Caution: This review contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
After starting life as an average movie in 2009, the animated TV spin-off, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, became a firm favourite among fans, until it was prematurely cancelled in 2013. The outcry and demand was eventually heard years later, and thanks to streaming service Disney+, we were able to see how this chapter of the Star Wars Saga concluded, with The Final Season.
In the seventh and final season, the battle for the galaxy continues as the Clone War rages on, with three new adventures across 12 episodes exploring different sides of the Star Wars Universe.
First up is the introduction to Clone Force 99, a team of genetically defective clones known only as The Bad Batch, led by Commander Cody and Captain Rex, all voiced by clone regular Dee Bradley Baker (Batman: Arkham Knight), who seems to be having more fun than usual, getting to perform as very different characters.
Among this, we also get another fantastic performance by Matt Lanter (Timeless) as Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker. Looking more like his live-action counterpart than ever before, Anakin feels more authoritative and mature than Hayden Christensen ever did. This is the definitive Anakin Skywalker.
His relationship with his secret wife Padme (Catherine Taber) is briefly touched upon in a nice scene, and even subtly hints at her pregnancy. It also shows Anakin as a war hero who mistrusts the Jedi Council and could believably turn to the Dark Side. This is the character we wanted to see, and it’s the one we got.
The story plays out like a form of Expendables tribute, with each character having their own skillset, including a Rambo-inspired character known as Sergeant Hunter with heightened senses, as the team embark on a mission to rescue the long-thought dead Trooper Echo.
The Bad Batch may not be the most fleshed out characters, which is more likely to be the focus of the upcoming spin-off series in 2021, but this story does go to show how well the Clones have been treated throughout the series, with each one having their own personality and unique armour design. And after seven seasons worth of characters, that really is an achievement worthy of praise.
Captain Rex has always been one of the central characters in the Clone Wars, and he provides a lot of the emotional backbone throughout the final season, with his friendship with Echo and how he handles his part during Order 66.
This story is entertaining and is a good way of easing fans back into this era of the Star Wars Universe, it even ties up a few loose ends regarding long-running villain Admiral Trench and the Techno Union, which will please fans. It’s not fantastic, but it is fun.
The second story focuses on the highly anticipated return of fan favourite Ahsoka Tano after leaving the Jedi Order. Voiced once again by the brilliant Ashley Eckstein (She-Ra), who has done an incredible job over the years, Ahsoka has developed flawlessly over the course of the series into one of the best characters in Star Wars history. But it is a shame that her reintroduction is done in this four part story that doesn’t add anything new or really go anywhere.
Teaming up with sisters Trace and Rafa from the criminal underbelly of Coruscant, the former Padawan takes on a dangerous job running Spice from dangerous gangsters, but things don’t go according to plan and they find themselves prisoners.
Voiced by Brigitte Kali Canales (Baby Driver) and Elizabeth Rodriguez (Logan), Trace and Rafa Martez are fine in the story, but they don’t serve any purpose beyond reminding the audience of why Ahsoka left the Order and how the public view the Jedi, which forces Ahsoka to keep her past a secret.
The secret never truly makes sense. It is obvious why Ahsoka keeps it, and understandable, but the problem is that the sisters never put the pieces together, even after several clear indications that Ahsoka is a Force user. And if they did, it isn’t made clear.
This plot takes place over four episodes and does drag for too long. Perhaps it would have been better if this story was just two episodes long, while the two remaining episodes could have focused on Darth Maul and how he managed to escape from Darth Sidious and deal with the loss of his brother, neither of which is brought up.
There is a great throwback to earlier seasons, and the cliff-hanger for episode 8 is really well executed. It’s great to see Ahsoka back, but it could have been in a better, faster paced story.
Finally, we get to the final story and it’s what we’ve been waiting for: the legendary Siege of Mandalore, the confrontation with Maul and the events of Order 66. Across four final episodes, this is what the show has always been building towards and it’s the story that they obviously wanted to tell.
From the opening titles, it is clear this will be different to what we can usually expect from the TV show, with no cliff-hangers and only a single use of the recap voiced by Tom Kane’s Narrator. The four part story plays out like a two-hour film and proves to be one of the best and most emotional stories to come from the Star Wars Universe.
The plot wisely focuses on Ahsoka and Captain Rex, as we already know what happens to the rest of the character during this time. Many fans believed the show would take influence from the 2003 miniseries and end before the events of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, but as the story unfolds, it quickly becomes apparent that this is running alongside those events, with the occasional drop of news and dialogue from Episode III that establish when everything is taking place.
It plays on the audience’s knowledge of Episode III, building the tension and dread steadily over the course of the story. This is all helped by the reappearance of Maul, who is now in control of Mandalore. Maul, once again voiced by super-fan Sam Witwer (The Force Unleashed), has grown into one of the most interesting villains in Star Wars after being discovered alive and well.
Now the ruler of Mandalore and Crimson Dawn, Maul has more power than ever before in his quest for revenge on Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor). He knows something bad is coming from visions and attempts to change that by offering Ahsoka the chance to join him in defeating the Sith. It’s a great moment between the two characters as it highlights their similarities and differences, even though neither of them has ever met before or since.
Among this section, we also get to catch up with Mandalorian Bo-Katan, voiced by Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica). Bo started off in the background as part of Death Watch, but slowly gained more attention over time and developed as a character. She’s great to watch, getting some spectacular action scenes, and hopefully we will see her again.
There’s a good contrast between the two sections of this story, with the big epic battles happening first, before becoming smaller and more personal as the events of Order 66 are restricted to the Republic Attack Cruiser with Ahsoka trapped on board.
The Order 66 section is expertly handled. It is chaotic and horrifying in equal measure as Ahsoka fights for her life resorting to desperate means to escape. Even though fans who have watched Rebels and The Mandalorian know the outcome, the tension never drops and the plot remains unpredictable throughout.
The ending really hits home with a powerfully quiet moment to remember the fallen clones and Jedi. It really drives home that this is the end of an era and the darkest and most emotional chapter in the Star Wars saga has reached its end. The incredibly talented writers and animators have managed to do something impressive and crafted the perfect ending to the series.
The animation for the show has continued to improve since the early days, with movements being more fluid, the action bigger and grander, and each character feeling more real with subtle ticks, expressions and movements that give everyone more personality, such as a scene that shows Ahsoka tired and out of breath during her confrontation with Maul.
It is a benefit that the animation team used Motion Capture in this season too during the epic battle between Maul and Ahsoka, with original Maul actor Ray Park and Lauren Mary Kim providing the movements for them, making this one of the best lightsabre fights in the series.
Action has been a big focus of the show from day one, and it has continued to become bigger and better. It’s much more cinematic and visually stunning in this season, as well as being more tense and violent, with characters being overwhelmed and outmatched in some nail biting sequences, especially during Order 66. There’s even a few moments reminiscent of The Force Unleashed which will definitely please fans.
Alongside the animation, the lighting has improved significantly too, providing some gorgeous visuals that would look incredible on the big screen. The lighting also helps establish the mood and setting really well too, especially during the final two episodes, which gives the events more horror-like visuals with the dark, claustrophobic hallways.
The soundtrack by Kevin Kiner (Doom Patrol) varies across the series. At first, it doesn’t quite have the memorable or powerful sound of the movies or The Mandalorian, but as each episode passes, it becomes much better, with a few hints of the iconic John Williams’ soundtrack starting to sneak through, until eventually it hits its mark.
The soundtrack of the final four episodes are a cross between the emotional score of Revenge of the Sith and the powerful, otherworldly Blade Runner. The blend works perfectly, highlighting the emotion and tension as the story unfolds. The soundtrack wouldn’t sound out of place in a big budget movie, and Kiner has really outdone himself in brilliant fashion.
It is often hard for a long running TV series to bring the audience a satisfying conclusion, especially ones with loose ends and continuing arcs, but Dave Filoni and the other incredibly talented writers have managed to do just that with a perfectly flawless finale that brings everything fans could want and more, whilst also setting up the future of the galaxy far far away.
The Clone Wars was a series that pushed the boundaries for what was possible in an animated TV series. It was a fantastic show that deserves the attention it got and is worth seeking out by fans of the Star Wars Saga, and it truly is sad that this is the final season.
Overall, the final season might start off underwhelming, but the final four episodes more than make up for that. This show has continued to grow and improve with each season, and the final one is no different. The first two stories are worth checking out for Clone Wars fans, but the finale is an absolutely essential and satisfying must-see epic for all Star Wars fans.
Rewind rating: 4/5. The series bows out in satisfying style!