26/12/2020

Final Thoughts on Clone Wars

As mentioned in my last post, I finished the last season of Clone Wars recently and just wanted to jot down some final thoughts on seasons six and seven, as well as on the show as a whole.

I think one thing seasons one to five have in common is that even though they have their serious moments, they still stand somewhat apart from the two prequel movies they are set between, in the sense that it's not clear when exactly they take place and you're kind of supposed to enjoy the moment and not think too hard about how it'll all go to pot in Revenge of the Sith later.

This changes in season six, as it starts off with an arc to address a major elephant in the room in regards to RotS: Throughout the show, the clones are portrayed as both very human and as extraordinarily loyal soldiers - how could they execute Order 66 like they did, murdering people they didn't just trust and respect but also cared for on a personal level sometimes? In what is quite a heartbreaking arc, clone trooper Fives discovers that he and his brethren all have special chips of questionable purpose implanted in their brains, and he slowly unravels while trying to get to the bottom of what's going on.

There's also an arc that shows the first serious cracks appearing in Anakin and Padmé's relationship - seriously, he was such an asshole to her in some scenes, I think I yelled out loud at my screen at one point. There is still some light-heartedness in the form of a Jar-Jar two-parter, but less so than in previous seasons. Finally, season six closes with several episodes of Yoda getting in touch with Qui-Gon's ghost and learning more about the Force, which - apart from one rather touching scene that has Yoda dreaming of a perfect world where all his friends are still alive and Dooku never betrayed them - I did not care for at all. Reminiscent of the Midichlorians being introduced to explain the Force, some weird aliens that look like mimes teach Yoda how to transcend death... it was just a classic case of: "I really didn't need this explained to me and I feel worse for you having even tried, so I'll suppress any memory of this whole thing as soon as humanly possible." I wonder how the fans felt in 2014 when it seemed like this was how Clone Wars was going to go out.

With season seven, you could tell right away that it was made with a bigger budget and aimed more towards the many now grown-up fans, as there's a noticeable improvement in the graphical effects, especially when it comes to lighting and such. Oddly, the writing doesn't immediately feel much different - there are no more complete joke episodes, but the first arc for example mostly focuses on a squad of special troopers (who incidentally somewhat reminded me of SWTOR's original Havoc Squad) blowing stuff up in cool ways, which was... fine, but not really outstanding. (Those same troopers are slated to get their own spin-off series next year as well.)

Then the focus shifts to Ahsoka, and we see her trying to get by as totally-not-a-Jedi, but of course she immediately meets two sisters engaged in questionable business and has to help them out. From what I gather this arc wasn't popular with the fans, and I can kind of see why, but at the same time it wasn't really that bad, just kind of unnecessarily stretched out. I remember there's this one sequence where they are captured by bad guys, escape, get captured again, escape again, get captured again... even I couldn't help thinking: Was that really necessary? It probably would have been more effective condensed into fewer episodes.

Anyway, all this segues into the big four-episode finale, which is... quite something. It's edited more like it's meant to be seen as a full film, and mostly follows Ahsoka's path during the events immediately leading up to Order 66. There is definitely some great stuff there, to name just a few of my favourite moments:

  • Ahsoka being tempted by Maul felt like a better version of the Rey vs. Kylo confrontation in The Last Jedi. As a viewer who knows what's to come, there's a real tragedy in watching Ahsoka reject Maul's offer because she (wrongly!) has faith in Anakin, with the silent implication being that the two of them might have been able to stop Sidious if she hadn't been so tragically wrong about Anakin.

  • The music/sound design was pretty amazing, especially after Maul's capture and at the very end, where there are long periods without any dialogue. During the former section, I remember thinking: "Why is this music so oppressive; they just won a minor victory" and then Rex gets the call from Palpatine and it's like... oh no.
  • I thought it was well done how Rex had literally just had a conversation with Ahsoka about how much he values her and how this provided some explanation as for why he was able to hesitate long enough to buy her time to escape.

If I were to criticise anything at all it would be that they sure made brain surgery into something even more trivial than it had been before, and that I personally think it would have been more impactful if Anakin and Ahsoka hadn't seen each other again before his turning dark - as it was, it felt a bit odd that he would go into the events of Revenge of the Sith actually seemingly cheered up by having just reunited with his former padawan.

Anyway, all in all it was really well done and I can see why people who grew up with this show loved it to pieces. It takes the better parts of the prequels, expanding on the world and giving everything more depth. So if you think Star Wars is nothing but a bunch of movies of mixed quality, you're really missing out. You just gotta find the good stuff and focus on that. Personally I'll be working my way through Rebels next!

1 comment :

  1. The prequel movies were of pretty questionable quality, but they did at least have good world building. The Clone Wars series takes those new elements and runs with them, showing how compelling this expanded universe that Lucas came up with can be in the right hands. For that matter I also really enjoyed several video games set in the Clone Wars era. I can't think of any other examples where some fictional work that I don't think is all that great is still interesting to me because it sets the ground rules for a bunch of other works of fiction that I do enjoy.

    In a way the Old Republic bears a similar relationship to the Star Wars saga at large that Clone Wars does to Ep. 1-III. It showed that all kinds of really interesting stories could occur in the Star Wars setting, and that you could draw heavy inspiration from the ep. 1-6 era content without being limited by it.

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