Star Wars: The Clone Wars
In the final episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Ahsoka must act in response to the results of Order 66. Stuck on a ship manned by activated clones, she must try to escape with her life.
When fans of the franchise heard that Star Wars: The Clone Wars would be cancelled prematurely, there was no small amount of protest. For a long time, a person couldn’t even mention the series without eventually discussing its finale; there was supposed to be another season, they were leading up to something bigger, the show was supposed to transition directly into Revenge of the Sith. The list of what-ifs goes on. Like many other elements of the Star Wars canon, it was something that fans could talk about for hours at a time. Unlike most other elements, however, was the fact that the majority of fans were all in agreement with one another.
The Clone Wars needed its final season. It just did. Not because fans couldn’t reconcile the ending, but because it just didn’t have an ending.
The finale to the series’ sixth season was satisfying enough, but that incomplete feeling would always linger on the final episode. The Clone Wars is one of the few works that maintains a comfortable and systematic build throughout its entirety, guiding fans through the greater details of a story they already know. It was never any secret that the animated series was meant to connect the dots between Episodes II and III—that was the whole point. This show successfully held our hands through a long journey, leading us all the way to the water, but when the show was cut, we were told that we couldn’t drink any of it.
This led to an unsurprising outcry from a notoriously noisy fan base. Six long, loud years later, the fans’ support finally led to the release of a final final season on Disney+.
And folks? This is the series finale that the show deserved.
There is no single capacity in which The Clone Wars’ seventh season fails to deliver the very best. Split into three beautifully segued arcs of four episodes apiece, the final season reinforces all of the episodes that came before it in a way that leads to the optimal emotional payoff in its last moments. The first arc focuses on the clones, characters that a viewer can’t help but love, emphasizing their bond and brotherhood in a galaxy fraught with war. The second arc follows the beloved Ahsoka Tano and her transition into a civilian life, highlighting her doubts surrounding the Jedi Order.
And the final arc—well. There aren’t really words for the final arc, are there? But I sure am going to try.
It is first worth noting that at this point, Star Wars has reached a level in our culture that is comparable to classic fairy tales. Its lore has permeated our media, its reach is vast, and most people are going to know the story, even if only on the most basic level. This franchise started off as an innovative new take on the sci-fi genre, but it has since shifted its focus. In modern Star Wars, the name of the game is now: intertextuality.
The people who grew up loving this franchise are now the showrunners, the animators, and the writers. That’s going to have an effect on how the story grows. It’s not a criticism, it’s an inevitability. People who grew up in a world with Star Wars are going to understand it differently from the people who had to create it from scratch.
The result is a much more interwoven story, with the bulk of the emotional drivers coming from familiarity rather than suspense, shock, or intrigue. Audiences remember the first time they saw Order 66 in action. They have the emotional context for how it devastated the Jedi, for how it led to the Empire’s rise and changed the war forever. The Clone Wars deepens the story by offering more perspectives, instead of choosing to expand it by offering more plot.
The humanization of the clones adds a thematic level of free will. Maul’s prediction about Anakin adds a narrative level of possible prevention. Ahsoka shows viewers just how much was lost in those few moments. The Order 66 sequence takes up just over three minutes of Revenge of the Sith’s 2 hour, 20 minute runtime, but this final season of The Clone Wars is able to pack hours, episodes, and entire seasons worth of new emotionality in those same three minutes.
It’s a truly magnificent accomplishment. What’s better, is that it’s not even the best thing about The Clone Wars.
Because this series, while at times a bit indulgent, ultimately stands on its own. The context of the films certainly enhances it, but even if a viewer doesn’t know much about Star Wars, this is still a deeply enjoyable show. The characters are largely unique, the themes exist separately from the films, and the intertextuality is never overextended. It’s familiar, but it isn’t a copycat. It isn’t cheap. This show is thoughtful in all the ways a great show should be.
And if you do have the context of the entire Star Wars universe, then The Clone Wars is just that much sweeter. We don’t often have the opportunity to consume media with a perfect ending. Shows get cancelled. Comics get left behind. Occasionally you find a story that dwindles to a long, unsatisfying conclusion. More often than not, endings are doomed to feel empty.
But every once in a while, you come across a gift. You come across Ahsoka, standing at the foot of a mass grave of soldiers who she’s led for years, their demise unfair and unwilful. You come across a lightsaber, left behind in the snow, abandoned. You come across Anakin Skywalker, no longer Anakin, no longer a general, no longer the man you have come to love over so many seasons.
He lifts the lightsaber, and it buzzes to life, and suddenly the fall of Anakin Skywalker feels that much more powerful.
This is, by all accounts, the perfect ending. And those are ever so rare. People will still talk about this final season. It will still take up hours of every Star Wars fan’s time. But it’s not a what-if anymore. It’s not one of those hallow endings we’re so used to. People will be talking about this finale because they simply won’t be able to stop themselves from doing it.
Amazing Science Fiction: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Writing - 10/1010/10
Storyline - 10/1010/10
Acting - 10/1010/10
Music - 10/1010/10
Production - 10/1010/10
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