Review | Star Wars: The Clone Wars (‘The Siege of Mandalore’)

Almost completely detached from the prior episodes in the seventh season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars was the incomparable four-part series finale on ‘The Siege of Mandalore’. It not only stood alone; it played out masterfully like its own cinematic film.

After the series was abruptly canceled in early 2013 during its fifth season, there was a lot of story left on the floor. Following the patience and clamoring (not unlike other #ReleaseThe- & #SaveThe- movements currently popular), loyal Clone Wars followers received an unbelievable yet welcome surprise when Disney Plus announced the seventh and final season would be released as part of their launch. Justice was indeed served and Star Wars fans were in for a treat.

Let’s review Star Wars: The Clone Wars series finale, ‘The Siege of Mandalore.’

full circle

Left: 2008’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars (film poster)
Right: Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2020 Season Seven Disney+ promo)

It’s like poetry, they rhyme.

George Lucas, discussing Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace

In 2008, the original Star Wars: The Clone Wars film opened to scathing reviews and lukewarm fan reception. Despite some excellent action sequences, it was obvious that the “film” was just four episodes stitched together which ultimately served as an unofficial pilot for the TV series.

Just as the great George Lucas had initially implied in his prequel films, there is a beautiful rhyme here in the series finale for The Clone Wars. Not only is this four-episode arc a far better story than the 2008 film, it is way more deserving of a super-cut theatrical release. That was clearly evident from the very second it started…

DISCLAIMER: This review on ‘The Siege of Mandalore’ contains spoilers!

cinematic sensibility

A Star Wars fan favorite: Ahsoka Tano
In classic “Original Trilogy” font

The first thing we see as this story arc begins is a grainy black title card saying “A LUCASFILM LIMITED Production.” By capturing the spirit and passion of the original Star Wars trilogy, we had immediate evidence The Clone Wars, specifically, ‘The Siege of Mandalore,’ was going to go out in a beautiful blaze of glory.

Even the introductory montage had cinema quality animation all over it. From the textures surrounding General Grievous’ eyeballs to the beautiful Jedi Twi’lek Aayla Secura, the animation team clearly stepped their game up in the best way possible.

Truth be told, now that the general public is enamored with The Mandalorian, it’s important to note one of The Clone Wars’ key strengths. Bringing the world of Mandalore to life and shedding some light on the Mandalorian mythos truly helped this series finale, ‘The Siege of Mandalore.’ We’ve certainly come a long way from this one iconic character

darth maul’s reign of terror

At this point in the story in ‘The Siege of Mandalore,’ former Sith lord Darth Maul has taken control of Mandalore by force while also taking full command of the Mandalorian warriors. After a brief, heartfelt reunion with Jedi heroes Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, Ahsoka Tano teams up with a Mandalorian freedom fighter named Bo Kattan. Together with the 501st clone trooper unit, they launch a campaign to liberate Mandalore.

As her forces take back the Mandalorian capital, Ahsoka faces off against Darth Maul in one of the most exciting and well choreographed lightsaber duels in all of Star Wars history. Utilizing original Darth Maul actor Ray Park (Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace) via motion capture, the fighting was fluid and kinetic.

After defeating and capturing Darth Maul, Ahsoka Tano and Clone Commander Rex bid farewell to a free Mandalore. Shortly after departure, Emperor Palpatine issues the dreaded “Order 66.”

Tragedy

Top: The 501st honor the return of Ahsoka Tano
Bottom: The fallout of Order 66

Star Wars fans will remember first seeing Order 66 in Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of The Sith when nearly the entire Jedi order were executed by the clone troopers they were so loyally leading and fighting along side.

At the beginning of this story arc in ‘The Siege of Mandalore’, Ahsoka Tano had been gone for quite some time. The 501st Clone Trooper unit she previously led into several battles honor her return by painting their helmets with her likeness. By the third episode, Order 66 is finally implemented and her loyal brothers-in-arms fire on her, even with their orange helmets.

Although this isn’t entirely their fault due to an inhibitor chip controlling their actions when Order 66 goes into effect, it is still heartbreaking for Clone Wars fans to see the clones attempt to murder their former commander. (Namely, after six seasons of seeing them grow together.)

It hurt back in 2005, and it was just as hard to watch in 2020. Especially seeing a clone fan-favorite like Commander Rex aiming his gun on Ahsoka with tears in his eyes.

the end of the war

Our last moments with Ahsoka Tano and the 501st

Following a crash that essentially kills the entire 501st, we see Ahsoka Tano standing in front of the graves of her fallen comrades. Melancholy. Alone. She takes one last look at the lightsaber Anakin gave back to her just three episodes prior and drops it to the ground. Ahsoka is simultaneously accepting the fate of the Jedi, while letting go of her past and parting ways with the bond she shared with her former master.

‘The Siege of Mandalore’ is a siege on our little Star Wars feelings!

Years later, we find Darth Vader returning to this same crash site now covered in snow. He sees the graves of the 501st and then stumbles upon Ahsoka’s lightsaber. He too glances it at for a moment as if taking in all the memories…then, he ignites it.

After one final glance at the graves, he turns and walks away.

The final frame of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars series

The final shot sees his reflection in a clone trooper helmet still adorned with the Ahsoka Tano war paint they applied in her honor. The shot very clearly and emotionally signified not just the end of the series but the end of the actual Clone Wars itself.

The 2008 film saw Ahsoka become Anakin’s apprentice. The last moments of the entire Clone Wars saga sees Darth Vader spiritually letting Ahsoka go as well as all of the memories that come with her…

His final memories of being a Jedi hero.

Not only were these four episodes of ‘The Siege of Mandalore’ some of the very best in the entire series, but the groundbreaking action, the emotionally charged conflicts, and the visually gorgeous moments truly deserve to be seen on the big screen.

Yes, they’re that good. And I think the Star Wars fans deserve it.

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