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As a character, his fighting style and appearance were amazing, but his personality was repulsive, and all the clones around him felt incredible frustration when serving under him.
We’re going to look into the character of Pong Krell and explore why his actions were so harsh along with how he fell to the Dark Side.
Bottom Line Up Front: Pong Krell was a Jedi General serving in the Grand Army of the Republic. He won many battles for the Republic, but his battle strategies led to the highest death toll compared to any other general.
He had a vision of the Republic falling from within, and he turned against them in secret, hoping to be a part of the rising order that he foresaw. He was killed by the clones of the 501st Legion mutinied.
Since Pong Krell is a Besalisk, we can assume he was born on the planet, Ojom. There aren’t many Besalisk characters in the Star Wars universe, making Pong Krell stand out even more when he appears on screen. He was a Jedi General in the Galactic Republic Army, and he had many accolades from winning battles.
However, shortly after he met the 501st clone trooper legion, one of them mentioned that they heard he had the highest death toll out of all the Jedi Generals. This bit of foreshadowing was the start of everyone disliking the character.
Pong Krell was one of the main Jedi that led the clones on the Battle of Umbara. Umbara formed part of an important supply route, making it vital for the Republic to hold it. However, Umbara’s senator was killed, and the people withdrew from the Republic, instead allying themselves with the Confederacy of Independent Systems.
So, the Republic sent Jedi and their troops to reclaim the planet. The group of Jedi sent included Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Pong Krell, and Saesee Tin.
A while before this battle, Pong Krell had a vision that the Republic and Jedi would fall. He saw the Republic being dismantled from the inside. As we all know, this vision was completely true, and Pong Krell was one of the first people to see it happening.
Instead of trying to prevent it, he decided to turn on the Republic and Jedi. He wanted to be part of the new order that he saw rising, so he plotted in secret while maintaining the appearance of being loyal to the Jedi. He planned to sabotage his troops in an attempt to show Count Dooku his loyalty. He hoped to become his apprentice.
During the Battle of Umbara, Krell was part of an airstrike team that aided Anakin Skywalker and the 501st Legion. Upon landing, Krell informed Skywalker that he had been recalled to Coruscant and that he would take control of Skywalker’s clone troops.
When Anakin left, the mood in the 501st camp completely changed as Pong Krell was a brutal commander that did things strictly by the book. He wanted absolute loyalty from the clones, even if it was detrimental to them.
As the war on the planet went on, his military style made things progressively worse, and the 501st clones started heavily resenting him. He continuously flexed his power over them, and he didn’t care if they died or not. Pong Krell saw the clones as weapons and not people.
One of the key moments in this battle was when Krell and his troops were ordered to capture an Umbaran airbase. Krell’s plan was to travel through a ravine to get there, but Captain Rex advised him not to as it would be dangerous for the troops. Krell insisted, and they went through the ravine and lost several troops because of it.
After capturing the airbase, some of the clones went against Krell’s orders and used Umbaran ships to destroy an enemy supply ship. Even though this was a small victory, Krell ordered the execution of the clones who disobeyed him. In a twisted fashion, he ordered the other clone troopers to execute them. They refused to, however.
After that, Pong Krell informed his legion that enemies had stolen supplies from them, and he ordered them to go fight. His actual plan was ordering the 501st to attack another legion of clones without either battalion knowing.
Since the air was so thick and moggy on Umbara, the clones only realized after a few casualties had already occurred. Captain Rex and the 501st were infuriated by this, and they planned to capture Pong Krell and arrest him.
Upon attempting to arrest him, Pong Krell fought off the clones, easily killing several of them. They chased him down and one of the troopers, Tup, came up with a plan for one of the Umbaran tentacle creatures to grab Krell. It worked, and the clones stunned Krell and locked him up at the airbase that they had previously captured.
In his imprisonment, Krell revealed his intentions to the clones. He told them about his vision and how he planned to join the order that would overthrow the Republic. He also continued to taunt them and refer to them as lesser.
Next to Krell’s cell was another imprisoned clone by the name of Dogma. Dogma was one of the few clones that stayed loyal to Krell even after all his antics. So, he was locked up as well. However, he realized that he was wrong for staying loyal after Krell revealed all his intentions.
Captain Rex decided that Pong Krell was too dangerous to be kept alive and planned to execute him. As this would lead to being court marshaled, Rex couldn’t bring himself to do it. Krell could sense the fear in Rex and taunted him even further. As Rex lowered his weapon, a blast shot off and Pong Krell was killed.
It was Dogma who fired the killing blow. While what he did would lead to him to stand trial before the Republic, all the clones around him knew that what he did was necessary.
- Pong Krell gets lured to the Dark Side and has a vision of the Republic being destroyed from within. In turn, he secretly abandons the Jedi Order and starts seeking to align himself with the Sith.
- He takes over command from Anakin Skywalker of the 501st Legion on Umbara. His strict military presence comes as a shock to the clones as they’re accustomed to Anakin’s relational leadership abilities.
- Pong Krell is ordered to take an Umbaran airbase, and he sacrifices many of his troops to get it.
- He orders the execution of clone troops who disobey him, even though what they did was highly beneficial to their war effort.
- He orders the 501st Legion to attack the 212th Legion without them knowing.
- Captain Rex and the 501st fight Krell in an effort to arrest him.
- Dogma, one of the clone troopers that were loyal to Pong Krell, kills him with a blaster after finding out his true intentions.
Pong Krell Themes
View on Clone Troopers
One of the best aspects of Star Wars: The Clone Wars is how the series humanizes the clone troopers. While watching the Star Wars movies, you don’t get a personal connection to the clones. Instead, they just appear as soldiers that eventually turn on the Jedi. The stories in the series, however, make you bond with the clones.
You find out that they’re real people who have emotions, nicknames, and varying personalities. Some of them even fall in love.
This makes it so much worse when Pong Krell arrives on the scene. He doesn’t see the clones as relatable people. Instead, he views them purely as weapons that were built in a lab. You can tell this by how he never refers to any of them by their nicknames. Instead, he calls them by their designated clone trooper numbers.
He’s also constantly shocked at how they can think for themselves and doesn’t believe that they’re smart enough to figure out his intentions and sinister plans.
This is a huge contrast from how the other Jedi perceive the clones in the series. Most of the Jedi Generals form close bonds with their troops and value their lives just as much as they would any other person.
The perfect example of this was when early in the series one of the clone troopers tells Plo Koon how they’re meant to be expendable and he replies by saying, “Not to me.”
Harsh Military Tactics
Pong Krell’s disdain for the clones is clearly portrayed in how he leads as a general. If you look at his military victories, you’d see that he was an incredible military leader.
It’s noted that he won some of the most key battles for the Republic in the Clone Wars. However, he was so harsh on his troops, and he didn’t care if they died. If he won a battle, the deaths of clone troopers would be highly worth the victory for him.
It’s never stated clearly just when he fell to the Dark Side, but since he has such a reputation for having heavy casualties, we can assume that he was like this even before falling to the Dark Side.
Pong Krell hated it when clone troopers thought independently. If his plans failed, he blamed it on the troopers and exclaimed that they were incompetent. He was arrogant in his plans, and outrightly thought that they would always work if the clones were just good enough to pull them off.
Fall to the Dark Side
Pong Krell’s personality was a clear sign that he was a bad guy. It makes me wonder if he was always like that when training as a Jedi. Whether he was or wasn’t, his fall to the Dark Side would have made him worse over time.
The key point of his betrayal of the Jedi was when he received the vision of the Republic crumbling. While he never saw everything in heavy detail, he knew that the Republic would be destroyed from the inside, referring to how Palpatine would eventually turn the clones on the Jedi and announce himself as the first Galactic Emperor.
Things could have been very different if Pong Krell decided to warn the Jedi about this instead of turning on them. But the lure to the Dark Side is very strong, and he elected to go down that path instead. He wanted to rule, and he was joining sides with Count Dooku as a way of doing that.
The most amazing thing about Pong Krell was that he wielded two double-bladed lightsabers. His body structure as a Besalisk allowed him to do this as he had four large arms. Double-bladed lightsabers weren’t very commonly used by Jedi in the time of the Clone Wars, so it was incredible to see Pong Krell using these when watching the series.
He was a strong warrior. We see him easily dispose of enemies and creatures while using his lightsabers. We also see him fighting off clones with only his hands. At one point, he snapped a clone’s back over his knee when they were trying to arrest him. You could say that his fighting style was just as brutal as his personality.
He was also a strong Force user. When the clones initially approach him to arrest him, he appears to be outnumbered. However, he used all four of his hands to Force push several clones away from him.
We can also assume that he had strong Force foresight due to the vision he received. In the Star Wars universe, Force users typically receive more than one vision in their lives if they’re prone to getting them. So, we can assume that Pong Krell did as well.
Krell also used Force jump fairly often. We see him doing this in many of the battles on Umbara.
- “I will not be undermined by creatures made in some laboratory.” – Pong Krell outwardly shows his hatred for clone troopers.
- “I’m not naïve enough to be a Jedi.” – Pong Krell expresses how he believes joining the Sith is the best way forward after his vision of the Republic being destroyed.
- “Because you fell for it. Because you’re inferior.” – Pong Krell telling Captain Rex how he doesn’t think clones are smart enough to think for themselves.
- “I serve no one’s side, only myself. And soon my master.” – Pong Krell referring to how has the intentions to become Count Dooku’s apprentice and learn more about the Dark Side of the Force.
- “I counted on blind loyalty like yours for my plans to succeed.” – Pong Krell talking to Dogma, one of the only clone troopers that stayed loyal to him.
Question: Was Pong Krell a Sith Lord?
Answer: No, Pong Krell was not a Sith Lord. He was a fallen Jedi who was pretending to still be a part of the Jedi Order and the Republic. He planned to sabotage the Republic forces and show his allegiance to Count Dooku in hopes that he would become his apprentice.
At this time in the Star Wars universe, the Rule of Two was in place. This rule stated that there could only be two Sith Lords at any one time, a master and an apprentice.
At the time, Count Dooku was a Sith Lord apprentice while Darth Sidious was his master. If Pong Krell were to become a Sith Lord, it would mean that Dooku would have to kill Sidious.
This is how the Sith worked in order for them to remain as powerful as they could be. The Rule of Two was started by a famous Sith Lord known as Darth Bane.
Question: What Species is Pong Krell?
Answer: Pong Krell was a Besalisk. They’re large, four-armed people that come from the planet, Ojom. Another popular Besalisk can be seen in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Obi-Wan Kenobi meets up with his friend, Dexter Jettster. Dex is a Besalisk who runs a diner, and he was the one who gave Obi-Wan the tip to go to Kamino.
While Dex was fairly overweight and clunky, Pong Krell was incredibly athletic and strong. While I always assumed all Besalisks looked like Dex, Pong Krell’s appearance proved to me that people of the species can look quite different.
Question: Why Did No Jedi Suspect Pong Krell’s Betrayal?
Answer: Pong Krell hadn’t fully given into the Dark Side. He planned to stay in the Jedi Order as long as he could to sabotage them from the inside. This led him to hide his betrayal very well. The reason no one suspected him could be the same that no one suspected Palpatine’s betrayal coming.
The Jedi had lost their way and were blinded by the war. With so many things happening, Pong Krell’s scheme was easily missed.
Question: Who Killed Pong Krell?
Answer: A clone trooper known as Dogma killed Pong Krell. When Krell took over command of the 501st Legion, Dogma was one of the few clone troopers who were strongly loyal to Krell.
Even after Krell’s questionable tactics that sacrificed the lives of many clones, Dogma stayed loyal as he believed that clone troopers should always follow their generals, no matter what.
However, Dogma realized that his blind loyalty was detrimental after finding out that Pong Krell was trying to sabotage the clones. The clones under Krell planned to execute him, but Captain Rex couldn’t bring himself to do it. Dogma fired the killing blow.
Pong Krell is arguably one of the most hated characters in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. He’s incredibly frustrating to watch, and everything he says makes you wish the clones would just shoot him right then and there.
However, his character is incredibly interesting. He makes you realize how attached you become to the clones as you watch through the series. His treatment of them seems inhumane.
The Umbara arc is also fairly dark in tone, and it makes you realize how well the clone troopers are treated by the other Jedi Generals. This makes it so much more impactful when the clones turn on the Jedi after Order 66.
While Pong Krell looked amazing, his personality was repulsive, and I’m glad he only had a few episodes in the show.
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