There is a popular genre in fan fiction called alternate universe, which is exactly what it sounds like – stories set in other timelines than those set down in canon. The Star Wars franchise has stepped into that territory before, with various comic series and even (in a sense) when Luke sees his own face in Vader’s mask in The Empire Strikes Back. Star Wars: The Clone Wars “Lost Missions” Episode 12, “Destiny,” directed by Kyle Dunlevy and written by Christian Taylor, uses visions of alternate worlds to very powerful effect. “Destiny” also begins to emphasize that this arc is the story of Yoda and Dooku’s lost Master-Padawan relationship. When Yoda is tempted to remain in a world where Dooku never left the order and Qui-Gon is still alive, I understand why, especially after visions of a dark future, he wants the idyllic scene to be real.
That’s far from the only vivid scene in this episode. Yoda’s fight against a shadowy version of himself is at first a bit difficult to take seriously, but the voice actor seems to be having fun, and the dialogue is biting – “You spend your days in the decadence of war.” Other visions play out like a stress dream, an alternate version of Order 66 including a dark future for Ahsoka and Katooni, the Padawan most tempted to leave the Jedi Order in the youngling-focused arc, making a sinister appearance.
The hollow world that Yoda finds, with floating islands, fungal plants and five masked Sages, is a pretty unique design. I didn’t love the mix of weirdness and literal explanations (“Life comes from inside this planet”) from the same show that takes the Expanded Universe concept of shatterpoints more literally than its original author and never quite made the much-hyped Mortis arc really feel important, but the visuals are good, and again the episode certainly does come down firmly on one side of some fan debates. Whether or not “weirdness” is a good or bad thing in The Clone Wars could be an essay of its own.
Yoda is calm when his ship’s controls go haywire. This arc shows more emotional range than we’ve ever seen from him before, and the writers seem to have no difficulty with him carrying a story.
The fact that Yoda has to face evil to find his answers is a bit overdone – although of course it’s also the basis of Star Wars’ philosophy. I like the idea that all evil is really fear, spoken as a revelation. And we knew from the trailers that Yoda would have a boss fight. The fight with the doppleganger just feels like a boss fight, while the strange, constantly moving organic landscape and Yoda himself feel like more. The creativity of the visions and the art direction of the episode more than makes up for a vision quest that sags a bit in the middle, and the Sages combined with a look at an old Jedi order that might have been makes this one of my favorite episodes in the series.