“This is where the fun begins…”Anakin Skywalker
There is little doubt that this week’s episode is what fans had in mind when they lobbied Lucasfilm to deliver the final season of Clone Wars. S7: E9 is by far the best of this season and makes a strong case for best of the series.
Chapter 9 of the final season of The Clone Wars wastes no time throwing us directly into the action. The episode begins by immersing us in the familiar battleground of Clones vs. Separatists on the planet Yerbana. Kenobi and Cody find themselves pinned down on a bridge, unable to gain any ground against the scores of Separatists droids. Anakin Skywalker makes his entrance with his trademark bravado and swagger, quickly revealing that he has no plans to retreat. In true Anakin fashion, he strolls out to meet the oncoming droid army. Aided by his old friend R2D2 and Rex’s clone battalion they quickly dispense with the Separatists. John Williams’ familiar Return of the Jedi score plays while Anakin shows us why he carries the title “Chosen-One.”
At this point, the story quickly takes an emotional turn when Kenobi and Skywalker are called back to the command ship to receive a message from a source they believe to be Saw Gerrera… “Fulcrum” turns out to be none other than Ahsoka Tano and Bo Katan who quickly reveal their plan to trap Maul on Mandalore with the help of the Republic army. Kenobi is cautious to go along with this plan without the consent of the Jedi Council. Bo Katan leverages Kenobi’s relationship with her late sister Satine to persuade him to agree. After the plan is set, Ahsoka has an emotional reunion with Rex who reveals the clone’s new helmets modeled after “Commander” Tano.
Just as the republic army is set to assist with the siege of Mandalore, Kenobi is informed that General Grievous has launched an attack on the Capital. A plan is quickly formed to divide the 501st to assist Ahsoka and also rush to the aid of the Republic. A nostalgic Anakin gifts Ahsoka with her new, improved lightsabers for her confrontation with Maul.
As the Republic forces descend on Mandalore, we are re-acquainted with the familiar faces of Gar Saxon (Star Wars: Rebels), and Prime Minister Almec. The ensuing battle shows the Republic forces driving the Mandalorian defenses underground. Almec reveals that Maul intended to draw the republic forces to Mandalore in hopes of confronting Kenobi face to face. Bo Katan attempts to warn Ahsoka of the trap below but is unable to make contact.
Meanwhile, below the surface, Ahsoka and the clones are being picked off one by one. This culminates in Captain Vaughn’s tragic death in Ahsoka’s arms. The final scene shows a frustrated Maul slowly approaching Ahsoka. Clearly disappointed at the fact that Kenobi did not accompany the Republic forces he asks… “Why are YOU here?”
This is an episode that hardcore fans of the series will want to watch multiple times. Filoni and the gang loaded this episode with a healthy dose of foreshadowing, callbacks, and tie-ins to the universe at large. After several exposition heavy episodes, we are given an action-packed thrill ride that pays off in all the right ways. Director Saul Ruiz and Writer Dave Filoni show their mastery of the half hour special with an expertly paced episode. Although it clocks in longer than the average episode at 27 minutes, this episode is gone in a flash!
Eagle-eyed fans will spot what appears to be a young Kanan Jarrus or Caleb Dume and his master Depa Billaba during the opening monologue. Dastardly Gar Saxon also makes an appearance as a younger version of himself.
The impending transformation of Anakin Skywalker into Darth Vader becomes all the more tragic after seeing his emotional reunion with Ahsoka. It’s almost enough to make fans wish The Clone Wars occurred in an alternate universe in which Anakin remains a Jedi and the fall of the republic is not right around the corner. Although we already know where the story is headed, it’s impossible to look away as we see the final moments before Revenge of the Sith play out.
The highly emotional tone of the episode sets up what is sure to be a fantastic final arc and conclusion to this beloved series. Tune in next week to hear the answer to that soon to be iconic line: “Why are YOU here…?”