How do you finish a story that the fans know the ending to? You give them a new beginning.
“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” ended after returning for a final season this year to tie up loose ends. For the seasoned Star Wars fan, the end of the Clone Wars begins with the infamous Order 66. Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker turns to the dark side becoming Darth Vader, the Jedi are annihilated by the Clones, and Obi Wan Kenobi escapes with the newly-born Luke and Leia Skywalker.
What fans didn’t know is how our characters get from point A to point B, and what events lead up to Order 66. The final season of the “Clone Wars” answers those questions through an interesting choice of character.
The end of the Clone Wars is a love letter to the kids who sat down every Saturday morning 12 years ago, and followed the stories of valor and war. The “Clone Wars” is the story of Ahsoka Tano, padawan to Anakin Skywalker, and Captain Rex of the 501st Clone battalion. Which is why to have the last season focus on their path to Order 66 is the right move.
Ahsoka Tano and Captain Rex are unique to the “Clone Wars” series. This is where we meet them and see their stories grow. While we see these two in the future, the viewer bonds with them through the “Clone Wars”. Their perspectives are the most insightful in the fall of the Jedi and dark side’s victory.
The last season deals with an important question: How do you win a war?
We have followed Ahsoka Tano and Captain Rex for 12 years to see how our heroes win the war. Our heroes are tired. Ahsoka leaves the Jedi, feeling that they have lost their way — she sees the Jedi are not the peacekeepers they claim to be. Politics have gotten in the way of the Jedi mission. Captain Rex has watched his fellow soldiers die. The clones were created for a singular purpose: war. Rex is tired of war and seeing his brothers fall.
The focus on these characters creates beautiful conversations, and gets to ideas that the prequel trilogy was not able to explore. War isn’t pretty. War is horrible and there is no winning. We were not able to see the cost of war in the original prequels, but the “Clone Wars” makes sure to let us know the cost of the Jedi’s errors.
“Clone Wars” has always been a master of subtlety and great animation. The last season is cinematic, and towards the end there is great meaning in every conversation. Fans can tease out snippets of “Revenge of the Sith,” and follow the order of events. A holo-call can show where we are in Anakin’s side of the story, and how close we are to the fall of the Jedi. A glance can demonstrate how frustrated Obi Wan Kenobi is with the war.
The end is not a happily ever after, but this story does not need that. Viewers are left with a graveyard of clones: the true heroes of our story. In the movies, the Clones were background noise. In the “Clone Wars,” they are the story’s heart.
The fans know where Captain Rex and Ahsoka Tano will go next, through the sequel series “Rebels” and the Ahsoka Tano book. We start our journey to “A New Hope”, and we are given a fitting beginning for the next chapters of the broken Tano and Rex.
How do you win a war? The last shot of this beloved show answers the call. We are left with a cracked Clone helmet buried in the snow, beaten and broken by the trials of war.