It’s been a long time since I’ve watched something that’s left me as emotionally raw as the final four episodes of The Clone Wars.
In a lot of ways these final four episodes are like the Avengers: Endgame of the Star Wars saga. There’s immense satisfaction watching this conclusion on its own, but it’s a masterpiece given the full scope of the series. And like Endgame, taking the extended ride from start to finish makes the payoff that much more brilliant, emotional and devastating.
Writer/series architect Dave Filoni takes a more intricate approach to wrapping the series by weaving these four episodes into two separate branches of the Star Wars saga. Various events take place concurrently with Genndy Tartakovsky’s 2005 edition of Clone Wars and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.
Filoni doesn’t have to worry that Star Wars fans won’t know exactly where the episodes line up, but it’s impressive he went the extra effort to not disrupt the continuity set up in Tartakovsky’s story. That was intended as a direct tie-in to the movie and Filoni proves it is possible to be respectful to what’s come before. That’s a lesson both Rian Johnson and J.J. Abrams could have learned when discarding each other’s work in the Sequel Trilogy.
From the opening of Old Friends Not Forgotten it’s clear this is going to be special. It starts with the film style Lucasfilm Ltd. opening title with Clone Wars in a red font.
Clone Wars animation has never looked bad, but it seemed to get a visual boost this final season. The last four episodes looked even more polished and crisp. Filoni served as supervising director for these episodes.
As usual, Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor) are on the front lines of battle leading their troops into another fracas.
They get a surprise by the return of Anakin’s former padawan Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) seeking their help to stop Darth Maul (Sam Witwer). This is a payoff for a story arc that’s been underway since Season 2 and significantly advanced in Season 5. Given the extra profile of these characters provided by The Mandalorian it made sense for this storyline to play a pivotal role here.
The Phantom Apprentice is amazing highlighted by a brilliantly staged lightsaber battle. This ranks as one of the better lightsaber duels in the series thanks to Darth Maul actor Ray Park providing the motion capture for his animated counterpart. That doesn’t take away from a tremendous performance from Witwer, who really made the role his own and seems to relish fleshing out one of the more nuanced characters in the series.
It seems like Filoni advised directors Saul Ruiz and Nathaniel Villanueva to stage the camera angles and action sequences to complement the style George Lucas used in Sith. There’s an appreciated visual consistency that gives these episodes a more cinematic style than the standard Clone Wars episode.
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This sounds like a super unrealistic proposal, but I’d love to see a super cut of the Coruscant sequence from Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars finale and Filoni’s Clone Wars cut alongside Lucas’ Sith.
Filoni’s Clone Wars plays out throughout the events of Sith. The only downside to this approach is it doesn’t allow for easy break points to play Sith and then return to Clone Wars. If the quarantine continues, maybe Disney+ could create an edit with the events played out in chronological order.
The script pays off so many layers and years of storytelling in a way that doesn’t step on the toes of what’s to come in future series and movies. I’d break down the episodes further, but it wouldn’t be fair to spoil anything.
Filoni even goes the extra step of further establishing some bread crumbs that feed into subsequent projects. It’s clear Clone Wars was led by someone who loves Star Wars beyond the novelty of working on the beloved property.
With this finale, Filoni and company craft a moving and unforgettable entry in the Star Wars saga. While I will exhaust hours arguing defenders of the Sequel Trilogy, I’m pretty sure all Star Wars fans will agree that the Clone Wars finale is some of the best the entire saga has to offer.
Feeling overwhelmed about the prospect of watching all seven seasons of Clone Wars? I’m working on an essential episode guide. Until that’s completed there’s no better time like this quarantine to catch up.
Rating: 10 out of 10
Photo Credit: Disney