Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 5 Review

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I complained at first when Cartoon Network moved the show from a Friday primetime slot to Saturday morning at 9:30. But most of it was worth the early Saturday to spend a half an hour each week in the incredible universe the creators of The Clone Wars get to play in.

Unlike past seasons that sprinkled standalone episodes throughout, the fifth season dealt with five, four part stories. If you attach the season premiere to the other three Darth Maul episodes, as it was intended to be, the season really only had those five story arcs.

Now, I am happy they did place the fantastic premiere where it was because we wouldn’t get a spectacular episode again until Darth Maul and his brother returned halfway through the season.

The first full arc had Ahsoka and Lux right at the forefront of a small rebel force on Onderon trying to eliminate the Separatists. But it proved to move to slowly, not needing to be four episodes. It didn’t help that Ahsoka played defense for most of it since the Republic couldn’t get more involved than teaching the rebels battle techniques.

Yet this turned out to be a more crucial lesson for Ahsoka to learn than I once though, when you consider the finale arc, which I’ll come to later. But the execution was a bit off.

Next came the younglings arc, which sported a lighter tone than we’re used to on this show, but was nonetheless effective at telling a fun, albeit predictable story. Ahsoka at the forefront again was smart because we’ve seen her go from youngling to almost knighthood. None of these episodes were as exciting as the premiere, but this was still a memorable and rewarding arc.

Then came the D-Squad arc. Were it not for these putrid episodes, season five would likely have beaten out season four as the best batch. But alas, WAC and Gascon became the worst, most tediously annoying Star Wars characters since Jar Jar Binks. I like to say that at its best, Clone Wars is what the prequels should have been. Well at its worst it’s pretty freaking terrible. Even the somewhat redeemable inclusion of a Republic Commando seemed forced and unnecessary. It’s a shame that the show’s 100th episode was wasted here. The only actual redeemable thing about the arc was seeing R2-D2 as an action star.

Now back to the good stuff. As soon as WAC and Gascon were a thing of the past, Darth Maul and Savage Opress took over. Just when the season seemed to be more aimed at little kids than Star Wars fans of any age, these two head honchos came and delivered some of the darkest material on the series yet. Taking over Mandalore with the Death Watch, and allowing Obi Wan Kenobi to play hero in the end, this arc was truly a reminder of why we love Star Wars. It featured the most shocking deaths on the series yet (seriously, Pre Vizsla, then Duchess Satine, then Savage Opress? Quite a body count for one story arc). It also featured the grandest lightsaber duel the show has given us yet: Darth Sidious vs. Maul and Savage.

When that ended just a few weeks ago, the future was uncertain until we got a trailer for the final four episodes that would focus on Ahsoka. Between the terrorist attack on the Jedi Temple, Ahsoka getting framed, and Asajj Ventress on the loose, this story delivered it all with such power and gusto.

Not only did it bring us closer to Revenge of the Sith, but the original trilogy as well. Featuring similar sets to the Death Star, Grand Moff Tarkin, and Anakin angrier than all hell, this arc was a huge sign that this show doesn’t have much time left to go.

The shocking finale further built upon that as the Jedi Council appeared cowardly of the Senate. And Ahsoka’s departure…

I know the Jedi are supposed to be the good guys, and still are in Revenge of the Sith, but I can’t help but see what Barriss, Ventress, and eventually Ahsoka saw in the Order. They are corrupt and fear the corruption of Republic. The public no longer sees them as peacekeepers, just warriors. Ahsoka’s decision not to rejoin the Jedi once her name was cleared made perfect sense. But that’s not the only service it provided. These four episodes did better work showing us why Anakin eventually turns to the Dark Side better than the whole prequel trilogy did combined. 

We leave the fifth season with a lot of questions. Just what purpose does Darth Maul have yet to serve? Will we ever see Ahsoka again? How many more seasons could the series possibly go? Will there even be a sixth season? I have confidence that there will. This show is too popular and too close to wrapping up for Disney to deny it a spot somewhere.

So, was this the best season? Well, no. The Darth Maul and Ahsoka arcs rank up there among the best Star Wars stories ever told. But I can’t say anything that included WAC and Gascon was the best of anything. After the consistently solid and epic fourth season this was a bit of a disappointment. But it sure didn’t end that way. Grade: B+

Note: Be sure to look for our upcoming feature about the future of of the series early this week. May the Force be with you.

By Matt Dougherty

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