For a look back at all the entries in the Countdown to the Force Awakens, click HERE.
Well as one of the hosts of the Far Far Away podcast, I decided to jump in with two feet and tackle The Clone Wars. It’s, perhaps, one of my favorite creations in the Star Wars Universe and as part of our Countdown to the Force Awakens, it was a no brainer for me. For the uninitiated, you may want to turn back now if you fear spoilers or eloquently broken down – lyrical poetry about a show that, in my opinion, helped to wash the bad taste of the Prequel Trilogy out of some of our mouths.
The Clone Wars ran for 6 seasons with 5 of those seasons on Cartoon Network and a final 13 episode, 6th season run on Netflix. The series essentially fleshed out so many of the interesting characters we were introduced to during the first two movies of the Prequel Trilogy. We have Anakin, Obi Wan, Mace Windu, Jar Jar, Padme, Bail Organa, Yoda, Darth Sidious/Chancellor Palpatine, General Grievous, Count Dooku, Barris Offee and yes, even Qui-Gon Jinn and the miraculous return of Darth Maul. Some old favorites return throughout the series as well, like Chewbacca, Boba Fett, Greedo, Mon Mothma, and Ackbar. And just to show the power and imagination of the creative team behind this series led by George Lucas and Dave Feloni, we were also treated to some fantastic, newer characters that quickly became fan favorites; wielding weapons on new planets and environments that further expanded the Star Wars Universe. Characters like Ahsoka Tano (yes I know she was introduced in that 4 episode Clone Wars debacle of a movie but she is reintroduced here to better effect), Asajj Ventress, Savage Opress, Shaak Ti, Satine, and Quinlan Vos among others.
The most interesting and consequently confusing thing about the series was the manner in which it was laid out and planned in terms of the chronological order of the episodes. For some reason, Lucas and the creative team decided to have the episodes occur out of chronological order which was maddening at the time because, as those of you who watched it in real time can attest, characters would appear alive after having been dead episodes or seasons before. And events and relationships that had been established or had occurred were randomly not as established or had not even happened yet in certain episodes. I personally found this to be quite interesting and a new way to watch a show that tasked the viewer’s concentration and memory skills. That being said, it certainly wasn’t universally accepted. StarWars.com fortunately went through the whole series and, with Lucas’ input, released a chronological order in which to watch the episodes if so desired.
So many fantastic story-lines were explored here and I cannot stress enough how much they helped to flesh out so many of the unanswered questions that the first two movies left us with or neglected explaining fully. Anakin and Ahsoka Tano are really our entry points into the series and it’s their relationship that is the foundation for the whole show. We see how both of them grow as the seasons progress both in their relationship with each other and individually on their journeys as a Jedi and Palawan respectively. The storyline where Anakin had to enter into a new dimension and have his prophecy as the “chosen one” tested really put to bed some of the failings in Lucas’s and Christensen’s portrayal of him in the movies. We get to sample more of his humanity and organic discovering of his abilities as he is tasked by The Father to maintain the balance in the Force through the son and daughter of the Father.
Ahsoka’s journey comes full circle in two separate sets of storylines throughout the series. Her guiding the young Padawans through the Jedi training on that snow planet later in the series shows you how far she had come from the whining, questioning Palawan she was at the start. Her assisting the Padawans to find their Kyber crystals and construct their light sabers showed that she was coming into her own as a Jedi. But it was her storyline where she was falsey accused of murder, removed from the Jedi Order and subsequently escaped to Coruscant in order to clear her name that really solidified her in my fandom. Ashley Eckstein’s performance as the voice of Ahsoka had changed along with the character’s maturation. So that when Ahsoka is finally cleared, her powerful decision to not accept reentry into the Jedi Order and walk her own path carries the appropriate weight and pain for a character we had followed for 5 seasons.
The show did such a wonderful job of showcasing great new villains as well, like Cad Bane, Savage Opress, Asajj Ventress and Prey Viszla of the Death’s Watch. Cad Bane is one of the most ruthless and efficient bounty hunters ever to be seen in the Star Wars Universe. His intelligence in any situation he finds himself in also lend an undercurrent of believable credibility to his abilities. Savage Opress comes in with one of the most on the nose names ever heard in the SWU. Being the brother of Darth Maul, you knew he had to have his own style of evil or darkness to bring to his story-lines. Prey Viszla and the Death’s Watch wreck their special brand of havoc on Mandalore. Prey carries perhaps one of the coolest weapons in this writer’s opinion. His black light saber, that was a callback to the Old Republic days, just carried an older power in it’s portrayal and usage that always excited me.
And finally, Asajj Ventress. That lady brought the thunder with her wherever she went. And watching her progression in the show rivaled Ahsoka’s in it’s own way. One of my favorite parts of the series, was her background storyline where we were shown her upbringing that gave us so many more levels to this character and grew our appreciation of her and her motives.
The lightsaber battles, combat scenes (both on land and underwater), the space battles and even the occasional speeder chases were all done with a special care and excitement that really bled through to the viewer. The imagery, rapidity of movement and choreographed story beats within each of the GOOD combat battles brought them to life in an exciting way, no matter what the style of 3D animation was for that season. The ferocity within the battle scenes was not limited to the battlefield. Throughout the series, there were untimely and surprising deaths, decapitations, indiscriminate loss of life and a willingness by members of the Empire to destroy as many people as possible in order to achieve control. The coming together of Savage Opress, Darth Maul and the Death’s Watch proved that point in Season 4, especially when Savage and Maul beat Obi Wan so profusely. There were some child like moments sure as well, but the adult themes and violence was always pushing against the fringes of those moments. It’s another reason the show is so beloved. It knew how to walk that line effectively way more times than not.
The resurrection of Darth Maul is also a fantastic reward for those who watch through the first few seasons. He was one of the most enjoyable villains Star Wars ever produced. Yet just about everyone felt he got short shrift when he was killed in The Phantom Menace. In The Clone Wars, we get to see his progression from this grotesque, insane creature loudly mumbling to himself to the fully realized and arguably sane version of himself thanks to the Knight Sisters. He gets to wreak the havoc he so promised with his appearance in Phantom Menace.
There’s so much here for the average Star Wars fan to explore, let alone the hardcore fan. You get Obi Wan and his relationship with Satine as a mirror to Anakin’s relationship with Padme. You get Padme growing into her voice as a Senator and leader to her people as the show progresses. You see Anakin’s full blown jealous anger that will lead him to the Dark Side when he physically assaults Clovis because of his jealous rage over Padme. We also get to see a storyline with Boba Fett trying to kill Mace Windu for killing his Dad, Jango Fett. Jar Jar gets a little two parter that goes a long way to redeeming his character in the Universe. There’s the exploration of planets like Kamino, Mandalore, Kashyyyk and Coruscant. The background on Order 66 and how it was implemented through the clones is explored. The clones themselves are explored periodically throughout the series and we get a deeper connection with them as well. There’s Yoda walking into that famous tree on Dagobah from The Empire Strikes Back in order to communicate with Qui-Gon Jinn and to glimpse what the future holds in Episode III. Not to mention the plethora of voice over talent here is here to explore and enjoy. There’s Dee Bradley Baker, Eckstein, Tom Kane, Sam Witwer, Clancy Brown, Phil Lamar, Nika Futermann, Tom Kenny, and Fred Tatasciore to name a few.
Needless to say, a lot went down in the Star Wars Universe during those three years between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. I have only scratched the surface of all that is here to enjoy and geek out about in the six seasons of The Clone Wars. If you’ve never seen them then you’re in for a treat. And if you have, then I hope this review inspired you to re-watch a few of your favorite episodes from the series on Netflix. It’s truly well worth your time and I guarantee you that you will never look at the Prequel Trilogy the same way again. And that can’t be a bad thing!
That’s it from my end. The Rocha Says I’m out!
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