In this ongoing series, Ian Blackout revisits Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, in a (roughly) chronological order of events and grouped (roughly) into story-arcs.
Season 5, Episode 17. Written by Charles Murray, directed by Brian Kalin O’Connell.
“Sometimes even the smallest doubt can shake the strongest belief.”
Since The Clone Wars‘ beginning, the niggling question has been ‘but why isn’t Ahsoka Tano in Episode III?’. This arc, at its time in 2013 thought to be the series’ last, goes some way to explaining that and makes a return to homaging Alfred Hitchcock in the process…
Anakin and Ahsoka are repelling a Separatist assault on Cato Nemoidia when they are recalled to Coruscant by Master Yoda. The Jedi temple has been subject to a bombing, and the pair are tasked to lead a low-profile investigation. Worse still, it’s suspected that a member of the Jedi Order itself could be the culprit.
This fraught episode begins with a space/air battle that rivals the opening of Revenge Of The Sith in both its visuals and its sparkling repartee between the Jedi fighter pilots. Not only does it mirror the verbal sparring between Anakin and Obi-Wan, the sequence also shows how Ahsoka has grown over the five seasons, the very crux of this story arc.
Once the detective work begins, it’s a smooth turn for the overarching storyline. The digital reconstruction of the blast is reminiscent of both Source Code and Iron Man 3, and it’s great to see the Jedi being engaged in something other than negotiating or saber-swinging.
And although the bomber is nominally identified within the 22 minute runtime, the tone, scripting and score reassure us that this case is far from closed. In fact, Ahsoka Tano’s work has barely begun…
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The Jedi Who Knew Too Much (2013)
Season 5, Episode 18. Written by Charles Murray, directed by Danny Keller.
“Courage begins by trusting oneself.”
While the Jedi have exposed how the temple bombing was carried out, the specific why remains a speculative blank. Investigating further, Ahsoka finds herself at the centre of an intricate trap…
Anti-Jedi sentiment on Coruscant grows apace and the politics here is thankfully expressed away from the Senate rotunda, although the theatrical presence of Wilhuff Tarkin over-eggs things somewhat.
While a concession is made to the younger audience in Ahsoka being framed for crimes while being shown from the outset to be clearly innocent, repeat viewings reveal that the actual orchestrator of the plot is present throughout, and that their guilt – or even direct association – isn’t telegraphed ahead of the conclusion of the arc.
On a broader level, the number of red-plated Shocktroopers on Coruscant has increased exponentially, giving a visual signal that the security setup of Revenge Of The Sith isn’t too far away, now. But what’s more intriguing is that glimpse we get of the never-to-be Star Wars 1313…
To Catch A Jedi (2013)
Season 5, Episode 19. Written by Charles Murray, directed by Kyle Dunlevy.
“Never become desperate enough to trust the untrustworthy.”
On the run from Republic security forces, Ahsoka seeks cover alone in the seedy underworld of Coruscant, still determined to expose the truth…
Knowing the danger of her situation, the Jedi want to retrieve Ahsoka before the Republic do, perhaps aware that in these times of heightened tension she may not survive the arrest process.
Back on the levels where the sun never shines, there’s been a season-on-season progression of how much disgusting grime could realistically be shown in animation. At this stage, the rendering is almost photorealistic, and some choice lighting and framing leave the worst excesses to the viewer’s imagination.
The lower levels are for those who don’t want to be found of course, and ‘To Catch A Jedi’ sees the brief return of Asajj Ventress, working as a full-time bounty hunter and teaming up with Ahsoka out of begrudging necessity.
Ventress has been the other prominent female character of the series, and while her story is far from wrapped up here, developments in the character have been handled with relative subtlety.
The Wrong Jedi (2013)
Season 5, Episode 20. Written by Charles Murray, directed by Dave Filoni.
“Never give up hope, no matter how dark things seem.”
The rogue Ahsoka is finally captured by Clonetroopers, formally expelled from the Jedi Order and faces a military trial for the murder of Republic personnel. But there are still some working behind the scenes to prove her innocence…
And so here we are. The temple bomb-plot finally exposed, the true agenda of the Republic a little clearer, the moral hesitancy of the Jedi underlined, Ahsoka Tano exonerated.
When the combustive mastermind is finally revealed it’s not exactly a surprise, but comes loaded half with disappointment and half a glaringly obvious acceptance, given the troubled past of the character.
But more powerful is the scene where the Jedi Council convene to formally apologise to Ahsoka, offering her re-admission to their ranks. And the audience is with the Togruta every step of the way as she calmly and solemnly refuses, trust shattered, walking away from the Order to a horizon elsewhere. This is why Tano isn’t mentioned in Episode III, this is why Order 66 wouldn’t apply to her.
At the end of ‘The Wrong Jedi’ in 2013, the future of The Clone Wars was uncertain, so a curtain comes down of sorts. It’s an ending, if not the ending, for the series. Not necessarily a sense of finality but one of permanence, certainly.
But join us next time as The Lost Missions begin…