The Clone Wars’ “Victory and Death” Ends the series on the highest note

With Order 66 declared, Ahsoka and Rex must fight their way off the ship and get to safety as their former allies hunt them down.

If there is one thing that The Clone Wars will be remembered for, it is taking the cannon fodder and humanizing them. For The Clone Wars, the clones were never disposable soldiers… they were individuals with names and faces. Sometimes they were marginalized and other times they were accepted, but to the series they were never simply background dressing for a show about Jedi… this series was theirs and, even when they weren’t center stage, they were always a presence.

The final episode of The Clone Wars, “Victory and Death” does not forget this. While it is primarily an action piece of Ahsoka and Rex trying to get off a ship before time runs out, the episode serves as the ultimate tribute to the clones themselves… a story of tragedy and loss. Ahsoka and Rex weren’t just fighting for their lives, they were mourning the lost even as the lost were trying to kill them.

This can best be summarized in one scene when Ahsoka and Rex are in the control room looking down on the legion of clones standing between them and their escape and Ahsoka takes Rex’s helmet off revealing that he’s been crying because he is having to fight his brothers. There was no way that the clones were going to escape death and Rex knew it… Ahsoka knew it… but they tried so hard.

I’ve said several times that this arch has had the spectre of doom hanging over it and this episode was no exception, instead of it being the doom of the Jedi and the Republic, this time it was the 501st and there was simply no way to stop it. Ahsoka and Rex were in the shadow of something they couldn’t fight and couldn’t stop and both of them knew it.

The final moments of the episode were high action as Ahsoka and Rex desperately tried to escape the ship. The animation here… the fighting and the ship burning up in the atmosphere were beautiful. When Ahsoka cut the floor out from under herself and Rex, I actually did the unthinkable and exclaimed, “Nice!” like an idiot.

Of course, one cannot talk of this episode without talking about the final wordless moments. Ahsoka paying tribute to the fallen 501st clones. Despite the fact that they spent the last two episodes trying to kill her, she still acknowledged their kinship and their service… she acknowledged them as victims, friends, and heroes. The haunting scene of the helmets over the graves is an image that is as emotionally heavy as it is heartbreaking.

The final scene, Darth Vader inspecting the wreckage and finding Ahsoka’s light saber was a wonderful bridge, linking Clone Wars to Rebels and the saga beyond and, what I love about it, is that one can interpret it in many ways. Was Vader mourning his lost padawan? Was he simply making sure the job was done? Who knows?

After a fairly disappointing and vanilla season, I am so glad that The Clone Wars has ended on a note higher than I could have wished for. The final four episodes were amazing, emotional, and exciting.

I am so sad the series is over, but I am so grateful it was resurrected so the story could be completed.

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