- "Morning, Senators. You should all consider yourselves to be in my power. As long as everybody behaves, this will be quick and painless. Do nothing, and it will all be over soon."
- ―Cad Bane
The Senate hostage crisis occurred in 21 BBY during the Clone Wars when the Hutt Grand Council hired the bounty hunter Cad Bane to organize a raid on the Republic Executive Building aimed at capturing members of the Galactic Senate. Bane sought to force Supreme Chancellor Palpatine to issue a pardon for the Hutt crime lord Ziro Desilijic Tiure, who had previously been arrested and imprisoned in the Republic Judiciary Central Detention Center for his role in the Confederacy of Independent Systems' kidnapping of his great-nephew, Rotta. Bane formed a team of bounty hunters that included the Jedi hunter Aurra Sing, the Weequay Shahan Alama, and the Patrolian technician Robonino, along with several Confederate droids. After testing his team by pitting them against fellow bounty hunter Davtokk, Bane deemed his accomplices ready for their mission.
Infiltrating the Executive Building and disposing of multiple Senate Commando guards along the way, the team took a small group of senators hostage. Bane trapped Palpatine and Senator Orn Free Taa in the Chancellor's office by having Robonino shut down the building's power. Bane then issued an ultimatum to the Supreme Chancellor: Ziro was to be released, or the senators would be executed. Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker was still in the building, though unarmed, and was knocked out and captured by the hunters. To secure the Hutt's release in exchange for the senators' lives, Bane ordered Taa to take a pardon disc to the Detention Center to release Ziro.
Taa reluctantly complied and was escorted to the prison by the sentinel droid HELIOS-3D. As final leverage against Palpatine, the bounty hunters set up a system of lasers around the senators that would trigger explosives with the slightest touch before leaving the building. Clone troopers of the Coruscant Guard led by Clone Commander CC-1010 arrived to apprehend Bane's team on the landing platform, but the still-trapped senators allowed the bounty hunters to escape with Ziro. Although Bane remotely activated the explosives as payback for the indignities the Hutt had suffered in prison, a revived Skywalker was able to cut a hole around the senators, and all of them dropped into the room below seconds before the explosives went off.
The hiring of a bounty hunter
- "Let's let the scavengers clean this up. Our business is on Coruscant."
- ―Cad Bane, after killing Davtokk
In 22 BBY, during the Clone Wars, Ziro Desilijic Tiure, a Hutt crime lord and the uncle to fellow crime lord Jabba Desilijic Tiure, participated in a plot orchestrated by the Confederate Head of State, Count Dooku, to kidnap Jabba's son, Rotta, and frame the Jedi Order for the crime. However, Senator Padmé Amidala discovered the plot and had Ziro arrested in his palace on the galactic capital of Coruscant by Clone Commander CC-1010, nicknamed "Fox," and clone troopers from the Coruscant Guard. Ziro was subsequently incarcerated by the Galactic Republic in the Republic Judiciary Central Detention Center on Coruscant, a heavily guarded prison. Though initially happy to let Ziro rot in prison, the Hutt clans later reconsidered in 21 BBY, when it was discovered that Ziro had hidden a holodiary record of all criminal dealings of the Hutt Grand Council dating back generations. To that end, Jabba the Hutt and his colleagues on the Grand Council decided that it would be better for Ziro to be transferred into their custody.
Jabba initially hired the renowned bounty hunter Cad Bane to gain access to the plans to the Republic Executive Building. Following Bane's success with that assignment, Jabba gained the Hutt Council's approval to contract the bounty hunter to free Ziro. Instead of a straightforward prison break, Bane was to use the plans of the Republic Executive Building to organize a raid on the Galactic Senate. With members of the Senate taken hostage, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine would be forced to issue a pardon for Ziro. Furthermore, the Hutts—remembering Count Dooku's manipulations of them surrounding the kidnapping of Rotta—schemed to frame the Separatists for breaking Ziro out of prison. Bane assembled a team of bounty hunters and infiltration specialists consisting of the Weequay mercenary Shahan Alama and the Patrolian slicer Robonino, backed up by several Confederate BX-series droid commandos and IG-86 sentinel droids. He even broke the Jedi hunter Aurra Sing out of prison so that she could add her sniper abilities to the team. As the organic members of the group usually operated alone, Bane organized a test for them. Knowing that rival bounty hunter Davtokk intended to kill him for the bounty on his head, Bane lured Davtokk to the planet Keyorin under the pretense that he was seeking recruits. There, Robonino, Alama, and Sing succeeded in crippling Davtokk, earning Bane's trust that they would be able to function together as a team. After disposing of Davtokk, Bane took his team to Coruscant to free Ziro.
A secret meeting
- "I have to bring this bill before the Senate. It's important."
"Uh-huh. More important than the way you feel about me?"
- ―Senator Padmé Amidala is teased by Anakin Skywalker
While he was supposed to be on a meditative retreat, Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker visited his secret wife, Senator Padmé Amidala, in her office in the Republic Executive Building on Coruscant. During their discussion, Skywalker asserted that there was nothing more important to him than his love for her, and he gave Amidala his lightsaber to symbolize his faith in her. However, Senator Bail Organa, followed by C-3PO, then entered the room, seeking Amidala's presence for a meeting organized by Senator Philo to discuss the Enhanced Privacy Invasion Bill, a piece of Senate legislation. Skywalker hid behind Amidala's desk, and Amidala, hiding Skywalker's lightsaber in her sleeves, followed Organa to the meeting and took the lightsaber with her, unable to return it to the Jedi.
Entering and taking hostages
- "Put up your hands."
"I got business with the Senate. How about you fellows step aside?"
- ―Captain Jayfon and Cad Bane
Arriving on Coruscant, Bane's team split up to gain entrance to the Executive Building. Bane, Alama, a sentinel droid, and two droid commandos for assistance in protecting Bane arrived at the building in an airspeeder, where they were confronted by a squad of Senate Commando guards. From an adjacent tower, Sing distracted the guards with covering sniper fire, taking out most of the Commandos by herself, while Alama and the droids also engaged the Senate Guards. Bane eliminated the guards' captain, Jayfon, and the commando droids dressed up in the Senate Guards' armor to ensure that the brawl would go undiscovered. Sing, Robonino, and the sentinel droids HELIOS-3D and HELIOS-3E arrived at the scene in a second airspeeder. Leaving both BX units outside to clear the platform of the dead Senate Commandos, the team of bounty hunters made their way into the complex. HELIOS-3D also remained behind with the airspeeder.
Disposing of a guard stationed at the Executive Building's power control room, the group also destroyed an assistant droid, the protocol droid D-0T, a WED-15 Treadwell, and the astromech droid R5-S9 in the room. Leaving Robonino to sabotage the building's power distribution network, the rest of the team headed to the meeting of senators. On the way to the East Wing of the building where the senators had gathered, Bane—having planning his operation during Senate Guard shifts—eliminated most of the active Senate security by tossing a thermal detonator into the Senate Commandos' barracks when two shifts were assembled there. Sing eliminated the only survivor with a shot to the head. The group then entered the Annex Dome, surrounding and taking prisoner Senators Organa, Amidala, Philo, Dantum Roohd, Zinn Paulness, Onaconda Farr, Riyo Chuchi, Jakker-Sun, Kin Robb, and a Christophsian senator, as well as C-3PO. After Philo objected to being taken hostage, attempting to leave while refusing to "listen to insolence," Bane shot him in the back and ordered the rest of the senators to hand over any communication devices in their possession.
Bane made contact with Palpatine in his office and demanded the release of Ziro from the Detention Center. After Palpatine objected, Robonino shut down the building's power, activating its emergency lockdown and leaving Palpatine and Senator Orn Free Taa trapped in the office with external communications disabled. However, Bane was unaware that Skywalker was still inside the building. Noticing that the building's red backup lights had activated, Skywalker left Amidala's office to find out what was happening. Upon arriving above the atrium where the senators were being held, the Jedi noticed the bounty hunters surrounding their hostages and spied on the events taking place.
Securing the Hutt and escape
- "You were foolish to think you could get away with this, bounty hunter. Now lay down your arms and come quietly."
"No, Chancellor, I'm afraid it is you who has been foolish…with your senators' lives. One false move and the east wing of the Senate Building goes up in smoke."
- ―Supreme Chancellor Palpatine and Cad Bane
When Bane spotted Skywalker above the lobby, he fired at him before sending Alama and a sentinel droid after the fleeing Jedi. Contacting Palpatine—who had been trapped in his office with Senator Taa for two hours—by plugging his comlink into a communications outpost, Skywalker learned that it was up to him to turn the power back on so that reinforcements could be summoned. As Alama and the droid approached the room where Skywalker was speaking with Palpatine, the Jedi quickly unplugged his comlink and hid right before the two hunters entered the room. Skywalker used a mind trick on Alama to get the two off his trail, and Alama and the droid separated. Sneaking up on the sentinel droid, Skywalker attacked but was forced to engage it in close combat without a lightsaber. Alama returned to find the destroyed droid, but by examining its remains, Alama deduced that the Jedi was unarmed.
After reporting this new information to Bane, Alama continued the hunt with the added aid of Sing. Outside the power control room, Skywalker stumbled across Robonino, and the technician quickly retreated back into the room. As Skywalker attempted to break into the room, Alama found him, and the Jedi pulled Alama's blaster out of his hand with the Force. However, Sing took aim at Skywalker from behind the Weequay, and as Alama ducked, Sing shot the blaster out of Skywalker's hand. With Skywalker backed against the door of the power control room, Robonino joined the fray and shocked the Jedi. The unconscious Skywalker was brought to Bane in handcuffs, and Bane instructed Palpatine to make a pardon disc and to give it to Senator Taa, who would deliver the disc to the prison so that Ziro could be released. HELIOS-3D escorted Taa to the landing platform, where a speeder was parked with a transport attached for the large Hutt. Upon arrival at the Detention Center, Taa released Ziro, whom 3D took back to the Executive Building, while Taa remained in the safety of the Coruscant Guard at the prison.
In the atrium, Bane's team set up their "parting gifts" around the senators: a system of lasers that would trigger explosives upon the slightest touch. The bounty hunters sought to use the hostages as final leverage if Palpatine attempted to apprehend them while they were still on Coruscant. Wishing the senators and Jedi a "most respectful farewell," Bane left the building with his team. On Taa's orders, the Coruscant Guard broke through the transparisteel window of Palpatine's office and ensured that the Chancellor was safe. Outside on a landing platform, a pair of LAAT/i gunships arrived, and Coruscant Guard troopers led by Commander Fox piled out and cornered the bounty hunters.
Palpatine contacted Bane and ordered him to surrender, but the bounty hunter revealed the still-trapped senators, and in order to keep them safe, Palpatine reluctantly relinquished his attempts to apprehend Bane. Commander Fox ordered his clone forces to stand down, allowing Bane and his team to leave. Back in the East Wing, Skywalker awoke, and Amidala cut Skywalker's binders off with his lightsaber. Once he and his team were a safe distance away from the Executive Building, Bane remotely activated the explosives as payback for the indignities Ziro had suffered in prison. However, Skywalker was able to cut a hole in the floor around the senators, allowing all of them to drop into the room below seconds before the explosives went off.
- "Oh, I have no illusions about the fact that my escape was a result of the highly sensitive knowledge that I possess. A holodiary cataloging the nefarious deeds of this council. […] Kill me and the diary will show up on the step of the Senate. The cold, hard reality is that as long as I control this highly sensitive material, my memory will only get duller."
- ―Ziro Desilijic Tiure, to the Hutt Grand Council
Following their escape, Bane transferred the reward to his comrades' accounts and ordered them to flee separately, escaping from the eyes of the Republic. However, Alama was ambushed by a Confederate Munificent-class frigate and a Republic LAAT/i gunship over the planet Florrum. Similarly, Robonino was attacked at his underwater headquarters on the planet Rodia by Republic forces, and HELIOS-3D's battle droid encampment in the Thicket of the planet Iego was destroyed by the Jedi Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Meanwhile, Jedi Master Quinlan Vos pursued Bane and Ziro the Hutt across Coruscant's skylanes as they escaped in an airspeeder, but Vos was unable to stop Bane from delivering Ziro to the Hutt Council's headquarters on the planet Nal Hutta. After Ziro abstained from revealing the location of his holodiary record, he managed to escape from the Hutts' custody with the singer Sy Snootles, who, unbeknownst to Ziro, had secretly been hired by Jabba to retrieve the holodiary. Ziro's pursuers soon grew to include Bane, whom the Hutt Council contracted to track down the fugitive crime lord, and Master Kenobi and Vos, whom the Jedi High Council had dispatched to apprehend Ziro and Bane, the latter for his hostage takeover of the Senate. Bane's and the Jedi's manhunt for Ziro culminated in a confrontation on the planet Teth.
On a HoloNet News broadcast that followed Bane's raid on the Senate, the young Gran Salo swore vengeance on Bane for murdering Senator Philo—whom Salo had greatly admired—during the raid. Nevertheless, the audacity of Bane's raid on the Senate ensured that he would have plenty of clients in the future.
Behind the scenes
- "You get to see that short of coming up against a Jedi, these bounty hunters are incredibly dangerous, so dangerous that they take over the entire Senate. That's a very difficult thing to do. This group does it. Quite effectively, quite violently."
- ―Series Director Dave Filoni
The Senate hostage crisis was featured in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series' 2009 first season finale, "Hostage Crisis." The webcomic Invitation Only led into "Hostage Crisis" and depicted Bane's test of his team against Davtokk. The raid notably featured the debut of bounty hunters in the series, as well as one of the first appearances of Cad Bane, a bounty hunter featured more throughout the series' second season. The event was officially named in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars Comic UK 6.1 magazine.
The party that employed Bane for his raid on the Senate was not clarified for quite some time, as "Hostage Crisis" did not identify the party. Although some first season publicity materials stated that Bane had been hired by the leaders of the Separatists—Darth Sidious and Count Dooku—Bane's clients were revised to be the Hutts with the publication of the bounty hunter's StarWars.com Databank entry in 2009. Despite this change, the later-published Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Official Episode Guide: Season 1 further complicated the matter by claiming that Bane's employer had yet to be identified in the television series' second season. The issue was finally resolved in the 2010 third season episode "Evil Plans," which served as a prequel to "Hostage Crisis" and solidified the Databank's claim that Bane had been hired by the Hutts. The third season episode "Hunt for Ziro" served as a sequel to "Hostage Crisis" and depicted the aftermath of the hostage crisis, as did StarWars.com's trio of Hunting the Hunters webcomics, which transitioned between the television series' first and second seasons. Furthermore, an in-universe explanation for the employer inconsistency came in 2012 with the publication Star Wars: The Ultimate Visual Guide: Updated and Expanded, which stated that the Hutts had framed the Separatists for the hostage crisis in retribution for Count Dooku's earlier kidnapping of Rotta the Huttlet.
Although the raid took place entirely in the Republic Executive Building, several of the episode's dialogue sequences indicated otherwise, implying that the senators were being held in the Senate Building. To further complicate matters, the smoke from Bane's explosives was seen coming from the Senate Building instead of the Executive Building, an animation error that the series' crew noticed but did not fix in time.
The 2011 non-canonical LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars video game depicted the Senate hostage crisis in its adaptation of "Hostage Crisis." In addition to presenting more humorous and comical depictions of the hostage crisis, the game also modified the event's storyline. In the game, Ziro the Hutt directly hires Bane to free him from prison, without the involvement of the Hutt Council. The level featuring the hostage crisis ends after the Republic Executive Building's power generator is shut down.
- Cad Bane: Jedi Hunter (Stock footage from "Hostage Crisis" only)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Lightsaber Lost" (Appears in "Newsreel" only)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Hostage Crisis" (First appearance)
- LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (Non-canonical appearance)
- The Clone Wars: Stand Aside - Bounty Hunters!
- The Clone Wars: Planets in Peril
- The Clone Wars: Hunting the Hunters (Part I) (Mentioned only)
- The Clone Wars: Hunting the Hunters (Part III) (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures – "Crisis Ziro" (Mentioned only)
- HoloNet News — A Galaxy Divided (Part 1) (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Hunt for Ziro" (In flashback(s))