The Clone Wars is back! The show that was cancelled after 5 and a half seasons returns on Disney + to get the ending it deserved. I was a huge fan of the show, so safe to say I’m thrilled that we finally get to see these episodes.
After really enjoying writing my episode reviews for The Mandalorian and Resistance, I couldn’t wait to do the same again for this final season of The Clone Wars. The reviews will take on the same format: an overview of the plot (so be aware, there will be spoilers!), my review of the show, then a few “Moments in canon” – references that link to other media and the galaxy as a whole.
And so we reach the final arc: The Siege of Mandalore. Today, I will be looking at Episode 9: “Old Friends Not Forgotten”
On Yerbana, Obi-Wan, Cody and the 212ᵗʰ are struggling to advance along a bridge as Separatist forces are dug in and the tactical droid leading them is nowhere to be seen. Anakin arrives as he and the 501ˢᵗ have won their battle. Anakin convinces Obi-Wan to follow his plan and walks out alone towards the enemy lines while Obi-Wan and the 212ᵗʰ stay in cover.
Anakin tells the droid forces that he is surrendering, but this is a ruse to lure out the tactical droid. Once the tactical droid emerges, Anakin uses the force to pull it to him and decapitates it, while at Artoo’s signal, Rex and the 501ˢᵗ emerge from under the bridge with jetpacks and begin to attack the Separatist forces from every direction. The 212ᵗʰ emerge from their positions and push forward.
While the clones continue their assault, Anakin and Obi-Wan receive a transmission from Admiral Yularen, who informs Anakin that they have received contact from someone using his subspace frequency “Fulcrum”. The Jedi initially assume that it is Saw Gerrera reporting that the Siege of Onderon has taken a turn for the worst, however Yularen tells them that it is not Gerrera and advises them to take the transmission back on the ship.
“Hello, Master. It’s been a while.”
Anakin and Obi-Wan return to Yularen’s Star Destroyer, where they find that the transmission is from Ahsoka and Bo-Katan. Ahsoka tells them that she and Bo-Katan have located Maul and that if everyone moves swiftly, they can capture him.
Ahsoka and Bo-Katan are allowed to land their ship in the Star Destroyer’s main hangar, where they and a handful of Mandalorians meet Anakin, Obi-Wan and Artoo. Anakin wants to catch up with Ahsoka but as things are moving quickly, she and the Mandalorians want to get down to business. Obi-Wan leads the group to the war room, where Ahsoka and Bo-Katan explain how they have tracked Maul back to the Mandalorian city of Sundari. Obi-Wan asks why they are asking for the Republic’s help, to which Bo-Katan explains that she does not have the numbers for a siege and fears Maul will escape if they can’t properly lock down the city. Due to treaties in place that would be broken by the Republic moving against Mandalore, Obi-Wan feels that he must speak with the Jedi Council, even after Bo-Katan reminds him that Maul murdered Satine. Obi-Wan leaves to inform the Council of the developments and Bo-Katan returns to the ship with her guards, angry at the waste of time.
Anakin and Ahsoka are left alone and begin to catch up, which culminates in him saying that he has a surprise for her and leading her to the hangar. As they make their way through the ship, Ahsoka is shocked that the clones they pass are saluting her, but Anakin explains that they respect her and remain loyal as they know what she went through for the clones during the war.
“Glad to have you back, Commander.”
“Rex, thank you. But you don’t have to call me commander anymore.”
“Sure thing, Commander.”
The door to the hangar opens and she is greeted by Rex and his company, who have all painted their helmets whit an orange and white pattern reminiscent of her facial markings. Anakin says that he has one more surprise for her and brings out a box, but before she can open it, klaxons begin to ring.
Obi-Wan arrives as they are preparing to jump to hyperspace, but as the clones disperse, he informs Anakin and Ahsoka that rather than going to Mandalore, they are being recalled to Coruscant, which has been attacked by the Separatists. Ahsoka and Obi-Wan argue about the Jedi once again putting politics and the Chancellor ahead of the people. To compromise, Anakin divides the 501ˢᵗ and promotes Rex to Commander of the troops accompanying Ahsoka to Mandalore, as Ahsoka cannot officially lead them as she is no longer part of the Jedi Order and by extension the Grand Army of the Republic. Accepting the compromise, Obi-Wan leaves, advising Ahsoka to capture Maul as he doesn’t stay dead. Anakin gives Ahsoka the box, which contains her old lightsabers, though the blades are now blue. The two say their farewells and part ways.
The Mandalorian loyalist/Republic coalition forces arrive at Mandalore and make their way towards Sundari. In one of the LAATs, Bo-Katan, Ahsoka and Rex receive a hologram transmission from Prime Minister Almec, who denounces Bo-Katan as a traitor and warns that siding with the Republic as they violate their treaty with Mandalore will make her an enemy in the eyes of the people.
As Maul’s loyal Mandalorian warriors prepare, Almec orders Gar Saxon to prepare their forces for attack and sends Rook Kast to inform the syndicate of the invasion.
In the LAAT, Bo-Katan contacts Ursa Wren, who can confirm that Maul has not left the city but that all other attempts to rack him are being blocked, while Saxon is scrambling his forces. The coalition forces begin to come under fire as Saxon’s forces rise to meet them, the loyalist Mandalorians and clones with jetpacks exit the LAATs to fight back. The fighting intensifies, but the Ahsoka and the coalition forces manage to capture the docks and start making their way into Sundari. Almec orders Saxon to retreat to the undercity. Bo-Katan makes her way to the throne room to confront Almec; Ahsoka sends Rex to help Ursa Wren hold the docks while Ahsoka joins up with Captain Vaughn, who has pursued Saxon into the sewers.
In the throne room, Almec receives a hologram from Rook Kast, informing him that Ahsoka was seen entering the lower city. Bo-Katan and her warriors break into the throne room and fight with Almec and his guards. Bo-Katan manages to subdue Almec and demands to know where Maul is, to which Almec tells her that he wanted her to bring the Jedi, but she brought the wrong one. Bo-Katan tries contacting Ahsoka to warn her of the trap, but cannot get through.
“He wanted you to bring the Jedi here, but you brought the wrong one.”
In the sewers, Rook fires an explosive at Ahsoka and her squad. She deflects it into a wall but the explosion momentarily knocks her down. Vaughn and the clones pursue Rook, unaware that she has plenty of reinforcements with her. Ahsoka tries to catch up witht he clones, but finds then all dead except a mortally wounded Vaughn, who dies in her arms. Ahsoka is surrounded by Saxon’s troopers emerging from all the sewer tunnels except one, from which Maul arrives.
Wow. Just… wow! This was by far the most amazing episode of the season so far, and possibly even the best episode ever! Right from the opening moments where we got a card calling the show “A Lucasfilm Limited Production” and the series’ opening theme being replaced by John Williams’ Main Theme from the Skywalker Saga, it was clear that this is something bigger and better than what we have had before. This really felt like the first part of a movie and I honestly think that once the arc finishes, combining the 4 episodes into a “The Siege of Mandalore” movie would be awesome to be on the big screen.
Similar to some moments during the Bad Batch arc, I think the battle sequences have really benefited from the extra years to improve the animation quality, and the battles we got in this episode looked amazing, most notably the initial assault on Sundari, with all the clones and Mandalorians flying around, ships flying everywhere and Ahsoka jumping and running over ships. This was a visual masterpiece! What I think really helped with this battle is how we had known characters on both sides of the fighting to help us keep track of the action, with Ahsoka, Rex, Bo-Katan and Ursa Wren all on one side and Almec, Gar Saxon and Rook Kast (whose unique armours made them stand out among their troops) fighting against them. And even away from the named characters, there were multiple characters models to really vary up the troopers – not just males and females, but different armour designs and different weapons. This was a great way of making the battle feel large-scale, but also keeping us emotionally invested in what is going on. It was great seeing Almec actually involved int he fighting and having his own armour, but I appreciated how as a politician, he was not as good a fighter as the trained warriors around him, allowing Bo-Katan to best him with relative ease. Finally, having some characters utilising shields just helped to add yet another dynamic to the fighting. My one disappointment with the assault was that we didn’t really get much focus on Jesse, who we only see behind the main characters in the LAAT.
“If Republic forces aid you in your assault, it will break treaties that are 100 years old. We will effectively be driven into another war.”
“What’s one more?”
Tying into the point above and the inclusion of Rook and Saxon, it was great to see so many links to other stories. Saxon’s first on-screen appearance was in Rebels, but he was also a key character in the Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir comic, along with Rook Kast. Similarly, Caleb Dume (Kanan from Rebels) made a brief appearance during the opening montage, Satine and Saw Gerrera were both mentioned and even the codename Fulcrum. While I have a few issues with “Fulcrum”, all of these mentions or appearances felt completely natural to the story, even Caleb’s as Padawan to a prominent Jedi , and it was a great way to tie in some of the other stories. We also saw Plo Koon and Aayla Secura on the planets where they meet their end during Order 66 so this combined with the story seeing Anakin and Obi-Wan leaving to join the Battle of Coruscant sent a clear message: “We’re in the end game now.”
In terms of the story and characterisation in this episode, a lot happens at a fast pace, but not too fast as to feel rushed. We still get great character moments from all the main characters – though I would have liked a bit more of a happier moment between Ahsoka and Obi-Wan as they are largely at loggerheads in this episode. Seeing anakin and Obi-Wan’s banter in the opening battle was a great moment and showed how nakin has learned from his master, as Obi-Wan did something similar to draw out the commanding officer in the 2008 movie. I had wondered why Ahsoka and Bo-Katan would ask the Republic to help with Maul so the reasoning of needing greater numbers was a quick and easy explanation, while also highlighting the importance of the Siege. Ahsoka has clearly learned from her time away from the Order and was right in what she was saying about the Jedi focusing on the Chancellor rather than the millions of civilians on Coruscant, but as by-the-book Obi-Wan is actually better than most Jedi in this regard, I liked how this did hurt him to hear. I also really enjoyed Anakin’s initial confusion at how Ahsoka was not looking to catch up with him, but their time together making in clear that it was not her being cold, but instead a focus on the importance of the mission.
“Oh, one other thing: I killed Maul once. Best to capture him. He doesn’t seem to stay dead.”
The scene of the clones saluting Ahsoka was a nice nod to Rex’s line from the movie that “Experience outranks everything.” The clones know what she has done for them and that outranks the fact that she now has no rank or official place within their army. Ahsoka’s reunion with the 501ˢᵗ and seeing the new helmets was a beautiful moment, and while it still affected me, I think that it had been somewhat spoiled by its appearance in the trailers, while I had also heard the story told at a panel a few years ago by Dave Filoni probably before he knew that he’d get a chance to show it one day – Ashley Eckstein was reduced to tears onstage as she heard him talk through the scene for the first time! I must admit that this is my biggest worry with the arc: I have heard so much about it already through panels and the Ahsoka novel, that I worry some of the big moments may not hit as hard as they should for me, due to having known about them for years.
I thought that the battle unfolded well and clearly, while Ahsoka ending up ambushed and alone against Maul and his forces did not feel convenient, but instead a natural occurrence due to the tactical decisions made by the coalition with the information they had, and the reveal that Maul had intended to lure the Jedi to the sewers. Also it was nice to see Ahsoka able to take out a fair few Mandalorians but also have moments where she needed support, considering the history that Mandalorians have with the Jedi, it would have felt wrong if she was able to deal with all of them with ease.
“Yes, Cody. You may join the fun as well.”
“Yes, sir. Blast them!”
I’m really looking forward to seeing how the story develops over the rest of the arc. There are some ideas I have that I will not say as they are based on prior knowledge (like the helmets) that is available out there – I’d rather not spoil for those who are trying to g in blind! What I will predict, though is that we may see Maul’s forces get reinforcements from the rest of the Shadow Collective to help him escape Mandalore, as we see Rook ordered to inform the syndicate of the invasion, while we know from other stories that he is the leader of Crimson Dawn beyond the end of the Clone Wars. I will also not be too shocked to see Almec and Rook meet their ends in the coming episodes so that there are notable deaths on the bad guys’ side, considering there stories have already shown Maul and Saxon beyond this.
And now for my negatives, which are largely minor and wouldn’t have even been noticed by many viewers as they are regarding discrepancies between this episode and the Ahsoka novel. The novel mentioned Ahsoka’s green blades, but we now see that they have been changed to blue with (so far, at least) no real explanation, while the use of the codename “Fulcrum” appears to go against the ending of the novel, where Ahsoka creates the codename. Like I said: minor quibbles, but they did momentarily take me out of the episode.
“I was hoping for Kenobi. Why are you here?”
A few final thoughts on the episode:
- I love Ahsoka’s appearance, with an outfit design similar to her Rebels appearance, but with a clear Mandalorian influence
- Though it’s not always made so obvious, I really appreciated the highlighting of Mauls footsteps due to his cybernetic legs to announce his approach in the darkness at the end of the episode
- The composition of Ahsoka and Anakin’s farewell (over Anakin’s left shoulder as he looks at her) bore a striking resemblance to her leaving the order in season 5 and her fight with Vader in Rebels
Moments in Canon
- Plo Koon is shown on Cato Neimoidia and Aayla Secura on Felucia, where both of them will be killed during Order 66
- During season 2 of Rebels, Ahsoka told Ezra that the last time she had seen Anakin, he was rushing off to save the Chancellor
- “Fulcrum” was originally the name of a subspace communications frequency used by Anakin, but became a codename used by a number of Rebel intelligence operatives, including Ahsoka and Cassian Andor
- Anakin kept Ahsoka’s lightsabers after she left the Jedi Order
- After the 501ˢᵗ were split by Anakin, the forces commanded by Rex were called the 332ⁿᵈ Company
What did you think of the episode?
Thanks for reading. May the Force be with you.