WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the Star Wars: The Clone Wars series finale, streaming now on Disney+.
Although some fans might have hoped for a rematch between Ahsoka Tano and Maul, or even an epic confrontation between Darth Sidious’ former apprentice and his new one, Star Wars: The Clone Wars concluded the only way it really could have: with sorrow and foreshadowing. There are no happy endings here.
Yet, for all of the death and destruction in “Victory and Death,” the episode’s final scenes are grimly gorgeous, perhaps the most striking of the entire series.
Following Sidious’ initiation of Order 66, Ahsoka and Rex are pursued by clone troopers aboard a Republic Star Destroyer with only three trusty droids as allies. Meanwhile, Maul is something akin to an agent of chaos whose only goal is escaping the vessel and certain death, either at the end of a blaster or at the hands of Sidious. As such, Maul doesn’t adhere to the restrictions Ahsoka and Rex place on themselves — they don’t want to kill their former comrades — and instead wipes out countless clones before he destroys the ship’s hyperdrive, forcing the attack cruiser out of hyperspace and into the gravitational pull of a planet.
With the vessel’s escape pods destroyed earlier, the fate of most of those onboard becomes inevitable, making Ahsoka’s qualms about killing the clones seem almost quaint. First Maul and then Rex and Ahsoka make their escape before the Star Destroyer crashes into the planet, becoming an enormous coffin for all of those remaining aboard.
But while so many of the clone troopers, like the Imperial stormtroopers who follow, were so frequently depicted as little more than cannon fodder, in “Victory and Death” the losses are deeply felt. Ahsoka and Rex don’t simply soar off to their next adventure; they bury the dead.
It’s a silent scene, like the one that comes after, filled with so many echoes of what’s to come: The smoldering wreckage of the Star Destroyer evokes Jakku in Star Wars: The Force Awakens; the clone troopers’ grave markers — their rifles, topped by their helmets, in a sort of battlefield cross — are reminiscent of the more ominous image of stormtrooper helmets on stakes on The Mandalorian; and Ahsoka, wearing a gray hooded cloak, looks so much as we last see her in Star Wars Rebels.
Ahsoka casts aside her lightsaber, “an elegant weapon for a more civilized age,” only for it be found sometime later by her former master — or by whatever remains of him at that time within Darth Vader.
With the snow, snowtroopers and chirping Imperial probes, it’s impossible to miss the scene’s similarities to Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. But those are swiftly brushed aside steps off a newly arrived shuttle and strides across the beautifully rendered icy landscape, kneels down to pick up Ahsoka’s discarded lightsaber, and then activates it. The blue blade in the Sith Lord’s hand serves as one last reminder of who he once was. As Vader walks away, he’s reflected in the visor of a damaged clone trooper helmet buried in the snow.
It may not be the ending some had hoped for, but it feels perfect nonetheless.
Streaming on Disney+, the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars stars Matt Lanter as Anakin Skywalker, Ashley Eckstein as Ahsoka Tano, Dee Bradley Baker as Captain Rex and the clone troopers, James Arnold Taylor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Katee Sackhoff as Bo-Katan and Sam Witwer as Maul.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars says farewell in “Victory and Death” with some incredibly poignant, and moving, final scenes.