Warning: Spoilers ahead for the season five finale/series finale of Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Call it a May the Fourth be With You/Revenge of the Fifth weekend miracle, but at long last I finally feel emotionally stable enough to sincerely contemplate the season five finale of my favorite television show of all time, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which, shortly after airing, became the series finale after Disney went off the rails hardcore and cancelled it like a ^%#* $#@!% who don’t know $%^& about #$%@. But I’m going to keep my feelings regarding the cancellation of Clone Wars close to the chest. Though I will say this, before the Clone Wars was cancelled I had always thought of bullshit as organic refuse from any creature of bovine descent and I can now honestly say that is no longer my definition of the term. But I’m going to keep my feelings about the unjust ending of Clone Wars out of this post because that’s not what this post is about.
The final arc of season five had gigantic shoes to fill as it came after the jaw-dropping Maul/Mandalore story arc that may have been the best material the series has ever produced. The four episode arc, “Sabotage,” “The Jedi Who Knew too Much,” “To Catch a Jedi” and “The Wrong Jedi,” probably had fans even more suspect because the show’s focus moved from the jaw-dropping, perfectly executed fan service that was Darth Maul and an army of Boba Fetts fighting on a planet of Boba Fetts for Boba Fett supremacy to Ahsoka Tano, an orange lady many fans have had mixed feelings about.
Ahsoka certainly started off a bit grating. She was something of a young punk with a snarky attitude who had seemingly no place in the Star Wars cannon and no qualms about deluding the already waning quality of intergalactic dialogue with nicknames like “Sky Guy.” But then she did something that only the finest of characters are capable of: she developed, evolved and undoubtedly earner her place amongst the pantheon of Star Wars protagonists. With a pacing nothing short of brilliant Ahsoka went from being an obnoxious teenager to a level-headed young woman who had undeniably been shaped by the galactic war that was the stage for her formative years (puberty or the Clone Wars – jury’s still out). Ever since her meeting with Chewbacca and the Trandoshians at the end of season three Ahsoka has proven herself a full on badass worth investing in and the finale arc kicked all of that up a notch. Kind of like Disney’s cancellation of The Clone Wars kicked my capacity for rage, anger and loathing up a notch. I mean I knew I could be irritated in the past, I’ve seen 2 Fast 2 Furious after all*, but man did it all hit a whole new level win Disney started poking its dumb, cocaine-scabbed, mouse nose where it didn’t belong. But I’m going to keep my feelings on that matter close to the chest.
The “Jedi” arc started off with a staple of children’s animated television series: a terrorist attack. The attack on the Jedi temple and the reactions among the Jedi, the government and the public were dope in a heavy, meaningful, dope kind of way. It’s not often that the Star Wars universe takes the time to actually delve into the public psychological effects of living in a universe were star wars are constantly happening. Sure, Star Peace sounds stupid, but you can’t help but understand the citizenry being fed up at a seemingly endless war raging across the galaxy that probably has no overall bearing on their day to day lives. Seeing the Jedi as the symbol of that war makes sense. Unlike the cancellation of Clone Wars by the bloated corpse of a torpid dynasty that is Disney. But don’t bother trying to surmise where my feelings lie on the matter.
But the terrorist attack was just the tip of the iceberg as Anakin and Ahsoka investigated the attack and set into motion a whirlwind of events that saw Ahsoka wrongfully accused of murder and on the run from Tarkin and the full might of Republic law enforcement. Like Jason Bourne. In space. But a girl alien. It’s a tale that, throughout its four episodes, showcased everything The Clone Wars has done best over its five years.
Every season of Clone Wars has seen the animation take a leap forward and season five was no exception, particularly during the Maul/Mandalore arc, but even compared to that epic the “Jedi” episodes managed to turn out some of the best, if not the best, animation in the series’ run. From Ahsoka and Anakin blazing their Jedi star ships through the sky-cities of Cato Neimoidia and the sprawling holographic security footage of the terrorist bombing, to the wallowing depths of level 1313 and the rigid authoritarian architecture of the military prison the settings in these four episodes were vibrant and textured. It’s amazing how much more lifelike the worlds we are taken to in the Clone Wars appear when compared to the stale, CGI-laden locales of the prequel trilogy. Kind of like how it’s amazing that Disney would have the gull to cut a successful television show that has single-handedly carried the torch for a decades-old franchise and brought new generations of fans to a galaxy far, far away as if it were excess gristle on leftover steak. Not that I plan on sharing my feelings on the matter.
Of course said worlds are made even more vibrant by the animations of the characters moving within them and the character animations in the last Clone Wars arc are in my opinion the most impressive to date. Ever since Clone Wars started in 2008 some of the character animations, particularly those involving running, would catch my eye in a bad way. They weren’t necessarily ugly, but they didn’t flow or feel as natural as most visual aspects of the show. That all changed in this arc, particularly where Ahsoka was concerned. As badass as it was to see the young Jedi perched atop ledges and statues like Batman, the amazing chase sequence/Fugitive reference that ended the second episode “The Jedi Who Knew Too Much” completely blew me away as Ahsoka, lightsabers in hand, maneuvered her way through battalions and gunships and sewers with a finesse that someone outside of the women’s U.S. gymnastics team has no right possessing.
But above all else the real tour de force of what have now become the final episodes of The Clone Wars to air on television was the story. It can be hard to really compensate how the Jedi went from their high standings in Episodes I and II to their near obliteration at the end of Episode III, but the stories told in The Clone Wars, this one in particular, go a long way to filling in the gaps.
In a time of peace Ahsoka would have grown to be an entirely different person and an entirely different Jedi. But she didn’t come up in a time of peace, she came up in the Clone Wars, a time where being a Jedi didn’t actually mean any one thing as the millennia-old organization found itself trying to compensate being keepers of the peace with being generals and war fighters. It’s an identity crisis that Ahsoka has come to personify and that crisis reached a head with the series finale “The Wrong Jedi.”
When the Jedi council turned their back on Ahsoka they turned their backs on the Jedi ways of old and cemented not only themselves as war mongers and political tools, but also their looming fates. Palpetine is no doubt to blame for his active role in the fall of the Jedi order, but his plans would never have succeeded without the corrosion of the Order from within.
Of course viewers already knew how things turned out for the Jedi and the Jedi Council, it was the semi-unveiling of Ahsoka’s fate that proved the most poignant. Her decision to leave the Jedi order felt like the perfect next step for the character and her conversation with Anakin on the steps of the Jedi Temple hit me in the heart like a torpedo hitting Red October in that movie**. We all know about Anakin’s struggle to separate himself from attachment and the revelation that Ahsoka was well aware of this, with her simple declaration, “I know,” which voice actress Ashley Eckstein absolutely nailed, was incredibly powerful. We now know why Ahsoka isn’t around in Episode III and its impossible not to wonder what could have been were the Jedi Order not such a gang of holier-than-thou d-bags.
Kind of like it’s impossible not to wonder what Disney douche bag from hell decided The Clone Wars didn’t deserve to wrap up the slew of fantastic narrative threads it spent five years creating. I mean, I’m not going to sit here and spill on my opinion of the matter, but I will tell you that I totally appreciate Disney trying to win my fandom by dangling carrots in front of me like J.J. Abrams and the Big Three while they gut the things that have actually earned my fandom through hard work and solid story telling. I think that that is a very stand up thing to do and that it bodes well for Disney’s use of their newly acquired property. Also I’m being sarcastic and I think that this is bullshit and I wish Mickey Mouse were dead like my happiness. But personally, I’m keeping my thoughts on the matter close to the chest.
On an unrelated note – this is bullshit. Disney is bullshit. Everything is bullshit. Clone Wars is the best. Rest in peace. Never forget.
*I have never seen 2 Fast 2 Furious. I am not an idiot.
**I have never seen The Hunt for Red October. Is Red October a submarine? It’s a submarine. Right? Is it?