'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' Finally Initiates Order 66 in the Heartbreaking "Shattered"
In the penultimate episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, former Jedi Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) doesn’t know she and the Jedi Order are in Darth Sidious’ trap. Palpatine is tightening his grip and we know from the films that he will succeed. Last episode, the timeline of Revenge of the Sith was infused into the dread of the entire story, leaving Ahsoka to mull over the prospective truth of Anakin Skywalker’s fall into Sidious’ clutches.
Directed by Saul Ruiz, “Shattered” hunkers down to a smaller story that hones in on the relationship between Ahsoka and her longtime clone friend Rex (Dee Bradley Baker). The first 10 minutes sit on the smoky ambivalence of war in the aftermath of the siege. Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) contemplates the weight of Satine’s previous rule and admits “I wish I was good at something other than war,” verbally admitting accountability for her past actions. While Ahsoka voices new leadership is necessary on Mandalore to Bo-Katan, it remains uncertain (even for Rebels viewers who have witnessed her change and acceptance of Mandalore leadership about 16 years after these events) if the humbled Bo-Katan has reformed enough to be that leadership, exhibiting that rebuilding was a long way off even if the Empire didn’t seize Mandalore.
The episode explicitly synchronizes with Revenge of Sith, recreating the “I sense a plot to destroy the Jedi” holo scene (Terrence C. Carson as Mace Windu, Tom Kane as Yoda, and Silas Carson reprising his voice as Ki-Adi-Mundi) before Anakin is off to deduce Palpatine’s Sith identity. This time, Ahsoka is depicted as walking into the conversation right when Yoda finishes his line from Episode III, and she misses a potential chat with Skywalker by a few seconds. Her pariah status among the Jedi is reinforced as she addresses her duties as a citizen more than a Jedi and is unable to divulge Maul’s warnings about Skywalker to the Jedi, as if still pained by their betrayal of her in “The Wrong Jedi.” It’s those atmospheric ambivalences – epic in the fate of Mandalore and personal in Ahsoka’s identity crisis against her Jedi upbringing — that permeate the final twenty minutes of chaos as a new world order takes over.
The turning point of Revenge of the Sith bleeds into Ahsoka and the clone troopers’ (Dee Bradley Baker) mission to bring an imprisoned Maul (Sam Witwer) before the Jedi Council. From the moment Ahsoka and Rex enter the ship bridge and clone soldiers are sighted in currently-Republic but Imperial-esque uniforms at the bridge, we know something will go down. Through a sure but steady build-up, Ahsoka feels a disturbance in the Force and hear Anakin’s voice. But she has little time to weigh on its meaning when Rex receives the inevitable “execute Order 66” from Palpatine (Ian Mcdiarmid). The latter and his clone troopers end up aiming their blasters at Ahsoka. Rex, in a heartbreaking grab for agency during his Jedi-killing conditioning, screams at Ahsoka to “find Fives!”
I wondered with dread what transpired in the brains of clones when Palpatine gave them “Execute Order 66” and the tear streak down Rex’s face speaks miles. Across seven seasons, Baker allowed a collective and individualistic richness to the clone characters, and his performance is at its height in only Rex’s few words, “Find Fives, find him!”, which gives the deceased Fives his due and Ahsoka the key to saving him from the control chip that Fives worked hard to uncover.
This is why Ahsoka’s eventual unexamined moral ambiguity makes the episode feel unpolished compared to the two that came before. Obviously, the outnumbered survivor-mode Ahsoka is short on options, but as she frees Maul to pit him as a diversion against the renegade clones, there’s little indication that she feels something about subjecting other clones to a deadly situation with Maul—even as she makes it clear to Maul’s face, “I’m not rooting for you.” Naturally, she prioritizes Rex’s welfare since he’s the relationship she and the audience have an investment with, but there is little meaningful deliberation about the welfare of the other clones other than a hurried “we could do something about it” line. When Maul does his Force-rampage on the clones, decapitating several and severing limbs, the scene leans more on the cool-factor of Maul’s brutal powers without self-awareness for the clone casualties of a messy situation.
And the existential conversation, penned by Dave Filoni, between Ahsoka and Rex before the storm is a little suspect, with Ahsoka bereaved that her “peacekeeping Jedi training” made her into a soldier since such a young age, but then she compliments Rex for being an efficient Republic soldier, not thinking of how his soldierhood has been imposed on him from the start. Though Rex’s “Many people wish [the war] never happened, but without it, we clones wouldn’t exist” sticks the landing because Rex acknowledges beforehand how his station limited his scope. Perhaps it’s an intentional irony that Ahsoka’s praise for Rex’s soldierhood precedes the Sidious’s power-grabbing purpose that Rex’s soldierhood has engineered him for.
The relationship beat hits right on the money in the med-bay when Ahsoka taps into the Force, sets her hand on Rex’s head, and mutters “I am one with the Force and the Force is with me” to scan for his control chip. Rex and Ahsoka’s relationship is the core of “Shattered.” But when you consider that the theft of the clones’ livelihoods is the backdrop to the conflict, I hope final part of the Siege of Mandalore arc clears up more needed space to mull over the repercussions for the rest of the clone casualties.
- An unhelmeted Ursa Wren is seen in her Clone Wars facial design for the first time, and her usual proximity to Bo-Katan suggests a second-in-command role.
- Don’t you love Maul’s Hannibal Lecture gaze from out his prison? I love the Mandalore artistry carvings on Maul’s cage of a bygone warrior era. It’s a visual punctuation to Bo-Katan’s hopes to do away with the Old Mandalorian ways of war and torture.
- Hayden Christensen and Samuel L. Jackson’s archival voices are heard, mixed in with Matt Lanter’s Anakin.
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