Arts and Entertainment

“Star Wars: The Clone Wars”: The End of an Era

“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” ends with a rousing yet heartbreaking finale.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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By Aries Ho

We could all use a bit of the force right now.

Set between Episodes II and III of the “Star Wars” saga, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” concluded the series with a rousing four-episode finale, overlapping with key events from “Revenge of the Sith.” The seventh and final season of the animated series returned from its six-year hiatus in February, following Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm in 2014.

The series has come a long way since its initial release in 2008. Produced by George Lucas and David Filoni, the show aimed to fill in the gaps of the prequel trilogy. Episodes II and III of the prequel trilogy focus on the beginning and end of an intergalactic civil war between the Republic and Separatist forces—which, unbeknownst to both sides, was triggered by the sinister Sith lord Darth Sidious (Chancellor Palpatine).

The “Star Wars” fanbase, however, has always held an uneasy relationship with the saga’s prequels. From poor writing, storytelling, and laughable lines (“I don’t like sand”), the prequels left fans looking for more.

“The Clone Wars” fulfilled that need. Seasons one and two of “The Clone Wars” were largely aimed at children, with formative episodes resolving cut-and-dried. The later seasons of the show, however, developed into one of the more nuanced pieces of “Star Wars” media, exploring complex topics such as democracy, slavery, pacifism, neutrality, brotherhood, and loyalty.

The series filled in characters that had been barely sketched in from the prequels, from Darth Maul to Count Dooku. Most importantly, it delved deep into the personalities, motivations, and evolution of characters like Anakin, Obi-wan, and Padmé; it allowed the audience to get to know what made each character tick and gave each of their arcs the space they deserved. Because of the show’s high flexibility, the arcs are presented in an anthology-style, with a new story every few episodes.

The show humanizes both the main characters and the clones. The clone troopers—seemingly sterile and faceless soldiers—are given story arcs and distinct personalities, despite being voiced by the same actor (Dee Bradley Baker). In stark contrast to the prequels, Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter) is painted in a more realistic light—a tragic hero whose flaws and submission to temptations lead to flirtations with the dark side. Anakin’s development in the prequels is further bolstered by the introduction of Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein), his padawan apprentice. Ahsoka starts in season one as a young and irritating sidekick, but as the season progresses, we see her character mature into a thoughtful, complex figure who struggles to accept the values of the dogmatic Jedi Order.

The show’s finale covers the Siege of Mandalore, flowing elegantly into events of Episode III. Focused on Ahsoka—now an ex-padawan of the Jedi order—the show’s music, imagery, and outstanding animation all come together to create a tragic yet poetic end to the beloved series.

Little is said but much is shown in the final episode of “The Clone Wars.” Following Order 66 and Anakin’s turn to the Sith, Ahsoka is surrounded by a mass grave of her troops, each marked with their respective helmets. As she stands amongst them, she looks down at her lightsaber—the lightsaber that Anakin gifted to her—and drops it. Ahsoka looks up toward the sky. Her past, memories, and life as a Jedi must all remain buried with her lightsaber and the clones.

The next scene cuts to an Imperial ship landing on a planet covered with snow. An unspecified amount of time has passed, though all clones have been replaced by stormtroopers. Then, an imposing figure walks toward the Republic cruiser’s crash site, where there are heavy, monotonous breaths and footprints and a long, black, flowing cape. The figure picks up Ahsoka’s lightsaber and activates it. A beam of sapphire cuts through the screen. The figure looks up. We can momentarily see Anakin’s eyes through the figure’s mask as he stares up at the empty sky. He takes the weapon of his former padawan and leaves, his reflection bouncing off the visor of a half-buried clone trooper’s helmet.