"
"You can... feel it?"
"If we could just examine the prophecies--"
"Unknowable, the future is. Only to the Dark Side, prophecy leads. To doubt. And fear. An old argument this is."
"An argument you always win."
Even Yoda Knew He Was To Blame For The Emperor
If there were any doubts, or fears that we are being too harsh in our language or assignment of guilt and blame, we would direct fans to Yoda's story told in Star Wars: Age of Rebellion Special. A comic book that explores Yoda's inner conflict during his exile on the planet Dagobah, and like Jedi Lost, is a key piece of the new Star Wars canon. As Yoda lives out his days as the last surviving Jedi (as far as he knows), he lives each day with the burden that he is responsible for the fall of the entire Jedi Order.
Thankfully, Yoda finds time to hope for a brighter future, and his faith in the Force soon transforms him into the chuckling, playful hermit audiences first met in The Empire Strikes Back. Perhaps Yoda can laugh, having gained the distance needed from the betrayal and slaughter of hundreds of his former Jedi friends at the hand of the ancient enemy he never even tried to oppose, despite being warned that this exact uprising might take place. But that doesn't clear him of any guilt.
Dooku: Jedi Lost and Star Wars: Age of Rebellion Special are available now.