Breaking down what we learned from the Star Wars: The Clone Wars return trailer

At San Diego Comic Con this summer, Dave Filoni delivered the news that thrilled Star Wars fans: The Clone Wars is returning.

The series premiered in 2008 with an animated feature film titled The Clone Wars, and it was followed by six seasons of the TV show which became highly beloved by fans.  Created by George Lucas and Dave Filoni, the show was cancelled after five seasons in 2013 (by which point Lucas had sold the company to Disney).  A sixth season was later released straight to Netflix, while the previous five seasons were also added to the online streaming service.

At the time the show was cancelled, there were several more seasons of content in development, which led to Lucasfilm releasing those stories in a variety of contexts.  Obviously the more finished episodes were released as a sixth season of the show, and then a project called The Clone Wars Legacy led to other means of storytelling.  For example, a four-episode arc about Darth Maul was turned into the comic series Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir; an eight-episode arc about Asajj Ventress was turned into a novel titled Dark Disciple; and two other four-episode arcs were released online as unfinished but still watchable productions, about the Bad Batch and about a kyber crystal crisis on Utapau.

But we’ve never gotten a true ending to the show, and that’s why this news of its return is so exciting.  It will be released on Disney’s new streaming service, which means that it will likely release next year, and it will be a seventh season made up of twelve episodes.

An early trailer was shown at San Diego Comic Con and subsequently released online, so let’s break that trailer down to see what we can learn.

The clones

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The beginning of the trailer is meant purely to build anticipation, as we see the silhouettes of several clone troopers walking, and as the camera keeps panning out we see that the silhouettes were reflections in Rex’s helmet.  We hear plenty of different clone voices as the camera keeps panning down a line of plenty of clone helmets, with mortars and other fire happening in the background.  Eventually, a mortar blows up the helmets and the voices stop, leading to…

The tagline

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This tagline was, I would guess, when many people started to realize that this wasn’t simply a reflection on the show’s past but a glimpse of its future.  “A war left unfinished… until now.”  That’s right: they’re going to finish the Clone Wars!!!

The Bad Batch?

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The first really new shot that we get in the trailer is of a Republic Gunship flying into a base on a planet set at sunset, giving it a beautiful visual.  The gunship flies past other Republic craft in the base before landing, and we soon see Anakin Skywalker, Captain Rex, and Hunter (the leader of the Bad Batch) walking out of the base and looking up to the sky to see a massive Republic fleet.  The trailer then cuts to the title card for Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

That’s really all the information that we’re given in the trailer.  But it’s at the very least incredibly interesting that it looks a lot like something we’ve seen before.  As mentioned earlier, Lucasfilm told a number of Clone Wars story arcs in other media, including books and comics, while also releasing some unfinished episodes online.  One of those arcs was a four-episode story about Clone Force 99, known as the Bad Batch, which was an elite clone squadron made up of clone troopers with genetic mutations.  And, well, take a look at some of the shots from those episodes compared to the shots in the trailer:

As you can tell, these shots look like they’re pulled right from the Bad Batch episodes, only with finished animation.  That begs the question: are we going to be getting the Bad Batch episodes released with this final Clone Wars season, only finished this time?  From the trailer, it looks like that might be the case.  However (and this is important), in StarWars.com’s article about the show’s return it says that, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars will be returning with 12 all-new episodes on Disney’s direct-to-consumer streaming service.”  So what we’ve heard from Lucasfilm is that these episodes will be “all-new,” which certainly gives the impression that they won’t just be releasing the Bad Batch arc with finished animation.  And I hope that’s the case, too, because as much as I’d love to see that arc polished up (the story is great), it’d feel a little disapointing for four of the twelve supposedly all-new episodes to be simply finished versions of episodes already released online.  But either way, I’m sure that Dave Filoni has a great plan in mind for the show.

It is equally possible, then, that these shots were either: a) animated simply for the trailer and won’t be included in the season; or b) will be part of an entirely different episode that also features Hunter and the Bad Batch.

It should also be noted that this really does look like it’s on Anaxes, which first appeared in those unfinished Bad Batch episodes.  Fort Anaxes served as the headquarters for hte Republic military efforts led by Generals Mace Windu, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Anakin Skywalker, but after the war the planet broke apart.  The Fort was preserved, however, and during Star Wars Rebels it again appeared, as Hera Syndulla and Sabine Wren, as well as Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger, went on missions to the base.

The Siege of Mandalore!

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After the title card, we see Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi strolling through a Republic cruiser as Anakin casually says, “Alright Rex, what’s so important that you brought us all the way back here?”  We can see that Kenobi and Skywalker are looking really close to their Revenge of the Sith appearance (much closer than they did during the previous six seasons of the show), as Kenobi has his Jedi robe and Skywalker’s hair is longer and the same style he had during the film.

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As Anakin sees why Rex called him back, he stops and has a look of surprise on his face, as Obi-Wan glances between his apprentice and the hologram.  Rex stands at attention, with a holographic image of Ahsoka Tano and Bo-Katan Kryze standing facing Rex with their backs turned to the Jedi.  Slowly, Ahsoka turns around and looks at her former master.

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After turning to face Anakin, Ahsoka says, “Hello master.  It’s been a while.”  The trailer then ends.  Fans who have followed the original plans for The Clone Wars series no doubt realize what this is hinting at: the Siege of Mandalore.  This shouldn’t be at all surprising, either, since the way to give the show a proper ending is to show this vital event that was intended to end the show anyway.  It was an easy guess that if the show were ever to return, the Siege of Mandalore would be featured.  It looks like that will indeed be the case.

For those unfamiliar, the Siege of Mandalore was originally planned to serve as the conclusion to The Clone Wars show and take it right up – and through – the events of Revenge of the Sith.  Ahsoka Tano, after leaving the Jedi Order, was going to contact her former master after discovering Maul’s whereabouts on Mandalore.  Obi-Wan, Anakin, and their clone forces were going to reunite with Ahsoka to face Maul… but before the assault could really get going Obi-Wan and Anakin were to receive an urgent message informing them that Chancellor Palpatine had been kidnapped, forcing them to rush back to Coruscant in a desperate rescue attempt.  Anakin was going to leave Captain Rex and some members of the 501st with Ahsoka, however, and the former Jedi was to lead them into battle and face off with Maul.  Before they could attain complete victory, however, Ahsoka’s clone troopers (with the exception of Rex) were to turn on her, and she and Rex faked their own deaths before going their own separate ways.  That was to serve as the end of the show, and it certainly sounds like an absolutely perfect and amazing ending.

The Siege of Mandalore is already canon.  During Star Wars Rebels, Rex alluded to fighting alongside Ahsoka at the Siege, while Maul also referred to a previous meeting with the former Jedi.  Additionally, E.K. Johnston’s novel Ahsoka featured aspects and details of the Siege of Mandalore, while Dave Filoni has since revealed other details through panels and other means.  But while we know many details about the Siege of Mandalore, there’s nothing like actually seeing it happen.  And it looks like we’ll finally get the chance to do just that when The Clone Wars returns – and that story will almost certainly be a major highlight not just in the show’s return season but in the entire series as well.

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