So it’s been almost three years since I last watched The Clone Wars, but I’ve finally managed to make my way to the last season, so I’m on the home stretch now!
The fifth season ran between September 2012 and March 2013, and consists of 20 episodes organised across five major arcs. This is a bit of a departure for the show, as there were no single-story episodes at all.
The series begins with the Battle of Onderon, a planet from deep in the distant past of Star Wars, and the Tales of the Jedi series. The Jedi are asked to intervene on behalf of the locals, following the Separatist invasion, but instead of leading a task force of clones, Anakin and Ahsoka are dispatched to help train the locals to fight for themselves. It’s pretty Ahsoka heavy, and as the five episodes progress, Ahsoka takes a pretty major role in staying behind to help the locals in their fight against the droids. Somewhere in here, there is a half-decent story, and there was a small part of me that was intrigued by seeing the Beast Riders still active in the more modern galaxy, but as usual I found myself just unable to get on board with the fact that Ahsoka is treated like such a special case, considering she is still supposed to be a padawan learner, and is portrayed as an early teenager.
The arc is actually fairly noteworthy for the inclusion of Saw Gerrera, seen gesturing forward in the picture above. One of the leaders of the Onderanian rebellion, he of course goes on to transition to the big screen in Rogue One.
From Onderon, we next have another Ahsoka-heavy arc, featuring the trials and tribulations of a group of younglings getting their lightsaber crystals. Apparently, this arc was intended as a possible jumping-off point for a new series of young Jedi during the Wars, though thankfully that didn’t come to pass. The whole arc is trope-heavy, as the group of Jedi hopefuls embodies the usual mix of American high school teens. What was most alarming, for me, was that one of these younglings is voiced by Jeff Fischer, who I am most aware of through American Dad.
Once they have their crystals, the younglings then get attacked by Hondo Ohnaka, seeking profit as ever, and there is an interesting sequence when the pirates board the Jedi ship that is reminiscent of Han being boarded in The Force Awakens, which was of course still in development at this time. Ahsoka is kidnapped by the pirates, and the younglings are able to rescue her, more’s the pity.
The next arc is centred around droids, and an infiltration mission to obtain a Separatist encryption key. The whole four-episode arc is goofy as hell, following the diminutive Colonel Gascon as he leads a group of astromech droids and a mouthy pit droid onto the Separatist ship. Along the way, they crash-land on a distant planet and discover a clone trooper with amnesia, or somesuch nonsense. Probably a crowd-pleaser for the young ‘uns, but let’s just move on… At least it didn’t involve Ahsoka…
Next up is the Eminence arc, which returns to the storyline that began at the end of last season. Darth Maul and his brother Savage Oppress are set on taking their revenge against the Jedi and the Republic, by establishing a criminal empire. It sounds goofy, and I do still kinda think the idea is a bit silly, but the execution is actually not that bad, and we get to visit the criminal underworld as we see Maul first attempt to take over Hondo Ohnaka’s organisation, only to be foiled by Obi-Wan. The brothers flee, to be rescued by the Mandalorian Death Watch under Pre Viszla.
Together with the Mandalorians, Maul and his brother take over Black Sun, the Pyke Consortium, and the Hutt cartels, as they gather the resources to wrest control of Mandalore from the Duchess Satine. In order to consolidate his position, Maul challenges Pre Viszla to single combat and kills him, only for Darth Sidious to hear of the uprising and travel to the planet to see what his former apprentice has been up to. Sidious kills Oppress, but saves Maul, promising a future use for him.
Within the context of this being a cartoon, I was quite impressed by the scope of this three-episode arc, as we get to see a lot more than merely the Jedi and clones fighting droids. Sure, the cartoon series has explored a lot over the course of its five seasons, but this time it did feel kinda exciting to see – though I do admit that this is possibly due to the fact we’re seeing the foundation of the Crimson Dawn, and establishing how Maul gets from falling down that reactor shaft to leading the criminal empire in Solo. It’s definitely one of the more interesting storylines, and I think for its wider ramifications within the canon universe, it does need to be watched.
And finally, we have the last arc of the season, which is firmly on Ahsoka’s shoulders. An explosion at the Jedi temple leads Anakin and Ahsoka to investigate who could be responsible. When they find the culprit, however, Ahsoka is framed for her death, and flees into the underbelly of Coruscant. She teams up with none other than Asajj Ventress in an attempt to keep the clones off her back while she seeks to clear her name, but it is up to Anakin to discover that it was actually Barriss Offee who framed her, owing to her own dissatisfaction with the way the war has gone. Or something. It was all a bit weird, if you ask me, the only good part of the story being that Ahsoka leaves the Jedi Order as a result.
I get that Ahsoka Tano is meant to be a strong female character for girls to identify with, and broaden the target audience of the show, but there is a whole essay waiting to be written on the ways that she derails the integrity of the series through being such a blatant Mary Sue character. It is for this reason that I just cannot bear her as a character. She could have been so much better, but she becomes so bloody annoying that watching through these later seasons has been the drudgery that it turned into. If it wasn’t for the fact that I’ve now got my baby daughter to look after, and so have found myself awake at all hours of the day and night while being unable to do much beyond watch TV, I doubt I would have made it to the final season so soon.
Putting her in positions where she is seen as an equal of the Jedi around her is faintly ridiculous, especially seeing as how those Jedi are most often Anakin and Obi-Wan. Remember, Obi-Wan is a Jedi Master, and yet he is often upstaged by Ahsoka, either in terms of battle tactics or just common sense. Her life experience far outweighs her supposed age, and her abilities are such that she is frequently the lynchpin of a storyline. There is a difference between writing a strong female character for a younger demographic to engage with, and writing her as being brilliant to the point where she could win the war single-handed.
Ahsoka is a blight over the whole Clone Wars cartoon, which is a shame because there are some intriguing stories being told here. There is a lot that goes against established lore, even before the Disney take-over, and for that I feel like I need to take a stand against it as a show, but nevertheless, I have found myself looking back on some of the episodes and thinking vaguely positively about them.
The cartoon series does suffer from an over-exposure of Anakin and Obi-Wan, who hop around the galaxy like it’s the size of a modest kitchen, and not, well, a galaxy. They crop up almost everywhere, an issue that gets worse as the series goes on. I’m sure that was in response to consumer feedback, wanting to see more of them, but I do often hark back to the earlier series, where we had episodes focusing on Kit Fisto, Aayla Secura, and Plo Koon. I think it would have been a bigger benefit if we had seen more of this, exploring other Jedi both from the movies but also original creations that were more fair-game for the show. Of course, that’s the perspective of me as a Star Wars nerd – I’m sure, again, that consumer feedback would have been overwhelming in the desire to see more of Anakin and Obi-Wan, leading to them having a major part (if not pivotal roles) in almost every battle of the Clone Wars. It feels a little bit like the rest of the Jedi Order, to say nothing of the civilians like Wulff Yularen, could have happily sat out the War, leaving it up to the dynamic duo and Mary Sue.
I’ve been listing my top three episodes from each season each time I’ve done these blogs, but for this season, the quality has been so low that the only three I can single out are those of the Eminence storyline, so:
2. Shades of Reason
3. The Lawless
Even these are not without their flaws, of course, but it was quite a decent look at the criminal underworld, and I thought it was particularly interesting as backstory to Solo, a film that I do actually enjoy.
So there we are! The last full season of the Clone Wars has been watched, at long last. Up next, there are still The Lost Missions, a half-season’s worth of episodes, as well as some of the comics and at least one novel that is spun out of scripts that had already been developed for the show. So I’ll try to get round to these and bundle them all up together at some point, hopefully before the end of the year. Though with Rise of the Skywalker less than a month away, I might well be finding my reading absorbed by a different portion of the timeline…