This review is a continuation of our previous ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7’ review, covering ‘Episodes 2-6’. Click here to read this second part:
Rating: 6/10 (Episodes 7-8)
After the drastic decision to dump the spice in Episode 5, ‘Trace Martez’, ‘Raffa Martez’ and ‘Ahsoka Tano’ find themselves imprisoned by the ‘Pyke Syndicate’. Episode 7 ‘Dangerous Debt’ follows the trio as they attempt to escape imprisonment, whilst further developing the conflict between Ahsoka’s ‘Jedi’ moral values and Rafa’s belief that profit is more important than those who are harmed in the process of attaining it. Although this episode creates further internal conflict for Ahsoka as she struggles with keeping her previous role as a Jedi hidden from the two sisters, the episode lacks any exciting plot development with its focus on the trio escaping. However, where the plot lacks in excitement, director Dave Filoni brilliantly showcases the theme of imprisonment. With this story-telling device, Filioni and the writers substantially develop Ahsoka’s relationship with the Martez sisters, as well as explore her own internal conflicts surrounded by the themes of identity and escapism. Events within the episode are well sequenced to influence Ahsoka having the revelation that you can’t run away from who you are, but must embrace the opportunities to do good.
Episode 8, ‘Together Again’ is the final episode in the Martez sister story arc. Similarly to the last two episodes, ‘Together Again’ finds the trio in the Pykes’ prison cell, now being threatened with execution if they are unable to retrieve the lost spice. By pretending to cut a deal with the Pykes, Ahsoka enables the Martez sisters an opportunity to retrieve some spice in order to gain their freedom. Where this episode differs from its predecessors is director Dave Filoni’s evident use of foreshadowing ‘Order 66’, the commandment given to the ‘Clones’ by ‘Supreme Chancellor Palpatine’ to wipe-out the Jedi in ‘Revenge of the Sith’. Such a technique overpowers the rather repetitive story of the Martez sisters, which dragged over a few episodes, and presents a sense of wonder to die hard fans; who, if paying attention, will appreciate small mentions of the upcoming calamity that would see the downfall of ‘The Republic’ and the rise of ‘The Empire’. This slight change in narrative, and the cameos of certain ‘Star Wars’ icons, gives a breath of fresh air to the audience and sets up the finale of ‘The Clone Wars’ show.
Rating: 9/10 (Episodes 9-12)
Episode 9, ‘Old Friends Not Forgotten’, is the beginning of the final arc of the The Clone Wars series. After the ‘Separatists’ launch multiple attacks on different planets, the ‘Jedi Council’ dispatch many amongst their order to help repel the ‘Droid Army’. During this time, Ahsoka finds herself drawn back into the conflict as she aids ‘Bo-Katan-Kryze’ re-capture ‘Mandalore’. This episode is highly successful in depicting the story of ‘The Siege of Mandalore’, in addition to further strengthening the show’s connection to George Lucas’s 2005 film, Revenge of the Sith. In particular, through the use of the episode’s soundtrack, composer Kevin Kiner, creates a timeline of events through his music. For example, during the initial attack of Mandalore, Kiner integrates the drumming sound heard in the opening scene of Revenge of the Sith to show that while Ahsoka is flying into battle, so is her former master. This use of musical symbolism, not only indicates that this episode is occurring during Revenge of the Sith, but announces the decline of The Republic and fall of ‘Anakin Skywalker’.
Continuing The Siege of Mandalore arc is Episode 10, ‘The Phantom Apprentice’; part-two of the four-part finale to ‘The Clone Wars Saga’. This episode follows Ahsoka, ‘Captain Rex (now the rank of Commander)’ and Bo-Katan as they attempt to capture the deranged ‘Darth Maul’, who is attempting to flee the battle on Mandalore. This episode, just like Episode 9, largely hints to the events of Revenge of the Sith, with showrunner Filoni using the character of Maul to enable these connections. As the main antagonist of this episode, Filoni specifically targets Maul’s broken visions as a method to imply the fall of The Republic. Although we as an audience are aware of what Maul is alluding to, the narrative still ensures heartbreak as we watch the unsuspecting Ahsoka and Commander Rex come closer to their saddening fate. The raw emotion that Filoni draws out of this episode is heavily developed through the action sequences, with this feeling peaking between the duel of Maul and Ahsoka. To capture the deadliness of these two warriors fighting, Ray Park (known for his live-action performances of Darth Maul in the Star Wars films ‘Episode 1: The Phantom Menace’ and ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’) and stunt actor Lauren Mary worked with motion caption technology to capture the raw strength and agility of these characters. By using this technique, director Filoni was able to add an extra element of realism to the fight, as the motion capture recorded intricate details in the performers’ movements. With the removal of jagged movement in the fight as seen in many earlier episodes in the series, this smooth duel will go down as one of the most memorable fights in the entire show.
The eleventh episode then, simply titled ‘Shattered’, is the boiling-point of Season 7 and the entire The Clone Wars series. On display, is the event fans have been pleading for since the show’s cancellation in 2014, the crossover of Order 66 to television. Before this occurs, we see Ahsoka talk to the council in what can only be described as one of her best. After being thanked for her apprehension of Maul by the Council, Ahsoka maintains her role in the matter was not as a Jedi, but rather as a citizen of The Republic. This incredible moment of strength shown by Ahsoka when maintaining her ideals and acting on the lessons she’s learnt throughout the show (particularly those she learnt when leaving the ‘Jedi Order’), is the one of the main reasons why this character have become so special to so many fans. Continuing on this moment, Ahsoka joined by Rex and the rest of the Clones who fought survived Mandalore, set their course for ‘Coruscant’, to present Maul to the Jedi and to ‘The Supreme Court’ for his crimes against The Republic.
Following this of course, is the scene when Commander Rex receives his orders to execute his accompanying Jedi. The show, pardon the pun, executes this scene perfectly. Before Rex is told of the transmission from Palpatine, both he and Ahsoka share an emotional exchange discussing their friendship for one-another, whilst also mentioning their lives have been overtaken by the war and that they nothing else but conflict. This then leads into the most gripping moment of the entire series and within a matter of minutes, Ahsoka is now an enemy of The Republic, and an enemy of her friend, Rex. Beautiful animation and impactful sound, matched with a fantastic series of events depicts Ahsoka’s survival story as one of resilience and intelligence. With emotions high, the show then turns to truly outstanding action to draw closer to the end of the episode. Ahsoka, at her most desperate state, releases Maul from his confinement, discarding him merely as a distraction, with her priority set on turning Rex back to her side. Whilst Maul is spectacularly shown to his full might, killing clones and ripping apart the ship with just the ‘force’, Ahsoka miraculously finds the source of Rex’s betrayal and removes the ‘inhibitor chip’ inside his brain that has turned him into Palpatine’s puppet. Tensions remain high and hope dwindling, as the episode dramatically closes on the clones breaking through to Ahsoka and Rex.
Marking the conclusion to the The Clone Wars Saga, is the explosive, yet amazingly somber, Episode 12, ‘Victory and Death’. After her daring mission to remove Rex’s inhibitor chip and regain his loyalty, Ahsoka continues her bid for survival by engaging the Clones on the other side of the door. The two make their way toward the docking stations of the small ships, to which they discover ‘ARC Trooper Jesse’ and the rest of Rex’s army lined up and blocking any attempt of fleeing the ‘Venator-Class Star Destroyer’ (the freighter in which they’re on). Left with no other option with all ‘escape pods’ being fired, Ahsoka poses herself as captured by Rex as he attempts to reason with Jesse that she is no longer a Jedi and therefore an enemy of The Republic. This amazing scene provides such depth to the Order 66 event and as such to Revenge of the Sith, as we see that although the Clones immediately recognise the Jedi as a threat to The Republic, they are potentially able to be persuaded in their behaviours under the right technicalities. Unfortunately for Ahsoka, Jesse is not convinced, and forwards the notion that Rex be stripped of his Commander and other military titles and be grouped with Ahsoka as a traitor.
The action that unfolds next is gripping. Maintaining her compassionate nature that we’ve throughout the entire series, Ahsoka (with Rex following suit setting his ‘blasters’ to stun), incapacitates her former Clone allies as opposed to killing them. This is beautifully shown in the animation, as the audience is clearly shown Ahsoka deflecting the shots away from those firing at her, along with using the force in creative ways to protect their lives. Such attention to detail with each frame, including Ahsoka’s growing fatigue throughout the fight having to withstand an overwhelming number of forces consistently is intense and a joy to watch unfold. Filoni’s vision of this character’s arc in The Clone Wars from ‘Padawan’ learner, to a strong, capable, caring leader has truly flourished and a credit to all of those involved in the show. In the battle, Maul sneaks away and escapes on Ahsoka’s chosen ship, leaving her with no other option but to free-fall from the doomed Venator which is plummeting toward a mysterious moon. After she’s caught by Rex who managed to find a working small ship, the two miraculously land on the moon’s surface, making way for one of the most saddening moments in the series.
The camera focuses on Rex, who after placing a shovel in the ship, is revealed to have buried a number of his fallen brothers. With their helmets including Jesse’s respectfully placed on sticks above their graves as if it were their tombstones, the scene shockingly resembles decapitated heads on pikes from the medieval times. In yet another beautiful scene, Ahsoka leaves one of her ‘lightsabers’ on the ground near these graves and the Venator wreck, highlighting she’s already in survival mode and also signifying her new disconnection from the Jedi including her former master, Anakin. What follows, is a flashforward to this area after some time has passed. Arguably, this is one the greatest portrayals of Vader in animated form. He doesn’t say anything and the scene doesn’t necessarily hint towards anything more from the creators, however his inclusion is breathtaking and one that words cannot provide justice to.
Although this season came to a slow point with the drawn out story arc of the Martez sisters, director Dave Filoni picks up the action and story arc to the final season of the Clone Wars with the introduction of The Siege of Mandalore. Through the revelations Ahsoka gains from her time with the Martez sisters, we as an audience are treated to this new, tough and even more adored character, which leaves us in a sense of heartbreak as we watch Ahsoka come closer to Order 66. The final arc of The Clone Wars capitalises on this feeling and delivers perhaps the greatest animated story in Star Wars history. Maul, in addition to helping provide the show’s greatest action scene, is also utilised brilliantly as a warning to impending doom of the Jedi Order. The event itself is fantastically showcased and provides a great amount of closure to both Ahsoka and Rex’s story in The Clone Wars, two characters who could be said were the leads of this entire series. This final story arc delivered more than fans could have ever hoped for from the show. If you haven’t already seen it, then you certainly should.
Co-written by Connor McMurdo
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