If you ever wanted to know what a horror movie would feel like in the Star Wars universe, you need only look to “Shattered” from The Clone Wars to get an idea. In an episode that quite literally has left me shattered, we finally see the execution of Order 66 from the perspective of Ahsoka and Rex (and Maul!)
With Mandalore secured and the Shadow Collective captured, Ahsoka is prepared to escort Maul to the Jedi Council. The theme of the price of war plays heavily on this episode. As Bo-Katan looks down on a war-torn Sundari, she realizes that now she must lead. At the mention of becoming the new leader that the Mandalorians need, she seems conflicted about the path she must take. “My sister tried that. I never understood her idealism.”
Duchess Satine was a staunch pacifist, which undoubtedly put her at odds with her sister, who was a member of Deathwatch, a terrorist organization. It is interesting to see a glimpse of Bo as she struggles to figure out how to become the best leader to her people.
Ahsoka is then called away as Rex informs her that the Council is waiting to speak to her. He tells her that Anakin was among the Council and she is eager to tell him what she learned from Maul in last week’s episode. Now, we see a final full match up with the Revenge of the Sith timeline as Ahsoka arrives right after Mace Windu, Yoda, Ki-Adi-Mundi, and Aayla Secura discuss potentially seizing power from Palpatine. This is a direct scene from RotS.
Coming into the meeting, she informs the Council members of her plans to escort Maul to Coruscant to make sure of his arrival. The Council seems to warm at her at first, with Yoda commending her for her service. But, Ahsoka is quick to remind them of her position, “I did my duty as a citizen.” Realizing that Anakin is not present anymore (having gone to tell Palpatine about Grievous’ location on Utapau) and Obi-Wan is already on Utapau, Ahsoka is uncomfortable with revealing Maul’s vision to the Council.
Thinking that the war could be over and perhaps Maul’s vision will not come true, she withholds her knowledge. It doesn’t help that Mace Windu decides to be an asshole at that moment by mentioning the chancellor and when Ahsoka questions him, he shoots back, “I’m sorry, citizen. These matters are for the council to discuss.”
Perhaps if Mace had been less chilly towards Ahsoka, perhaps if Yoda had pressed her more about the message, Ahsoka might have been able to save more members of the order. It might not have averted all disaster, but it might have been enough to turn the tide. But filled with distrust in the Jedi Order, and especially in the Council members who accused her of terrorism, Ahsoka is justifiably cagey towards them.
There is a suggestion here that Ahsoka will return to the order in some fashion when she says that she has not done her duty as a Jedi, yet. In the same vein, although Mace refers to her as a citizen, Yoda departs by calling her a Padawan. Whether this is simply a call to Ahsoka becoming more like a Jedi Master in Rebels or an actual hint at her path further down the road is uncertain.
Bo-Katan imprisons Maul in a prison meant for force-wielders. Because Mandalorians have traditionally owned weapons and tools that can combat force-users, this is actually very useful. But, Bo informs Ahsoka that this prison is the last of its kind, almost like a peace offering. The two shake hands and depart, having gained a mutual respect for one another. (Also, shout out to finally getting to see young Ursa Wren in person without her helmet on!)
The trip to the Venator-class destroyer in a sequence that builds so much good anxiety and suspense. Even if you knew nothing about Revenge of the Sith, there are many clues to tell you something is wrong. Maul watches as Ahsoka animatedly converses with Rex, surrounded by troopers, in his Hannibal-Lecter-esque imprisonment, eyes searching before he shuts them in deep meditation.
The slow panning shots show just how many clones are on the Venator — they will all turn against Ahsoka by the end of the episode. It’s made doubly devastating when you consider the fact that these are the clones who are the most loyal to Ahsoka, those who have painted their helmets to emulate her.
Ahsoka ponders the cost of war with Rex, the two of them standing on the bridge of the ship as it jumps to lightspeed
“As a Jedi, we were trained to be keepers of the peace, not soldiers. But all I’ve been since I was a Padawan is a soldier,” she says.
“Well, I’ve known no other way. Gives us clones all a mixed feeling about the war. Many people wish it never happened. But without it, we clones wouldn’t exist,” he replies.
It is a short conversation that could merit a whole hour of deep diving. Having just won the battle on Mandalore, having saved the people from occupation by Maul, Ahsoka should feel victorious. But after her departure from the Jedi order, she’s had more time to consider what her life as a Jedi actually meant. How the Order was betraying its own code because of the Clone Wars. It puts into perspective Anakin’s final battle with Obi-Wan where he tells him that he sees the Jedi as evil.
We hear this many times during The Clone Wars when Jedi arrive at a planet that is just trying to survive the war. They feel disillusioned by the Order that claims to be keepers of peace but acts as generals and commanders and warmongers. Ahsoka has never been anything other than a soldier.
Similarly, Rex’s entire existence is based around war, but he says that many of the clones wished the war never happened. Think about a clone like Cut Lawquane, who we meet in “The Deserter“, he deserted and married his wife Suu and became a farmer. He wanted to live a different life. Or the clones who saved the Twi’lek girl, Numa, on “Innocents of Ryloth.” Through their interactions with Numa, they were able to truly feel the impact of the war on the average citizen.
And yet, without the existence of the war, without Sidious, they never would have existed to come to these realizations. These are complex issues that are made even worse with the execution of Order 66. Those surviving clones are not only filled with confusion about their identity and existence, but also faced with the reality that the friends and comrades they made were there for them to eventually execute.
To add more salt to the wound, Ahsoka responds, “Well, then perhaps some good has come from all of it. The Republic couldn’t have asked for better soldiers, nor I a better friend.” The two salute one another and it is a truly tender moment. These two have fought many battles alongside one another. Their relationship reflects like a mirror for many of the Jedi and their relationships with their clone troopers.
Think of how Yoda understood the intricacies of his clone troopers Thire, Jek, and Rhys in “Ambush“, or how Plo Koon told his clone troopers that they were not expendable in “Rising Malevolence“, or even how fondly Rex still spoke of the Jedi years after on the planet Seelos in Rebels to Ezra. The strength of these relationships is part of the tragedy and allure of The Clone Wars. The moment of Order 66 is always looming in the distance and this episode did not disappoint in the final payoff.
Rex is called away, informed that he has a new briefing, which is the sound of the death knell for the clones, the Jedi, and the Republic. As he walks away, both Ahsoka and Maul are suddenly aware of the massive disturbance in the force. The slow push in on Maul as he is awakened from his meditation sends a chill down my spine. Then, Ahsoka senses the events of Mace Windu’s battle against Palpatine and Anakin’s betrayal.
Knowing that something horrible has happened, Ahsoka barely has time to react as Palpatine delivers Order 66. Rex is able to fight some of the initial effects of the inhibitor chip, telling Ahsoka to find Fives, as he raises his blaster, eyes full of tears, to shoot Ahsoka. Deflecting the blasts, she is attacked on all sides by clones who have received the order. It’s a stunning shot as the steam from the blasts fog up the room and Ahsoka is only illuminated by her blue sabers and the flash of blasts.
Escaping, Ahsoka goes to Maul, who Rex has ordered to be killed as well. It is interesting to note that any clones who oppose the orders will also be killed, which calls into question the reliance of the inhibitor chip. Though, if someone like Rex couldn’t fight it, I can’t imagine many other clones being able to.
Freeing Maul, Ahsoka leaves him without a weapon to cause a distraction against the clones. He realizes that the disturbance he felt had to do with Palpatine turning the Jedi’s own army against them. Splitting from Maul, Ahsoka finds the her old droid, R7-A7, and enlists his help alongside the other droids.
She is able to break into sealed files using Anakin’s passcode to see the truth about Fives. Rex had recorded a complaint about the inhibitor chips and she is able to draw the conclusion that this is all related to Order 66. This all culminated from the episode “Orders” where Fives discovered the truth of the inhibitor chip but the Kaminoians were able to cover it up before he could reveal the truth. It’s good to know that Fives did not die in vain.
Meanwhile, in a scene that spiritually must have inspired Darth Vader’s attack in Rogue One, Maul is literally plowing through the Clones without the use of anything but the Force. He’s slicing people in half with sheets of metal and cutting off limbs with blast doors. It definitely made me question the rating on the show, but also showed off Maul’s immense power of the Force.
With the help of the droids, Ahsoka traps and incapacitates Rex, getting him to the Med Bay even as the clones chase after her. When the machine scans for the chip, initially, there is nothing there. This was a result of Fives’ discovery of the chip, but knowing the truth, Ahsoka uses the Force and chants, “I am one with the Force and the Force is with me.” This will now be permanently cemented as a phrase that will bring tears to my eyes. Also, I appreciate all the references to Rogue One.
As Rex begins to chant with her, the machine locates the chip and she is able to get him into the machine to remove the chip. It’s perfect timing because the clones are about to break into the room. Lightsabers armed, Ahsoka does her best to fight off the assault (doing her best not to kill any of the clones in the process), but she nearly gets overwhelmed until Rex sits up and shoots some of the clones before the door is shut again.
Trapped in the belly of the beast, Rex and Ahsoka come to the realization that all of the clones are now ordered to hunt down and kill the Jedi Knights, they are faced with someone breaking through the sealed door.
Personally, I think this was my favorite episode of The Clone Wars. I think viewers have been dreading/waiting for Order 66 for a long time and “Shattered” did not disappoint. Visually tense and beautiful to behold, “Shattered” answers questions we’ve all had and was directed expertly. I can not wait for the finale. I will be very sad to see The Clone Wars end, as it really brought Ahsoka to live (my favorite character in the canon), but I am very happy that they were able to tell this story.
The Clone Wars SERIES FINALE streams on Disney+ Monday, May 4th!