Star Wars fans have been wishing for a final season of The Clone Wars ever since the series was unceremoniously canceled back in 2014. Originally meant to run for eight seasons, the show’s surprise cancellation meant that we might never get to see the ending that George Lucas and Clone Wars creator Dave Filoni had originally planned for the series.
When it came out that the scripts for the show’s final two seasons had already been written, and information about the arcs and story beats that had been planned began to circulate, the show’s cancellation came to be seen in an increasingly tragic light.
Finally in 2018 came the announcement that Disney would be reviving the series for one 12-episode final season on its then-upcoming streaming service, Disney+. Hot on the heels of the runaway success of another Star Wars property on Disney+, our long six-year wait is over as the series is set to premiere this week.
While we have to believe there are still some surprises in store (remember that Baby Yoda wasn't pre-announced ahead of The Mandalorian), there's a lot we do know about this final batch of episodes and plenty of reasons to be excited. Here are just a few:
One of Lucas and Filoni’s long unfinished story arcs for the final seasons of The Clone Wars centered on a troop of experimental, defective clones formally known as Clone Force 99, and informally known as “The Bad Batch.” While several of Filoni’s other, original stories for the final season appear to have been scrapped, “The Bad Batch” is one that fans are finally going to get to see.
It has already been revealed that the show’s final season opens with “The Bad Batch” arc, as Captain Rex (Dee Bradley Baker) teams up with the troop of clone misfits on a mission against the Separatist Army. The Rex-heavy episodes of The Clone Wars were always welcome highlights in the show’s earlierseasons, often offering a refreshing on-the-ground perspective of the intergalactic war that the Star Wars films rarely ever had the time to get into. “The Bad Batch” promises to do the same, and seems like a calculated, lighthearted way to bring fans back into the show... before hitting them with some of the more emotional beats planned for the back half of the season.
Among many things, the final season of The Clone Wars promises to finally bring Darth Maul’s (Sam Witwer) prequel-era storyline to a close. So while fans already know the ultimate outcome of Maul’s story (thanks to his arc in Star Wars Rebels), his storyline in the new season will hopefully explain how he went from being the tyrant ruler of Mandalore to the head of the criminal syndicate known as Crimson Dawn at the time of Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Whether or not The Clone Wars will use some of its final season to fully reveal or explain how Maul made that transition is yet to be seen. But even if the series doesn't get as detailed as some may want, it should still help fill in at least some of the notable gaps in his storyline.
Speaking of Maul, the biggest arc planned for The Clone Wars' final season appears to be the infamous siege of Mandalore. The arc will reportedly follow Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) and Rex as they lead an unrelenting (and costly) siege against the planet of Mandalore, all in the hopes of removing Darth Maul from his position as ruler of the planet.
The storyline will return Ahoska to the front-and-center of The Clone Wars — something Filoni had long planned for the final season — and when all is said and done, will likely be the largest conflict/battle in the history of the series. It will also, notably, feature the moment pictured above, when Captain Rex and his clone troopers all repaint their masks to match Ahsoka's facial markings.
Perhaps more than any of the other arcs planned for the final season, the siege of Mandalore is the event that The Clone Wars was building toward before it was canceled. It's an arc that fans have long clamored for, and it promises to bring the series to an epic and emotional conclusion.
Already teased in the final season's promotional materials, the siege of Mandalore will also feature a highly-anticipated lightsaber duel between Ahsoka and Darth Maul. Considering that fans already know that both characters will survive the encounter, it's a moment that shouldn't logically have nearly as much anticipation surrounding it as it does. Yet, the duel itself encapsulates so much of what this final season promises to give Star Wars fans.
Due to the show's prequel status, there's not much that The Clone Wars can do that will impact the overall Star Wars narrative in any way that could truly surprise fans. But for the show's dedicated viewers, watching The Clone Wars has never been about seeing what happens, so much as seeing how it happens. Therefore, the excitement for this duel isn't just about seeing the two characters fight, but more how it impacts both of their respective character arcs, and how it shapes the overall ending of the series. There seems to be no other moment in the final season that could carry more weight — with one possible exception.
The fifth season of The Clone Wars famously ended with Ahsoka leaving the Jedi Order, and saying goodbye to Anakin (Matt Lanter) atop the temple steps. It was an emotional and complex moment for the two characters, but due to the show’s cancellation, an unsatisfying ending for many fans who had wanted to see a more concrete conclusion to that relationship. One of the biggest questions heading into the show's final season, then, is did Ahsoka and Anakin ever see each other again before the former turned to the dark side and became Darth Vader? And if they did, how did their final conversation go?
The good news is that The Clone Wars will finally be answering those questions. The bad news is that Anakin and Ahsoka's final interactions promise to be even more emotional than fans might have expected. Ahsoka voice actress, Ashley Eckstein, has said she cried when she first heard what Anakin and Ahsoka's final meeting would entail, and Dave Filoni has proven himself more than capable in the past of bringing his stories to fitting and emotional conclusions. In other words, get your kleenex ready. This is going to be one helluva ride.
The final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars premieres on Disney+ this Friday, February 21st.
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Alex Welch has written about television and film for TV by the Numbers, IGN, The Berrics, Paste Magazine, Screen Rant and GeekNation. Follow him on Twitter @alexrwelch.