Background on the show
Star Wars: The Clone Wars was a cartoon series that ran on the Cartoon Network channel. As the title suggests, the show focuses on the events of the Clone Wars, a series of armed conflicts between the Republic and the Separatists that take place between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. The show ran from 2008 to 2013, with five seasons airing on Cartoon Network, and was added to Netflix in 2014 (EDIT: the show has been removed as of April 2019, but it is expected to make a return to with Disney+ later this year). The last 13 unreleased episodes (which were dubbed The Lost Missions) made their debut with Netflix. The show was also recently announced to have been granted another season which will air on Disney’s incoming streaming service. A launch date for the new season has not been given.
To a casual audience member, this show may come off as a childish TV show that’s only true purpose is to be a cash grab, and that’s what I’m here to discuss with you all today. Does Star Wars: The Clone Wars matter? Should you watch it?
Why is the show so great?
If you started off only seeing the theatrical release of the film, you would be forgiven in your dismissal of the show as a whole. The “movie” that was released into theaters was actually just a combination of the first four episodes of the show, and those episodes were very evidently unfinished. The characters’ faces were often clunky looking, as well as the overall animation, the action going on was not engaging, and the “film” was clearly not designed to be a theatrically released product.
To be quite clear with you, my valued reader, the rest of the first season is just as bad, and half of the second season is only a little bit better. The storylines don’t quite grasp your attention, the animation still isn’t fully polished, and the characters are yet to connect with you yet, but once you stick through it, the ending three seasons are some of the best television ever.
It is important to note that the episodes (especially in the earlier seasons) are often out of order, as the series is designed as an anthology series. I will include a link to a chronological list of the episodes, as I highly recommend viewing the series in order. As the third and fourth seasons kick off, it’s also very evident that the quality of the series gets bumped up as each story arc passes you by.
Episodes in order: https://www.starwars.com/news/star-wars-the-clone-wars-chronological-episodeorder
Some of the best story arcs in my opinion are:
- Boba Fett Arc (Season 2)
- Nightsisters Arc (Season 3)
- Return of [SPOILER] Arc (Season 4)
- The Box Arc (Season 4)
- Ahsoka Framed Arc (Season 5)
- Order 66 Origins Arc (Season 6 – The Lost Missions)
Some of the stories told in this series are better than those of the films, especially the ones I just listed. They focus on unique stories that greatly add to the mythos of Star Wars as a whole including a young Boba Fett dealing with the loss of his father, Obi-Wan Kenobi impersonating a bounty hunter, and Ahsoka (a newly created character) being framed for murder.
Now we talk about Ahsoka Tano. A new character to the Star Wars universe, she is Anakin Skywalker’s optimistic little Padawan. Introduced in the theatrical release of The Clone Wars, she was immediately met with disdain from fans. She was unnecessary, generic, and annoying. Starting off as one of the most hated characters, Ashley Eckstein (the voice actor for Ahsoka) had an uphill battle ahead of her. As the show progressed forward, so did the character of Ahsoka. She would morph from a whiney sidekick to a character who often brought a sense of reality and was often the voice of the audience throughout the series. Ahsoka was evidently added in as a way to appeal to female audiences, but she would be the perfect way to introduce a female character, as opposed to another female protagonist from a 2015 Star Wars film.
The greatness of Ahsoka’s character is that she isn’t just relatable to girls, she is a great character who everyone ends up rooting for, as she has clear flaws and makes mistakes. She needs to learn more than anything. You can see her struggle, giving the audience a reason to root for her, as opposed to Rey, who is simply a walking MacGuffin that has the ability to do everything on her first try.
The voice acting from the cast is beyond fantastic, as they were all in the same room during recording, which made the chemistry between characters all the more believable. Matt Lanter (Anakin), James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan), Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka), and especially Dee Bradley Baker (clone troopers) add to the grounding and investment into the show. I will proudly proclaim that by the end of the series, you will deeply care about at least 3 clone troopers, which sounds mind-blowing until you watch the show for yourself.
Another major shock of the show is its darkness and realism. The Clone Wars does not shy away from embracing the violent, heart-breaking nature of war. Characters that you grow to love will die. This show has stakes far beyond the normal of a “kid’s show”. It does not shy away from concepts like traitors, kidnapping, and murder, but does so in a creative way so that it doesn’t feel like a gimmick to market their show as pushing the envelope. The focus is on the story and the characters; the violence is only an afterthought.
Overall, Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a quality, top-notch television show that is definitely worth a watch, especially in preparation for the incoming seventh season of the show, which is likely to pop up in late 2019/early 2020.
Relationship to the Prequels
The Prequel trilogy has left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths. Problems like bland, uninteresting characters, awkward dialogue, flat performances, and inconsistent character choices run wild in the films. Many of these issues are fixed and/or are corrected in The Clone Wars.
The writing for the character of Anakin Skywalker, arguably the biggest disappointment of the prequel trilogy, is absolutely excellent in The Clone Wars. Anakin Skywalker is the best part of the show. He will likely be your favorite character. His comedic, but often times negative, outlook on situations happening around him makes him an extremely relatable character, as he is usually saying what the viewer is thinking.
Throughout this series, Anakin is shown to be struggling with his responsibilities and duties to the Jedi Order. Being shown stories between Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka really paints a vivid picture of the bond between students and masters. The ending events of the fifth season, which I will not spoil, greatly add to the feelings that we are told Anakin has towards the Jedi Council, but now, we see them.
Another majorly disappointing aspect from the Prequels is Anakin’s very sudden and lackluster transition from the Light to the Dark Side in Revenge of the Sith. Thankfully, this series sought out to address this directly. Rather than going directly from Episode II and III with Anakin’s turn, The Clone Wars fills in the blanks and helps us understand his downward spiral. He is often placed in situations where his eventual switch to the Dark Side becomes very evident, and hints of the “Imperial March” are occasionally heard to complement the theme of his growing darkness. Musical cues play an important role throughout this series.
The improvement to the personality of Anakin is also noticeable in other characters from the Prequels. Certain other characters like Mace Windu, Padme, and even clone troopers are given story-lines that allow you to develop a new appreciation for the characters. This is true in characters that were barely given any lines (if at all) in the films, like Aayla Secura, Ki-Adi-Mundi, Plo Koon, Kit Fisto, etc.
Seeing these characters interact throughout the series allows you to care about them, which leads to an increased weight of the events of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. The viewer ends up developing a connection to these side characters in a way that the prequel films were just unable to achieve. The series adds to your overall enjoyment of Star Wars.
I promise you that an invested watching of this show will allow for a more smooth viewing of the prequel films, as well, since the character development in this series makes up for the lack of it in the films. Caring about the side characters, many of whom get their own episodes in this show, makes the film universe seem more complete and alive. This show is such a swell experience and the division of different stories makes it feel as though you’re watching a series of new Star Wars movies, rather than a television program aimed at kids.
If you haven’t gathered it by now, I highly recommend.
MTFBWYA (and have a Happy Revenge of the Fifth),