Ahead of the return of The Clone Wars, I had the chance to check out the upcoming premiere episodes and can tell you a (little bit) about it.
This week sees the long-awaited return of The Clone Wars for its final season on Disney Plus. The series originally came to an abrupt end soon after Disney acquired Lucasfilm. While fans got more episodes thanks to a “Lost Missions” season released on Netflix in 2014, it wasn’t quite the closure many had hoped for.
Over the years, Dave Filoni and others behind the series have spoken at length about story arcs that never happened and how the series would end. While many storylines managed to get tied up thanks to Star Wars Rebels, that hasn’t stopped Clone Wars fans from wondering about what could have been.
With the help of Disney Plus, we’re finally getting the opportunity to see the series end the way it was intended. Like the other shows on the streaming service (including last year’s The Mandalorian), The Clone Wars is releasing episodes on a weekly basis instead of all at once. I had the opportunity to check out the first couple episodes of this new season (which will consist of 12 episodes total I believe) and want to share some brief thoughts on them.
I won’t go into any spoilers here, for those looking to go into completely fresh, but there’s a solid chance you already know what’s coming. The first story arc we’re getting is the “Bad Batch” episodes. The unfinished reels for these were released (officially) in their entirety several years back and for the most part, these first two episodes (The Bad Batch and A Distant Echo) follow them almost shot for shot and word for word.
There are some changes, however, that impact the story and characterizations, but the overall story beats are the same. In fact, one of my favorite moments in the second episode is a completely new addition (between Anakin and Obi-Wan). So even fans who’ve seen these episodes in their unfinished form still have some surprises to enjoy.
By and large, the return of The Clone Wars isn’t so much a defining and epic event, as it is a return to something familiar. This is NOT a bad thing, though it kinda sounds like it.
Watching the first episode felt like putting on my favorite pair of comfy pants and relaxing. There’s a sense of peacefulness in sliding them on, knowing that I’m home and able to relax from the day. There are other comfy pants in my dresser I wear that are essentially the same, and it may be months before I put on that specific pair again (hell, one time they got lost in a kids’ room). Once I put them on though, it’s like I never took them off and no time has passed…
That’s how I felt watching these episodes of The Clone Wars. Weird as it may sound, but the most distinctive aspect of the show is how familiar it manages to be. Truly, it feels as though no time has passed and as though I just watched the previous episode the other week on Cartoon Network. From the opening nugget of wisdom, to the narrator’s booming voice setting the stage for the episode, every element puts you right back in the mindset of when you first watched the series. It’s tempting to say these episodes feel like a homecoming, but the more apt analogy is the feeling that you never left home at all.
I was impressed with its ability to fit in so seamlessly with everything that’s come before, especially considering how long it’s been. As you’ve gauged from the footage we’ve seen so far, the show looks incredible.
While it retains the same style as before, the animation is incredibly well polished and looks better than ever before. The movements are fluid and the facial movements manage to be more expressive, showcasing far more nuance and depth of emotion. The action is slick, and the sound design thrusts you right back into the heart of the Clone Wars action in a galaxy far, far away.
Ultimately, I’m left with the overwhelming feeling that I want more. I’m eager to see how this arc wraps up in its finished state, and even more eager to dive into some of the other upcoming stories that have been teased in the trailers.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars returns this Friday (and it looks like it will be every Friday following on from here) only on Disney Plus.