Review- The Clone Wars, Victory and Death
So we have come to the end... For the third time?
Yes, the Clone Wars has ended many times, but this is the long built-up final episode fittingly finishing on May the 4th with Victory and Death. And yes that is the name of the episode, not just a description of the s*** that goes down in this final chapter.
Once again this review will contain spoilers, so please read ahead at your own peril.
We start with the above shot of the Republic Attack Cruiser which sets the tone of the episode. It gives us that feeling of isolation and horror as we witness this cold vessel glide through the cold portal of hyperspace.
From here on the episode picks straight up where the last episode let off, making it clear Shattered and Victory and Death work great when watched in succession, just as the first two episodes of this final arc do (but let's face it, all four episodes work great as one long watch).
We see Ahsoka, Rex, and the droids that helped them narrowly escape their confined situation with the action turned even higher from previously. To add to the escalated situation we get a great action set-piece that sees Maul not only take out a group of Clones with a helmet but also tear down the entire hyperdrive Starkiller style (Force Unleashed fans you know what I mean).
It becomes clear this episode will largely be an escape for our main characters, going out with a final big action set piece, the kind that made the series partly so famous.
While it is disappointing that the finale won't use its time to show glimmers of other characters or other aspects of the end of the war, its hard not to still be on the edge of your seat especially as our characters are in such a win or lose situation.
What helps sell this choice is also the stunning visuals. The production team have really outdone themselves in not only giving us bold and detailed imagery, but also beautifully artistic shots. Seeing the cruiser come out of hyperdrive, bellowing with smoke and slowly drifting to the planet below, not only harkens back to similar moments in the movies but is a brilliant metaphor for how the clones are literally willing to go down with the ship to do their job.
Ahsoka and Rex soon find themselves debating what to do, bringing about a great moral dilemma for these two friends who not long ago were talking about their placement in the war, now finding themselves as casualties of their creation. Rex's tears for his brothers, along with Ahsoka's morals to not hurt the men she once fought alongside not only proves why they are long-lasting, fantastic characters, but also the perfect characters to juxtapose the villains and heroes we have seen in the rest of the series.
From here we get an ever-evolving action set piece, with inventive, fun, and gripping moments that places all our characters in a race to get out of the death trap that is the burning cruiser.
The episode continues to use its score, visuals, and characters to sell the urgent action, with great moments such as Ahsoka having to give up on her last clutch at freedom when trying to stop the ship Maul escapes on.
With tragic losses on both sides, and a conflict that leads to our main character literally free falling through the air, the scope and scale of this climactic moment is really impressive and shows how ambitious the creators wanted to be with this big send-off.
While the action and sequences can get somewhat unbelievable it's ultimately no more far-fetched than what we've seen before, and definitely something the series can get away with as an animation.
The narrative and action makes us feel that Ahsoka and Rex literally fought for their lives, and come out of a huge ordeal, earning their survival from Order 66, and the end of the war.
The final scenes were always going to be interesting. How do you wrap up a prequel series that has spanned so many stories and characters?
From the offset it was clear Filoni wanted to focus on Ahsoka and Rex, hence choosing the Bad Batch and Ahsoka's New Friends arc to help build to their final Clone Wars story. Personally, while I was disappointed to not see the characters witness the devastating effects on the rest of the galaxy, (e.g. a trip to coruscant or a vision of the fallen Jedi) I can't hold that against the episode, as it truly gave the fans a beautiful and poetic ending.
While the final arc certainly had its highest moments from the drama and tension with Maul and Order 66, it is fitting that the series wraps up, as Lucas Film animation has many times, with an ominous open ending. As a prequel series, there would never be a way to perfectly wrap up the story, and giving us a Breakfast Club-style "where are they now?" It would seem too easy and generic for a show like this.
Many long-running series have failed by overcomplicating or trying to cram too much into a final set of episodes. For the Clone Wars to stay focused on this one set of events and characters, is commendable.
While I do think they could have made the most out of the drama our characters were feeling and wrapped up that expansive feel of The Clone Wars with 10 or 15 more minutes more, again, I understand the argument that Revenge of the Sith gives us much of that, and much of that expectation, is just that, an expectation.
The series ends with a beautiful and thought-provoking final scene, that perfectly bridges the world of The Clone Wars and the world of the Galactic Empire. Classic imagery and sounds are used fittingly, with a great chance to see iconic Star Wars imagery in the Clone Wars style. The music is atmospheric, as are the visuals, with many moments for fans to delve into, and ultimately the perfect end shot of a Clone helmet.
While the series may have ended, its legacy certainly hasn't. Fans are still experiencing this game-changing series to this day, and hopefully means we will get more fantastic Star Wars media such as this in the future.
Also, this episode just proves that droids are the real MVPs of Star Wars.
Thank you Lucas, and thank you Filoni...