It’s a triumph of creativity to see just how much better our image of the final days of the Galactic Republic are because of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Originally, all the fan community had was, frankly, a trio of mediocre movies that brought vast potential but fell short everywhere on the delivery of awesomeness. And then Clone Wars came along, and everything was great in the Star Wars universe again. Take Jedi Master Kit Fisto, for example.
Kit Fisto. You Know, That Grinning Guy
If you’ve only seen the movies, you probably don’t even know who Kit Fisto is. Fair enough. He’s the Jedi with the green skin and tentacles growing out of his head – we see him at the first battle of Geonosis (or, if you’ve only seen the movies, the battle of Geonosis) and then again when Mace Windu takes a bunch of Jedi goons to try and arrest Chancellor Palpatine.
He doesn’t get any lines, and the only thing he’s really memorable for is that grin he flashes when he Force-pushes C-3PO over (well, 3PO’s head on a battle droid’s body). Oh, and then in the next movie he gets cut down like a chump by Palpatine after the Sith lord reveals himself to be Darth Sidious.
All in all, not too much to go on from the movies. But it was enough for Star Wars: The Clone Wars to build an awesome character.
Maybe the Coolest Jedi of Them All
Kit Fisto is a Nautolan Jedi highly regarded by many in the Jedi Order for his superior lightsaber skills. He serves as a general in the Grand Army of the Republic and on paper might seem like a typical Jedi. That could easily have been it, as the Clone Wars story could have focused exclusively on Anakin Skywalker, his new padawan Ahsoka Tano, and maybe a few major players from the movies like Obi Wan Kenobi and Mace Windu. But the creators of Star Wars: The Clone Wars show their genius by branching out into the wider galaxy with their stories, sometimes leaving our main heroes completely out of episodes and focusing on building up the best of the other characters.
Kit Fisto: a wise master
We see Kit Fisto in passing several times in Clone Wars episodes, but in only the tenth episode of the series, Lair of Grievous, Kit Fisto takes center stage. He’s sent on a mission to capture the contemptible Nute Gunray, but instead discovers the secret lair of the Separatist leader General Grievous. Capturing Grievous is high on the list of to-do items for the Jedi community, and Kit Fisto adapts quickly to this related priority. But Master Fisto is also reunited with his former padawan, now Jedi knight, Nahdar, and with a squad of clone troopers they enter and begin the search for Gunray as they explore Grievous’ lair.
Right away we see that Kit Fisto is different from other Jedi we’ve seen. He smiles frequently, and is genuinely delighted to see his former padawan again. This makes for a welcome change from the somber, often cold, demeanor of so many Jedi and as the audience we can’t help but warm to Master Fisto.
We also discover quickly that Kit Fisto is a mature Jedi, with depth of character hiding behind that easy grin. His gentle guidance of Nahdar reveals the respect he has both for his former padawan and also for the Jedi order – unlike Kenobi, who never really stops treating Anakin like an apprentice, Kit Fisto makes it clear that he won’t order Nahdar around but will respect him as a fellow Jedi knight.
Nahdar’s black and white approach to a deadly situation isn’t unexpected from one so young, nor is his desire for revenge when clones are killed by Grievous. But Kit Fisto keeps his emotions locked down when necessary, sternly reminding Nahdar of the ways of the Jedi community. In mere minutes of screen time, Kit Fisto captures the image of the wise Jedi master.
Experience never comes for free
Master Fisto doesn’t shy away from fighting when necessary – and, boy, can he swing a lightsaber – but he also knows when to retreat. Nahdar is ultimately killed fighting Grievous but even in the face of tragedy Kit Fisto remains focused, opting to back out of an unwinnable situation.
Lair of Grievous is what’s called a “bottle episode” in that it’s basically self-contained, and while it might just seem like time spent away from our heroes, it introduces Kit Fisto as one of the most intriguing figures in the Star Wars supporting cast. It also gives us something we may not have expected: a likeable Jedi master.
Kit Was a Jedi even Mother Talzin Would Have Liked
Kit Fisto continues to appear in the background of Star Wars: The Clone Wars episodes, sometimes still flashing that trademark grin. For a while we don’t know much more about him, but we still kind of like seeing him in the background. But he returns to the forefront in the dramatic series of episodes that open Season Four.
When the clone wars goes underwater…
Word reaches the Jedi Council that trouble is brewing on the watery world of Mon Cala. The initial diplomatic effort goes very wrong and military intervention is required. Who better to lead this intervention than the Nautolan Jedi Kit Fisto, who can breathe, move and fight just as well under water as he can above.
Fisto was practically shouting “Huzzah!”
And wow, does Kit Fisto deliver. Stripped down to diving shorts, this Jedi looks awesome as his tentacles flow behind his head like hair in the wind and his muscles ripple with every stroke through the water. He’s completely in his element, leading the charge of aquatic clone troopers into the fray, the very image of a swashbuckling hero.
Anakin Skywalker may still be the center of the story, but there’s no denying that Kit Fisto commands every scene he’s in. He brings a cool confidence to back up Anakin’s genius. He’s so at home in this watery community, even though not related to the local Mon Calamari, that the surface-dwellers maintain confidence that they might actually make it home.
And, although we can’t account for it directly on screen, I’m pretty sure Padme and Ahsoka, in a quiet moment, would have shared a look that said day-umm, Kit Fisto can come close to me any time.
(Sorry, but it’s good to see a Jedi other than Aayla Secura stripping down for battle. If there was a gallery of calendar-worthy Star Wars species, Kit Fisto would totally be in it.)
An Unsatisfactory End for Kit Fisto
So Star Wars: The Clone Wars builds up Kit Fisto as a likeable, capable and reliable Jedi knight. He’s not the most important character but he’s clearly well-liked by his peers and a welcome addition to any episode. Sometimes he’s just in a holographic video, or checking the Star Wars equivalent of his email account, or doing a Holocron search for Force-sensitive species across the galaxy. But because of those few episodes that really bring out his great character and explore how much he can add to Star Wars, we always appreciate every look we get.
It’s really a bummer, then, to watch his fate as it’s presented in Revenge of the Sith. Now a member of the Jedi Council, Kit Fisto is selected by Mace Windu to accompany him when they receive information from Anakin Skywalker that Chancellor Palpatine is in fact the Sith lord Darth Sidious.
Sorry, Mace Windu, but this is who’s available
It isn’t clear why Windu chooses the three Jedi he does – with so many of them scattered across the galaxy maybe they were the only available masters. But Clone Wars establishes that Kit Fisto is widely regarded as one of the best swordsmen in the Jedi community, so it’s nice to think that Windu wants Kit Fisto with him, rather than just having to take who he’s got on hand.
Only one chance to end it right
The Jedi enter the chambers of their Sith quarry, and Darth Sidious reveals himself by drawing his red lightsaber. They’re here to arrest him, but looking at the gallery of goons behind Mace Windu, you have to wonder if they really believe the information they’ve got. They all seem surprised when the Sith lord actually starts fighting back, giving Sidious practically a free hand to cut them down. Even Kit Fisto looks clumsy, and our swashbuckling Nautolan hero goes down in seconds.
The challenges facing RetCon Inc.
I know. The third Prequel movie was written before Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the movie writers had none of the information revealed in the TV show. Star Wars is always struggling with trying to retcon new information into the ever-evolving image of that galaxy far, far away. Kit Fisto was just a piece of scenery in the movies and it wasn’t until the TV show that the writers were able to explore the many characters and items in the wider community related to the main story.
There’s still a whole galaxy to explore in Star Wars
But our experience has been greatly broadened by Star Wars media outside the movies. I, for one, am not sorry about how the image of Kit Fisto was transformed from just a grinning guy in the Jedi community into one of the best lightsaber combatants and most likeable members of the council.
I suppose I can dream that there might one day be a new video release of Revenge of the Sith (or video streaming, I guess, who says just “video” these days?) where Master Fisto puts up a better defense against Sidious and lives up to the image we all have of him today.
Copyright laws in 2021 of course preclude me from setting out to explore the many untold adventures of Kit Fisto in my own writing, but hopefully the Star Wars powers-that-be can add our buddy Kit Fisto to their long list of items waiting to be produced.