Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones turns 20 this month, and love it or hate, there’s no denying series creator George Lucas took some big swings with this movie. Not only is Attack of the Clones the first full-blown love story in the saga’s history, but just as importantly, it’s the first-ever Star Wars detective story, too. And while the quality of Episode II’s romance plotline is up for debate, most fans agree that watching Obi-Wan Kenobi’s investigation unfold is one of the best things about the film.
At the same time, Attack of the Clones‘ central whodunnit – namely, who ordered the Galactic Republic’s clone army and why – remains unsolved by the time the credits roll. We’re bombarded with a lot of evidence, including long-dead Jedi, missing planets, and even enigmatic recruiters, but we can’t fully fit these pieces together based solely on the information Kenobi uncovers. Attack of the Clones‘ sequel Revenge of the Sith isn’t much help either, as Lucas largely ignores this dangling plot thread in favour of streamlining that movie’s narrative.
As a result, anyone interested in the definitive answer to one of Star Wars‘ biggest mysteries needs to sift through 20 years’ worth of books, TV shows, and other tie-in media. Or at, least, that used to be the case – until I pulled together this handy guide. Read on to find out everything you need to know about each of the key aspects of Attack of the Clones‘ galaxy-altering clone conspiracy!
Who placed the order for the clone army?
Let’s get the biggest question out of the way first: who placed the actual order for the clone army? The answer to this is (like so much of Star Wars canon) paradoxically simple and complex, but the short version is that Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas is responsible. If you’re a casual fan of the saga, you might be wondering who that it is, but know this: Sifo-Dyas is arguably the most important minor character in Star Wars history.
While we never meet Sifo-Dyas in Attack of the Clones (or any other Star Wars movie), his name crops up repeatedly after Obi-Wan Kenobi arrives on Kamino and starts shaking down the locals for clues. As Kamino’s Prime Minister Lama Su explains to Kenobi, Sifo-Dyas ordered the clone army on the Republic’s behalf. Mace Windu and Yoda later insist that neither the Galactic Senate nor the Jedi Council authorised this transaction, which means our guy went rogue when he placed that order.
Kenobi’s conversation with Lama Su also reveals one other key piece of information: Sifo-Dyas is dead. According to Obi-Wan, the one-time Jedi Council member was killed almost 10 years prior to the events of Attack of the Clones. This indicates he died shortly after ordering the clone army – and if you’re starting to think the circumstances surrounding his death stink more than a Hutt’s overflowing lavatory, that’s because they do (more on this subject later).
So, why did Sifo-Dyas suddenly decide to purchase clone troopers in bulk? That’s where things get a bit complicated. See, the original explanation appeared in 2005 Revenge of the Sith tie-in novel Labyrinth of Evil – a book that’s no longer part of official Star Wars continuity, now that Disney owns Lucasfilm (and Star Wars). Fortunately, Lucasfilm has more or less filled in the blanks via newer additions to the canon, including Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary and the Clone Wars animated series.
It turns out Sifo-Dyas experienced troubling visions of a terrible future in which the Republic would need an army. After his peers on the Jedi Council ignore his warnings, Sifo-Dyas decided to take matters into his own hands, ordering the clone army without telling anyone. It was a bold plan that might gave worked – except the Sith got wind of the operation and wasted no time taking it over.
(Incidentally, persistent online chatter holds that Sifo-Dyas started out as “Sido-Dyas” – a fairly obvious synonym for Sith Lord Darth Sidious, rather than an actual person; if nothing else, this explanation would’ve been a lot simpler.)
Who recruited Jango Fett?
OK, Sifo-Dyas ordered the clone army – but who hired Jango Fett? After all, when Obi-Wan interrogates the bounty hunter over who recruited him to serve as the clones’ genetic template, Fett claims he’s never heard of Sifo-Dyas. Instead, he says he was hired by a guy known as “Tyranus”, which only makes things more confusing. So, who is Tyranus and what is his connection (if any) to Sifo-Dyas?
Fortunately, this one’s easy to answer: Tyranus is Count Dooku. When the former Jedi became Darth Sidious’ new apprentice, he adopted “Darth Tyranus” as his Sith name – a fact confirmed by a single line of dialogue Sidious delivers towards the end of Attack of the Clones. It’s also supported by several other canonical sources, including by Dooku himself in Clone Wars Season 6, Episode 10, “The Lost One”.
“The Lost One” also reveals that Dooku masterminded the murder of Sifo-Dyas so that he and his master could take control of Sifo-Dyas’ secret cloning project. The episode even implies that Dooku placed the order for the clone army himself, although this is probably just an erroneous deduction on the part of the Jedi. But what we do know for sure is that once Sifo-Dyas was out of the way, Dooku (as Tyranus) brought Fett into the fold.
Who deleted Kamino from the Jedi Archives?
Update: With the release of the Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi animated anthology series, we now know for certain that Dooku deleted Kamino from the Jedi Archives while still a member of the Jedi Order.
So, we know that Sifo-Dyas ordered the clone army and Count Dooku recruited Jango Fett. Now, we need to figure out who erased Kamino from the Jedi Archives. Not only was this crucial to keeping the clone army conspiracy under wraps, but it’s also what gave Obi-Wan his first inkling that truly terrifying shenanigans were afoot – and as Yoda points out, it’s something only a Jedi could have done. Interestingly, current Star Wars canon doesn’t offer a definitive solution to this particular conundrum.
That said, most fans agree that there are only two real candidates: Sifo-Dyas or Count Dooku. One theory holds that Sifo-Dyas scrubbed Kamino from the Jedi Archives to cover his tracks – which would’ve been easy for him to do, given he was an active Jedi who held the rank of master. The other, more popular theory suggests that Dooku is responsible – again, to keep people from stumbling across the hush-hush cloning going on – although Dooku’s ex-Jedi status at the time casts some doubt on his ability to get this done.
So, for my money, the likely culprit is Sifo-Dyas (although I’m also willing to admit Dooku could have found a way to delete Jedi Archive files after leaving the Jedi Order).
What about Order 66?
That’s Attack of the Clones‘ main mystery solved – but why stop there? We might as well keep connecting the dots to explain how the true goal of this conspiracy ultimately plays out in Revenge of the Sith. In that film, we see Supreme Chancellor Palpatine – recently outed as Darth Sidious – issue Order 66, which compels the clone commanders and the troops under their command to turn on their Jedi allies. Obviously, this isn’t something Sifo-Dyas would’ve included when he ordered the clone army, so what gives?
Again, this isn’t something the Star Wars movies spell out – although it’s not hard to work out, either. After all, we know that Dooku took control of the cloning project from Sifo-Dyas, and we also know (courtesy of their reunion at the end of Attack of the Clones) that Dooku and Sidious were in cahoots. As such, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which Dooku, acting on Sidious’ orders, ensured the Kaminoans modified the clones to make Order 66 possible – especially since this chain of events is essentially confirmed in Clone Wars Season 6, Episode 2, “Conspiracy”.