Well, we’re in the endgame now, people. “Old Friends Not Forgotten” marks the beginning of the four-episode final arc of The Clone Wars and they are not holding anything back.
The strongest element of this episode was finally getting to see Anakin and Ahsoka reunited, but also to see their final moments with each other. Of course, later in life, Ahsoka will meet her master again, but by then he will be known only as Darth Vader and their dynamic will be completely different.
In this final arc, the episode feels more like the first part of a film rather than an episode on its own. There’s no more epigraph, the logo is red like the Maul episodes were, and we’re thrown right into the action. Now operating near the timeline of Revenge of the Sith, we see that General Grievous’ attack on the Outer Rim has the Jedi spread out with only their clone troopers as back up.
On Yerbana, Commander Cody is under attack and fighting a large battalion of droids on a bridge. Before they are overwhelmed, Obi-Wan dives into the battle. We can see the animation art completely refined as fog billows around Obi-Wan and we’re treated with a close-up shot of him illuminated by the blue of his lightsaber. It’s an absolute treat to witness.
Still, even with a Jedi, the Republic forces are outnumbered until Anakin arrives. All swagger and confidence, he casually remarks, “There are only a thousand droids down there, max.” Anakin has never been subtle and this scene shows off just how much Anakin is characterized by his bravado. Confident in battle, he lures out the tactical droid by telling them that he is surrendering.
After he kills the tactical droid using the force, Rex and his troops hiding beneath the bridge fly up to meet him and with the combination of the backup forces, the Republic is able to gain a footing on Yerbana again. It is an immensely enjoyable scene to watch, and if Anakin wasn’t about to be completely claimed by the dark side, I would almost be proud of him.
The Jedi get a call from Yularen who tells Anakin that they’ve received a message from someone using the “Fulcrum” frequency. This is where I question some of the connections with Rebels. Having Fulcrum be directly related to Ahsoka in this moment takes away from the surprise from the Rebels reveal for anyone in the future who watches The Clone Wars and then Rebels.
Arriving back on the ship, Anakin is stunned to see that it is Ahsoka who has contacted him along with Bo Katan. Anakin is stunned, his face shuffling through an array of emotions at the revelation, from surprised, to confused, to excited. It’s heartwarming to hear his voice lighten as he asks about her wellbeing and greets her warmly.
Regarding her former master with a little more restraint, Ahsoka tells the Jedi that they’ve found Maul. He is in Sundari on Mandalore, having arrived only a few days ago. This prompts her and Bo to arrive at their base. Still excited by the prospect of seeing Ahsoka again, Anakin reasons that she left the order and was meant to find Maul. He wants to believe that something good came from the absolute devastation of Ahsoka’s departure from the Jedi Order.
While Obi-Wan expresses caution, unsure about the news about Maul and the return of Ahsoka, Anakin allows himself to be ruled by his emotions and affection for his padawan. As the ship docks, we’re treated to an emotional moment as master and padawan are reunited.
Bo Katan tells them that her forces can’t take the city in a siege, so she proposes a joint operation. However, the problem comes in because Mandalore is a neutral planet. Republic involvement would spell a diplomatic disaster and cause another war. Obi-Wan wants to speak to the Council, exercising caution, while Bo is desperate for revenge. She doesn’t just want it for her planet, but for her sister.
As any long time Clone Wars fan will remember, Anakin is not the first Jedi to fall in love with someone. Obi-Wan harbored deep feelings for the duchess, Satine, of Mandalore. Satine was a fierce pacifist and ruler on Mandalore. The two cared deeply about one another, and Obi-Wan even admits to her that he would have left the order for her if she asked. Ultimately, she was used as a pawn for Maul in his vendetta against Obi-Wan and he killed her in front of him, letting her die in his arms. But while an act like this will drive Anakin to the dark side, Obi-Wan did not succumb to the grief. Cautious in his approach, he wants to confer with the Council.
Given some time alone, Ahsoka warms to Anakin again. The two walk side by side through the base as she is saluted by troopers who still call her commander. While Ahsoka abashedly says that she is no longer their commander, Anakin knows that it is a sign of respect because of the time she fought alongside them. They arrive at a hangar where she is greeted by Rex and a group of troopers who have painted their helmets in the style of Ahsoka’s Togruta face markings.
This is probably the scene of the episode that was the most emotional for me. Seeing Ahsoka reunited with her old team and her old friends felt like a homecoming. The respect that Rex and the troopers have for their young commander is undeniable. Anakin regards her with pride as he stands beside her.
But then sirens start sounding and Obi-Wan comes to tell them that Grievous has attacked Coruscant. Shaak Ti is protecting Palpatine but Mace Windu lost contact with her. Their ships are about an hour away. Cementing their fates in place, this means that Anakin and Obi-Wan will have to go back to Coruscant instead of going to Mandalore.
Ahsoka angrily calls the Jedi out for playing politics when Obi-Wan says that this is a pivotal moment in the Clone Wars. Ahsoka retorts, “I understand that, as usual, you’re playing politics. This is why the people have lost faith in the Jedi. I had too until I was reminded of what the Order means to people who truly need us.”
It is fascinating to watch Ahsoka stand up to Obi-Wan and the council, because, of course, she is right. While before she could not speak out against him, without her status as a padawan, she is free to voice her concern. The chancellor has more than enough forces at his side to protect him. The Jedi have long been blinded by their own power and she points out that the people of Mandalore truly do need them and could genuinely use their help against someone like Maul.
Anakin rushes to her defense. Instead of trying to argue, he suggests that they promote Rex to commander so that he can lead his own division of the 501st to avoid any diplomatic/political debacles. This is another moment that reminds us of Anakin’s bond with Ahsoka. Even as he is about to descend into the dark side and has been under the influence of Palpatine, it is so clear how Ahsoka brings out the light within him.
Before Anakin and Obi-Wan leave for Coruscant, he returns Ahsoka’s lightsabers back to her in an emotional moment. Given Ahsoka’s sudden appearance, it feels like Anakin has been carrying her lightsabers with him this entire time, taking care of them, hoping for a day that he could give them back to her before the two-part ways for the last time.
He wishes her good luck, to which she jokingly replies, “Master Kenobi always said there’s no such thing as luck.” “Good thing I taught you otherwise,” he shoots back with a light smile. Wishing him good luck as well, Anakin runs off to go catch Grievous and goes down the final road of his fate.
Armed with a portion of the Republic forces, Ahsoka and Bo Katan head for Mandalore. Prime Minister Almec is quick to tell them that their arrival breaks their treaties but is surprised when he sees Bo Katan with them. In the throne room, Almec has Gar Saxson and Rook by his side. Ursa Wren informs Bo that Maul is still on the planet as they descend through the clouds.
The ships are attacked as Saxon’s forces start bombing them, forcing the clones and Bo’s Mandalorians to start a battle in the air. It all feels like old times again as Rex and Ahsoka leap into battle. It’s stunning getting to see the clones and Mandalorians fight with their jetpacks on while Ahsoka gracefully leaps from ship to ship and lands at the loading dock in a fantastically cinematic fashion with her twin sabers.
The combat is engaging and dynamic as we watch the war break out Sundari. Seeing the chaos, Almec tells Saxon to escape into the Undercity before Bo arrives. Ahsoka goes on the search for Maul and meets up with trooper captain Vaughn in the entrance to the Undercity. Despite their strong entrance, it seems like their arrival was expected. Rook stalks Ahsoka and her troops in the Undercity, while Almec informs Bo that Maul wanted her to bring the Jedi to Mandalore.
In the Undercity, Rook ambushes the men and Ahsoka chases them all the way into a trap. Vaughn dies at her side and she is cornered by Saxon’s forces as Maul arrives. “I was hoping for Kenobi,” he says, as these two iconic characters meet for the first time. “Why are you here?”
I am absolutely frothing at the mouth for more of this show. The beginning of the Seige of Mandalore was breathtaking, seeing my favorite duo of Anakin and Ahsoka reunite was heartbreaking, and finally seeing the inevitable timelines line up with the film canon has me equally anxious and excited.
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