“The Republic couldn’t have asked for better soldiers, nor I, a better friend.” Spoilers for Star Wars: The Clone Wars season 7 follow.
The Galactic War is coming to an end and the Republic is about to finally find peace in the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Or, at least it thinks it is.
Along the journey though, Rex and Ahsoka will have to prepare for their own journey’s end amid the macrocosm of the galaxy.
The Bad Batch
The first arc of this final season is one that is not so new in the slightest. In fact, it’s been released for years by this point, albeit in an unfinished state. In 2015, StarWars.com released the story reels for this arc, as well as another arc titled “Crystal Crisis on Utapau.” The unfinished cinematics weer interesting and quite good, so does it hold up now that it’s finished? Yes, it does, but its flaws are still present as well.
To start off though, there really isn’t enough praise thrown Dee Bradley Baker’s way. So much of “The Bad Batch” arc, and most of The Clone Wars, works because of his talent as a voice actor. Within one scene, he voices up to eight different clones and he manages to make each one of them sound distinct, but similar. That may seem like an easy thing to pull, but it very much isn’t in the slightest. His use of inflection, cadence, and tone is different in each clone and it really brings each of them to life in a great way.
This then leads to what the true purpose of this arc is in the scheme of the season. It’s to show that the clones are not soulless husks, but individual beings. This has been shown time and time again in the series, but it’s so important during this season as Order 66 is looming, so when the Order occurs, it makes their forced betrayal and lack of control hit even harder. This underlying purpose is just icing on the cake for the great character moments throughout the four-episode arc.
Rex and Echo are the focus, so that’s where the majority of the character moments are, but Anakin, Padme, and Obi-Wan each have their own times to shine, which is fun. The best of these moments though is when Obi-Wan reveals that he knows about Anakin and Padme, as it’s both funny and heartbreaking considering his realization in Revenge of the Sith. There are several great action scenes as well, which isn’t all that surprising for this series, even if they lean slightly into the ridiculous sometimes.
The problems for the arc are in the ending of it. First off, it really feels like this arc could’ve been better executed in three episodes instead of four. It’s completely understandable why there’s a fourth episode as it ties together the battle of Anaxes that the arc starts with, but the heart of the arc starts with Rex’s search for Echo and 95% of that story ends in episode three, “On the Wings of Keeradaks.” As such, there isn’t a lot of emotional connection to Glom onto in the final episode, “Unfinished Business.”
Beyond a relatively weak final episode to the arc, “The Bad Batch” was a great start to the season and really allows for the future events to have more of an emotional impact.
Next up, we have Ahsoka’s return to The Clone Wars after she has left the Jedi Order. As her reappearance in the prequel timeline was long-awaited, it’s not surprising that that expectations were high regarding her return. Sadly though, her first arc this season isn’t great. It has great moments, but it also has many that ultimately fall flat.
What works best in this arc is, and this should be pretty obvious, Ahsoka Tano herself. This is the first time we’ve seen her since she left the Jedi Order in the fifth season (and originally series) finale. As such, we really begin to see her grappling with her life outside of the Order and what that truly means for her.
What does that mean for her exactly though? Well, it means that she is, and will always be, a Jedi, but never one like those of the Order. This ties in directly to her “I am not a Jedi,” statement in Rebels and her fight with Vader and gives said statement an even greater meaning. She is not a Jedi as they were, but what a Jedi was always meant to be. It may have taken too long for that emphasis to be made in this arc, but it was made nonetheless and enhances Ahsoka’s character greatly.
This arc basically does the same thing that “The Bad Batch” does for Rex. It throws the audience into the current mindset of the character, reminding us why we love them, while also growing them beyond what we already know. It’s a simple that thing that can often go unnoticed and both arcs accomplish it incredibly well.
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The problems with this arc often fall on Trace and Rafa though. They are not bad characters (like many on the internet would suggest), but they simply didn’t a chance to live up to their full potential. They often felt more like a guilt trip for Ahsoka rather than complete characters in their own right. They have a great backstory, but it basically is used only as a reality check for Ahsoka. They have some nice sisterly moments, but they are few and far between.
There’s simply a good amount of potential for these two that hasn’t been realized yet, and possibly may never be. Here’s hoping that someone returns to them in the future though and does so. All that said, the worst part of the arc is the fight scene the two are a part of in episode four, “Together Again,” which is just way to cheesy, poorly choreographed, and, to put it plainly, dumb. Easily the worst part of the entire season, but thankfully it was only a minute or two.
The story of the arc also makes the universe seem more connected as well with its tie-ins. There are some nice ones that make sense such as the appearance of Kessel and the beginnings of Crimson Dawn, but even with those, the story itself isn’t all that interesting.
Ahsoka’s highly anticipated first arc back does a lot right, but ultimately would fall into the “mediocre arc” category of the series.
The Siege of Mandalore
Then comes the main event. The finale of The Clone Wars. The story the entire season, nay, series has been leading to. “The Siege of Mandalore.” If the original Clone Wars film was several episodes made to be a film, then this arc is a film made to be several episodes. And it’s some of the best Star Wars ever.
Starting out with the opening image of this arc, it was clear it was going to be something special. From the Lucasfilm and Clone Wars logos fading into an already commenced battle leading to one of Anakin’s final heroic acts, it sets the tone for the arc perfectly, while also injecting a bit of needed humor before the tragedy. But, this heroism of Anakin is fleeting which then leads us to the true hero of the arc, Ahsoka Tano.
Every lesson that was learned by her in the previous arc comes full circle in “The Siege of Mandalore.” She is a Jedi in everything but name. She is a Jedi even if the entire Order except for Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Yoda don’t view her as such. She is a Jedi until the very end. This is a brilliant finale to her arc in The Clone Wars and perfectly sets up who she is going forward in the timeline. Everything she does in this arc, from her short reunion with Anakin, her friendship with Rex, her respect for Bo-Katan, who is also at her best in this arc, and her rivalry with Maul, is pitch perfectly executed in this arc.
Speaking of her rivalry with Maul, we get to see the origins of it in this arc and its wonderfully sadistic. They toy with each other so well throughout the entire arc and its obvious to see the begrudging respect forming between the two that is seen in Rebels. But before we get there, we get possibly the best lightsaber duel in the entirety of The Clone Wars. This is very much thanks to both Ray Park and Lauren Mary Kim who mo-capped the fight for Maul and Ahsoka, respectively. It’s intense and exhilarating in all the ways that a prequel era lightsaber duel should be. Having watched it multiple times, it very much holds up on a rewatch.
But this arc is much more than just a simple battle between Ahsoka and Maul. No, it’s also a companion piece to Revenge of the Sith, with the timeline being pretty much exact between the two. Thus, when Order 66 occurs the heartbreak hits instantly. To see so many beloved clone characters’ souls essentially be ripped away with four simple words, “Execute Order Sixty-Six,” it creates an awful, yet somehow exciting feeling.
This carries through both the final two episodes of the arc, and series, “Shattered” and “Victory and Death,” with “Victory and Death” in particular ending on a very somber note. This review will not contain spoilers as to how exactly it ends though. It does make you feel slightly empty though, which is a weird thing to praise because that is not usually what you want a piece of entertainment to do, but it works well here. Although, it probably will not be something that works for everyone.
So much of the tone of this arc comes from Kevin Kiner’s incredible score as well. The first two episodes have a great bombastic score, a la John Williams, and it works wonders for the excellent siege scenes and lightsaber duels. But when it transitions to the Blade Runner-esque score in “Shattered” and “Victory and Death,” with some hints of Ghost in the Shell in “Victory and Death,” that’s when Kiner’s score excels. It carries with it the haunting melody that helps build tension throughout both episodes.
Beyond that though, both Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell have themes about the souls of artificially created beings, so it feels apt to bring that influence to the episodes focusing on the betrayal of the clones. Simply put, the score is phenomenal and adds extra subtext if you know where to look.
There are so many little details in these episodes that are too numerous to list unless this article was upwards of 3000 words (which is not happening). But hardcore fans of Star Wars will be extremely happy by these things.
The only real flaw of this arc comes in the final episode. So much of it is spent escaping the star cruiser that there isn’t enough time spent of character moments. There are some great ones, sure, but the ending feels quite rushed and doesn’t give enough time to really let the weight of what has happened sink in for the characters, or even the audience really. For some, that will be more forgivable than others.
“The Siege of Mandalore” is one of the best arcs in The Clone Wars and some of the best content in Star Wars. It may not end on a perfect note, but that doesn’t take way from all the excellence in the rest of the arc.
So long, Clone Wars.
What did you think of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7? Let us know in the comments below!