I got the opportunity to participate in a series of reviews about The Clone Wars final season on Fantha Tracks. Here are all my opinions about several episodes.
S07E05 – Gone With A Trace
I must say, Ahsoka is not my favourite character of Star Wars, even of The Clone Wars as well. That’s why I wasn’t hyped about her story-arc, but its first episode, Gone with a Trace was a delightful surprise.
What was the main reason for this pleasure, you could ask? I wrote a massive article on our Hungarian fansite Ziro.hu about George Lucas’ unfinished and unpublished multiplatform project Underworld. We know it would have occurred in the lower regions of Coruscant. We even know that a game, 1313 would have been part of this multiplatform project and when I saw on the screen many previously unused places, concept arts, etc. from these project and references for 1313, I was super delighted!
The other pleasant surprise was actually not one but two: the Martez sisters. They are funny, quick thinking and cunning female characters – and more interesting characters for me than Ahsoka Tano herself. Through them, we even get to know how the ordinary people of the galaxy live their life. The Martez sisters are good additions to the canon and a clever change from the unfinished episodes of the seventh season we saw years ago.
S07E06 – Deal No Deal
I said it last time; I am not a fan of Ahsoka Tano. Still, her story-arc seemed interesting for me because it includes many ideas which were initially developed for George Lucas’ live-action project, Underworld.
In Deal No Deal, we also see many things which were created for Underworld before. The Clone Wars introduces the lush part of Kessel, which is the first-mentioned planet in Star Wars ever and is famous for its spice mines. The series presents the Pykes as well, the species and crime gang which was created for Underworld as well. We were also informed that King Yaruba governs the planet, who was the king in the era of Solo as well.
These in-universe references and connections made me really happy because we see part of known things as never before.
The story itself wasn’t as good for me as we saw in the episode before. The chemistry between the girls (Ahsoka and the Martez sisters) wasn’t developed really well, in my opinion, as we can hear childish brawls. Trace’s behaviour is annoyingly infantile, unfortunately. I think it is a wrong move in her character’s direction.
All in all, the story and the characters didn’t satisfy me, but the references and the connections to unfinished and existing Star Wars project made me glad.
S07E07 – Dangerous Debt
Well, this Ahsoka story-arc is a filler, and Dangerous Debt was the worst part of the first three chapters of this arc, in my opinion. We are in the same situation at the end of the episode as in its opening seconds: Ahsoka and the Martez sisters are in prison. Of course, the girls are in a bit worse situation as they wanted to escape from planet Oba Diah, and they infuriated the Pykes even more, but for an outsider, it seems, they are in the same situation.
But – and there is a huge but here – this arc is about world-building, connecting the last episodes of The Clone Wars with other productions, for example, the unmade live-action project Underworld. Or with itself, as in this episode. When Rafa Martez told Ahsoka the backstory of her and her sister, it was the most exciting and powerful part of this episode. And it mentioned Ziro the Hutt as well, the character I named my Hungarian Star Wars fansite Ziro.hu after.
My eyes widened when Rafa told their story to Ahsoka, not just because of the mention of Ziro, but it turned out, how the ordinary people of Coruscant saw the “Jedi business”.
Otherwise, it was interesting to hear Rafa’s story, because we’ve seen some events she spoke about in early parts of The Clone Wars, but not from this certain point of view.
As I said in the review of the last episode: this story-arc has many in-universe references and connections, which made me really happy because we see part of known things as never before. That’s the power of this story-arc, and I don’t even care about the story itself.
S07E08 – Together Again
Well, well, well, here we are again. I don’t know if this episode or the previous one was more needless, I think it would have been merged easily. I wrote in the review of the last chapter: “We are in the same situation at the end of the episode as in its opening seconds”. So Dangerous Debt should have been left out entirely, and its essential parts should have been outlined in Together Again.
Many people around the internet moaned about the portraying of the Martez sisters. I even read comments which said Trace behaves like a person with autism. But I couldn’t disagree more. We must not forget these two are kids, more importantly, adolescents. Everyone knows that age, the kids in that part of their life are annoying (mostly), but the Martez sisters are funny, quick thinking and cunning female characters.
More interesting women for me than Ahsoka Tano herself. Through them, we even get to know how the ordinary people of the galaxy live their life, how they see the Jedi. The Martez sisters are excellent additions to the canon and a smart change from the unfinished episodes of the seventh season we saw years ago.
As I wrote before, this story-arc has many in-universe references and connections, which made me really happy because we see part of known things as never before. That’s the power of this story-arc, and I don’t even care about the story itself. In this episode, our offbeat heroines broke out from prison, and Ahsoka finally met the Mandalorians. This is the way – to connect the second and the last story-arc.
Well, Together Again makes connections between The Phantom Menace and The Clone Wars as we see more people from the Toong species which had a celebrated podracer, Ben Quadinaros in Episode I. These Toongs were an excellent source of humour in the scenes where they appeared.
This chapter also connects The Clone Wars and Solo: A Star Wars Story as well. Maul popped up in a holo message with the Pykes, and he spoke about his syndicate Crimson Dawn. We didn’t know before when the Crimson Dawn was established and how it has gained its power in the galaxy far far away. But now, we know a little bit more about the crime life of Star Wars.
Sam Witwer and Ashley Eckstein created a hype around the last story-arc (Siege of Mandalore) with their statements in the previous two months. After these Ahsoka stories (which were – we can confess – filler episodes), I hope we will get an epic four-episode finale which will follow the path of this season and will create interconnections between several projects.
S07E09 – Old Friends Not Forgotten
Let me first correct myself: I might have written before that the Ahsoka story-arc was a filler. Well, I hold my view that the arc could have been one episode shorter, but it showed us how Ahsoka lost her faith in the Jedi. That’s why it was a vital arc in the final season of The Clone Wars. (Although I am sure that her view against Obi-Wan’s in their dispute is wrong in this episode: Coruscant is way more critical in war than capturing Maul and getting the Mandalore back for Bo-Katan.)
And so we arrived at the finale of this epic animation series. This first chapter of the final story-arc, The Siege of Mandalore, was more enjoyable for Star Wars nerds, than all of the episodes before in this season. We had everything that can make a grown man cry: the old Lucasfilm logo, red The Clone Wars logo, fanfares, John Williams score, funny dialogues between Anakin and Obi-Wan, excellent battle scenes, Ahsoka, Mandalorians, etc.
But somehow Old Friends Not Forgotten did not make me cry. As Editor-in-Chief of Hungarian fansite Ziro.hu, I consider myself a Star Wars nerd. I said before that the strength of the previous story-arc was the many references and connections to other Star Wars projects. Well, this episode had too many of these. As a Star Wars nerd, I enjoyed many of them, but around half of the ninth chapter, it became simply too much, and I did not recognize a couple of these references. (For example, there was a sentence that Mandalore and the Galactic Republic lives in peace together in the last 100 years. So probably we will see battles between them in the High Republic era.) What I want to say with these: I don’t know whether a NON-Star Wars nerd did enjoy this episode as much as many commenters I’ve seen around the internet.
All in all, it can be seen the creators of The Clone Wars distributed their energies and resources to create an epic four-episode finale with The Siege of Mandalore.
Sam Witwer said before that this could be seen as a whole, as a standalone movie. Hopefully, we will get a supercut from these episodes, and I hope the last three chapters will blow our minds.
S07E10 – The Phantom Apprentice
At half time of the Siege of Mandalore arc, we can say that Sam Witwer was right. He said the following to io9 a month ago: “(…) when I’m talking about the finale, I’m talking about the last four episodes because it’s really meant to be seen as a movie. These Clone Wars arcs that go on for three to four episodes, they could also be cut together as movies and they work as one story, but this one really is meant to be seen in its entirety together, more so than anything else we’ve ever done.”
We can see from these last two episodes that this is something different. As we watch the editing, the visual world, the dialogues, etc. of these two chapters, we have the feeling we are watching a movie, for example, additional scenes for Revenge of the Sith. Dave Filoni learned a lot in the making of The Mandalorian; it’s undeniable.
The animation is unbelievably amazing, and the movements of the characters are almost as real as life. And they aren’t even straight motion capture!
“We actually did a little test, where we saw what it looked like with straight mo-cap, and it felt very odd to see that compared to everything else. (…) We really ended up using it as a guideline”, The Clone Wars’ animation supervisor Keith Kellogg told Looper in the middle of April.
My favourite scene in The Phantom Apprentice was when the window blew up, and we see the characters in a rain of broken glass and ember. It was terrific, and it reminded two fantastic scenes at a time. First, the blew up of the skylight in the duel of Mace Windu and Darth Sidious in Revenge of the Sith, and second, the dialogue between Rey and Kylo Ren after killing all the Elite Praetorian Guards in The Last Jedi. Again: Dave Filoni learned a lot while making of The Mandalorian.
S07E11 – Shattered
Oh boy, what an episode again! I don’t even know where to start. I was born in 1990, one of the saddest movie moments for my generation is Order 66 from Revenge of the Sith. I knew it would be hard to bear what we will see in Shattered, so I grabbed my pipe and a gin tonic at the start. And I almost forgot to smoke my pipe, what an exciting episode!
“If you can’t write, you can’t direct”, George Lucas taught Dave Filoni, as we heard in the last episode in The Star Wars Show. I think Dave Filoni was a good padawan; he became one of the best storytellers of our era. Not just in Star Wars, I mean in the whole entertainment industry. The way he connected different published or unpublished productions (like Underworld!) in this season of The Clone Wars should be taught for filmmaking students. We have seen references to the following projects of Star Wars just in this episode: of course Revenge of the Sith, the different arcs of The Clone Wars, Rogue One, Rebels and The Mandalorian. Probably more. It is unbelievable that he easily tells a story, and in the meantime, he connects it to different eras and productions. He is a pure genius.
Shattered reminded me of the sixth chapter (The Prisoner) of The Mandalorian. We saw chases in a corridor of a starship, and we hear the depressing music which also reminded me of The Mandalorian. But my favourite scenes were those which were clear references to Rogue One. I am glad we heard again the sentence: “I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me”. But it was more mind-blowing that Filoni and his colleagues recreated the corridor scene from the end of Rogue One, but with a twist: he didn’t have any weapons! I think this showed us again, how badass Maul was. He was my favourite villain before, but this made him a better bad guy. And good to know he became one of the most important gangsters of the Empire era thanks to Ahsoka.
After watching the episode, we spoke about it with my colleagues in our editorial Facebook group of Ziro.hu, our Hungarian fansite. István Kádas, the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Ziro.hu said that Rex’s story taught us one of the most important lessons of Dave Filoni.
That every truth’s we hear in the galaxy far far away are true just from a certain point of view. We fans are needed to remind this in every Star Wars story.
To the whole crew of The Clone Wars: a huge thank you!
S07E12 – Victory and Death
Let me start with the bad: I think, this episode was the worst in the Siege of Mandalore arc. It wasn’t balanced well. We already knew Ahsoka and Rex would escape from the bunch of clone troopers, so I don’t understand why we spent so much time watching something irrelevant. I think it would have been better to see what Ahsoka and Rex did after landing on that moon.
I also had bad feelings about this arc when I thought about the events in the Ahsoka novel written by E.K. Johnston. Still, I can accept some minor changes were necessary to have a better-developed story for Ahsoka and Rex.
Despite my bad feelings, I was overwhelmed when I saw the end of Victory and Death. Seeing Vader and the stormtroopers in the style of The Clone Wars gave me goosebumps. It was so gorgeous visually, and it was also great that the music, the visuals and the breathing could perfectly show us Vader’s feelings. Unbelievable storytelling.
I can’t point it out enough times that Kevin Kiner’s music perfectly fitted to this season. I must repeat it: I am really proud it was recorded in my hometown, Budapest, the capital of Hungary. I think we heard some of the best Star Wars music ever in this episode when Maul escapes from the ship. As in the Duel of Fates and Battle of Heroes, we also hear a choir – it seems, this is a guarantee for an epic Star Wars tune. I listened to is multiple times while thinking about Hungarian musician’s achievement, you should do the same.
All in all, we received an epic four-episodes finale from Dave Filoni and his crew. Filoni demonstrated again that he is one of the best storytellers of our age, not just in Star Wars, but in the entertainment industry altogether. His crew proved again that they are reliable, they could relearn how to tell events, feelings, the development of characters in a show which they didn’t work on for years. The Clone Wars matured visually, musically and in its story as well.
This season was one of the best Star Wars productions ever. We can’t be thankful enough for this. Thank you, Dave Filoni and co.
All of these reviews appeared first on Fantha Tracks. Thanks to Mark Newbold for the opportunity.