In 2009, very few Star Wars fans anticipated that “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” a dinky children’s show on Cartoon Network, would feature an event like Order 66. In the nicest terms, the early “Clone Wars” animation was stylized blocky CGI. But the humble show, helmed by Dave Filoni, developed a large following.
When the show was canceled in 2013, viewers were thankful for the five-season run and consoled themselves with the fact that Lucasfilm miraculously decided to make the show a part of the greater Star Wars film canon in 2014. Only by the advent and grace of online streaming platforms was “Clone Wars” resurrected. Netflix, and later Disney +, scrambling for more original content and seeking to draw more subscribers, greenlighted more “Clone Wars” episodes. In 2020, Disney+ allowed the show to finish its story on the showrunner’s terms.
The final season of “Clone Wars” aired this May and the revived show has never been better. The cast and crew delivered an epic farewell to the much-loved series.
As mentioned before, “Clone Wars” has a persistent and endearing art style. The characters look roughly brushed with dirt. However, the final four episodes transcend their beloved bad CGI beginnings to look cinematic. More care is taken with facial expression animation and small details. Unlike previous episodes, the camera focuses on the minute movements of a revolutionary figher’s mouth muscles. Bo Katan’s internal strife is evident and highlighted.
“Clone Wars” makes a gutsy decision prioritizing emotional journeys. Seven seasons have led up to the finale which happens concurrently with the Star Wars movie “Revenge of the Sith.” “Clone Wars” disregards larger galaxy conflicts, allowing the character's internal conflict to shine. Specifically, the series finale strategically focuses on a “Clone Wars” original character, Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker’s former padawan. Instead of cutting to Anakin’s downfall and the Jedi massacres on Coruscant, “Clone Wars” doggedly shadows Ahsoka. Her journey from plucky kid to powerful force-wielder forms the backbone of “Clone Wars.” It is through her that Filoni tells the end of the Republic and the Jedi Order.
In Part One of the finale, Ahsoka faces off with Darth Maul. Their fight is music, a visual and audio masterpiece. Their traded hits have a rhythm, a give and take that paces the confrontation. Two proven warriors made it to combat. As Darth Maul points out, he and Ahsoka share similar pasts. Both characters were groomed to be soldiers, directed to fight by masters and orders that eventually spurned them. Both of them operate outside the Jedi / Sith binary. Maul was cast aside by his master similar to how Ahsoka was betrayed by the Jedi Order. Maul offers Ahsoka his hand twice. He’s looking for her help to stop the ultimate villain of Star Wars, the shadowy Darth Sidious. Ahsoka appears to consider his offer until it is revealed that her previous Jedi master, Anakin Skywalker, now a puppet of Sidious, is Maul’s target and that the end of the Jedi is fast approaching. It’s Anakin, whom Ahsoka regards as family, that Darth Maul wants to destroy. She cannot abide by Anakin’s destruction, but little does she know his downfall has already been in the works for years.
It’s like watching a car crash. Or rather, like watching a thousand-ton galactic battleship crash out of orbit and hurtle toward a planet’s surface.
In season seven, the character who had struggled to find herself and grow in past seasons is finally released from her past, able to make friends and try to be normal. However, by the finale, that young girl’s aspirations of peace and a normal life are sundered. Despite her misgivings and attempts to leave the war, Ahsoka is reintroduced to the galactic conflict. No one in “Clone Wars” is safe from war and the unseen machinations of higher authorities. Case in point: Order 66.
For Star Wars fans who might not be aware, Order 66 is a monumental part of the Star Wars universe. Order 66 is the official curtain call for the Jedi Order prior to the main film trilogy. The soldiers the Jedi fought alongside turned against their Jedi commanders and generals and most of the Jedi were massacred. After Order 66, the entire Jedi culture and lifestyle was exterminated. By stitching Order 66 into “Clone Wars,” Filoni firmly stations his series in the Star Wars canon. Even if you don’t watch “children’s cartoons,” the four-part conclusion to the seven-season series, noted as a “Lucasfilm Limited Production,” is necessary viewing for any Star Wars fan.
The cinematic conclusion is a triumphant goodbye. It's an acknowledgement of how far the show has come and honors the fans that have stuck by the show since 2009. In its last hour, “Clone Wars” closes the tale of Ahsoka Tano, making her the centerpiece of its exit. “Clone Wars” is a very small segment of a larger space odyssey, but it made a dramatic exit not soon forgotten.