Eric Warner Staff Writer
On “Star Wars” Day, May 4, the final episode of the seventh and final season of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” was released on Disney +. The show stars Ashley Eckstein as Anakin Skywalker’s former padawan Ahsoka Tano, Dee Bradley Baker as Clone Captain Rex, and Sam Witwer as Maul.
The final season of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” is composed of three episodic story arcs within its 12-episode run. The first four episodes encompass the Bad Batch arc wherein Rex seeks the aid of an experimental clone squad and subsequently learns that one of his former comrades may be alive, like a distant echo. The next four episodes encompass Ahsoka’s Walkabout arc wherein, months following Ahsoka’s departure from the Jedi Order back in Season 5, Ahsoka tries to establish herself to civilian life but inadvertently gets caught up in two sisters affairs with a drug cartel. The final four episodes of the series encompass the Siege of Mandalore arc wherein Ahsoka, now in league with the remnants of the Mandalorian Death Watch, led by Bo-Katan, seeks the aid from her former master and the Republic to free Mandalore from Maul and his Underworld Crime Syndicate. Unknown to Ahsoka and her allies, however, during this final arc the galaxy is soon to be changed forever as this story coincides with the events of “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.”
First starting as a theatrical feature film released on Aug. 15, 2008, and then shortly continuing as a weekly series Oct. 2008 on Cartoon Network, the Clone Wars is a computer-animated series taking place during the three-year war period in between “Episode II: Attack of the Clones” and “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.” The series would go on to have six seasons during its initial six-year run with the series becoming massively successful with critics praising its animation style, writing, music, tone, and characters. It would also go on to win a multitude of Daytime Emmy Awards and Annie Awards. “Clone Wars” would form the basis for all stories and canon in future “Star Wars” media with many of its locations, characters, and themes recurring to films such as “Rogue One and Solo,” games such as “Jedi: Fallen Order” and most heavily the live-action series “The Mandalorian.”
With the series being created after the creation of Episode III, this show would become “…the last huge expansion of the Star Wars Universe that came directly from George Lucas” according to Lucasfilm Story Group’s Pablo Hidalgo. Every episode had to receive Lucas’s blessing as supervising director, writer, and sometimes voice actor Dave Filoni says before release. Lucas would essentially teach a whole generation of film and television creators with this series with Filoni more or less becoming Lucas’s protégé and direct successor in many respects.
“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” was getting better with every season, both story and production wise, up until the release of Season 5 in 2013. Lucas had considered retirement for some time by this point and to ensure that all of his employees would still have jobs for many years to come. On Oct. 30, 2012, Disney acquired Lucasfilm and all of its properties for $4.05 billion dollars. As a result of this acquisition, all planned or current projects from Lucasfilm would be cancelled so that the staff could immediately begin working on projects that best suited Disney’s desires. This caused many upcoming releases to be shut down such as the Boba Fett focused video game “Star Wars: 1313,” and most importantly “The Clone Wars” series. Disney had intentions to make new films taking place after the events of the original trilogy and to reflect the imagery and themes of this new sequel trilogy, the company had the production crew of “The Clone Wars” begin working on a new series set during the Galactic Civil War in between “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” and “Episode IV: A New Hope.” This series would become “Star Wars: Rebels” which first aired as a one-hour TV film in 2014, and would go on to have four seasons with the series ending in 2018.
“Rebels” would act as a sort of sequel series to “The Clone Wars” with Filoni and all of the production crew creating the series in its entirety and would often have characters from “The Clone Wars” appear in the series. While “Rebels” would have a clearly defined beginning and end, “The Clone Wars” was abruptly shut down by Disney. Many of the stories left untold through television were converted into books and comics while many of them were left almost completely finished in their animation, but remained unreleased. Thanks to constant fan pleas for the series to receive its well-deserved conclusion, Disney would eventually allow the cast and crew to finish “The Clone Wars” in 2018. This final series really shows just how much the crew and cast have increased their skills over more than a decade working on “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels.” All of the scenes look absolutely incredible: from the extravagant battles raged between clones, droids, and Mandalorians to the bits of ash, glass shards, and wrinkles in faces that aid in making this series breathtaking. The crew were able to bring back Ray Park, who portrayed Maul physically in Episode I and Solo, to perform motion capture combat scenes alongside Lauren Mary Kim who motion captured for Ahsoka to craft one of if not the best lightsaber duel in the franchises’ history.
While the sequel films may be interpreted as disappointing or disjointed with the other “Star Wars” films, this series is without a doubt one of its best parts with its amazing characters and shocking depth. It goes to show how much Lucas, Filoni, and all of the cast and crew put their life into making the story of “Star Wars” a true tragic and heartwarming epic, and how much the universe has changed without its creator or his apprentice. Disney also allowed the already completed episodes of Season 6 of “The Clone Wars” to be released exclusively on Netflix in 2014 with the other episodes being adapted into books, such as Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir.