Thus far, the final season of The Clone Wars felt less epic than it should have. The story arcs following the Bad Batch and Ahsoka Tano’s adventures in the Coruscant undercity are fine. Yet, knowing that these are the last episodes we’ll get featuring these characters, they underwhelmed (a little). Yet, with Old Friends Not Forgotten, The Clone Wars starts the infamous Siege of Mandalore and reaches new heights. Ahsoka and Anakin Skywalker finally reunited, we got some time with Obi-Wan, and (Not) Darth (Anymore) Maul finally reappeared. This is The Clone Wars finale that fans have awaited since the series premiered after Revenge of the Sith. Like all prequel-era content, we knew it would all come to a bad end. But seeing it happen is its own kind of macabre reward.
There will be spoilers below, but for a series like The Clone Wars spoilers almost shouldn’t matter. If you’ve seen Star Wars: A New Hope, you know how this all ends. Also, the most emotional moment in Old Friends Not Forgotten was spoiled in its entirety by Dave Filoni himself at Star Wars Celebration. (Video below.) Knowing what happens almost makes the series more emotionally charged, because those tension-relieving moments of respite or comradery are bittersweet. We know they won’t last.
Spoilers for Star Wars: The Clone Wars Old Friends Not Forgotten and the ending of the Siege of Mandalore below.
Why the Siege of Mandalore Is So Important to Star Wars Canon
Illustration by Jake Bartok via Tumblr
Despite the myriad avenues of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, there has always been only one Star wars canon. Only stories personally touched by George Lucas are immovable objects in Star Wars lore. When Disney took over, this meant that only the films and the Filoni-led The Clone Wars were canon. Yet, every successive Star Wars book, comic, animated series, and so on are, undeniably, canon. Thanks to the premature end to The Clone Wars series the Siege of Mandalore was one of the few remaining mysteries in the universe, the final battle for Ahsoka and fan-favorite clone Captain Rex. Like the clone wars themselves to the original trilogy, the Siege of Mandalore was where Maul was defeated and Ahsoka Tano was during Order 66.
Along with Filoni’s recounting of what happened at the Star Wars panel, the events of the siege arose in other canon stories. Both Star Wars: Rebels, the spiritual sequel to The Clone Wars, and the novel Ahsoka directly referenced the events of the battle. While showing us things left to fans’ imaginations is not always a good call for Star Wars, this isn’t one of those things. For whatever reason, The Clone Wars is one of the few Star Wars properties with basically universal acclaim across the fandom. Their faith in Filoni and the cast does not seem to come with entitlement. We are all just happy to be along for the ride.
Why Old Friends Not Forgotten Is a Perfect Beginning-of-the-End for The Clone Wars
Image via screengrab
The most genius bit of the episode was that it began with the old-school Lucasfilm Limited logo. Then, instead of the normal opening, we get the main Star Wars theme. It’s a subtle (and deliberately manipulative) shift, but damned if it doesn’t work. Everything about this episode, from the animation to the performances, feels all the more epic.
We’ve not gotten a lot of time with Obi-Wan and Anakin this season. The latter is at his cockiest yet. We get the sense that the war is going well for the Republic, but the tedium is setting in. This choice feels deliberate, specifically in that it leaves room in the timeline for possible standalone Obi-Wan and Anakin stories in the future. While this is the last season of The Clone Wars, Disney+ needs content and hour-long specials featuring The Clone Wars characters left out of this season seems like a safe bet. Still, Old Friends Not Forgotten feels like a The Clone Wars episode. Anakin rescues Obi-Wan and his clone troopers. They reunite with Ahsoka (and former Death Watch Mandalorian Bo Katan), and then there is a big battle sequence.
As much as we want to see our favorites from the films, The Clone Wars is Ahsoka’s show (and maybe Rex’s). And the past five episodes of the series highlighted that Jedi or not, Ahsoka Tano is a hero. While we love The Mandalorian, Star Wars is at its best when it’s about honest-to-goodness heroes.
Old Friends Not Forgotten Starts The Clone Wars’ Denouement Through the Siege of Mandalore and Order 66
The last time these two friends ever saw each other via screengrab
As excited as we are for the series finale of The Clone Wars, all the most passionate fans already know what happens. Hell, even casual Star Wars fans know what happened because they’ve seen Revenge of the Sith. And, even for those of us who loved the sequel trilogy, maybe there is a lesson here about how to tell a good Star Wars story. For as much as the “I am your father,” moment is part of Star Wars history, it’s never been about the surprise. The only reason people cared about that revelation is because of their investment in the characters.
We know what will happen to all of the characters in The Clone Wars. We’ve seen their ultimate triumphs or their noble ends. Yet, the chance to watch it all play out feels like a gift. Not because the storytellers are tailoring the tale to our expectations, either. The audience trusts the storytellers, and they, in turn, trust the audience. It’s a relationship hard-earned after the rocky early years of The Clone Wars.
Even though spoilers for what happens are one Wookieepedia search away, the audience wants to live the experience through the eyes of the characters. They don’t just want to know “what happens next.”
What did you think of Old Friends Not Forgotten and are you excited to see the Siege of Mandalore play out on The Clone Wars? Tell us in the comments below!
Featured image via Lucasfilm
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.