I am a world-builder at heart. It delights me more than anything to see a consitently developed, “living” world. That is why I find it difficult to judge the last episode of Clone Wars Season 7 objectively.
In terms of Star Wars worldbuilding, Dave Filoni’s name has become the synonym for binding the Galaxy together. The Clone Wars already in their first season managed to provide a “correction” to George Lucas’s Revenge of the Sith: showing Anakin Skywalker as the “cunning warrior and a good friend” that Obi-Wan described him as in A New Hope. It provided the extra material to show more of Anakin’s psyche, the background for his eventual transition to Darth Vader – something the films really did not have time for.
“Old Friends Not Forgotten” (and, we can expect, the following episodes) is the final piece of the worldbuilding puzzle we have been waiting for over a decade. If the first Clone Wars provided Anakin with an apprentice, what became of her? If Anakin was such a good friends with clone commander Rex, what happened during Order 66? Plus later all the other questions prompted by the plot of TCW themselves – what became of Maul? What of Mandalore?
Last Time Back To Mandalore
“Old Friends Not Forgotten” finds Ahsoka getting ready for returning to Mandalore to fight Maul. For that, she decides to obtain her former master’s help. We see Anakin, Obi-Wan and their clones during yet another mission on yet another planet. An amazing battle scene showing the best of Anakin-Obi-Wan dynamic is followed by the cathartic reunion with Ahsoka. We are sort of expecting that now comes the grand finale – the good old team of Obi-Wan, Anakin, Ahsoka and Rex going to their final big battle against Maul. At least that is what it would be if RotS was a heroic adventure story and not a tragedy.
The reunion is cut short by the news of Grievous’s assault on Coruscant – and with terror, we realise that we find ourselves hours, if not minutes from the beginning of Revenge of the Sith. The appearance of Obi-Wan and Anakin becomes brief, but significant, because it – to our surprise – tells us where we are in the big picture. And the tone completely shifts along with our perspective. We know what is coming. I would not blame any viewers for shouting “no, don’t go, stay with Ahsoka!” at Anakin.
This Is Ahsoka’s Grand Finale
The rest of the episode still provides many epic moments. The aerial descent to Mandalore may be one of the best battle scenes in the entire Clone Wars. Ahsoka is being epic – almost too epic, but this is the grand finale! When would it be appropriate for her to perform amazing jetpack stunts and save pilots from cockpits in-flight, if not now! This is her equivalent of “end of trilogy”. This is the end of her story. Or, almost.
During the assault on Mandalore, we witness the encounter between Bo-Katan and minister Almec (who would have thought the old man could fight so well?), and notably, a young(ish) warrior named Gar Saxon also appears leading Maul’s Mandalorians. Another instance of the puzzle of the world clicking together (this time, with Star Wars Rebels).
The tone of tragedy seeps into the final moments of this episode as we learn that this was all a trap. A trap for Obi-Wan, no less – the whole senselesness and tragedy of these final moments of war becoming painfully visible. Things might have taken a very different course indeed. Perhaps better for Palpatine, had Obi-Wan been out of the picture earlier, but perhaps better for Anakin and Ahsoka. We will never know.
The episode ends with Ahsoka alone in the tunnels underneath Sundari, her loyal clones – whom we have just seen painting their helmets with Ahsoka’s patterns in her honour – dying in her arms, literally. I might correct my statement – Dave Filoni is not only a master worldbuilder, he is the master of emotional overload. And on top of all that, Maul appears in the dark mouth of the corridor and the episode ends on a cliffhanger.
Overall, “Old Friends Not Forgotten” may easily top the list of TCW episodes. Not only does it have some amazing action, dialogue and scenes illustrating relationships between the main characters of the whole show. It also provides the best concrete tie-in to the films, along with conveying the atmosphere of the moment.
This could be a film – or a part of RotS – and it would perfectly hold up to the standards, if not surpass them.