You may have a lot of issues with the Star Wars prequels, and many of them are probably valid, but its strangest crime is that it easily skipped The Clone Wars between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Sure, George Lucas only needed it to reveal the most atrocious psychopathic depths Emperor Palpatine would plummet to orchestrate his position of power, using the collective fear of the galaxy, but in jumping over the hell experienced in the trenches, the prequels commit a deep disservice to the fictional history they’re attempting to plot. As we learned in A New Hope and Return of the Jedi, The Clone Wars defined the relationship of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker and elevated the wretched betrayal pulled by the one friend on another.
What showrunner Dave Filoni and his team have accomplished with their seven seasons of the Clone Wars animated television series is delivering an emotional authenticity to the conflicts sorely missing from the cinematic efforts. The next time you watch the prequels, you will have a better understanding of the decisions reached and the resulting tragic pain that scars the whole universe well into the original films as well as the most recent Rey adventures. Anakin, you were the chosen one!
Four episodes into the final season of The Clone Wars, in “Unfinished Business” we see a group of soldiers, plus one Jedi, utterly exhausted by the conflict. Captain Rex and the Bad Batch may have rescued their fallen comrade Echo from the clutches of the Techno Union, but one victory merely leads into another battleground. The troops return to Anaxes, the critical shipyard planet held hostage by Separatist Admiral Trench. While Obi-Wan, Mace Windu, and a legion of clones attack the Battle Droid frontlines, Rex, Anakin, Echo, and the Bad Batch sneak aboard Trench’s command ship in an effort to gain an upper hand on the skirmish.
Echo believes his new abilities as a human-computer interface, forced upon him by the Techno Union, will give an advantage to the Republic in this particular crisis. Rex and Mace Windu are quick to trust Echo, but several of the clones surrounding him are not so sure. Echo has spent years in the custody of the Separatists. Who’s to say he hasn’t been turned, or that his brain and body are even his own anymore? Well, Rex is to say. Don’t trust Echo, fine. You must trust Rex.
Back on Anaxes, Obi-Wan and Mace Windu engage with the enemy force. The odds are against them. Aren’t they always? Mace Windu is not worried. He descends from the sky and lands face front to the motley collection of Battle Droids, and he commands what may be the most badass and confident speech ever uttered in a Star War:
“My name is General Mace Windu of the Jedi Order. At this point of the Clone War, I have dismantled and destroyed over 100,000 of you type-one battle droids. I’m giving you an opportunity to peacefully lay down your weapons so that you may be reprogrammed to serve a better purpose than spreading the mindless violence and chaos which you have inflicted upon the galaxy.”
The droids give each other a glance and a shrug of the shoulder. Nice try, Mace, but these bots can’t be swayed. The firefight is as brutal as every recent Clone Wars assault, with Battle Droids being torn limb from limb when not totally obliterated by blasters. The series has given us many wicked action scenes over the years, but Season 7 dares to outdo all that came before.
More and more Battle Droids appear, but just when Obi-Wan thinks there may be one too many for them to handle, Echo remotely connects with their circuitry and shuts them down with a jolt of electricity. Victory. That is until Admiral Trench activates an explosive attached to the core of Anaxes. Mace Windu races to the site of the explosive, but if he doesn’t crack its security lickety-split, then they will all go up in a puff of smoke.
Anakin Skywalker to the rescue. Kinda. The Jedi leaves Echo and the Bad Batch to work on the computer hub of Trench’s ship while he hunts down the cowardly Separatist. Anakin finds Trench in his ready room. With little time left, Anakin severs two of Trench’s appendages, demanding the code to disarm the device below. Trench gives it to him, but when the Admiral stabs him with an electric staff, Anakin jams his lightsaber directly into the spider’s heart. The expression on Anakin’s face can only be described as an angered satisfaction. We’ve seen it before and we’ll see plenty more after.
The Clone Wars have gone on too long. While Obi-Wan and Mace Windu can cut down their enemy and somehow maintain their supposed morality, Anakin Skywalker is inching ever closer to his dark decision on Mustafar. Each day weighs on him as much as it does Rex or Echo. He’s looking to save the day with one flick of his blade. Admiral Trench is not the first villain to meet a similar end, and Anakin won’t stop until every one of his enemies falls before his lightsaber.
The episode concludes with Echo embraced by the Bad Batch. His actions aboard Trench’s cruiser proved his worthiness, and they offer him a home on their squad of misfits where there might not be one with his old comrades. Like all outcasts, comfort rests with the similarily inflicted. The Bad Batch grasp the distance Echo is feeling when he stands next to Rex, as his old clone pals will never look at him the same way again. That’s not a problem with the Bad Batch. They champion their singularity. No machine cogs here.
With the conflict on Anaxes concluded, The Clone Wars can now move on to other stories and other characters. Certainly, this is not the last time we’ll see Echo or the Bad Batch on the series, but one must wonder how they will appear at the end of this combat. Ha! That’s the joke, though. There is no end for the clones. Count Dooku will get his head lobbed off, courtesy of another swift swing of Anakin’s saber, but the conclusion to the war is simply the start of another. Order 66 is coming.