Over the weekend, I had the honor of attending the season five theatrical finale event of The Clone Wars at Lucasfilm's Presidio headquarters.
Save for a few thoughts at the end of this piece, I'll have a much fuller report about the event itself here and on the Full of Sith Podcast.
We arrived in the theatre at ILM (the same one I saw the season three premiere in) and spotted many of the cast and crew of the show, including Dave Filoni, Joel Aron, Ashley Eckstein, Matt Lanter, and Sam Witwer. Producer Cary Silver and Dave Filoni introduced the episode (they also inducted Bonnie Burton into the Wolf Pack) and then we were off.
Filoni cut together a special version of all four episodes of the arc and opened it in an unusual fashion: with the theatrical Star Wars main theme instead of the regular show theme. Sabotage, the first episode, which I found a bit dry the first time I saw it, held up much better in the context of the larger story. In fact, it telegraphs a lot of what is to come in the finale, much more than I would have expected. But that's the mark of excellent storytelling, it's all there for you to see, you just need to know how to look.
But the first two episodes set the stage for the final two, which are absolutely breathtaking. We're taken to the underworld of Coruscant (which looked heavily influenced by Blade Runner), where Ahsoka hunts for clues to prove her innocence, with the unlikely help of Asajj Ventress.
She's led into a trap and caught, when we see her put on trial next week for the murder of the Jedi Temple Bomber and her involvement in the plot. Anakin, for his part, is absent at her trial seeking to discover the true villains in the plot.
This episode is beautifully animated, heart-wrenching, and leaves us with so many question marks to come that I can't even begin to comment on them until after the episode airs. What I can comment on, though, as did Dave Filoni at the Q and A afterwards, was the music. Kevin Kiner pulled out all the stops for these episodes, even recording a live orchestra for the music in this arc. It's also the first time a number of the best and most recognizable John Williams themes are used on the show to the maximum possible effect.
More than anything, this final episode is emotional. Perhaps one of the most emotional I've ever witnessed. For the last two thirds of this episode I was holding back tears and a lump in my throat. Matt and Ashley did some of their finest work in the final sequences of this episode, but it would never have come off without the incredible animation that puts a soul in the eyes of living, breathing characters that would otherwise be nothing but limp pixels on a screen.
Also: Continuity wonks are probably going to be upset by the handling of a couple of situations and characters, but their use in this arc were used to tell an excellent story, so, please do your best to ignore the problems with less than Lucas-level canon.
Bottom line: put together in a theatrical experience, these four episodes are four of the best I've ever seen. They hit all the right notes to make us care and make us thirstier for more, more than we've ever been.
I am so excited for everyone to experience the episode so we can all talk about the ramifications of the final act. I'll post a spoiler filled review of the final episode next week after it airs. If you're in any way invested in this show and it's additions to the mythology of Star Wars, my guess is that this episode will be a tear jerker for you. Have tissues handy.
In the meantime, there's something else I'd like to mention while I have your attention. At the Q and A afterward, Pablo Hidalgo mentioned that there has been no official announcement about if and when the sixth season (or future seasons) will be airing or available for our consumption. I did ask questions about the future of the show, but was greeted with many no comments. One person close to Lucasfilm did tell me, though, that now is the time to raise a ruckus about the future of the show. I'd been waiting until the Disney schedule announcement in March to start causing a stink, but I think that might be too late.
This show is too good to let slip away. And after the unanswered questions raised by these last two arcs, it would be a disservice to fans to let episodes that are already in various stages of production never see the light of day.
And trust me, after this last episode, you'll have twice as many questions than you did after that business with Darth Maul.