During the first portion of Star Wars: The Clone Wars‘ final season, we looked in on Captain Rex’s journey. The middle portion of the season gave us a glimpse of Ahsoka’s time and trials since leaving the Jedi Order.
Now, at long last, the story every fan of the series has been waiting for is finally here: The Siege of Mandalore!
They Fly Now
The episode opens with a much different and more cinematic intro, letting us know right off the bat that this story is going to be something special.
After a brief primer about how thinly Republic forces are stretched across the galaxy (including a great shot of Aayla Secura, Commander Bly, and the 327th Star Corps on the planet of Felucia), we drop in on the planet Yerbana, where Commander Cody and 212th Attack Battalion are getting their asses handed to them by the Separatists.
Just when it appears Cody is going to get obliterated by an artillery shell, Obi-Wan saves him and provides the clones with a chance to take cover. Cody then informs the Jedi general that his forces have been unable to locate the Separatists battalion’s tactical droid, making it near impossible to break through their heavy defenses.
It’s at this point that a very cocky Anakin Skywalker saunters over to their position. He explains that since his and Captain Rex’s part of the battle is won, they are free to help. After a reluctant approval from Obi-Wan, he walks right across a bridge into the middle of the battlefield, (presumably) avoiding the incoming laser blasts via the force. After the droids turn all their turrets on him, Anakin yells at them to cease fire and announces that he’s surrendering.
Predictably, the battle droids accept the ruse at face value and alert the tactical droid to come out of hiding. Unbeknowst to them, Rex and a jetpack-equipped 501st battalion have crawled underneath the bridge to lay in wait.
The tactical droid emerges and immediately deduces that his army is getting played. Before he can order his troops to fire, however, Anakin Force pulls him away from the Separatist battle line and destroys him. Seconds later, Rex and the 501st swarm into the sky and rain hell down on their opponents. Cody and the 212th join them on the ground, routing the Separatist and claiming Yerbana for the Republic.
As Anakin and Obi-Wan proudly watch their troops wrap up the fight, Admiral Yularen calls in to say they are both needed back on the Republic flagship for an important transmission.
Reunions and Reservations
When the pair arrive on the ship’s bridge, they are shocked to see a holo transmission from Bo-Katan Kryze and Ahsoka Tano.
Anakin immediately begins asking his former padawan about her well being. Ahsoka is clearly moved by Anakin’s concern and happiness at seeing her, but remains all business, explaining that she and Bo Katan have vital information that must be acted on quickly: Darth Maul has returned to Mandalore.
Later, Obi-Wan and Anakin make their way to the flagship’s hangar to greet Ahsoka’s transport. Anakin is all types of excited that his former padawan is returning, going so far as to say the Force must have willed her leaving the Jedi Order since it put her in a position to help take down Maul. Obi-Wan is understandably skeptical of this line of thinking, but remains optimistic that her presence might mean a return to the Jedi Order — and that Maul will finally be captured.
After the transport arrives, Ahsoka disembarks along with Bo-Katan and a group of Mandalorian rebels. Anakin once again starts to gush about how happy he is to see her, but Ahsoka cuts him off. Bo-Katan follows up by declaring that every minute they waste is another minute Maul can use to escape their grasp.
The group heads to the ship’s briefing room. After explaining how they pinpointed Maul’s location to the Mandalorian capital city of Sundari, Bo-Katan admits that she doesn’t have the numbers to take him and his forces out. She needs the Republic’s help. Obi-Wan expresses his reservations about breaking the long standing neutrality treaty with Mandalore and drawing the Republic into yet another war. When he offers to bring the matter before the Jedi Council, Bo-Katan angrily responds that there’s no time for politics when Maul’s influence is destroying her people. She then goes in for the kill shot, reminding Obi-Wan that Maul murdered her sister (and his secret girlfriend). She punctuates that bit of harshness by proclaiming “I thought she meant something to you.”
Obi-Wan admits that Satine did — and still does — mean a lot to him, but he would not allow his emotions to sway his judgement. He and the the Mandalorians then storm out of the room, leaving Ahsoka and Anakin alone. After finally sharing a moment of levity, he reveals that he has a surprise for her.
As Ahsoka follows Anankin through the ship, the passing clones all salute her. She doesn’t feel right about it since she’s not technically their commander anymore, but Anakin says it doesn’t matter. As far as the clones are concerned, she’s done more than enough to earn their respect and loyalty.
Anakin’s point is perfectly driven home when he opens a door to reveal Captain Rex and a battalion of 501st troopers all sporting helmets customized with Ahsoka’s Togruta coloring/markings.
Clearly moved by the gesture, Ahsoka still tries to tell Rex that he doesn’t need to call her commander. Rex acknowledges that it’s no longer required of him, but chooses to do so anyway.
Before things can get any more sentimental, an alarm sounds. Obi-Wan bursts into the room and explains that General Grievous has launched an attack on the Republic capital of Coruscant. When he commands all forces to prepare to launch a counter strike, Ahsoka asks if this means the Jedi are abandoning Bo-Katan and the Mandalorians. Obi-Wan tries to defend himself, but Ahsoka presses him, explaining how her time away from the Order has shown her the people who really need their help. She also points out that they are putting Chancellor Palpatine’s life over the lives of an entire planet.
Anakin breaks the stalemate by suggesting that Rex take Ahsoka’s former place as commander of a partial battalion from the 501st with her escorting him as an “advisor.” This time, Obi-Wan agrees. After he leaves, Anakin reveals one more surprise for his former padawan: Her old — and upgraded — lightsabers.
The Siege Begins
As the combined 501st and Mandalorian rebel forces approach Sundari, Bo-Katan takes a call from a very angry Prime Minister Almec, who insists they call off the attack. She refuses, stating that they know he’s Maul’s puppet and that the rogue Sith is hiding nearby.
An aerial engagement ensues. The Mando/Republic aircraft are showered with artillery fire while jetpack-equipped Maul Mandos engage them directly. Thankfully, the good guys have Ahsoka, who proceeds to kick names and take ass like we’ve never seen before during her already storied history.
After hopping from gunship to gunship to take out a swath of opponents, she jumps on top of a ship that is about to go down and cuts open the canopy, allowing the trapped clone pilot to safely eject. That would have been cool enough on its own, but Ahsoka stays on board, riding the flaming aircraft all the way to the city landing platform and jumping off right at the enemy’s front line.
Rex and the rest of Ahsoka’s forces follow, engaging Commander Gar Saxon and his forces in a violent (and incredible) ground assault.
As Ahsoka’s forces close in, Almec orders Saxon to retreat to the city’s lower level. Rex leads the bulk of the Mando/Republic forces to support Ursa Wrenn with guarding the city’s ports to ensure Maul isn’t allowed to escape. Meanwhile, Bo-Katan and a group of her rebel fighters head to the city’s throne room to deal with Almec while Ahsoka and Captain Vaughn take a squad below to hunt for Maul.
While Bo-Katan and her forces are successful subduing/capturing Almec, Ahsoka and Vaughn walk into a trap and are easily routed. After attempting to comfort the dying clone captain, Ahsoka is surrounded by Saxon’s forces.
She then comes face-to-face with Maul himself, who asks why she is there instead of the Jedi (Obi-Wan) he had hoped to lure there instead.
Even with all the hype surrounding these final four episodes, “Old Friends Not Forgotten” still managed to blow me away.
As always, the animation was top notch. We’ve seen epic military engagements like this since the second season (“Landing at Point Rain“), but I’m not sure we’ve ever seen such fantastic individual fight sequences. It’s hard to imagine there’s anyone out there who still doesn’t like Ahsoka, but if her mind-bowing aerial assault doesn’t win them over, then nothing will.
Also, I know he’s a bad guy and all, but don’t sleep on Saxon. Dude is a beast.
As great as all that action was, the episode deserves a ton of credit for its many great character moments, particularly those between Ahsoka and Anakin. The heartache, guilt, and happiness he feels at seeing his padawan again radiates off the screen. This could be my biased love for the series talking, but I’m honestly not sure it could be done any better in live action.
Obi-Wan and Anakin’s interactions are always fun, but the ones in this episode were even better. They also felt closer to what we saw in Revenge of the Sith, providing yet another nice bridge from the series to the movies.
It was great getting to see Ahsoka with Rex again, although I occasionally got distracted looking for a scar on Rex’s head where his chip would be removed. Regardless, I’d forgotten how good a pair these two made and how their friendship has grown since the first season.
Yes, there were a few contrived moments — like Anakin’s ridiculously obvious gambit on Yerbana or Bo-Katan complaining that they didn’t have time to debate a military alliance while she and Ursa were spying on Ahsoka the last two episodes.
But those are pretty small complaints compared to all the great stuff we got from this episode. If the next three are anything like this one, then Star Wars: The Clone Wars will be going out on the highest note possible.