Disclaimer: This article contains spoiler alerts for Season 3 Episode 8 of The Mandalorian.
Season 3 of The Mandalorian concludes with an epic battle for control of Mandalore, the Mandalorian home planet. Ambushed by the nefarious Imperial leader, Moff Gideon, and his army of Beskar-clad enhanced storm troopers, the Mandalorians fight valiantly only to be separated within the Imperial enclave.
At one point, while pursuing Moff Gideon, Din Djarin and Grogu (operating IG-12) enter a room filled with about a dozen tanks, each one containing a perfect likeness of Moff Gideon. It is later confirmed that these are his clones, embodying “the best parts” of himself but also imbued with force powers. Although appearing as full-grown humans, the dozen or so clones are entirely dependent on the fluid-filled tanks for life support. They are alive, we know, because one opens his eyes, startling Grogu. Without apparent hesitation or pause for reflection, Din Djarin initiates what appears to be a self-destruct mechanism on the nearby control panel, causing the tanks to explode in a burst of glass as water pours onto the floor, presumably killing all the clones.
“You smothered them before they could draw their first breath!” Moff Gideon exclaims upon confronting Din Djarin and Grogu after discovering the destruction of his clones (ostensibly his children).
Now without getting into a whole debate about nature versus nurture (Would these clones have followed in their progenitor’s footsteps? Would their choices have been different? Could they be different?), they were, for all intents and purposes, innocent parties to the conflict. As such, I’m not sure we can say their deaths are justified.
“But what about who their father was? Surely nothing good can come from that, they are an evil man’s spawn.”
Stop right there.
Now clones, having no maternally-contributed genetic component, could be argued are carbon copies of Moff Gideon, but this is true only in genetics alone. No crystal ball in either ours or the Star Wars universe exists to tell us who these clones would have turned out to be.
Is it a potential risk to Din Djarin and the Mandalorians to have a dozen Moff Gideons running around in the future? Yes. Does it justify “smother[ing] them before they could draw their first breath”? I’d say “no.”
To be fair, there is also the possibility the clones were outfitted with a behavioral modification chip like those installed in the clone troopers, making them relatively powerless to resist executing “Order 66” in Revenge of the Sith. However, we do know that some clones were able to resist the order, providing further evidence that the summary execution of the Moff Gideon clones is morally fraught.
The Star Wars Universe has been criticized for being too black and white, too simplistic — good guys versus bad guys, but here I think we have a prime example of an ethical dilemma where the “good guy” makes a “bad guy” move; a blatant disregard for human life. Similar to Anakin’s infamous slaughter of the Jedi younglings in Revenge of the Sith when emotions clouded his judgment resulting in his viewing innocent parties as enemies and threats.
Although a fantasy world, I believe this interaction can give us pause to reflect on our own presumptions. Have we ourselves fallen prey to judging others or making grave predictions about their lives without the grace and wisdom that comes from the truth that many do rise above their situations and aren’t defined by their parentage? Is it right to condemn to death those who are innocent of everything except that our own biases and prejudices preclude them from redemption?
Photo Credit: Nick Bell
Chemical engineer turned stay-at-home mom, Jackie lives with her husband, and two children in the Mid-Atlantic countryside. Her passion for science and education informs and propels her defense of prenatal life.