Looking back on the best arcs of ‘The Clone Wars’ series

After six years of waiting, the animated Star Wars series “The Clone Wars” returned in early 2020 for an epic final season, which recently wrapped up on the Disney+ streaming service.

Now that the story is complete, it’s interesting to look back on all the episodes and consider their impact on the Star Wars saga as a whole.

While I personally don’t love the Star Wars prequels, “The Clone Wars” series is actually one of my very favorite things in the Star Wars franchise. Prequel characters like Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala get deeper, more nuanced arcs, and Padawan Ahsoka Tano, who was first introduced in “The Clone Wars,” is now a fan favorite and has shown up in other Star Wars stories.

As a longtime fan of “The Clone Wars,” here are the five episode arcs that stand out the most to me over the show’s seven seasons:

Dooku Captured
The Gungan General

Season 1, Episodes 11-12

I have a lot of episodes on this list that are more serious in tone, but this two-parter is one of my favorites because it’s just so hilarious and fun. As you can probably guess from the title of this episode, Sith lord Count Dooku has been captured by pirates (including the infamous Hondo Ohnaka, who is one of my favorite Star Wars side characters).

If you’re not familiar with Hondo, well…you’re definitely missing out. This smooth-talking pirate can’t be trusted, but he never fails to be charming. Anakin and Obi-Wan end up get captured along with Count Dooku, and, of course, hijinks ensue.

Altar of Mortis
Ghosts of Mortis

Season 3, Episodes 15-17

“The Clone Wars” wasn’t afraid to get weird and mystical, and one of the most “out there” episodes is the Mortis trilogy. Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Ahsoka are stranded on a strange world called Mortis, which is ruled over by three beings/spirits known as the Father, Son, and Daughter, who are seeking to balance the Force.

The interesting thing about this concept is that if I’d simply read the episode synopsis, I probably would have hated it. A personification of the Force isn’t something I would have been interested in seeing, because I prefer that Star Wars keeps the concept of the Force somewhat mysterious. Thankfully, these episodes tread carefully and don’t try to overexplain what’s going on.

One of the most heart-wrenching scenes in the entire series is when Anakin sees a vision of his future and all the terrible things he will do when he becomes Darth Vader. However, in order for the Force to be balanced, this vision must be erased from his mind, and Anakin continues on his inevitable path to the dark side.

The Mortis arc raises a lot of philosophical questions about the Force and what “balance” truly means. As the “Chosen One,” was Anakin always meant to confront both the Jedi and the Sith? These episodes challenge Star Wars fans to examine what they think about the Force and its involvement in the Star Wars story.

Darkness on Umbara
The General
Plan of Dissent
Carnage of Krell

Season 4, Episodes 7-10

I’ve always enjoyed the clone-focused arcs in “The Clone Wars,” and this series of episodes is arguably the strongest. One of the best things “The Clone Wars” does is show all the clone troopers as individuals. They aren’t just mindless soldiers, but they also aren’t given a free will to choose their own destiny. Although deep down, the Jedi know this is wrong, they continue to use the clone army anyway, because they feel they have no other choice.

While many of the Jedi have developed friendships with the clones they serve with on the front lines, Jedi commander Pong Krell is not one of them. He is harsh to the point of cruelty, and clone Captain Rex must make a difficult decision about staging a mutiny.

Captain Rex is one of my top five favorite Star Wars characters, and it’s so interesting to see his journey throughout this series, and how he begins to recognize the injustices in the galaxy and his own life. He’s loyal to the Republic, but like Anakin, he can see the corruption within the system.

The Jedi Who Knew Too Much
To Catch a Jedi
The Wrong Jedi

Season 5, Episodes 17-20

In this arc, which is one of the most emotional in the series, Ahsoka Tano is accused of a crime she didn’t commit and is expelled from the Jedi Order. Although Anakin fights to prove she is innocent, too much damage has already been done. Ahsoka decides that the Jedi Order is no longer the place for her, and she walks away, choosing to pursue her own path.

The interesting thing about Ahsoka is that in the beginning of the series, I actually wasn’t the hugest fan of her character. She seemed more like an annoying teenager who was tagging along with Anakin, but what I didn’t appreciate at the time was that this was all a part of her arc.

Ahsoka grows a lot throughout the series, and her choice to leave the Jedi is a solemn, mature decision that does not come easily for her. She proves that the Jedi do not have a monopoly on the light side of the Force, and she becomes a hero entirely on her own terms.

Old Friends Not Forgotten
The Phantom Apprentice
Victory and Death

Season 7, Episodes 9-12

Though the last four episodes are bittersweet and heartbreaking, I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to “The Clone Wars” series. This four episode arc is just as epic and action-packed as any of the live-action Star Wars films, and follows along with the events of “Revenge of the Sith,” but from Ahsoka’s perspective.

Because Star Wars fans already know the tragedy of Order 66 (and the death of the Jedi Order) is coming, these episodes are filled with suspense and dread. It’s gut-wrenching to see the clones turn on Ahsoka, unable to control their own actions because of a chip Palpatine placed in their heads.

The final shot of Darth Vader is a tragic moment that’s lingered with me weeks after I finished watching the episode. While the overall tone of these episodes is sad, they’re never completely devoid of hope, because we know that in the end, Star Wars is always about redemption.

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