Tomorrow, in celebration of May the 4th, we will be getting the premiere of the latest show from Lucasfilm Animation, The Bad Batch! But it also marks the one year anniversary of the conclusion of the groundbreaking and fan-favorite The Clone Wars, wrapping up with an unexpected seventh season – in which we finally, after years of waiting, were given the true ending of the show: the Siege of Mandalore.
Spread across four episodes, it was apparent right from the start that Dave Filoni and his team were holding nothing back. The first episode began with the Lucasfilm logo, then jumped into the main Star Wars theme before segueing into the traditional opening montage for the series. What followed over the next four episodes truly felt like a Star Wars movie, ending the series the way it was always meant to be finished, and it remains one of the very finest Star Wars stories ever told.
It begins in the very last days of the Galactic Republic. Jedi Generals Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker are fighting as part of the Outer Rim Sieges on Yerbana, and thanks to Skywalker’s heroics the Republic gains victory. The Jedi are soon recalled to their cruiser to receive a message from Fulcrum – Ahsoka Tano – who has discovered the location of the renegade Sith Lord Maul. This leads to a reunion between Anakin and Ahsoka, but before a Republic attack on Mandalore can be approved, General Grievous attacks Coruscant. Kenobi and Skywalker are called to help, leaving Ahsoka and Bo-Katan Kryze to lead the assault on Mandalore. They drive Maul’s forces underground, but discover that it was a trap laid by Maul to lure Kenobi and Skywalker to the planet. Ahsoka refuses to believe that Skywalker is Sidious’s new pupil, engaging Maul in a lightsaber duel that results in the former Sith being captured by Republic forces.
En route back to Coruscant with the prisoner, however, Sidious gives Order 66. Rex and the clones turn on Ahsoka, who goes into hiding aboard the ship and frees Maul to create a diversion. Following a lead given by Rex, Ahsoka researches the late clone Fives, discovering an inhibitor chip in the clones’ heads. She ‘captures’ Rex, and together with a team of droids, works to remove the chip from his head. With her friend and ally back on her side, the two attempt to escape the ship, but encounter clone forces seeking to stop them. The cruiser crash lands on a moon, and Ahsoka and Rex just barely escape. In the aftermath, the two of them give the clones a proper burial. Years later, Darth Vader shows up, retrieving one of Ahsoka’s lightsabers, before walking away.
It can sometimes be hard to evaluate this final arc apart from the seven seasons that came before it, as those episodes really focused on Ahsoka and Rex as the main characters, focusing on their relationship with people like Anakin and Obi-Wan, but also exploring the resurgence of Maul and exploration of the Mandalorians and the introduction of Bo-Katan and so much more. So it’s sometimes hard to know how much of this arc is tied into the stories that came before it – as, for example, the reunion of Anakin and Ahsoka is so much more meaningful when you’ve experienced that. All that said, I do think that the Siege of Mandalore can stand alone well enough, giving fans a compelling and entertaining Star Wars story. But at the same time, I don’t view it as a negative that it’s enriched by previous seasons. If anything, it’s probably a strength, as it knows the characters and storylines well enough to provide an immensely satisfying conclusion.
The animation is, of course, simply stunning. The storytelling is superb, with Dave Filoni flexing his muscles and proving himself once again to be perhaps the best current Star Wars storyteller. The music by Kevin Kiner is even better than ever (which is saying a lot!) and the voice acting is flawless. The story manages to pull together tons of emotion, mystery, drama, and action all together seamlessly.
All considered, this is one of the finest Star Wars stories ever told.