Star Wars: Tales Of The Jedi Explores The Dynamic Between Jedi Master Dooku And Apprentice Qui-Gon Jinn

Spoilers for "Tales of the Jedi" follow

Count Dooku feels like a wasted "Star Wars" villain. A late addition to the "Star Wars" prequel trilogy, he has scant focus even in "Attack of the Clones" and a quick death in "Revenge of the Sith." The idea behind his character is a solid one; a Jedi who's disgusted with the corrupt Senate and his order's complicity with it, and so breaks away. It sets him up as the foil for the also doomed-to-fall Anakin Skywalker.

In practice, though, there's not much to him. The other characters call him a "political idealist" but that doesn't really register onscreen. Dooku winds up entirely carried by Christopher Lee's presence — which goes a long way, to be fair, but can't substitute for characterization. "Tales of the Jedi" seeks to remedy this. Half of the six episodes spotlight a younger Dooku, showing the good intentions which paved the Count's way to hell. Corey Burton reprises his voice role from "Star Wars: The Clone Wars," his Lee impression as pitch perfect as ever. 

Unlike in the films or "The Clone Wars," we see Dooku's disillusionment with the Jedi first hand. The episode also offers context to his once-friendly relationships with fellow Jedi masters, from Mace Windu (Terrence C. Carson) to Yaddle (Bryce Dallas Howard). There's one relationship of Dooku's which finally gets some needed spotlight: Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson).

Master and apprentice

Since his debut in "Attack of the Clones," Dooku had been established as Qui-Gon's Jedi Master. Dooku mourns his late pupil when talking with Qui-Gon's own apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor). Dooku says "I wish [Qui-Gon] were ... still alive. I could use his help right now." Kenobi disbelieves that Qui-Gon would join the fallen Dooku, but the Count isn't so sure.

"The Phantom Menace" indicated Qui-Gon was an unconventional Jedi who often disagreed with the Council. His master being of the same breed makes sense. Unfortunately, because George Lucas hadn't conceived of Dooku during Episode I, he missed his chance to build a proper relationship between the two.

After a long delay, "Tales of the Jedi" is the first onscreen "Star Wars" story to depict Dooku and Qui-Gon (voiced by Neeson's son Micheál Richardson) during their days as teacher and student. Episode 2, "Justice," shows them traveling to a remote planet to rescue a senator's son from kidnappers. It turns out the kidnappers only took the (still unharmed) boy because their planet is afflicted by poverty and their senator has done nothing. Facing desperation times, they took desperate measures.

The villagers earn Dooku and Qui-Gon's sympathy. When the senator shows up with armed soldiers to save his son, the Jedi fight them. In the strongest hint of the Sith Lord he'll eventually become, Dooku strangles the senator with the Force, but Qui-Gon frees the hostage and stays his master's hand. While the two wonder if things will change on the planet, Dooku thanks his apprentice for stopping him, calling him a wiser man than himself.

Now that we've seen one case of how Qui-Gon helped Dooku, the Count's mourning in "Attack of the Clones" carries more weight.

A prodigal master

Qui-Gon is absent in episode 3, "Choices." That story instead focuses on Dooku's relationship with Mace Windu. As it turns out, Windu was always the stick-in-the-mud traditionalist he was during the prequel trilogy and "The Clone Wars." He and Dooku respect each other, but their ideologies push them apart.

Qui-Gon is back in episode 4, "The Sith Lord," though. Similar to how "The Clone Wars" season 7 wrapped itself around "Revenge of the Sith," the episode retroactively puts Dooku into "The Phantom Menace." Specifically, the chunk of the second act set on Coruscant. Dooku, who by this point has already left the order, hears of his apprentice's encounter with Darth Maul on Tattooine and warns him to be careful.

The episode plays up the father-son parallels to their master-student relationship. Dooku bittersweetly remarks "[students] grow up so fast." After Qui-Gon's death, Dooku stirs in the Jedi Temple courtyard, staring at a tree which Qui-Gon had admired since childhood.

However, Qui-Gon's death isn't enough to shake his master's fall to the dark side. While Dooku chews out Sidious (Ian McDiarmid) for his complicity, he still accepts the now vacant role of the Sith Lord's apprentice. Solidifying his break with the Jedi, Dooku murders Yaddle when she discovers him. One has to wonder, though — if it had been Qui-Gon instead of Yaddle reaching out to Dooku, could he have pulled him back to the light? We'll never know, and the episode ends with Dooku accepting his lead role in the Tragedy of Darth Tyranus.

All six episodes of "Tales of the Jedi" are now streaming on Disney+.