A Triumph 12 Years in the Making – Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7
I confess I didn’t watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars when it first aired on TV. I’d seen the movie and thought it was decent enough, but in those days my kids were toddlers so any “kids shows” I watched were decidedly less complex. (Although Jar Jar might have made my little ‘uns laugh…)
But as my kids got a bit older and I introduced them to Star Wars, they eventually discovered Clone Wars on Netflix and I found myself often drawn in. This was good stuff! So when it all went away I was pretty choked up. Season 6 was just a tease (although it has some of the best drama in Star Wars canon) and as fans we all knew the story was unfinished.
And then in 2018 we heard the best news ever from Star Wars: Clone Wars Season 7 was happening! As the Rebels on Hoth said when the first transport was away: Yay!
Is Clone Wars Season 7 Good?
But the various makers of Star Wars have a nasty habit of ruining a good thing on occasion (did I mention Jar Jar?) so it was with some trepidation that I sat down with my now much-older kids to watch as Disney+ rolled out the finale of this iconic series. Would it be everything we wanted? Would it explore daring new ideas? Or would it be a lame pandering to fan service and merchandising dollars?
I’m happy to report that yes, Season 7 is good. I watched each episode when it aired and I’ve been able to re-watch the entire season twice (binging is easy when you have a TV set up in front of the treadmill) and I feel ready to offer my opinion.
Is Order 66 in Clone Wars Season 7?
And just in case any of you haven’t seen Season 7, this article is full of spoilers. Like the fact that yes, Order 66 does feature in these episodes. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Season 7 Phase 1: Setting Up the Next Series
The trailer for Clone Wars Season 7 was epic and it clearly set up an event that Star Wars fans have heard about for years: the Siege of Mandalore at the end of the war. We knew that Ahsoka Tano was returning (yay!) and there was great speculation about how this final season would lead into the events of Revenge of the Sith.
But Clone Wars Season 7 opened with none of that. Instead, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi are tasked to go on a mission with a bunch of mutant clones called the “bad batch“. The what? The who?
Episode 1 – The Bad Batch
The war has come to the planet Anaxes but the fighting is bogging down. Every time the Republic forces try a new tactic it works initially, but then the Separatists quickly evolve their tactics to counter. Captain Rex, Commander Cody and a couple of regular clones join up with the Bad Batch to conduct a secret mission to gather intel. We discover the special abilities of the Bad Batch, and the mission is successful despite Cody being serious injured.
Episode 2 – A Distant Echo
During the mission, Rex discovers evidence that long-lost ARC trooper Echo is still alive, and perhaps being used by the enemy to decipher Republic battle plan. Rex and the Bad Batch are joined by Anakin and Obi-Wan to investigate. They fly to Skako Minor and, after winning over the natives, launch an assault on the Techno Union base. There, amidst a great deal of droid opposition, they eventually find Echo.
Episode 3 – On the Wings of Keeradaks
The newly released Echo can access the Separatist systems and finds a daring escape route for his rescuers. They manage to escape and rejoin the native warriors for a final victory against Separatist forces. Echo is badly maimed from years of being used by the Separatists, but he regains his sense of self.
Episode 4 – Unfinished Business
Back at Anaxes, Echo helps the Republic create a new plan. While the main forces distract the enemy, Anakin, Echo, Rex and the Bad Batch infiltrate the Separatist command ship and feed it false information. After an epic clash the plan succeeds, shattering Separatist forces at Anaxes. The episode ends with Echo joining the Bad Batch, and a show of respect between these clones and Rex.
All in all, this first phase of Clone Wars season 7 is a pretty good romp, but it was frustrating for me during the first watch-through because it didn’t bring in any of the elements I was expecting – namely, Ahsoka and Mandalore. I realize that the Bad Batch arc was actually quite an old one, having been planned since at least 2015, and clearly Dave Filoni and his team felt it was worth bringing to the screen. In later viewings I’ve been able to appreciate it more, but on first viewing it was rendered less enjoyable because it failed to live up to expectations created by the trailer.
Season 7 Phase 2: Ahsoka About Town
The final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars takes a dramatic turn in Episode 5, finally bringing Ahsoka Tano back into the mix. But it does so in an unexpected way, showing her still on Coruscant and trying to find her way in the world. Timelines are never made clear, but it seems almost like we’re picking up her story only days or weeks after she left the Jedi Temple.
Episode 5 – Gone With a Trace
Ahsoka crash lands her hover bike on the platform of one Trace Martez, a good-natured young woman trying to keep a mechanic shop running. Ahsoka soon meets Trace’s sister, Rafa, who is a more questionable character and who often makes shady deals. One such deal results in a binary loadlifter droid running amok in the lower levels of Coruscant, with Ahsoka and Trace barely recovering it.
Episode 6 – Deal No Deal
Ahsoka and the Martez sisters set out on a new deal, which reveals itself to be running spice from Kessel to the Pyke Syndicate. Our former Jedi protests this illegal activity, causing a showdown with Rafa and ending in Trace dumping the cargo in space. The three try to bluff their way through the drop-off to the Pykes, but are captured and imprisoned.
Episode 7 – Dangerous Debt
In prison, Trace and Rafa reveal how they lost their parents in a crash caused by the Jedi Order, and were offered nothing but empty words as compensation. Having not yet admitted her Jedi connections, Ahsoka must try and escape without revealing her powers. They attempt an escape but are recaptured.
Episode 8 – Together Again
In their last episode together, Ahsoka and the Martez sisters manage to escape the Pykes but Ahsoka also discovers the fact that Darth Maul is leading a criminal enterprise. She finally links up with Bo-Katan Kyrze of Mandalore, and after saying goodbye to Trace and Rafa departs with Bo-Katan.
Overall, these four episodes are the weakest of Star Wars: The Clones Wars Season 7. They’re not bad, and in any regular season they would have been a decent little story. But in the first watch-through I was frankly getting impatient for Dave Filoni and friends to get to what they’d promised, and this entire storyline seemed like a waste of time. On later viewings I’ve grown a little less critical, but even so this section doesn’t rate as top Clone Wars material.
Season 7 Phase 3: What We Were All Waiting For
All that changed, though, as Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7 moved into its final phase. In a classy nod to Star Wars fans everywhere, these four episodes were treated like a single, four-part story, complete with an opening sequence that featured the “Lucasfilm Limited” title card and the original Star Wars theme music as “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” burst onto the screen and drifted backward in 1977 style. Right away, we knew that this was going to be epic.
Episode 9 – Old Friends Not Forgotten
The story begins with an almost over-the-top heroic battle where we see Anakin Skywalker at the absolute height of his power as a Jedi. It then moves swiftly to the much-anticipated reunion of Anakin and Ahsoka, and the approaching Siege of Mandalore. It’s touching to see Anakin practically fawning over his former padawan, although I wish she’d shown a bit more affection when they were alone.
A surprise comes when, at the end of this episode, the events of Revenge of the Sith kick off. Many fans had expected this to happen at the end of the season, so this was an exciting development. The initial assault on Mandalore is some of the best action in the entire Clone Wars series… and then Maul steps out of the shadows in the final moments.
Episode 10 – The Phantom Apprentice
Ahsoka and Maul meet for the first time, but Captain Rex and his troops arrive as Maul escapes. After a brief interlude where the events of Revenge of the Sith interweave, the ultimate showdown between Ahsoka and Maul occurs. It lives up to all the expectations, both in character depth and light saber dueling, while a full-scale firefight between Republic and Mandalorian warriors rages around them. The episode concludes with victory for the Republic and the capture of Maul, although an ominous shadow hangs over the events.
Episode 11 – Shattered
This episode actually includes a scene from Revenge of the Sith, and we realize that Ahsoka would have been in that movie had the film scene not cut away – nice touch, Disney. Her frosty relationship with the Jedi Order is clear – remember that in Star Wars time it wasn’t that long ago that they ejected her from the Order – and their mutual unwillingness to communicate adds to the tragedy that we as viewers all know is coming.
Ahsoka and Rex return to their cruiser with a heavily restrained Maul, but even as Mandalore falls astern, this episode is just getting started. Ahsoka feels Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side through the Force, and shortly afterward Order 66 is executed. Despite his efforts to resist, Rex must obey the order and he tries to assassinate Ahsoka. She escapes, and decides to release Maul so that he can be a distraction as she captures Rex to try and figure out what’s happened.
In an awesome link to Rogue One (which is the best Star Wars movie; yes it is – I will fight you) she recites the Guardian’s Mantra made famous by Chirrut Imwe as she desperately seeks aid from the Force. She manages to remove Rex’s inhibitor chip, returning him to sanity.
Episode 12 – Victory and Death
The final episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars opens in chaos, with Ahsoka and Rex isolated and under attack by the rest of their troops. In a desperate series of maneuvers they attempt to escape, even as Maul carves a bloody path through the cruiser and flees. The final conflict is heartbreaking as Ahsoka’s own loyal soldiers work relentless to kill her, but she shows her character by doing her very best to not hurt them. The Republic cruiser heads toward a crash landing on a remote planet, as Rex must fly a Y-Wing through the falling debris to rescue his Jedi friend as she plummets through the air. At the crash site both heroes pay their last respects and Ahsoka abandons her light sabers as proof of her own death. The series ends with Anakin Skywalker, now transformed into Darth Vader, finding one of her sabers and concluding that she’s dead.
Individually and as a group, these final four episodes of Clone Wars are among the very best in the entire series. They balance thrill-ride action sequences with outstanding characterization and wonderful tie-ins to the movies. While I had my doubts after the first eight episodes, these last four ensured that the final season of Clone Wars delivered.
Overall Impression of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7
Overall, I give the final season of Clone Wars a thumbs-up. Dave Filoni and crew clearly had a plan as they set out, delivering three distinct parts to the season, each with its own clear arc. I wish they’d been a little more honest in the promotional material they released and set us up for the fact that the Anakin/Ahsoka reunion wasn’t going to happen until episode 9, but that’s a failure of marketing, not story design.
That said, they could have been a bit more conscientious of the fact that the fans all wanted to see Ahsoka and Mandalore sooner. The arc of the Martez sisters really was a side-show and could have been replaced with a meatier tale focused on Ahsoka and Bo-Katan. I also would have preferred a longer time for Anakin and Ahsoka to interact, since their relationship is the central arc of the entire series.
I wouldn’t be a true Star Wars fan if I didn’t have suggestions for how any Star Wars creation since The Empire Strikes Back could be improved, and despite my complaints I’m happy to accept these last twelve episodes as a worthy finale to Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Will There Be a Season 8 of Clone Wars?
I think we can agree that the answer to this question is a resounding no. Season 7 concluded the series in a very satisfying way and to try and go back to it would be redundant. Additionally, the launch of the new animated series The Bad Batch will continue to explore this time period in Star Wars history and it’s safe to consider The Bad Batch as the successor to Clone Wars.
An Ode to Star Wars: The Clone Wars
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was an amazing tale of heroism. And then a prequel trilogy was made that threatened to ruin it. But then, an animated TV series was created to fill in the blanks, and that long ago Republic period of history was rescued from the dumpster and made into one of the most beloved parts of the saga. Some folks still stubbornly claim that cartoons are for kids, but only through Clone Wars do we truly see the character arc of Anakin Skywalker and believe how a hero could fall so far. Having the flexibility to tell many parallel tales across multiple short episodes gave Clone Wars a tremendous ability for storytelling and to address every level of drama, from the grand march of galactic war to the most intimate moments of characters like Anakin, Obi-Wan, Ahsoka and even Maul.
The Star Wars universe is forever enriched because of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and I look forward to the release of more shows like it.
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