Many Star Wars fans will write off the animated show The Clone Wars (and similar shows Rebels and Resistance) simply because of their animation style. If they are fans concerned with quality, they are making a terrible mistake by doing so. The Clone Wars offers more than enough quality episodes, which makes the time watching them well spent, and the show holds a surprisingly high standard and narrative depth considering it's primarily catering to a younger audience. On top of that, it gives you an insight into the actual Clone Wars (not just its start and end), an era many fans are fond of. You get to know the valiant clone troopers on a much more personal level as they sacrifice themselves by the score for the Republic, and it's fascinating to study their different personalities considering they are supposed to be identical. You also get more quality time with the characters from the main movies, which serves to the benefit of several of them (Anakin is much more likeable after watching the Clone Wars than just the movies), and most importantly, the show offers Ahsoka Tano, one of the better characters overall from the Republic era.
Starting in 2008, the show got five seasons on Cartoon Network which ended on a cliffhanger. However, this cliffhanger was left behind at the start of seasons six. During the time between season five and six, Disney bought the Star Wars license and decided to "wind-down" The Clone Wars. What was intended as season six was replaced by several different storylines called Lost Missions. The concept for the "real" final season was put in a drawer, where it remained until Comic-Con in 2018 when Lucasfilm announced a seventh and final season coming to Disney+. Finally, the fans would receive answers regarding Ahsoka's future and the Siege of Mandalore, the famous planet that fell under the control of the Dark Side in season five.
Disney+ may yet be unavailable in several countries, and Disney may not have pushed The Final Season as heavily as The Mandalorian, but after posting the last episode of The Final Season in May, it's time to take stock.
The Final Season contains twelve episodes divided neatly into three four-episode parts. The first third follows the clone troopers' struggle on the planet Anaxes, where captain Rex gets help from a squadron of "irregular" clones named The Bad Batch. The second third picks up where season five left off and focuses on Ahsoka's new journey on her search for goal and purpose. The last third follows the infamous and highly anticipated Siege of Mandalore, one of the central planets within the expanded Star Wars universe.
Separating into three parts gives a good point of view when analysing the season because the quality of the content varies throughout. The second part is without question the weakest and gives off a filler vibe that has received too little quality assurance and attention. The plot is weak, the characters unique to the episodes not particularly interesting, the voice acting of the new characters is way below the show's usual quality, and very little of the content is important to the season as a whole. It's a shame this is the middle act, because if people stop watching during these episodes they are really missing out.
The first part with Captain Rex and The Bad Batch is fortunately way better. Gamers will easily spot several similarities between The Bad Batch and the squadron in the 2005 classic Star Wars: Republic Commando, and though some of the characters can be a little loud and annoying at times, it still serves up a lot of fun. The fun isn't without a touch of darkness, though, with some heavy foreshadowing of things to come later in the Star Wars storyline.
The crown jewel, however, is the final third, serving four episodes that are packed with action surrounding the Siege of Mandalore. And this is where we make the review's controversial claim: The Siege of Mandalore arc is without a doubt some of the best Star Wars material ever created, regardless of medium.
We have been presented with four high-paced episodes filled to the brim with perfection, whether talking about story, characters, cinematography, music, emotional depth or combat scenes. On the latter, none other than Ray Park contributed to the motion capture, which might explain some of its tight quality. The last four episodes tie closely in with the events of Episode III, with the natural change of tone and presentation you might except thereof. During this third, every single minute is planned to the last detail sparing not a single second to mindless filler. The result: an emotional, shocking, exciting and exhilarating story where old and faithful viewers are rewarded with a brilliant finale with impressive emotional range.
Some of us have spent the last 20 years diving into all things Star Wars after the prequels kicked off a new Star Wars phase in the late '90s, including movies, books, video games and comic books set in A Galaxy Far, Far Away. Some of it is good, a lot is good enough entertainment-wise, some of it is so bad you start pursuing a career in science so you may create a time machine and erase it from existence (yes, The Holiday Special can have that effect on you), and a few things are exceptionally brilliant. Few other Star Wars tales are close to the quality presented in the last part of The Final Season. If you have even the smallest interest in Star Wars, you owe it to yourself to watch this - and considering the greater effect it will have on you after watching the rest of The Clone Wars, you should get started on season one right away.
There's a lot of positive feedback to give on the content in the last season, despite a weak middle section. Visually the quality is also evident. The animation techniques used have become visibly sharper since the previous season, which gives the show a fusion vibe between cartoon and computed animation. This has always been the intended style for the series, but thanks to better lighting and shadow effects the style really shines in The Final Season. The musical pieces from Kevin Kiner are also impressive (most impressive), especially in the third part of the season.
Fans have been anticipating this season since Comic-Con 2018, and the result makes it easy to understand why. In an age where Star Wars movies can wobble and cause friction between fans regarding their quality, it's quality shows like The Mandalorian and The Clone Wars that will point the way forward and serve some of the absolute best parts of the modern Star Wars canon. As soon as you get hold of Disney+ (if you don't subscribe already), The Final Season should be one of the top items on your watch list.