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Star Wars: The Clone Wars finale recap: Ahsoka's adventure ends in 'Victory and Death'

The last project kicked off by creator George Lucas comes to an intense conclusion.

Ahsoka Tano

Ahsoka Tano is determined to escape without killing the clones.

Lucasfilm/Screenshot by Sean Keane/CNET

So it ends. The last episode in the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars  came to Disney Plus on Monday, May 4, after the events of Siege of Mandalore and clone troopers across the galaxy turning on the Jedi as Order 66 is triggered. This is the season's 12th episode, and it's called "Victory and Death," a suitably dramatic and final-sounding title.

We're deep into the events of Revenge of the Sith at this point, and ex-Padawan Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) managed to get the inhibitor chip -- which Darth Sidious used to make the clones go bad -- out of her pal Commander Rex's (Dee Bradley Baker) head. Unfortunately, they're also trapped in a medical bay with a whole bunch of Order 66'd clones ready to break in and end them both.

Meanwhile, mad lad Maul (Sam Witwer) is killing his way around the ship after Ahsoka released him to cause a distraction. Let's dive into Clone Wars SPOILER town one last time.

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Fighting back

Just as the clones breach the medical bay, Ahsoka and Rex burst out. Seamlessly deflecting blaster bolts and firing stun blasts, they incapacitate all the troops without killing them. (I dunno if the guy Ahsoka hits with a door is OK, though. That sure looked nasty.)

Elsewhere, Maul is listening into the clones' communications with his ill-gotten armor piece, and takes a different approach to our heroes as he enters the hyperdrive chamber. He slaughters the clones and pulls the generators down, forcing the cruiser out of hyperspace -- the trip to Coruscant is canceled. Sidious will be disappointed, he had tea ready for everyone! Tea and lightning.

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In epic style, Maul brings the cruiser crashing down in this episode.

Lucasfilm/Screenshot by Sean Keane/CNET

Being pulled out of lightspeed so abruptly has had a devastating effect on the cruiser -- countless fires have broken out on the hull as it hurtles towards a moon. This is an absolutely spectacular visual, and Kevin Kiner's use of synth on the soundtrack (which is available on Spotify) gives it some extra dramatic punch.

"We need to get out of here," Ahsoka says. Good call!

The Jedi way

Ahsoka, Rex and their astromech droid buddies need to get across the hangar to the last remaining shuttle (bad Rex ordered the escape pods destroyed in the previous episode). Unfortunately, a massive contingent of Rex's clone brothers -- led by Jesse because of course it had to be someone we knew -- is in the way. 

Admirably, Ahsoka is determined to stick to the nonlethal approach even though the cruiser is doomed. She realizes Rex is pretty cut up about the situation and takes off his helmet, to find a tear rolling down his cheek.

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Jesse leads his fellow clones in hunting Ahsoka and Rex.

Lucasfilm/Screenshot by Sean Keane/CNET

"You're a good soldier Rex, so is every one of those men down there," she says. "They may be willing to die, but I am not the one who is going to kill them."

It's clear she's internalized the true meaning of being a Jedi, a philosophy espoused by Anakin Skywalker in Attack of the Clones, before he became her master: "Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is essential to a Jedi's life." Unfortunately, Anakin isn't really practicing what he preached at this point.

Rex approaches Jesse and company with Ahsoka at blaster point, pretending to have taken her prisoner, and argues that she hasn't been a Jedi for ages -- an attempt to confuse the Order 66 programming with semantics. It buys them enough time for the droids to dump a bunch of the clones to a lower level, evening the odds as Ahsoka and Rex continue their stun-deflection dance.

Maul's escape

Their plan is thrown a little askew when Maul runs toward the ship -- the cheeky Charlie is trying to escape on his own.

"You wanted this chaos!" he growls at Ahsoka, as he flings stuff at her with the Force. Maybe she shouldn't have let the crazy guy out of his cell after all.

Ahsoka comes within an inch of sabering his throat, but he pushes her back and hops in the shuttle. She briefly tries to stop him using the Force (like Rey in The Rise of Skywalker, no unexpected lightning here, though), but breaks away to help Rex battle the converging clones.

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Ahsoka tries to stop Maul from escaping.

Lucasfilm/Screenshot by Sean Keane/CNET

The former Sith Lord jumps to hyperspace -- bye bye, Maul, we'll see you in Solo and Rebels (please give this guy his own live action show on Disney Plus!).

Ahsoka and Rex get surrounded, so she awesomely stabs her lightsabers into the floor with the Force and cuts out a section around them so they drop to a lower level. Faster than an elevator, quicker than the stairs! 

They find a small fighter to escape in, and Rex climbs in just as the cruiser enters the moon's atmosphere and starts to break apart. After some stylish falling and running along debris, Ahsoka manages to hop in the gunner's seat.

Saying goodbye

Some time later, Ahsoka and Rex have landed and buried some of the clones (presumably many bodies couldn't be recovered), marking the graves with helmets on sticks.

In her robe, Ahsoka looks much like she did in the flashforward that ended followup show Rebels (which you should watch right now if you haven't already — it's on Disney Plus).

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Ahsoka improvises an escape route from the hangar.

Lucasfilm/Screenshot by Sean Keane/CNET

The tribute to the clones is like a less chilling version of the Stormtrooper helmets on sticks in the fifth episode of The Mandalorian. It also puts Ahsoka's and Rex's attitudes toward the clones in stark contrast with those of the Empire, which views them as disposable tools because it's run by jerks.

Accepting that she has to leave her old life behind completely, Ahsoka drops her remaining lightsaber on the ground by the graves. Bye bye, Ahsoka and Rex, see you both in Rebels.

Cameo of the Sith

You knew this fella had to show up. We jump forward in time, and Imperial Stormtroopers, Snowtroopers and probe droids patrol the crash site as a shuttle lands. It's covered in snow now, so it looks a lot like Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back.

Darth Vader steps up to the graves and finds the lightsaber his former self gave to Ahsoka, activating it and gazing at its blue blade. He takes it with him as he walks away. 

The final image of the show is Vader, reflected in the visor of a half-buried clone trooper helmet with Ahsoka-style markings. Bye bye, Lord Vader, enjoy being a blight upon the galaxy.

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Easter eggs and observations

  • In universe, the Clone Wars lasted three years (the period between Attack of the Clone and Revenge of the Sith). The show's seven seasons aired over 12 real-life years, with a seven-year gap between seasons 6 and 7.
  • The chanting during the intro has echoes of John Williams' compositions that play during Qui-Gon Jinn and Padmé's funerals in The Phantom Menace and Revenge of the Sith, respectively.
  • Rex performs remarkably well for a guy who's just had brain surgery.
  • Jesse's armor is so striking, and the Republic symbol on his helmet (along with the tattoo on his head) always hinted that he'd go along with Order 66.
  • Ahsoka only drops one of her two lightsabers. She likely uses the other in creating the ones she wields in Rebels (this season contradicts events in the 2016 Ahsoka novel, in which she constructs those sabers).
  • Seeing Vader and the Original Trilogy troops depicted in The Clone Wars style is incredible.
  • A convor flies above Vader at the end -- this owl-like bird was linked to Ahsoka in Rebels, and hints at her continuing adventures here.
  • Vader holding onto Ahsoka's lightsaber hints that he hasn't quite extinguished every last hint of Anakin Skywalker. That remnant will drive him to save Luke in Return of the Jedi.

With that, the final Star Wars project that creator George Lucas had a direct hand in comes to an end. Bye bye to The Clone Wars, it's been a wild ride.