Ricky Church reviews the penultimate episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars…
After ‘The Phantom Apprentice‘ ended the Siege of Mandalore with two episodes of the series to go, the endgame for Star Wars: The Clone Wars has not only begun, but moved into one of the most pivotal moments of the entire Star Wars saga. ‘Shattered’ feels like everything The Clone Wars has been building towards since its inception, highlighted by the feeling of constant dread and the emotional weight of three little words that spelt doom for everything Ahsoka and Captain Rex knew.
It didn’t take too long for ‘Shattered’ to wrap up the Mandalore storyline as Bo-Katan’s group of Mandalorians and the clones finished the clean up from the Siege, including transferring Maul and his soldiers into proper custody. Ahsoka and Bo-Katan got a couple nice moments together where the growth of Bo-Katan’s character showed very well. She was clearly weary from the constant battles she’s been fighting and, with discussing her sister Satine’s idealism, seems to finally understand what Satine was fighting for. It’s been quite a turnaround for Bo, but not a wholly clean one either. These last few episodes of The Clone Wars have somewhat brushed under the rug her involvement in Death Watch’s various atrocities and just how much of the blame she might bear, whether directly or indirectly, in the actions that led to the Siege of Mandalore, the death of her sister included. Given that Ahsoka herself witnessed Bo’s more ruthless acts of wanton violence and indulgence in slavery in their very first meeting way back in Season 4’s ‘A Friend in Need’, one would think this would have been brought up more directly, but it sadly wasn’t which seemingly absolves Bo-Katan of her sins a little too easily.
The slow build up of anticipation and dread was helped by Kevin Kiner’s score in a sequence that remained mostly dialogue-free. Kiner has really pulled out all the stops throughout these few episodes. His score as Ahsoka, Rex and Maul boarded their shuttle displayed quite a lot of subtlety that was reminiscent of John Williams’ piece in Revenge of the Sith where Anakin and Padme gazed in each other’s directions across the city. The music really let the scene speak for itself, leading to a beautiful and endearing conversation between Ahsoka and Rex on the nature of the Clone Wars and the uncertainty of what will come after.
Of course, any Star Wars fan knew where the episode was going not only with the brief look at one of the Jedi Council’s final meetings from Revenge of the Sith, but with Rex’s ominous summons for an update. It was pretty neat how the tremor in the Force Ahsoka felt wasn’t Jedi falling to Order 66, but instead was much more tied to Anakin’s fate in another cool nod to the climactic prequel film. The moment leading up to Order 66 here was surprisingly tense given the fact that we know what becomes of Ahsoka and Rex in the far future, yet so much of this episode succeeds in delivering that tension by putting into question how much of Rex’s (and by extension the other clones) actions are his own or the inhibitor chip meant to ensure he follows his orders.
While not as action packed as the previous two episodes, Ahsoka’s fight for survival was very entertaining as she employed a lot of ingenuity in dealing with the clones. From letting Maul loose upon the ship (cleverly averting a team-up, even if a brief one, between the two) to her recruitment of a squad of droids, Ahsoka once again showed off her capabilities under pressure. The fact ‘Shattered’ didn’t go for a full Ahsoka/Maul vs. Clone Troopers fight worked in its favour by instead making it a cat-and-mouse game of Ahsoka sneaking around the ship and getting to the bottom of what was going on with the clones. Given how many times we’ve seen Order 66 play out in various other media, it was nice to see Clone Wars strive for something a little different at this stage.
That said, the standout sequence was Maul’s takedown of a large group of Clone Troopers in a hallway in a scene that gives Darth Vader’s epic Rogue One scene a run for its money. Much like the rest of the episode, Maul’s strut was so well animated and featured some pretty gruesome deaths for the clones. Everything about the animation throughout the story, from the characters’ body language, fight choreography to their emotions, shined in a big way. While it’s awesome to get a scene like Ahsoka vs. Maul like the last episode, the more subdued action beats as well as the emphasis on the various characters’ emotions in the early part of the episode really shows how much the animation excelled in its visuals. Ashley Eckstein, Dee Bradley Baker, Sam Witwer and Katee Sackhoff give terrific performances here, particularly Eckstein and Baker whose chemistry as Ahsoka and Rex is the backbone to this final story.
What Dave Filoni has accomplished in bringing the Siege of Mandalore and Order 66 to the series – two stories which were George Lucas’ last official Star Wars prior to selling to Disney – is nothing short of a masterstroke. The emotions, the animation, the action, the music are all on point to deliver a bittersweet and tense story in ‘Shattered’ as the world comes crashing down around everyone. It may not be perfect 10s like the previous two episodes, but ‘Shattered’ still offers interesting character dynamics and great action. With one more episode to go – which airs early on May 4th Star Wars Day – Star Wars: The Clone Wars is making sure to go out with a bang.
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