In the penultimate episode of the Siege of Mandalore and The Clone Wars as a whole, we run concurrent with the events of Revenge of the Sith – in heartbreaking fashion.
It is another masterpiece of an episode, and even though there’s still one episode left, I feel confident saying it’s among the very best Star Wars storytelling. Dave Filoni has hit a home run with this, and I couldn’t be happier.
Although happy isn’t exactly the best way to describe this episode. Let’s dive in to the review.
With Maul captured, Ahsoka and Rex reunite with Bo-Katan, who expresses regret that the only thing she’s good at is war. Ahsoka tells her that this is an opportunity for her to be a new kind of leader for her people. After this conversation, Ahsoka and Rex go to brief the Jedi Council on the mission, with Ahsoka hoping to speak with Anakin. Her former master isn’t there, however, having been sent to inform the Chancellor that Obi-Wan Kenobi had engaged General Grievous on Utapau. Mace Windu, Yoda, Ki-Adi Mundi, and Aayla Secura discuss the war efforts, and then Ahsoka briefs them on her success in capturing Maul. But Windu won’t tell her anything more, since she is a citizen.
The Mandalorians have placed Maul in a portable prison built to contain Jedi, and Ahsoka, Rex, the 501st, and members of the Coruscant guard accompany the imprisoned Maul back to their ship and take off for Coruscant. Ahsoka and Rex speak on the bridge, talking about the war effort and their conflicted feelings, and Ahsoka tells Rex that something good came out of the war (meaning the clones), because the Republic couldn’t have asked for better soldiers, nor she a better friend. Rex gets a transmission and heads off to receive it, leaving Ahsoka alone on the bridge. Here, she senses something terrible happen (and Maul does too, while imprisoned): hearing the voices from Revenge of the Sith, Ahsoka senses Anakin’s fall to the dark side. She rushes to Rex, who has just received word from Darth Sidious to “Execute Order 66.” Rex tries to fight it, shouting at Ahsoka to find Fives, but he fires at her. She tackles him and ignites her lightsabers, fighting off the clones before escaping through a ceiling hatch. Rex orders the clones to execute Maul and find Ahsoka, a traitor to the Republic.
Ahsoka frees Maul, but not to team up – she needs him to create a diversion. She sneaks her way through the ship to meet up with three astromech droids, whom she enlists for help. The droids tap into the database, pulling up everything about Fives as Ahsoka begins researching. Meanwhile, Maul makes his way down a hallway, dispatching clones with nothing but the Force, ripping panels off the ship and throwing them at the clones.
As all of this is happening, the droids seal off the hallways, trapping Rex alone. One of the droids plays a message from Ahsoka to Rex, and she then appears in person behind him – only for him to be shocked unconscious by one of the droids. Together, they take Rex to the medical bay. With the doors sealed, the droids try to find Rex’s chip. They are initially unsuccessful, so Ahsoka uses the Force, uttering, “I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me.” This proves successful, allowing them to locate Rex’s chip. They put him under for surgery while Ahsoka turns to face the clones, who manage to unseal the door. She fights them off but is overpowered before long… but Rex fires at the clones, taking them out and allowing the droids to re-seal the door.
Rex apologizes for what happened, and then informs Ahsoka that the entire Grand Army of the Republic has been ordered to hunt down the Jedi.
We knew Order 66 was coming. We knew Anakin would turn to the dark side. We know Ahsoka and Rex survive. We know Maul escapes. We know all of this – and yet as you watch the Siege of Mandalore, none of it really seems to matter, because you’re so enthralled with what’s happening. Sure, you know some things, but how does it all happen? That’s very much an unknown. I think it’s a mark of brilliant storytelling when you can keep the intrigue, drama, tension, and excitement even though the audience knows these things – and if that’s true, then Dave Filoni’s work on the Siege of Mandalore is absolutely BRILLIANT storytelling.
This entire episode (and actually much of last week’s episode too) was slowly building to that climactic moment of Order 66. We knew it would happen. And that meant that the first part of this episode felt eerie. There was a foreboding sense of doom that permeated throughout. For example, the only line uttered by a clone trooper beside Rex came at the very beginning, with a subtle “watch it.” Besides that, Rex was the only clone to speak until Order 66 happened. And Kevin Kiner’s musical score was perfectly ominous throughout – indeed, this episode was among Kiner’s very best work (including a FANTASTIC rendition of Anakin’s Dark Deeds).
There are a number of side thoughts that I think could distract, so I’m putting them in bullet form here. There was a lot to think about and note from this episode.
- Ahsoka’s conversation with Bo-Katan provided a nice contrast between Bo-Katan and her sister, Satine. All Bo-Katan is good at is war; all Satine wanted was no war. Perhaps what Mandalore needs is someone in the middle, someone who could fight when necessary but who didn’t thrive on war. Would Bo-Katan be that leader? I’m a bit skeptical, since the Empire would take over Mandalore until, years later, Bo-Katan took possession of the darksaber (as seen in Rebels).
- Ahsoka’s conversation with the Jedi Council was a beautiful way to tie-in to Revenge of the Sith. We see Mace Windu, Yoda, Ki-Adi Mundi, and Aayla Secura having the conversation that we see in the film, which then leads naturally into Ahsoka’s meeting with them. It’s a great way to tie-in to things. But it’s also a frustrating example of the Jedi’s failure, especially in regards to Ahsoka. She says she didn’t do this as a Jedi but as a citizen, which Windu seizes upon and stubbornly refuses to tell her anything. Had he simply done so, maybe things would have been different – because, as Rex notes afterward, Ahsoka didn’t tell them about Maul’s vision. All throughout the prequels and this show, we have seen that Windu represents the height of the blindness and stubbornness and rigidness that led to the Jedi’s fall. I’m not blaming that just on Windu, but saying that he perfectly encapsulates it.
- Ahsoka knows the war soon could be over. Maybe this is really minor, and maybe I’m reading into it, but as soon as Ahsoka hears that Kenobi has engaged Grievous, she knows the war could soon be over. Even though the Jedi failed her, she still has such confidence in Kenobi that she seems to know he’ll win. And so here, in the final days of the war, these three heroes have been on the frontlines: Anakin killed Count Dooku, Obi-Wan killed Grievous, and Ahsoka captured Maul. These are the heroes of the war – but unfortunately, with them separated, Sidious’s plan came to fruition.
- Rex and Ahsoka share a conversation on the bridge that is incredibly touching, yet heartbreaking when realizing what happens afterward. I especially liked Rex’s thoughts about how the clones have mixed feelings about the war: they don’t like the death and carnage of war, but they wouldn’t exist without it. Then Ahsoka’s response is absolutely perfect, as she concludes that some good came out of the war after all. It’s so well-written and pulls at all the emotions.
- The way Ahsoka senses Anakin’s fall was so well-done. We hear the dialogue from that fateful scene in Revenge of the Sith (both Hayden Christensen and Matt Lanter are credited as Anakin for this scene), and she grabs her head as she recoils with the pain of this. I’m not sure if she truly recognizes that Anakin has fallen to the dark side, but she knows something is wrong with him. And given what Maul had just told her in the previous episode, that must be all the more terrifying for her.
- Rex fighting Order 66 was absolutely shattering (see what I did there?). His strength is shown in how much he tries to fight off Sidious’s command. He drops his helmet, his hands are shaking as he draws his blasters, a tear runs down his cheek, and he pleads with Ahsoka to find Fives. He does fire upon her and succumb to Order 66, but ultimately he fights it off just long enough to save both Ahsoka and himself. It also gives us a bit of insight into Order 66 and the inhibitor chip – it doesn’t simply brainwash you and turn you into a robot. The nod to Fives here in the episode was terrific, and helps us realize that his sacrifice actually did save lives.
- Maul gets his Vader moment. Remember that scene with Darth Vader in the hallway in Rogue One? Of course you do. In this episode, Maul gets his moment like that. He doesn’t have a lightsaber (Ahsoka’s line about not rooting for him was great), but he uses the Force and the panels of the ship around him to fight back – dealing some horrifying carnage.
- Ahsoka saying “I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me” was an awesome callback to Rogue One. Even though she is no longer a Jedi, she is still one with the Force.
In short, this episode was absolutely fantastic. Heartbreaking, yes, but so well-done. And it ends on a pretty massive cliffhanger, with Ahsoka, Rex, and the three droids alone in a room, with a renegade Sith on the loose, with the rest of the ship intent to kill them – and this same betrayal happening all over the galaxy. This arc has absolutely blown away my wildest expectations, and I can’t wait to see the finale on Monday!
My grade: 10/10