It was always going to be a difficult task in creating the series finale for The Clone Wars. After almost twelve years since the release of the theatrical Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie, The Clone Wars story has walked a winding road.
Because of Star Wars: Rebels many fans had already been satisfied in some ways of knowing what came of my favorite Jedi, Ahsoka Tano. We saw her face off against Vader, help train Ezra, aid in the rebellion, we even got to see Rex alive again. But the power of the final season of The Clone Wars is that even knowing where these characters end up, the impact of the episodes of the final arc was not diminished.
From sweeping, stunning landscape shots, to masterful combat choreography, to the heartbreaking narrative, Dave Filoni and The Clone Wars team have created a masterpiece. After Friday’s episode that kicked off the execution of Order 66, the scope narrows in this episode, focusing only on how Ahsoka, Rex, and Maul manage to survive a Venator full of clone soldiers.
The majority of the episode we are vacillating from Ahsoka and Rex to Maul as they try to escape. Again, we see Maul’s mastery over the force and the sheer damage he can do. It’s one of those scenes that reminds me how powerful the force is and how the lightsabers almost seem to diminish that in comparison. Watch Maul destroy a hyperdrive or Ahsoka keep a shuttle from escaping with one hand is far more compelling than the dancing motions of a saber duel.
As we watch Ahsoka and Rex move from the med bay, to the control room, to the hangar bay, to the maintenance level, we are not just watching them trying to survive against an onslaught of hundreds of soldiers. We are watching them fight allies and comrades who have been completely turned against them. The clones that Rex sees as brothers will now kill them without question.
He tells Ahsoka, “I hate to tell you this, but they don’t care. This ship is going down, and those soldiers, my brothers, are willing to die and take you and me along with them.”
But despite trying to take this hardline, Ahsoka sees through Rex’s speech and when she removes his helmet, there are tears in Rex’s eyes (and also in ours).
“You’re a good soldier, Rex,” she says, “so is every one of those men down there. They may be willing to die, but I am not the one that is going to kill them.”
It’s a beautiful moment that compounds just how important the lives of the clones are. Even when they’ve been turned against her, Ahsoka refuses to kill them. She recognizes them for what they are, victims of Darth Sidious, forced beyond their will to execute the desires of another.
These are different clones now, undoubtedly. They come after Ahsoka and Rex with renewed vigor. Jesse is at the command, not hesitating for a moment as Rex tries to talk him down from killing Ahsoka. He strips Rex of his title as commander (explaining why Rex introduces himself as a captain in Rebels) and not only attacks Ahsoka and Rex, but also ruthlessly executes the droids that help the two of them.
With the ship’s hyperdrive completely destroyed, the Venator is caught in a nearby moon’s gravitational field. Maul manages to take the shuttle in the hangar bay and escape. It’s notable that Ahsoka might have been able to take down his shuttle had Jesse and the clones not started their attack again. It’s just one of those moments that show just how powerful Ahsoka’s bond to the force can be and how much she has evolved as a force sensitive.
Maul manages to jump to hyperspace, leaving Rex and Ahsoka with few options. While most of this sequence is the two of them deflecting blaster shots, Ahsoka’s use of her lightsabers to cut into the platform they’re standing on is a great moment. They fall to the maintenance level and spot a ship that can be piloted. There’s a great moment of Ahsoka running alongside the Venator as it’s plunging through the atmosphere and free-falling into the gunner spot of the fighter Rex is piloting. So many scenes in this season have really demonstrated how superhuman the Jedi can be in their physical training.
Escaping with their lives, Ahsoka and Rex land at the crash site of the Venator ship and give their comrades a proper burial. The shot of Ahsoka standing in front of all of those graves is haunting. Those were the clones loyal to her, the ones who painted their masks like her markings, the ones who saluted her return, the ones who called her commander even after she left the Jedi. They were friends.
But in the war, they were also expendable soldiers that the Republic and the Jedi used as pawns. They were faceless to many and yet also represented the face of the war that raged across the galaxy. It was the war that taught Ahsoka to be a warrior instead of a peacekeeper. Closing that chapter in her life, she leaves her lightsaber behind at the gravesite and walks away.
Years later, sometime presumably before “The Seige of Lothal” episode of Rebels, Anakin, now fully Darth Vader, lands on the moon. The climate is cold now, the ship is half-buried beneath snow and the gravesite is forgotten. But as Vader approaches, he is once again reunited with a visage of his past. Hidden in the snow is her lightsaber, the one he took care of, the one he maintained, and kept with him even when she left the order.
He turns it on, the strong blue light reflecting in his helmet as a bird flies overhead. We don’t get a close look at it, but we can assume it is the bird, Morai. Morai was a creature tied to the Daughter, a powerful Force wielder who represented the light side of the Force. In the Mortis arc of The Clone Wars, the Daughter sacrifices herself to save the life of the Father. She is mortally wounded by the Brother, and in her last moments, she uses her powers to save Ahsoka.
We can associate Ahsoka strongly with the Daughter since part of her life force keeps her alive. In Rebels, we see Morai on Ahsoka’s shoulder and accompanying Ahsoka in her travels. Vader seeing Morai circling the skies as Vader holds onto Ahsoka’s lightsaber is the most bittersweet way to end the series. Silent, Vader sheathes the lightsaber and walks away from the gravesite. As he returns to his ship, the painted helmet of the clone, cracked and weather-worn looks back at him. It is a scene so heavy with imagery, so full of conflicting emotions, and yet it was the only way to end the series.
I came into the series very late, having always heard about The Clone Wars but writing it off as a “children’s show” and discounting it. But, by chance I happened to come across a couple of clips on YouTube and instantly found myself drawn into this unknown time in Star Wars history (at least, for me).
After bingeing the show in a few weeks, I quickly became an evangelist of the show, recommending it to everyone who even remotely had an interest in Star Wars. While The Clone Wars had its flaws, this final arc proves that it is nothing short of a masterpiece and deserves a seat alongside the live-action films that have captured the hearts of millions.