Ricky Church reviews the Star Wars: The Clone Wars finale…
After 12 years and two previous ‘endings’, Star Wars: The Clone Wars is finally given a proper and definitive conclusion in the series finale aptly titled ‘Victory and Death’. The finale delivered a tense and emotional ending with enough closure for The Clone Wars and this chapter in the lives of Ahsoka Tano and Captain Rex. It encapsulated everything that is Star Wars with its examination of remaining true to yourself and your beliefs during an extraordinarily chaotic and uncertain time. Alongside some great visuals and exciting set pieces, ‘Victory and Death’ is a very entertaining piece of Star Wars media from Dave Filoni and franchise creator George Lucas.
With Order 66 in full swing, ‘Victory and Death’ continued the cinematic nature of these final four episodes by picking up right where the previous episode left off with Ahsoka and Rex seemingly trapped and cornered. Even knowing their fates were secured for Star Wars Rebels, the tension surrounding their predicament was still fairly high due to the question of how they would both escape. Not only that, but Maul was also running rampant around the ship as he took Ahsoka’s words to “cause some chaos” quite literally, making him a huge wild card in their fight for survival.
However, it wasn’t just their fates to worry about, but the clones as well. Ahsoka made it a point, both to herself and Rex, to only wound or stun the brainwashed clones rather than kill them. Considering the amount of clones other than Rex fans had gotten to know over the course of the series, any number of them could have been familiar faces underneath their helmets. While Jesse played a pivotal role in the climax, he was just about the only other named clone aside from Rex to have any bearing on the plot. The finale could have really amped up the emotional factor for the clones if more named clones were featured in the attacks against Ahsoka, like even the new clone Sterling who was introduced just a couple episodes ago. Even with the fact that The Clone Wars‘ list of named clones has dwindled significantly over the last couple of seasons as several have met their demise one way or the other, there is still quite a handful who could have been utilized to heighten the emotional drama for Ahsoka and the audience.
Despite that, Ahsoka’s decision to prevent as much loss of life as possible is one of the strongest aspects to both the episode and her character. It emphasizes just how much Ahsoka’s nature is driven by compassion and empathy. She understands the clones aren’t totally themselves thanks to the chips hijacking their minds and doesn’t want to see any of them killed. It’s quite a stark contrast compared to other Order 66 scenes, including those in Revenge of the Sith, where the Jedi reflexively go on the attack once the order is executed. Here Ahsoka, who has already recognized how far the Jedi Order has strayed from its path, stands by her nature and deals with the situation in the true Jedi way of using the Force purely for defence. Even over Rex’s objection and warning that his brothers will kill her if they don’t fight back properly, Ahsoka stayed true to herself and utilized non-lethal means to defend her and Rex. It was the perfect punctuation mark to end her Clone Wars arc and examine why she is the ideal Jedi, even if she no longer carries that official title.
Though Ahsoka and Rex were on a no-kill guideline, there was still a great bit of action throughout the episode. Whether it was Ahsoka and Rex fighting clones in the hallway, Maul’s attack on the hyperdrive or the chaos of the hangar bay, there were several exciting action sequences. The hangar bay battle was a highlight as Ahsoka and her droids resorted to some unique means to dispose of many of the clones Jesse had assembled, which led to a pretty exciting sequence of Ahsoka and Rex’s escape. The action throughout was well choreographed and animated, making sure to note how difficult a time Ahsoka and Rex were having against the number of clones coming their way. Again, for two characters whose fates we know, Dave Filoni found some great ways to heighten the tension around their survival.
On the vocal side, Ashley Eckstein and Dee Bradley Baker turned in some of their best performances ever as these characters in ‘Victory and Death’. Eckstein did a great job as Ahsoka in her confidence and stubborn refusal to let any clones get seriously harmed in their escape. Over the course of the season Eckstein found a nice balance between the teenaged Ahsoka we knew from earlier seasons and the wise sage from Rebels and that transitional balance was on display more than ever here. Baker, meanwhile, showed off his range as Rex and the other clones by focusing on Rex’s worry over Ahsoka and the conflicting emotions he felt towards his brothers. Rex and Jesse’s back-and-forth regarding Ahsoka’s questionable placement among Order 66 captured the tenseness between them and Baker did a great job showing some of the doubt in Jesse before the programming kicked back in.
Kevin Kiner’s music again elevated the episode, especially during the closing minutes. Filoni’s decision to have the last few minutes be dialogue-free as Ahsoka pondered over everything that happened with nothing but the music overlaying the visuals enhanced the weight of the finale. It reinforced how character driven these last few episodes have been and created a very interesting parallel scene to Ahsoka’s initial decision to leave the Jedi Order back in the season 5 finale. And that is nothing to say about the surprising final scene of the series that highlights the bond between two certain characters. What George Lucas, Dave Filoni and their team created here was nothing short of pure Star Wars excellence that had a great amount of closure as The Clone Wars, both the series itself and the in-universe event, comes to a decisive, tragic and heartfelt end.
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