The Clone Wars’ Finale Is So Thrilling It’ll Make You Forget About ‘The Rise of Skywalker’

The final episodes of season seven of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the Disney+ animated series, aren’t just great episodes of an excellent TV show. Taken together, they amount to one of the best Star Wars movies in many years.

Mild spoilers follow.

The four-episode arc beginning with “Old Friends, Not Forgotten” and ending with Monday night’s “Victory and Death” are darker in tone than even Rogue One, boast a lightsaber duel that might even surpass the iconic Darth Maul-versus-the Jedi fight from The Phantom Menace and include character moments that are as heartbreaking as Han Solo’s response to Princess Leia’s declaration of love in The Empire Strikes Back.

But the episodes don’t just include moving and exciting moments. They tell a story. About a young woman growing up, working out what she believes in, making hard decisions then living with the consequences.

The Clone Wars in its 12-year run on TV, as well as in the uneven 2008 movie that launched the series, has been an ensemble show. Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker and Skywalker’s apprentice Ashoka Tano are the major characters, but the show also closely follows clone troopers Rex, Cody and Fives, among others.

The final four episodes of The Clone Wars tighten their focus. They are Ashoka’s story.

No longer the grating teenager we tolerated early in the series, Ashoka is now a young woman. She’s seen the galaxy. Explored metaphysical realms. She even kind of died once.

She’s witnessed atrocities. Led soldiers in battle. Watched them fall in battle because of her decisions. She’s been hurt by the people closest to her. She even quit the Jedi Order after being wrongly accused of a crime.

Petite and bright-eyed, Ashoka still sort of looks like a kid. But her looks belie her growth as a character. She’s wiser now. More vulnerable. And more powerful. The events of the final four episodes of The Clone Wars test her humanity and her skills as a force-user.

It’s the final days of eponymous, galaxy-spanning conflict that old Ben Kenobi mentioned in passing in Star Wars and which is the major subject of the prequel trilogy. Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ashoka and a force of clones have cornered insurgents loyal to Maul—yes, he survived getting bisected in The Phantom Menace—on Mandalore, the home planet of the Mandalorians, one of whom has his own live-action show.

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