To celebrate May the Fourth, Disney set the released the capstone to a project that started 13 years ago. The final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars was just released, as promised, on Disney+. The animated series is set between Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith. While its first five seasons aired from 2008-13 on the Cartoon Network, and a shortened season 6 aired on Netflix in 2014, fans have been waiting for the final season.
The finale of Star Wars: Clone Wars, in the form of 12 episodes, just dropped on Disney+, and for fans, it is truly something special. Since its cancellation by Disney in 2013, Star Wars fans have been anxiously waiting to witness the final adventures of Jedi Ahsoka Tano and Commander Rex and crew. This newly released season 7 and its finale, the "Siege of Mandalore," are well-produced and built with love. It lives up to the promise of the first six seasons, and entertains and elevates like good Star Wars should. But is also the fitting end to George Lucas’s Star Wars prequel trilogy and his time with the franchise.
Disney's stewardship of Star Wars has been, at times, questionable. So many jilted Star Wars fans are asking questions before they shell out for a Disney+ subscription. Namely, is season 7 of Clone Wars any good? Since Lucas sold his creation in 2012, many fans are less than happy with Disney's take of the venerable franchise and Star Wars universe. Clone War's was Lucas's final Star Wars project, and to try to finish it with Disney in charge seemed like blasphemy.
But fear not, Star Wars fans, this final installment of the Clone Wars saga is as close to a fitting resolution of the prequel era you could hope for. It is so good that Lucas himself should be pleased.
At heart, Clone Wars has always been the experimental animation baby for Lucas. After the divisive prequel trilogy films begun in 1999, Lucas wanted to take another crack at telling the story of the Clone Wars, and to create a new technological standard in tv production while doing so. Much of Lucas narrative vision has been paired with accompanying technical concepts as well.
While the first season of Clone Wars was too childish, told stories that were too simplistic, and covered it up with annoying quips and nicknames, it was not until Clone Wars' second season that the show came into its own. With mature themes and large-scale battles, the program transformed. By moving away from the first season’s Aesop’s fables format and instead start telling war stories, Clone Wars became must-watch tv.
After five successful seasons on Cartoon Network, Disney happened, and the show got canceled. Clone Wars was expensive to produce, and Disney wanted its own, cheaper version. Whatever bits were close to being finished were hastily put together on Netflix. And any other stories still untold got turned into comics and books. An ignominious end for Clone Wars.
Except, it wasn’t.
By some miracle, in 2018, Disney announced the final season of Clone Wars would be featured on its new streaming service. Thus here in 2020, during the coronavirus, we get a beautiful conclusion to the project.
Season 7 is broken up into three different stories told over four episodes each. Everything that made Clone Wars amazing is on display here. There's dark drama with experimented soldiers, and the inevitable betrayal of the Jedi, as we knew would happen. Incredible action set pieces like Darth Maul battling ex-Jedi Ahsoka is also an excellent sequence. The level of violence is exciting, but still passable for kids, and the voice work and soundscape are captivating.
The first two episodes bring us up to speed, but are otherwise only notable as opening acts to the main performance. The whole point of doing a final season is for the Clone War’s originally planned finale: "The Siege of Mandalore."
The episode genuinely should have been a feature film in its own right. This is some of the best Star Wars in the last decade. In this vividly, well-produced story, we experience the conquering of Mandalore, an incredible honest-to-goodness Ray Park Darth Maul lightsaber duel, and Order 66, which betrayed the Jedi.
This last story is truly a feat of storytelling and cinematic mastership. It’s also one heck of an emotional rollercoaster. The only other time in my life that Star Wars got that kind of reaction from me was in 2004 with Revenge of Sith all those years ago.
Watching this, you can tell this is not just Disney Star Wars, this is George Lucas' vision.
Season 7 is as if the old band got back together for one more tour. Indeed, many of the original creators were brought back, like producer Dave Filoni or voice actor Sam Witmer. But everything good in season 7 is a tribute to Lucas himself.
As Witmer stated unequivocally in interviews, it was Lucas who oversaw these story creations right up to the end of his tenure-ship as the Dad of Star Wars.
With season 7, we see Clone Wars become the epic that Lucas always hoped the prequel era could be.
Which, as Star Wars fans know, is something long overdue. With the prequels and Clone Wars, Lucas wanted to not only expand the storytelling capabilities of film and television but try to portray some essential truths about human nature. How great nations and people that stood for justice and democracy could be turned to the dark side. And do it in a way that a teenager from middle America would get it.
Putting those lessons aside, this is great television. Star Wars: The Clone Wars season 7 is a mind-blowing piece of storytelling and a fitting end to an era created by a great man. Whether you are a casual viewer or die-hard, if you ever called yourself a Star Wars fan, you owe yourself to go watch it.