On May 4, Disney+ broke its Friday release schedule to air the final episode of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” as part of its Star Wars Day celebration. The show has come a long way from its abysmally-rated start as a 2008 theatrical release, ranking an awful 18% on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s a fitting representation of the show’s progress that its final arc is a cinematic masterpiece, with the last three episodes each earning a 9.9 on IMDB.
The wait for this seventh and final season has been a long journey for fans. Set during the era between Star Wars prequels “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith,” the show focuses on characters that were merely backdrops in the live-action movies — mainly, giving names and personalities to the otherwise-identical clone army. The Clone Wars was cancelled after Disney’s acquisition of Star Wars, leaving the series incomplete until it was renewed in 2018 for a final, 12-episode season. In February 2020, the first of these episodes finally aired on Disney+.
True to its previous format, the final season has three separate story arcs with four episodes each. The first arc introduces “The Bad Batch,” a special task force of clones with enhanced abilities. These episodes are incredibly reminiscent of the classic Clone Wars that old fans are used to — which is both good and bad.
In its favor, the arc focuses on some familiar favorites; the most memorable parts are the moments of character development shown by Captain Rex, who has grown significantly since his first appearance in the series’ pilot. These episodes also contain a lot of action sequences that show off the upgrades in the animation since previous seasons. However, the stakes in this arc rely too heavily on the action, clunkily introducing new obstacles on the battlefield while more interesting, character-driven problems are written off. The introduction of the Bad Batch also seems out-of-place so close to the series’ end, and the screen time spent on characters we already know is much more engaging.
The second arc switches focus to another protagonist: Ahsoka Tano, who was introduced in the show’s pilot as Anakin Skywalker’s young apprentice. One of the best parts of Clone Wars is watching Ahsoka grow and mature from a brash 14-year-old to a skilled warrior, and she has earned her place as a fan favorite in the Star Wars universe.
This arc, nicknamed “Ahsoka’s Walkabout,” follows Ahsoka after her decision to leave the Jedi Order. These episodes are a fun ride and important to build Ahsoka’s character as she struggles to find a new purpose. Though the newly-introduced characters here are also entertaining, many parts of these episodes do feel like filler. The concluding episode felt rushed, as it wastes precious screen time setting up for the season’s final arc instead of giving a satisfying conclusion to the current one. Like the Bad Batch arc, these episodes would be completely fine and even stand-out in any other Clone Wars season; however, they fall short of expectations for the grand finale fans wanted.
Those expectations are not only met but surpassed with the season’s final four episodes. The long-awaited “Siege of Mandalore” arc tops the charts in every department. It contains some of the best action sequences in Star Wars (including, in my opinion, the best lightsaber duel), stellar voice acting, emotional character moments, a dramatic plot line and a stunning conclusion.
The final episodes coincide with the timeline of “Revenge of the Sith.” The Clone Wars has always excelled at filling in the gaps in character, storytelling, and worldbuilding of the prequels, and this arc is no exception. Despite viewers knowing that the fall of Jedi and the rise of the Empire is on the horizon, the show still manages to build suspense and pack every emotional punch. The Siege of Mandalore not only improves on the live-action films, but also on the rest of the season; since Ahsoka and Rex are the final arc’s protagonists, their character development in the previous episodes truly pays off.
The voice acting is especially commendable in these episodes. Sam Witwer’s intense performance as Darth Maul makes for the perfect villainous contrast to Ashley Eckstein’s Ahsoka. Dee Bradley Baker continues to do an outstanding job of portraying every single clone on the show, adding recognizable quirks to each character’s voice despite them all sharing the same Australian accent. Kevin Kiner’s score expertly combines iconic Star Wars music with his original tracks for scenes that shift constantly between rising tension and fast-paced action.
The final season has definitely been worth the seven-year wait. The conclusion to the beloved series is stunningly cinematic and emotional, and even the slow-paced episodes make for a more satisfying finale. All seven seasons of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” are now streaming on Disney+.