If December 2007 was when I first got into Star Wars, and the first half of 2008 when I started to expand my knowledge of it, the latter half – especially November – was when I really started to enjoy it.
I was finding out about everything Star Wars around that time, revelling in the new discoveries, but it was something that had caught my eye while in Toys R Us that interested me most. A trailer of an animated Star Wars. That being The Clone Wars theatrical release.
I didn’t watch it in the cinema, nor did I really pay much attention to anything about it. Not because I wasn’t interested, but because I’d had little exposure to anything outside of the books and games. In fact, I’m pretty sure that Toys R Us visit was where I first got the DVDs of the original trilogy.
However, while on holiday in America in November, I watched a few episodes of the series, and my love of the The Clone Wars started. I didn’t follow everything about it, but from that point on I made a point of asking for the Complete Season DVD sets every Christmas, and each and every season I loved.
The first season holds a few memories from my time in America, with the three episodes of the Malevolence arc, along with Bombad Jedi, having been seen there. These episodes were fun to watch, and even though I didn’t know who they were at the time, the character interactions were strong enough that it didn’t matter. The bonds between them were clear to see.
By the time Christmas 2009 had rolled around, I’d seen both the Original and Prequel trilogies, so knew the time period being explored here and who these characters were. With The Clone Wars film, I enjoyed it for what it offered. It was our introduction to Ahsoka, and the building of the bond between her and Anakin.
Such is one of the best parts about the film, with Clone Captain Rex being another. And it the brotherhood shared between the Clones that I found to be the best. I’d already read two of the Republic Commando novels (and The Rise of Darth Vader) to have seen Clone brotherhood in action, but seeing it on screen provided something that bit more special.
Rookies from the first season illustrates that perfectly, being the start of a series-wide focus point of two other Clones. Echo and Fives. As the storylines matured across the seasons, so did the depth of these Clones and their shared brotherhood. They started questioning motives and even the war itself, which had been built up from the first season.
The Hidden Enemy and even Cloak of Darkness told stories relating to individual Clones wanting out of the war, selling out their own brothers to get rich and make a life for themselves. The Deserter put Rex into the path of a clone who had been forced into such a life, and in season five such a concept was reversed by having a Clone who had lost his way (and memory) wanting to get back to the fight.
But even though Clone is in the name, there are plenty of other stories within this series with the same amount of character and depth within them. Rex is our main viewpoint for the Clones, with Ahsoka being the same for the Jedi.
We see her grow from the plucky, overconfident Padawan learner to a focused and able leader. Someone who again is forced to carve their own way in the galaxy after having nearly everyone she trusted turn on her. The same story also plays out for Asajj Ventress much earlier, and this is also an interesting story the series told.
For the first two seasons, Ventress was nothing more than a skilled assassin with the Force. An apprentice of Dooku, and it seemed nothing more. She was quite skilled with her ‘sabers, able to best plenty of Jedi but never quite beating them. Knowing when the battle was lost to end it on her terms.
Then season three introduced a different side to her, along with introducing the idea that Maul had survived. For Ventress, this arc meant a return to her homeworld, and the exploration of the witches of Dathomir and why she had a vendetta against the Jedi – and now Dooku. Later stories give some more depth to her character and even brings Ventress and Ahsoka together as allies.
The biggest area for me to get around was Mandalore. There were certain similarities between the version here and the one within the Republic Commando series, with both featuring the Death Watch. While Republic Commando had seen all Mandalorians still armoured up and still revelling in past glory, The Clone Wars took a different approach. One that would take time for me to fully respect.
Mandalore and Death Watch get introduced in the second season, under the leadership of Duchess Satine, who had brought Mandalore to a pacifistic rule. A rule that the Death Watch were trying to undo. The Death Watch and the armour was cool to see in action, but I felt such a setup wouldn’t allow for much in the way of true Mandalorian action. Oh, how wrong I was.
Season three explored Mandalore and the corruption within the system, which were good stories, but seemed to be proving me right. Season four put a bit of focus on Mandalore, but was pretty much all Death Watch tying into a story relating to Ahsoka. Then we get to season five and the action I had been waiting for. And that action ties in with Maul’s return.
Ventress’ plan of revenge on Dooku involved offering an apprentice who would be sided with her to Dooku. As he trained this Nightbrother up, it was supposed to be the countdown on his life. Instead, Savage betrays her, and upon returning to Dathomir with the news is given a quest by Mother Talzin. Find Maul and bring him home.
Resurrected by Talzin, Maul sets out to hunt down the one who left him for dead. Kenobi. I’d already enjoyed what Savage brought to the series, and I admit to being a little sceptical about how bringing Maul back would affect things – even if he is one of my favourite characters.
There was little to worry about, though, as Maul’s return was handled in a way that made sense for the character he would become. Out of all of Sidious’ apprentices, Maul is perhaps the closest to him in terms of taking on his teachings. He knows the virtue of patience, of manipulation, and free of his master he is able to put into action his own plans. And those plans involved Mandalore.
The Clone Wars isn’t all action from the frontlines, as episodes would also dive into areas that wouldn’t be seen as needed by some. While focus on the Clones and their arcs are the best for me, followed by the ongoing story of Ahsoka’s growth, there were also the episodes focused on the other side of the war – the political battles questioning the need for war.
Led by Padmé Amidala, her efforts to bring a quick resolution to the war through her political manoeuvring showcased a different side to the series. Just as the Prequel trilogy wasn’t afraid to show the political side to the war, neither was The Clone Wars. While still littered with action, these episodes focused in to give depth to such politics.
They brought to life something within the Revenge of the Sith novelisation that barely featured within the film, with the side of Padmé and her collective of Senators who want to see an end to the war versus Palpatine and his endless web of influencing events to bring about an outcome that he wanted.
And even away from the Senate, Padmé and Palpatine were clear influencers throughout the series. Whenever Padmé was stuck in action, she would be trying to bring a peaceful resolution to events. Meanwhile, Palpatine would be using his own kind of influence – mainly through Dooku – to shape events. His manipulation of Anakin, though rarely seen, is also a highlight of the series.
There is plenty within The Clone Wars to enjoy. Even those episodes that might seem unappealing on paper. Everyone has episodes that they might not be so keen on when reading about them, but this series always delivers on such.
With the ending of this final season approaching, the build up of everything that The Clone Wars was working toward will finally be seen with The Siege of Mandalore. It’s unfortunate that Son of Dathomir and Dark Disciple won’t ever be seen on screen, but they have been released, and both prove to have been vital arcs for the characters they put focus on.
While this final season might not be what everyone was hoping for, I’ve been enjoying it. The Bad Batch arc gave us some Commando action, as well as going that bit deeper into Rex’s thoughts of the war. The Ahsoka Underground arc has given us a look into how Ahsoka has handled leaving the Order, along with setting her up for the start of Siege of Mandalore.
Though The Clone Wars is soon to be ending, it has given us plenty within the galaxy far far away that can and already has been built on. More history of Mandalore has been explored, along with a few of the characters introduced within the series. As well as that, it helped to fill in the story and give deeper meaning to the Prequel trilogy in a way I feel nothing else had.
Battlefront 2 might be the game that first introduced me to Star Wars, but I have to be thankful for The Clone Wars in giving me plenty to be enjoying within the franchise. Without it, I might not be as great a fan of the franchise as I am today.