'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' Season 7 Episode 12: A beautiful, painful and perfectly written ending
Spoilers for 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' Season 7 Episode 12 'Victory and Death'
There was no possible way for 'The Clone Wars' to have had a happy ending. Nor was there any room for any big surprises or reveals - both 'Star Wars: Rebels' and 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' have confirmed that Rex (Dee Bradley Baker), Darth Maul (Sam Witwer) and Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) make it out of 'The Clone Wars' alive. All that remained for the final episode to do was to say its final piece on its chapter of the 'Star Wars' franchise, getting to have the final word on the end of the Clone Wars and the rise of the Empire. It had the added challenge of having to do this without stepping on the toes of 'Revenge of the Sith.' 'Victory and Death' is a work of art, a grace note that underscores the tragedy of Order 66 with a harshness that's painful.
Ahsoka Tano and Rex escape the ship which crashes on a random planet after Darth Maul destroyed its hyperdrive engines. Maul escapes and on the ground, Ahsoka and Rex mourn the fallen troopers who spent their final moments trying to kill them. There is no making sense of what's happened, no secret reversal of the brainwashing for a handful of troops and no hope offered at the end. Surprisingly, there is no cutaway to the rest of the galaxy, either, putting these events in larger context - where the show has previously made attempts in making sure to explain things for people who may not have watched the movies, there's no hint of that here.
'Victory and Death' offers no comfort, either. It is a raw wound, left open, with little time to mourn before a silent Darth Vader himself shows up to close the series out. The show sprung, after all, from the need to tell his story. 'Revenge of the Sith,' while not being a perfect movie, becomes an essential companion piece to this final season.
Every moment in this last episode has something heartbreaking in it. From Rex's pain at the loss of his clone brothers to the Empire, to Ahsoka's restrained manner of fighting in her determination not to hurt a single clone trooper. The graves she dug for all of the fallen, and the sinister bent that the helmets of the clone troopers have now taken. Darth Vader's silent, final mourning of his former padawan. The last moments of the episode are silent because ultimately, there is nothing that can be said.
The end of 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' was always going to break hearts and leave audiences wanting more. The show leans into that feeling and it does so beautifully. It's a painful thing to watch, especially in its inevitability, but it is possibly the most poignant statement that could have been made about the end of the prequel era.
All episodes of 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' are now available to stream on Disney+.