Why One Scene in Revenge of the Sith Complicated an Entire Series – And Made it Better

 In Articles, Movie Analyses

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In 2008, three years after Revenge of the Sith hit cinemas, Star Wars: The Clone Wars came onto Cartoon Network, fast becoming one of the most popular shows on the network. The show did an amazing job of filling in the blank spots in between Episodes II and III, and it introduced iconic characters that viewers instantly connected with. The show meant more space battles and lightsaber duels than ever before. However, there was one thing that was glaringly obvious: General Grievous and Anakin Skywalker never once met over the course of the entire show. Why is this?

In Revenge of the Sith, on the Separatist flagship The Invisible Hand, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi are making an attempt to rescue the leader of the Galactic Republic, Chancellor Sheev Palpatine, during the Battle of Coruscant. Things quickly get messy, with a battle in the hangar of the ship and a duel with Sith Lord Count Dooku, which leaves Obi-Wan unconscious and Anakin disarming (quite literally) and beheading Dooku. They escape down an elevator shaft, then run down the same shaft as the ship takes a dive after taking damage and entering Coruscant’s atmosphere. Obi-Wan wakes up and they all escape the falling elevator just in time.

After this they run down a corridor, get caught in a shield generator, where they “meet up” with Anakin’s astromech droid R2-D2,  and are then taken to the bridge. There they come face-to-face to one of the most imposing warriors of the Clone Wars: General Grievous. Grievous is a once great Kaleesh warrior who has been horrifically modified with cybernetics to become a terrifying killing machine after he sustained serious wounds in a battle years before.

“Ahh, yes, ‘The Negotiator’, General Kenobi. We’ve been waiting for you.” General Grievous says. “That wasn’t much of a rescue.” A droid walks over and hands him Anakin and Obi-Wan’s lightsabers. “And Anakin Skywalker.” The cyborg general walks closer. “I was expecting somebody of your reputation to be a little, older.”

As the general turns to walk away, Anakin leans his head back slightly in disgust. “General Grievous, You’re shorter than I expected.” The General turns and glares at the young Jedi and coughs, an unfortunate side effect of his wounds. “Jedi scum,” he says, and turns back around. Obi-Wan, always the composed one in these situation, can’t let the moment slide without a witty remark, “We have a job to do Anakin, try not to upset him.” Artoo gives a series of beeps clearly signaling approval.

The General, appearing to ignore the elder Jedi, resumes his charade, “Your lightsabers will make a fine addition to my collection.” Obi-Wan isn’t kidding around anymore either, “Not this time, and this time you won’t escape.” Long story short, the General escapes, but is then hunted down by Obi-Wan later in the movie. So, here is the real question: What is so significant about that scene? Well, it’s significant for a number of reasons.

When the Clone Wars show came out three years later, it brought us a plethora of new and exciting stories, jam packed with action and featuring new faces as well as old ones. With this, there is bound to be some ambitious and fantastic battles and lightsaber duels. We see Count Dooku fight Obi-Wan and Anakin multiple times, a new player named Ventress fight a number of Jedi, and even a “resurrected” Darth Maul and his brother, Savage Opress, fight Darth Sidious. And then, of course, Obi-Wan fights General Grievous many, MANY times. But one thing is glaringly obvious: Anakin never crosses blades with Grievous. This is because of that ONE scene in Revenge of the Sith.

Now, even though it is sad that they couldn’t write an awesome duel or two into the show, you have to admire how they respected the canon. They could’ve just “ignored” that ONE scene in the movie; Star Wars isn’t a stranger to ignoring its own canon. However, the writers respected what had already been created, but they got as close as possible to them meeting as they could.

On a number of missions, Anakin would be pursuing the General, but he would never get quite close enough to actually engage with him in person. In the episode Destroy Malevolence, while on a mission to rescue Senator Padmé Amidala (A.K.A. Anakin’s secret wife) along with her protocol droid C-3PO, Obi-Wan and Anakin board the massive Separatist warship, The Malevolence. Once onboard, they make contact with the Senator, and they agree to meet in the middle of the ship, at the railway system that runs through the length of the ship. Anakin goes for Padmé, while Obi-Wan goes for C-3PO.

However, Obi-Wan loses Threepio when he’s intercepted by another railcar. Anakin, having just caught up with Padmé, tells his former master that he’ll catch up with the droid while Obi-Wan goes to deactivate the hyperdrive. When he gets there he finds himself surrounded, and General Grievous comes to meet him. Forced to make an escape, Obi-Wan leads the general on a chase, clashing with him as he goes. Eventually, Padmé and Anakin redirect the hyperdrive to fly into a nearby moon, and they escape the doomed ship on Anakin’s ship, the Twilight.

Now, what’s the point of all of that? The point is, over the course of the episode, ANAKIN AND GENERAL GRIEVOUS NEVER CROSS PATHS. I understand that this happening just one time isn’t necessarily suspicious, but this is far from the only time this happens. There are many times that they are in the same vicinity but don’t cross paths, such as Grievous Intrigue, Duel of the Droids, or Arc Troopers, to name a few. In both of these cases, they are in the same basic area. In Arc Troopers, it’s merely coincidence that Anakin goes after Ventress and Obi-wan goes after Grievous. In Duel of the Droids, it just so happens that Anakin decides to leave RIGHT before Grievous confronts Ahsoka, Rex, and the clone squad.

Perhaps the most impressive example of this is in Season 4, in the episode The Shadow Warrior. Anakin and Padmé are called to Naboo, after the Gungans threaten to attack the capital, Theed with the help of General Grievous and his powerful droid army. After uncovering a manipulative plot against him, Boss Lyonie, leader of the Gungans, confronts the perpetrator. Sadly, he is assassinated, and Jar Jar Binks has to pretend to be him in order to tell Grievous that the Gungans have canceled their attack.

Meanwhile, as Jar Jar meets with Grievous, Anakin chases the assassin back to his lair. Unaware that he’s walking into a trap, Anakin comes face-to-face with Count Dooku and four Magnaguards, electrostaff-wielding droids. He tries to fend them off, but is ultimately captured.

Back at the Separatist landing site, Grievous, frustrated with the canceled attack, finds out that Jar Jar Binks is posing as Boss Lyonie. As he exits the ship, he finds that he is surrounded by the Gungan army. After a duel with Captain Tarpals that leaves the Gungan hero dying, his last action is to stab Grievous, and then the Gungans attack and overpower him. That leaves the Republic with one of the most high profile Separatist targets, and the Separatists with one of the most powerful Jedi, if not the MOST powerful, in their custody.

Count Dooku contacts Senator Amidala and proposes a prisoner exchange. Padmé has to choose between one of the key enemies of the Republic that would deal a critical blow to the Separatist cause, and the love of her life. She ultimately chooses to agree to Dooku’s proposal, and, when both sides meet to exchange prisoners, we see the closest that the two warriors come to meeting. Anakin, unconscious after being tortured, is dragged and thrown over to the Republic side as Grievous sulkily walks over to the Separatist side. When Anakin is dragged over, he’s unconscious, which means that Grievous and him never meet in that episode, even though they are mere inches from each other.

Again, what is the point of all of this? On the surface, this doesn’t really mean much. But, as we look deeper, we see the extreme attention to detail, and, in my opinion, an obvious frustration from the creators of the show. Everyone would’ve LOVED to have seen an Anakin/General Grievous duel. Their unique fighting styles and their shared sense of aggressiveness while dueling would’ve made for an epic fight, not to mention the goosebumps shared by Star Wars nerds. But, because of that ONE scene in Revenge of the Sith, that was made impossible. Despite this, as shown over the course of the show, they got as close as they could to them meeting as they possibly could.

The creators did one other thing that adds an interestingly ironic relationship between the two generals. As Anakin and Obi-Wan chase General Grievous, Anakin becomes increasingly frustrated and, eventually and possibly inevitably, obsessed with finding the General, even more so than Obi-Wan. He goes to extreme lengths to find him, at one point not being able to sleep because of his obsessive search. However, he never achieves his goal of capturing him, because fate had decided that the two never meet until near the end of the Clone Wars.

Dave Filoni and his creative team should be well praised for their creativity, determination, and attention to detail, among many other things. They were tasked with creating a show in the Star Wars universe, with a seemingly never ending list of limitations. One of the most impressive ones that they managed to pull off was keeping Anakin Skywalker and General Grievous apart, while making look as inconspicuous, and impressive, as possible. As the show returns on Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+, we at the Creative Dominion are especially excited to see what they will do in order to finally end this great show.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Hayden Draycott

    One the one hand, yes, it was nice they paid attention to detail and what’s been said and done in the movies. However the problem with no Anakin/Grievous duel is two fold: First, even when they actually meet in ROTS it’s Obi-wan who still fights Grievous and Anakin who handles the droids, even there the two don’t actually cross blades. Secondly if they were going by exclusively what was said in the films then they couldn’t have had a lot of the duels that they had; Grievous telling Obi-wan that he was trained by Count Dooku now seems pointless given how many times the two fought, Anakin telling Dooku that his “powers had doubled” since they last met to me implies they hadn’t seen each other since AOTC, also now another useless quip since the two would have fought on Naboo only (at that point) a couple months prior. Those lines alone then should have made all those Grievous/Obi-wan duels and all those Anakin/Dooku duels impossible as well. It’s weird, it seems they pay very close attention to some obscure details and then completely disregard lots more.

    • Josiah Phillips

      Thanks for the comment! I do agree that a lot of other details in the movies were ignored by the creators of the TV show. I’m guessing with the first time they meet, Anakin lets Obi-Wan handle Grievous because he has fought him many times before, and their biggest priority was the safety of the Chancellor. The line on Utapau does seem pointless, or at best redundant. On the other hand, Grievous never mentions being trained by Dooku in the TV series, so maybe it’s forgivable. Anakin’s line to Dooku is problematic; like you said, they fought on Naboo just months before. However, that could have been just Anakin being cocky and thinking that he had learned a lot in that short period of time. Dooku even says “Good, twice the pride, double the fall.” The exchange between Grievous and Anakin I think is in a different category than all of those. The other scenes have some explanations that the creators could work around, even if those reasons were disingenuous and self-serving. Anakin and Grievous never meeting, however, could not be changed. It’s clear cut and unavoidable with no way around it. That’s why I think that dynamic is one of the reasons why the show is so good.

      I appreciate the comment, and I agree those lines could have been addressed as well. I just think the creators didn’t see the same urgency in keeping with the canon as they did with Anakin and Grievous.

      – Josiah

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