May 14, 2020

“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” Season Seven Review: A Masterful End of an Era

Having not watched any network television until 2015, I was never a regular viewer of the Star Wars animated TV series. The Clone Wars has ended, Rebels never caught my full attention, and I never bothered to dedicate time to Resistance. But when Clone Wars was acquired by Netflix, I knew this was my chance to explore that area of the Star Wars universe.

I never had enough time to watch the full series, but I saw most of the episodes that mattered to the core story. That’s why, in 2018, when a full seventh season was set to premiere on the then-untitled Disney streaming service, I was filled with a rush of excitement. The only issue is, we had to wait until 2020 to finally see the concluding episodes.

And boy, was it worth the wait.
Divided into three storylines, each spanning four episodes, the final season of The Clone Wars can best be described as pure Star Wars. It’s beautifully animated, with spectacular action sequences and well-written characters arcs, and it’s certainly the end that fans wanted. Take some notes here, Benioff and Weiss, this is the way to end an iconic, long-running series.

The first storyline focuses on the Bad Batch, a crew of mutated clone troopers that serve as sort of an elite Republic squad. Anakin (Matt Lanter), Captain Rex and Commander Cody (both voiced by Dee Bradley Baker, who returns as the voice of every clone) accompany them on several missions which lead them to uncover some of the Separatists’ darkest secrets.

The Bad Batch episodes, as one would expect, are very clone-centric, which is fitting because the clones have always been the emotional core of The Clone Wars. We once again find ourselves caring and sympathizing for them, and the story is even sadder if you think about their ultimate fate — reduced from developed, kind, interesting characters to mindless, unthinking drones. It’s a fascinating transformation in it of itself, and it evokes several questions, including about how much of their original selves remained within the Stormtrooper husks, how loyal to the Empire they really are, and if any of the fan-favorite clones survived into the original trilogy’s area.

There probably isn’t a plot hole here. Probably.
The show creeps closer and closer towards the events of Revenge of the Sith, showing Anakin leaning into Dark Side tendencies and hinting at Obi-Wan’s awareness of Anakin and Padmé’s relationship. It’s fascinating to see where our favorite characters were just weeks and days before Order 66 was declared, and heartbreaking to see just how unexpected the imminent fall of the Jedi really was. When The Clone Wars Season 7 begins, the clone battalions are more devoted to the Jedi than ever. Little do they know, it’s soon to change, and more drastically than they could ever imagine.

Unfortunately, the middle three episodes are rather dull. The highest (and most notable) point, of course, is the return of Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein), who’s been living in the lower levels of Coruscant since she voluntarily left the Jedi Order at the previous season’s conclusion. Ahsoka meets clichéd, banal scavenger sisters Trace (Brigitte Kali) and Rafa Martez (Elizabeth Rodriguez), who end up getting involved with the criminal Pyke Syndicate, whom you may remember from their brief appearance/passing mention in Solo: A Star Wars Story.

The episodes aren’t all bad, though. There are some halfway decent chase scenes, and there are some unexpectedly delightful performances. It’s just unfortunate that the Martez sisters lack substance, and they don’t make for very interesting traveling companions for Ahsoka.

It’s in the final four episodes that the season truly shines. Ahsoka reunites with Anakin and Obi-Wan, and volunteers to lead the charge on Mandalore to capture Darth Maul (Sam Witwer) alongside newly promoted clone Commander Rex. The Siege of Mandalore was a major event that we have heard about before in Star Wars canon, but this is the first time we’re seeing it on screen. Plus, the episodes take place concurrent with Revenge of the Sith, so it explains where Ahsoka, Rex and Maul are during the events of the film.

The final episodes showcase some of the best action and stunning visuals ever to be seen in the Star Wars animated universe (mind you, that’s over 300 episodes of content). There are satisfying lightsaber battles, twists aplenty, and some amazing character moments.

It may be fan service, but its fun as hell.
During the transport of Maul from Mandalore to Coruscant, Order 66 is declared, pitting the clones against Ahsoka. It’s the perfect betrayal, showing how loyalties can change in the blink of an eye, and it’s enormously fun to see the events play out from a different perspective than seen in the film. Plus, we get (semi-)explanations for how Ahsoka and Rex became the people they were in Star Wars Rebels, and episode 12’s final scene can only be described as utterly beautiful, both in conception and execution.

Another strong part of The Clone Wars’s final season is the music. Kevin Kliner, who composes for all of Disney’s animated series, is at the top of his game, creating triumphant themes and crushing strains as a perfect accompaniment to the scene playing out on screen.

It has its low points and its strengths, but in the end, what piece of art doesn’t? Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7 ends the series with a bang in a truly satisfying and well-crafted finale. [Grade: A+]

Showrunner: Dave Filoni
Starring: Ashley Eckstein, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter, James Arnold Taylor
Rated: TV-PG
Available: Disney+
Fun Fact: Ray Park, the actor who played Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace, did some motion capture for the Mandalore fight scenes involving Maul.

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