It goes without saying that K&M is predominately a movie site. But on rare occasions a television series or season resonates so profoundly with a particular fanbase or the culture in general that I feel compelled to write about it. The long-awaited final season of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” recently wrapped up on Disney Plus, and a Star Wars die-hard like me couldn’t help but spend some time on it.
When Disney bought the Star Wars franchise from George Lucas in 2012 it brought with it some real highs and a few lows. One real travesty to come from the acquisition was the immediate cancellation of the hugely popular animated series “The Clone Wars”. It caught many people by surprise and it left several lose ends, never giving the series a proper finish.
It took years but Disney finally green-lit a 12-episode final season which brought back most of the talent and creative team who had made the series so great. To no surprise the announcement was met with unbridled enthusiasm and the reactions to the finished product have been just as exciting.
The first four episodes are back to business and do a great job reoriented￼￼ us with the series, its tone, and its characters. The episodes introduce the Bad Batch, a special-ops team of four clones enhanced with “desirable” mutations. They’re called in to help Rex and Cody on a mission to discover how the separatists are predicting every strategic military move the Republic makes. Again, it’s a great way to get us back in tune with the series.
The next four episodes bring back crowd-favorite Ahsoka Tano (voiced by the terrific Ashley Eckstein), really digging into her character and showing her first steps back on her destiny’s path. We see Ahsoka lost and rudderless after leaving the Jedi Order in season 5. She keeps to herself in the lower levels of Coruscant, hiding her identity and her past. After crashing her speeder bike she meets two sisters, hitting it off with one, not so much the other. Ahsoka ends up accompanying them on a mission that quickly turns dangerous. Does she reveal her true self and face the danger ￼or stay hidden and hope for the best? It’s a great setup for what’s to come.
That seamlessly leads into the final four episodes chronicling the long talked about Siege of Mandalore. These are without question the best of the entire series and some of the best Star Wars storytelling we’ve ever seen. With breathtaking precision these episodes don’t just lead up to “Revenge of the Sith”, but they cross over into it. And they do so while wrapping up long unfinished storylines of their own which include Ahsoka, Darth Maul, and others. Surprising connections, startling revelations, and exhilarating showdowns fuel what is a proper finale to a tremendous series.
Quick tip: If you’re only following the animated series you may remember Darth Maul was last seen in season 5 in a rather precarious position with the soon-to-be emperor. In season 7 he’s already on the throne in Mandalore. Wondering what happened in between? Check out the graphic novel “Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir”. It’s a great story that nicely fills in that gap. It’s a brisk, entertaining precursor to season 7.
I can say without hesitation that “The Clone Wars” Season 7 is essential viewing for any Star Wars fan. It’s also one of the best television finales I have every watched. The animation was always good, but it has taken a step up. The direction of each episode still gives each a big screen cinematic feel. Tonally the writing fits the series beat-for-beat while masterfully wrapping up the story’s many moving parts: Maul’s arc gets the attention it needed, Ahsoka gets her well-deserved time to shine, the clones themselves get their moments as well.
Everything comes together in the best way imaginable, brilliantly connecting to “Revenge of the Sith” while setting up what’s to come in the next animated series “Rebels” and elsewhere. Supervising director Dave Filoni deserves a ton of credit for not only recapturing the spirit of the series but also giving it a spectacular send-off (if this is truly the final season). It’s infinitely rewatchable and deserving of every ounce of praise it has received.
VERDICT – 5 STARS