SPOILERS FOR THE CLONE WARS, SEASON 7, EPISODE 9
Some things never change – but the status quo gets a major shake-up in the tenth episode of The Clone Wars‘ final season, which kicks off the series’ last story arc: the long-awaited Siege of Mandalore. Old friends and enemies reunite with epic consequences; ancient pacts are broken; and events are set into motion that cannot be undone. From the moment the episode opens with the blood-red title card that has always signified the influence of Darth Maul (voiced by Sam Witwer), the action, drama and excitement is nonstop, fast-paced and intense.
Just to give you a sense of how close we are to the end: this episode begins a few hours before the attack on Coruscant at the beginning of The Revenge Of The Sith, in which Chancellor Palpatine is kidnapped by Separatist forces – an attack which plays a pivotal part in this episode’s events, as it drives a wedge between Anakin Skywalker (Matt Lanter), Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor), and Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein), preventing the trio from joining forces against Darth Maul. A brief montage in the opening recap also gives us a quick, but heartbreaking, look at some fan-favorite Jedi Knights departing on their final missions across the galaxy.
There’s been some sort of time-jump since last week’s episode, since Ahsoka is now firmly established as an ally of the rebel Mandalorian Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff), whose mission to win back her home planet of Mandalore from Darth Maul and his tyrannical regime depends on the assistance of the Jedi – who, historically, have always been opponents of the Mandalorian way. Naturally, Ahsoka turns to her old mentor and friend Anakin, who is eager to help her – until Obi-Wan gets involved, counseling patience and prudence: some things really never change (like the infuriating way Obi-Wan scratches his chin every single time he has to make a decision: it’s one of those character quirks that gets repeated so many times it actually becomes vaguely irritating). Even a harsh reminder of the suppressed romantic tension between Obi-Wan and the recently deceased Duchess of Mandalore isn’t enough to change his mind.
Ahsoka, channeling everything that Trace and Rafa Martez taught her, gives the Jedi a piece of her mind – telling them bluntly and honestly that, by even questioning whether to rescue Palpatine or save Mandalore, they’re playing politics and betraying the oath they took as Jedi. Obi-Wan mutters something about how Ahsoka’s not being fair: to which the former Jedi padawan replies: “I’m not trying to be.” How far she’s come! All grown up and challenging the policies of a corrupt and bureaucratic government.
In the end, Obi-Wan wins the argument, much to Anakin’s dismay and frustration – more excellent foreshadowing of what’s to come, when the friends’ relationship reaches a breaking point. But thankfully, Anakin doesn’t let Ahsoka go without three gifts: a squadron of clone troopers, with their armor decked out in the colors of Ahsoka’s Togruta facial markings; her twin lightsabers, which she had given to him to keep after she left the Jedi Order; and the strength of their bond renewed – which, in the long run, is going to mean nothing once Anakin becomes seduced by the Dark Side, but, hey, it’s a nice gesture for right now. The lightsabers in particular come in handy when Ahsoka and Bo-Katan lead their small invasion force into Mandalore – and much to my delight, the whirling blades have also restored much of Ahsoka’s confident, unique fighting style. The gravity-defying mid-air fight scene in this episode makes up for the multitude of weak, low-energy street brawls that Ahsoka struggled through in the past few weeks.
But while Ahsoka has an easy time slicing through Mandalorian fighter ships, she’s met her match in the Sith Lord Darth Maul, whom she encounters in the sewer system underneath Mandalore (because it’s Darth Maul, so of course he’s hiding in a sewer, waiting to ambush people). Maul, as it turns out, was expecting his arch-nemesis Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the episode ends with Maul and Ahsoka rather awkwardly staring each other down, not knowing exactly what to say to each other. Will Maul try to kill Ahsoka? Will he imprison her? Or will he just kind of…talk to her? I’m intrigued to see what goes down next week, and honestly looking forward to some more of the quiet, conversational Maul who has been such a joy in previous seasons of the series.
So we’ve started out on the last leg of our journey to the conclusion of the Clone Wars. The Siege of Mandalore is already underway. The end of an era is approaching. But the good news is, some things never change. After all, Ahsoka, Anakin and Obi-Wan still only have, what, one brain-cell between the three of them? Just like old times.
Episode Rating: 8.5/10