{Pop Culturally Insensitive will now be co-hosting (De)Constructing the Ion Canon, an ongoing blog surveying the entire official Star Wars canon according to its timeline. Check back every week for the next installment.}

Get caught up with the mission statementEpisode IEpisode IIthe Clone Wars moviethe first season of the showthe secondthe third, the fourth, and the fifth.

Well, folks, this is it. It’s been a long road, getting from there to here. Been a long time, but…sorry, wrong franchise (yeah, bet you forgot that theme song ever happened). Here we are, the end of the road (sort of, there’s The Clone Wars Legacy, but we’ll get into that in a second), the final episodes of Clone Wars. Only 13 episodes were fully completed, and they never aired on broadcast television, instead being purchased by Netflix and put under their “Originals” banner. The season is comprised of only four story arcs, as those were all that were completed fully, with two arcs had finished and other scripted that would later be released as animatics, a comic book and a novel, all under the banner of Clone Wars Legacy, which I hope to address in another post before we get to Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Due to both the limited episode count, and quite frankly the insubstantiality of the stories themselves, this post will be a fair bit shorter than the others, but will provide us an opportunity at the end to take a look back on the series as a whole. So without further ado, lets strap in for the conclusion of The Clone Wars.

The first arc of the series (The Unknown/Conspiracy/Fugitive/Orders) sounds like a masterwork on paper: After Tup snaps on the battlefield and shoots a Jedi point blank in the head, the Council launches an investigation into his sudden murderous rage, and Fives discovers the cause is a chip implanted in every clone’s brain, which unbeknownst to him will be the cause of the Order 66 assault that will {highlight for spoilers} eventually kill all the Jedi. Doesn’t that sound awesome? It should be, and there’s flickers of greatness, but the arc suffers from sub-par writing, and is far, far too drawn out, as though after years of steadily finding its footing the series fell back into the trappings of its first season. The revelation that the Kaminoans believe Darth Tyrannous (aka Count Dooku) to be a Jedi, and its under his orders that the clones are implanted with the chip to begin with is an interesting twist, though its confusing considering the Separatists, which are led by Count Dooku, would attempt to steal the Jango genes in Season 3 if the existence of a large army of clones is necessary to a plan Dooku is instrumental in. Typically, I’d go point by point through the arc, but the story drags its feet through pointless diversions and a somewhat exorbitant amount of expositional dialogue that, while occasionally building on the universe (primarily by expanding on the mythology of Sifo-Dyas, the Jedi who started the clone army, who was merely name dropped in Attack of the Clones and never outright discussed), but ultimately takes so long to get to its conclusion, an ultimately ineffectual one, that Five’s death due to his wild-eyed (and justified) fear appearing to be madness to his fellow troopers who shoot him on the spot when he tries to capture Anakin and Rex is rendered cold and emotionless. The idea of clone troopers discovering plans for Order 66 or the implant in their brain early is a really engaging one, and perhaps some story in the vein of Season 1’s Rookies or The Hidden Enemy, the idea of several clones in an isolated base discovering the chip, perhaps causing them to abandon the cause or even spark some existential debate on whether such an action as Order 66 is truly evil , that could have been amazing, and both seem plausible from the sharp writing and clever, deep, emotional heart of the series we’ve seen demonstrated time and again. Instead, the moment the Jedi themselves become strong factors in the arc, you know (if you’ve already seen Episode III) what you’re watching will be ultimately futile, that the Jedi cannot become aware of Order 66, and therefor the whole affair will be explained away as a trifle (Palpatine claims a virus caused the clones to malfunction as they did), and will ultimately not effect the overall saga in any way at all.

On the plus side, the next arc (An Old Friend/The Rise of Clovis/Crisis at the Heart) does a lot more with its premise, and crafts a surprisingly captivating story out of banking regulations and interest rates, but once again overstays its welcome by an episode, resulting in yet another significant death losing its impact. Padme Amidala arrives on the planet Scipio to find out why the Republic hasn’t been receiving its due from the Banking Clan, where Clovis, who’d previously been abandoned by Anakin to his presumed doom after he’d poisoned Padme, has been employed. Clovis takes the opportunity to tell Padme that the Clan has been committing fraud, and conspires with her to get the proof from within the Clan’s vault. Though at first she rebukes him, after he saves her life during an attack by a bounty hunter, she’s inclined to believe his story, and recruits her handmaiden to help. In a turn of events that results in the Clan’s facilities losing power and Padme’s handmaiden’s death, Amidala obtains proof that the Clan has no money, and has been fooling both sides. Palme manages to get the information to Clovis before being arrested for espionage. Anakin arrives and negotiates her release, but is furious to discover Clovis is involved (I won’t harp on every moment of Anakin’s jealous rage in this episode, but I assure you, they’re all great), almost refusing to take her with him. However, the two make a cautious reconciliation and arrive at Clovis’ home to obtain the materials, only to find the place ransacked, and Clovis hiding. The three attempt to escape, but are pursued by the same bounty hunter who first made an attempt on Padme’s life on the planet, and just barely escape in a ship piloted by R2.

Back on Coruscant, Clovis explains to Palpatine how the members of the Banking Clan have been embezzling funds, and therefor the monetary stock pile all the Republic’s transactions have been founded on is non-existent. Palatine is cautious to believe Clovis due to his past, but when Padme takes his side, Palpatine assigns the two to investigate the conspiracy, a plan Anakin implores her not to follow, but she refuses to listen to him (and to be fair, he was being kind of a d*ck. Like, in this arc, he comes off like the kind of guy who’d use the term “friend-zone” like a girl is obligated to b**w him because he held a door open for her or something). All at once, Count Dooku and Darth Sidious conspire to get control over Clovis by helping him rise to the top of the Banking Clan, Obi-Wan mirrors the sentiment Anakin expressed to Ahsoka last season about letting emotions cloud judgement, and Padme and Clovis enjoy a nice dinner in which he explains his past. Afterwards he attempts to kiss Padme but right at that moment, wouldn’t ya know it, Anakin shows up and immediately Force chokes him, and a rather intense fist-fight ensues. When Padme tries to break it up, Anakin turns to her with rage in his eyes and shouts “You don’t have a say in this!” and its genuinely scary (seriously, Matt Lanter really nails it every time with this show). Eventually security arrives which breaks up the fight (Clovis attributes it to an assault, and claims Anakin was protecting them), which is followed by a surprisingly powerful and emotionally honest break-up scene between Anakin and Padme.

The Senate, after an endorsement from both Palpatine and Padme, agree to elect Clovis to the head of the Banking Clan, but unbeknownst to any, Clovis has been recruited by the Separatists (Dooku appeared to him via a hologram delivered by the droid that healed him after his fight with Anakin). It’s here the story begins to fall apart, as Dooku is soon drawn personally into the mix, a battle breaks out on Scipio, and the plotting becomes both congested and incoherent, but ultimately Clovis in an act of redemption that still feels too little too late sacrifices himself for Padme’s sake, and the ultimately corrupt Banking Clan is dissolved, and full control over the banks is ceded to Plapatine and the Galactic Republic. Perhaps its the financial talk that makes this hard to follow (there’s not much of it besides raising interest rates, which admittedly likely lost the younger viewers, but wasn’t terribly complicated. I’m honestly just trying to find the reason it came apart), or it was meant to be four episodes and was condensed poorly. Either way, the highlight of the episode is its conclusion, seeing how the Empire built up its strength and dominance through Palpatine’s machinations. I just wish this otherwise thrilling arc had stuck the landing a little better.

Nope. Nope, nope, nope, nope. Look, folks, I don’t get paid to do this. But even if I did, there is not enough money in the world to give this arc the minutes of my life it would take to write a synopsis of The Disappeared Part I and Part II. Even setting aside the premise, that the only representative of the Galactic Senate the planet of Bardotta will permit to help them is Jar Jar, nope. Hell, let’s even set aside the reasoning behind that, that the Queen of Bardotta is in love with Jar Jar, and yes, they have “romantic” scenes together, including a kiss. This is two episodes of utter nonsense. Genuinely incoherent storytelling seemingly cobbled together from unproduced episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and Gungan fan-fiction, that randomly incorporates Mother Talsin and Mace Windu in just a mess of plot lines and mythologizing, resulting in a set of episodes that beats out the Gulliver’s Travels knock-off as the laziest writing, and is irksome even for someone who, to this day, is a Jar Jar defender. Just no, we’re not doing this. Nope.

Anybody ready to get weird? Cause we’re about to get real weird. After the lightsaber of Sifo-Dyas is discovered on a desolate planet, the Jedi Council launch an investigation into his death. Though records say he died on Felucia, the details of his mission there have been sealed by the office of the Supreme Chancellor. When questioned by Yoda, Palpatine reveals the records were sealed when he was a Senator, on the orders of then Chancellor Valorum, who informs Yoda that he did indeed send Sifo-Dyas on the mission with his assistant Silman. Anakin and Obi-Wan arrive on Felucia and find Silman, but Count Dooku also lands on Felucia and executes Silman with a Force choke before he can provide the Jedi any information. In the ensuing battle between the Jedi and Dooku, they discover  that Dooku is also Darth Tyranus, and that Tyranus was the one who convinced Sifo to assemble the clone army in the first place, meaning the entire Republic army was created by their greatest enemy. Back on Coruscant, Yoda reluctantly accepts that Dooku is merely a puppet of the Dark Lord of the Sith, as they all are.

During his meditation, Yoda hears the voice of Qui-Gon Jinn (once again, Liam Neeson is back to do the voice), but the other Jedi don’t believe him. They treat him to a battery of tests, but Yoda eventually breaks free (with the help of Anakin) and arrives at Dagobah, as instructed by Qui-Gon. Once there, Jinn explains that he had partially learned how to preserve his spirit after death, and that Yoda can learn the technique properly. Yoda wishes to know the identity of the Sith Lord, and is treated to visions of all that is to come. Qui-Gob encourages Yoda to seek out the Origin of All-Life, where he can begin the next stage of his journey towards ultimate knowledge.

Now here’s where it starts to get wacky. Yoda arrives at the planet which is likely the Origin of All-Life, where he is set upon by five spirits, each with a mask of an emotion which reflects their demeanor (think the villainess from Reboot) who offer to put him through a series of tests to train him, as he himself will one day train someone great. They tell him his first test will be overcoming his fear, which he claims he has. However, he is confronted by his dark side, a shadow manifestation that appears like a mix of Gizmo from Gremlins and the final villain of Zelda II, and no matter how much Yoda denies him, he only grows stronger. It’s only when Yoda acknowledges the darkness within him that the visage disappears. Afterwards, he’s treated to two visions, one of all those he cared about slaughtered, including Ahsoka Tano, who reminds him how he cast her out. Another where the Clone Wars never occurred, and Dooku is still his pupil. When Yoda rejects the latter vision, recognizing it was false, it dissipates, along with the spirits, who tell him he has a final challenge to face on Moraband.

Count Dooku is called to Coruscant by Darth Sidious, while Yoda wards off the spirits of dead Sith on Moraband on his journey for truth. He’s confronted by the spirit of Darth Bane, the originator of the Rule of Two, but is unafraid, and therefor dismisses the visage as the illusion it is, and proceeds into the Sith Temple for his final test. Just then, Sidious uses Dooku’s blood and their collective Force lightning and…things get weird. Like, really weird. Like that amphetamine episode of Mad Men weird. Yoda is in a vision where he has to attack Dooku and Sidious, but Anakin beheads Dooku, and Yoda and Sidious fall off a cliff, but Sidious is just a robe…yeah, it goes there. Yoda awakes, proving he’s stronger than Sidious anticipated, and one of the spirits tells him he will learn to retain his spirit after death, and is treated to a vision of the future, even hearing his eventual last words “There is Another Skywalker”. Back on Coruscant, Yoda tells Obi-Wan and Mace Windu that the Clone Wars is a lost cause, but that there is another way to ultimately win the war for the fate of the Force.

I can see why the showrunners felt that was a better ending for the series. Indeed, it hints at the original trilogy, ending on as positive a note as it can within its restraints, and putting a neat little bow on the series. However, for my money, the conclusion of Season 5, bleak and ambiguous, leaving Anakin distraught and the Jedi Order in disarray after expelling one of their own unjustly, forms a much better bridge to what’s to come (Revenge of the Sith, which depicts the rise of the Empire and Anakin’s fall). This season reveals a lot of what’s to come to its characters, from the chip implanted in the clones to Yoda’s visions of what’s to come and his assurance that the war is futile, that it almost ruins the prequels in a way the rest of the series had otherwise redeemed them. Instead of showing how much more three-dimensional and intelligent these characters were than what we saw in the previous two films, this season makes them look either negligent or ignorant for ignoring all that has come to light and allowing Order 66 and the rise of the Empire to occur. Wise Jedi like Yoda and Obi-Wan, who without this season were blindsided when the troopers turn in Episode III are now to blame for merely accepting Palpatine’s excuse about a parasite and never looking further into these chips. Indeed, everything that transpires in Revenge of the Sith is partly Yoda’s fault. Sure, he never found out who the Sith Lord was, but he had plenty of visions of other things, including vivid visions of Order 66, and yet allows it to occur ion favor of some “grander plan” that occurs to him. But if the Clone Wars is hopeless, like he concludes, why keep fighting it? Why continue to let lives be lost in a ruse?

So, for the last time for this series, we ask, is it worth watching? As for Season 6, I have to say no. There are some interesting ideas, but they’re mostly squandered by unnecessary revelations to characters who seemingly forget them in the next installment of the saga, and sub-par writing that feels rushed and devoid of some of the humanity imbued in previous seasons. The Clovis arc is the highlight, and the Yoda story has some interesting additions to the mythology that are fun for the curious, but the show really takes a step back from where it had gotten to in terms of overall quality.

However, as for the series as a whole, there’s no question its worth watching. Sure, there are some rough patches, but The Clone Wars is on par with, say Led Zepplin’s discography. Is there some bad stuff in there? Sure, there are some real rough patches (Jar Jar’s love story is the equivalent of “Candy Store Rock”), but when its good, it’s really, really ****ing good. From Rookies and The Hidden Enemy to the Umbaran and Mortis arcs, there’s some absolutely amazing, thrilling stories in here, and just like you wouldn’t want to deprive someone of “Black Dog” or “Stairway to Heaven” just because Presence kinda sucks, you don’t want to miss out on some of the most exciting Star Wars stories in decades just because you hit a few patches of average. For those who have been watching along with us, I’ll see you next week for Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (if I don’t see you sooner for something extra). For those who have been waiting to see if the series is worth the time, I implore you, dig in and enjoy; you’re in for one hell of a ride.

Oh, and that “something special” I mentioned? Keep checking, cause even though its not on the schedule, just maybe I’ll have time before Episode III to dig into the Clone Wars Legacy. Here’s a little taste:

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9 thoughts on “(De)Constructing the Ion Canon: Star Wars The Clone Wars: Season 6

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