About a week ago, Star Wars: The Clone Wars finished up its final run with the premiere of "Victory and Death" this May 4th, and it was a glorified end to say the least. It was a long journey across the years, not only for the fans, but for the creative team as well. The show premiered in 2008 and ran for five seasons, but in 2013, it was unceremoniously announced the show would release only one more season (Season 6). Over the years, Lucasfilm Animation kept producing quality content in shows like Star Wars Rebels and Resistance, but fans longed for more of The Clone Wars. Finally, at San Diego Comic Con in 2018, Lucasfilm declared the show's comeback for a final season.
There was a lot of talk going into the seventh season that the series would catch up to the plot of the prequel film, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, which was bolstered by some of the trailers. Though the first eight episodes hinted that the timelines were very close, the final four confirmed it. Because Dave Filoni himself said that these chapters will change the way people see the film, The Direct thought it would benefit everyone to see exactly how these Star Wars stories align. Episode by episode, we examine the references and tie-ins between the Siege of Mandalore arc and Revenge of the Sith.
Part 1- Old Friends Not Forgotten
TCW: This episode begins with the Jedi Knights and the Republic extending their forces to the outer reaches of the galaxy in order to counter the devastating blows from the Separatists, led by General Grievous. This takes us to the planet of Yerbana, where Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker command their troops, respectively.
Returning from battle, the Jedi Masters receive a transmission from Anakin’s former Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, and Mandalorian warrior, Bo-Katan Kryze. As they plea for help from the Republic and Jedi Council in taking back Mandalore from Maul, Anakin takes Ahsoka aside to have a small reunion with the clones she fought with for so long. Suddenly, they receive news that Grievous has attacked Coruscant and Chancellor Palpatine is in danger. Anakin comes up with the idea to split his 501st battalion into a new legion, the 332nd Company, under Rex’s control (promoting him to commander) that will aid the Mandalorian’s in their fight. The rest will stick with the Jedi. ROTS: This event is what separates Rex and Ahsoka from their comrades and the battles that ensue in Revenge of the Sith. TCW: Following this, Ahsoka and Anakin have one last farewell.
TCW: Republic armies begin their siege on the Mandalorian capital of Sundari. ROTS: Thus starts the battle above Coruscant, where we see Kenobi and Skywalker flying their way towards Grievous’ ship to save the captive Chancellor. After boarding the ship, Anakin kills Count Dooku while attempting to free Palpatine. The Jedi are successful in their mission in bringing the Chancellor back to the capital safely, but Grievous eluded capture. TCW: Back on Mandalore, Ahsoka and other clone troopers follow Maul’s Mandalorian forces down to the Undercity. Maul lures the former Jedi into a trap.
The first half of this episode was a clear build-up to Revenge of the Sith, and right off the bat clarified the current state of the war efforts. “Old Friends Not Forgotten” contributed to setting the stage for the film’s emotional climax by sending Jedi throughout the Outer Rim, such as Plo Koon leading pilots on Cato Neimoidia (where he perishes from Order 66). The reunion between Ahsoka and her old friends was not only touching and added even more reason to feel the poignance of Anakin’s turn, but explained the whereabouts of both Commander Rex and Ahsoka Tano during Episode III, in which they do not appear. The sudden attack on the capital puts us right into the opening crawl of the movie. It’s assumed, and hinted at by similar music cues, that the beginning of Bo-Katan and the Republic’s siege of Mandalore parallels the opening of Revenge of the Sith. The various actions following are what transition us into the next episode.
Part 2- The Phantom Apprentice
TCW: Picking up from where “Old Friends Not Forgotten” left off, Ahsoka is trapped down in the tunnels of the Undercity where Maul and his Mandalorians have her surrounded. He begins to question Ahsoka on why she showed up instead of Kenobi and Skywalker. He slightly hints at a coming shift of the galaxy orchestrated by Darth Sidious, but it’s interrupted as Rex and other clones burst in and attempt to capture the fleeing Maul.
ROTS: During and after these occurrences, Anakin is appointed to the Jedi Council at the behest of Chancellor Palpatine, but they do not grant him the rank of Master. He’s then told by Kenobi that the Council has given him a new assignment: gather and describe all vital knowledge of the Chancellor’s dealings and behavior. Basically being asked to spy on his friend, Anakin is understandably frustrated. This leads into his discussion with Palpatine regarding the location of General Grievous and Anakin’s newly assigned duty at the opera house. It is here the Chancellor tells the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise. The next day, the Council designates Kenobi to track down Grievous, which is followed by the opening of the Battle of Kashyyyk.
TCW: Back on Mandalore, Kenobi receives an update via hologram from Bo-Katan, Ahsoka, and Commander Rex. They question Kenobi about the name “Darth Sidious,” and though he doesn’t know much, he states the hidden figure coordinated the Clone Wars from the get-go but was still unsure of the purpose of it all. He also reports Count Dooku’s death at the hands of his padawan. Additionally, Kenobi enlightens Ahsoka on Anakin’s assignment and asks her to speak with him to ease his feelings on the matter. Then, they are all made aware that Maul has kidnapped ARC trooper Jesse.
They turn to Prime Minister Almec (Maul’s puppet leader) for answers. The one detail he shares before Gar Saxon kills him is that Maul was after someone named “Skywalker.” Subsequently, the final confrontation between Maul’s Mandalorians and the Republic forces commences. Maul and Ahsoka face-off in the throne room, and much is revealed. Maul asserts the inevitable ruin of the Republic and Jedi at the hands of Sidious. He offers his hand to join forces, stating that together they are the only hope to bring the Sith Lord down. She refuses as soon as he mentions Anakin Skywalker’s long-awaited role as the right hand to Darth Sidious. Ahsoka wins their duel and arrests Maul, but she feels no victory with what she’s heard. ROTS: Across the galaxy, Obi-Wan Kenobi arrives on Utapau and discovers the Separatist army.
The first big connection from “The Phantom Apprentice” to Revenge of the Sith comes with Maul’s conversation with Ahsoka in the episode’s opening minutes. The vicious, rogue Sith shows a touch of anxiety when he speaks of the impending doom that will fall upon the Republic, something Ahsoka clearly knows nothing about but obtains partial clues to. While audiences held their breath when Maul apprehensively dropped the name “Darth Sidious,” they would have to wait a little longer before he spilled all the beans. The scene featuring Kenobi’s briefing on the current siege served as a great reminder for the coinciding plot of Episode III. The fans get an update on how close the story is from the imminent Order 66 and how involved Ahsoka was with the film’s narrative, as she was previously assumed not to be around during this time.
Later, just before their superlative clash, Maul tells Ahsoka everything... for the most part. There’s no doubt every viewer wanted to jump through their screen and warn Ahsoka he knew the truth about Anakin, but she cannot comprehend that vision. The episode finally closes with Maul screaming to his captors of the devastation that is to come from Sidious’ calculated plan, something the audience was all too familiar with.
Part 3- Shattered
ROTS: After encountering General Grievous on his own, Kenobi’s Republic reinforcements engage the rest of the Droid Army which initiates a full-scale battle. Commander Cody informs Master Windu of their progress. Upon hearing this information, Windu dispatches Anakin to disclose these details with Chancellor Palpatine. TCW & ROTS: Windu discusses a disturbance he feels in the Force, sensing the Jedi might be in danger from the Chancellor and that they may have to act in response. TCW: Ahsoka enters the room to speak with the Council members concerning the operation. She states that they have Maul in custody, confirms Mandalore is back into the right hands, and that the Republic Army is preparing to return to Coruscant with the syndicate kingpin. She’s hoping to talk with General Skywalker, likely about Maul’s prediction, but Windu notifies her of Skywalker’s dismissal.
ROTS: Now conversing with Chancellor Palpatine in relation to Obi-Wan’s task, Anakin continues to feel excluded from the Jedi Council’s plans and feels he has fallen out of favor with them. Palpatine uses this anger to finally declare that he is the Sith Lord, Darth Sidious. Because Anakin believes that Palpatine is the only one who can secure Padme’s protection, Anakin decides to not kill his mentor and opts to include the Jedi Council in on this revelation. Throughout all that transpires, Kenobi successfully eliminates Grievous on Utapau. TCW: Ahsoka boards the Star Destroyer with Rex and Maul.
ROTS: Back on Coruscant, the Jedi try to arrest the Chancellor, but he fends most of them off. Anakin arrives just as Windu has defeated the malicious Sith and interferes with Mace’s attempt to end Palpatine’s reign, which results in the Jedi’s death. Anakin completes his transition to the dark side and becomes Darth Vader. He’s sent to the Jedi Temple, with his clone battalion, so as to wipe out the “enemies of the Republic,” all while Sidious directs the clones to execute Order 66 against the Jedi across the galaxy. TCW: Following this order, Commander Rex and his soldiers seek to kill Ahsoka, but she avoids their effort. Thanks to a distraction from Maul after she releases him, Ahsoka learns of the inhibitor chips placed inside the clones’ brains that assumedly forces them to follow Sidious’ command. Later on, she is successful in removing Rex’s chip but he reveals that this chip is widespread amongst the entire Army of the Republic.
There’s a lot to unpack with this episode. First, viewers got to see a scene straight out of Episode III, which is expanded in “Shattered.” Instead of ending with Yoda’s line of wisdom to his fellow Jedi, the scene persists when Ahsoka enters the room. If only she had come in a minute earlier, she would’ve seen her old master and told him what Maul said to her. Seeing how the rest of the timeline develops, this interaction could’ve prevented Darth Vader from ever existing. Of course, with hindsight, she should have told the Council members of what she heard, but you can’t blame her for not trusting them (including Mace…jerk). When Ahsoka and her troops board their shuttle, it’s evident that she begins to feel something. The score from Kevin Kiner instantly brings a sense of dread, and viewers can all but imagine what Anakin is ruminating in the Council chambers at that very moment.
Not long after comes the moment the fandom was waiting for. Hearing actual dialogue of Anakin’s fateful decision from Revenge of the Sith forced every viewer to gasp, and it adds even more connection between these two stories. Then came Ian McDiarmid’s infamous line as Palpatine (maybe his last ever): “Execute Order 66.” Once again, the score in this scene evokes every memory of the cataclysmic and agonizing events from the prequel finale, shattering the audience's heart even more so. It's remarkable that Rex is the only clone of note that is able to resist the mandate, for all the ones we see in the movie follow through with it effortlessly. Even though this was the jaw-dropping climax everything was building to, things didn’t end here.
Part 4- Victory and Death
TCW: Still trapped aboard the Venator-class Star Destroyer with countless of clones trying to kill them, Ahsoka and the chip-free Commander Rex do their best to resist the unrelenting besiege. Fighting their way out of the medical bay, they realize they will need a ship to flee. Simultaneously, after cutting down everything in his path, Maul heads to the hyperdrive room and completely decimates it, which pulls the Destroyer out of lightspeed and on course to crash into a moon’s surface.
Ahsoka and Rex make it to the control room where they open some of the hangar doors. Before they leave for the shuttle, several clones block their path. An emotional Rex tries to demonstrate the lengths the clones will go to kill both him and Ahsoka, but she refuses to kill any of them. She does have a plan, though. Just before ARC trooper Jesse gives the order to fire upon the so-called traitors, their friendly droids cause the hangar lifts to malfunction, knocking most of the clones unconscious. As the two friends head for the shuttle, Maul has just barely beaten them to it. However, she was not ready to let Maul depart so easily and uses the Force to halt his flight, but she was compelled to let him go as the clones awoke and begin firing. Maul heads into hyperspace.
Luckily, Ahsoka finds another craft to use and assists Rex in entering it. As the crash carries on into the moon’s atmosphere, Rex barely saves Ahsoka from her free-fall. The companions bury the dead after they grounded, and, after she looks upon the the graves, Ahsoka leaves her lightsaber behind along with the fallen.
An unspecified amount of time passes and the galaxy finds itself in the Imperial era. On the same planet where we last saw the protagonists, stormtroopers and probe droids inspect the snow-covered crash and Darth Vader arrives. He finds the graveyard and uncovers the frosty lightsaber. He ignites the sword and notices an owl-like creature hovering above. Without a word, Vader abandons the site with the saber in hand.
The music at the beginning is reminiscent of the music played during Padme’s death and when Vader finally dons his notorious suit, which could indicate those events are taking place simultaneously, but it's unlikely when you consider the timing of other episodes. Kiner probably used it to stimulate the emotions felt during the mournful circumstances in Episode III and establish a bridge between the two stories. The gravesite was a beautiful touch from Filoni, and Ahsoka choosing to drop her lightsaber in that same location marked the death of her past life and the beginning of a new one.
Then there's Vader. It’s hard to determine what exactly is going through his mind at this moment because the timeframe isn't precise. Lucasfilm confirmed that "some years" have passed, but it's unclear how many. While we can't be certain of this fact, we do know the final shot from the series, Vader’s fading appearance in the helmet of a 332nd Company soldier, says so much. The Clone Wars ravaged the galaxy with endless violence, pain, and destruction...just for this. The clones fought with valor and spirit, but their tragic end really leaves one question: What was it all worth?
Dave Filoni recently took to Twitter to give one last thank you to all who watched the show across the many years of its run. Mr. Filoni, we thank you for the dedicated love and passion you have put into this series. Fans will eagerly wait for the next time you launch the Star Wars franchise into lightspeed.