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Every time an episode of The Clone Wars lands, Fantha Tracks will be giving their responses, and here are our initial gut feelings, deep dives and thoughts on the ninth episode of season seven – Old Friends, Not Forgotten. Beware of spoilerific elements in here.

Outer Rim under siege! Separatist forces have launched a major offensive. Led by the evil droid General Grievous, Republic forces are pushed to the brink. In response to this overwhelming attack, the Jedi Council has despatched its Generals, sending them far from the Core Words to bolster the beleaguered clones.

On the distant planet of Yerbana, we find Commander Cody of the 212th in desperate need of reinforcements….

Mark Newbold

Where do you start with an episode that not only kicks off the final arc – Siege of Mandalore – of a seven season show that started in 2008 with a cinematic movie that has developed a loyal following, told the long-awaited battles of the Clone Wars and delighted the fandom ever since? Well, you begin with that opening title screen, the classic green lettering ‘A Lucasfilm Limited Production’ and THAT music blasting out. This is not what we expected, not at all and as the red The Clone Wars logo fades into the distance and Tom Kane narrates the opening battle as the Separatists levy huge pressure against Republic forces, we know that we are in for the most cinematic Clone Wars episode so far, and there have been plenty over the course of the series.

We are now firmly in Revenge of the Sith territory. We see Aayla Secura on Felucia, Plo Koon in the skies above Cato Neimoidia, the Jedi Council (including a young Caleb Dume of Rebels fame with his master Depa Billaba) and General Grievous pouring it on as the war comes to a head. On Yerbana, Anakin and Obi-Wan break down the Separatist front as a cocky Anakin fools the tactical droid in charge of the assault. It’s fast, snappy, (that word again) cinematic and set to another stunning score from Kevin Kiner (this needs to come out as a physical release, preferably in a big box set with the rest of his music from the show). There’s no doubt, we’re in the home stretch now.

There’s a moment early on, when Obi-Wan first appears. The music swells, he makes a heroic save and gives the coolest look to the camera. He’s confident, the filmmakers are confident as as such, so are we.

Of course, as well as the evolving relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan the focus will be on the reunion between Ahsoka and her former master. It’s a sweet scene – he doesn’t know quite where to put himself, whereas Ahsoka – after her adventures with the Martez sisters and their real-world opinions on the order – is seeing the actions of the Jedi through new eyes. She’s all business, no small talk, clearly still stung by the actions of The Wrong Jedi and that appears to knock Anakin. It really is a strong way of showing just how the people had lost faith in the Jedi, how Palpatine’s line to Yoda in Sith – ‘Your arrogance blinds you’ – was so right, and why the fast maturing Togruta (how much has she grown since they last met? The timing isn’t clear, but it must be many months later) was so clearly annoyed at their inaction.

So much happens, so many reunions, home truths, visual treats and throwbacks and as magnificent as it is – and it is – it’s clear that this is just the set up to something far bigger over the final three episodes. We know what happens in Sith; we know how Anakin falls, that within days he would slaughter younglings and take the name Darth Vader, that Yoda would be in exile, Mace Windu dead, the 501st become Vader’s Fist, Palpatine in immovable, unlimited power and the galaxy essentially a sith state. It’s one of the great long-plays in fiction, and The Clone Wars continues to play a key part in articulating it.

When all is said and done, and the final episode arrives on May 4th, it’s a good bet that this episode will comfortably sit in most fans top 5. How Filoni and his team top this on 24th April, 1st May and Star Wars Day itself is anybody’s guess, but I wouldn’t bet against it. Absolute top-drawer Star Wars.

Ben Turfrey

The Clone Wars returns with Old Friends Not Forgotten, and by the maker does it open with a bang. Right off the bat it is made definitively clear that this final arc of the show will be unlike any other, opening with the original Lucasfilm logo followed by the classic ‘Maul red’ Clone Wars logo was made all the more powerful with the usage of the original Star Wars theme. From the very start the episode promises us a cinematic experience, and it more than follows through on that promise.

From the get go we are thrown into the deep end as we join Anakin and Obi-Wan in the heat of battle, just days before the events of Revenge of the Sith. It is a stark contrast to see Anakin at this point in the timeline, cracking jokes and being his usual loveable self, completely unaware of the events that will occur for him over the next few weeks. After we are treated to some classic banter and truly incredible shots, the episode moves forward with the re-introduction of Ahsoka, which goes over less smoothly than Anakin would have liked. It is nice to see how she has developed as a character, and gratifying to see her stand up to Anakin and Obi-Wan as she calls them out on the failings of the Jedi.

Watching as Ahsoka reclaims her lightsabers and then says goodbye to Anakin for what will sadly be the last time brought tears to my eyes and was executed marvelously as a conclusion to a storyline that has kept me hooked since childhood. Anakin and Obi-Wan then rush off to save the Chancellor, and it’s up to Ahsoka to take her new division of the 501st legion to liberate Mandalore from the grip of Maul. I was happily surprised that the episode wasted little time in the lead up to this, throwing us straight into the siege, and a moment I especially enjoyed was Ahsoka’s journey to the planetary surface in which, without a jetpack, she jumps from her gunship, using other ships as stepping stones as she takes out many ‘Mauldalorians’, all to the same theme tune as the opening of Revenge of the Sith, which coincidentally was probably occurring at roughly the same time.

The episode goes forth with much action, spectacle, and a tantalizing reintroduction of Maul, to set up what promises to be the most intriguing and character defining arc The Clone Wars has ever had. The team over at Lucasfilm Animation have really outdone themselves this time, with many neat references throughout the episode (Caleb Dume anyone?) and an animation quality that rivals the spectacles of the blockbuster movies. I cannot wait to see where this arc leads, and remain on the edge of my seat in nervous anticipation, awaiting the unfortunately inevitable events of the rise of the Empire.

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Greig Robertson

Old Friends Not Forgotten – now this is Star Wars! From the second the classic green Lucasfilm Ltd logo appeared on my screen, the goosebumps were out and didn’t leave. What an incredible way to start the “final” arc of The Clone Wars.

What started with a trip to see the East Coast Premiere of The Clone Wars movie whilst on my Honeymoon in New York City back in 2008 until this moment, I have loved the Clone Wars and the beautiful work of Dave Filoni and his incredible team. When this all wraps up it will be a sad moment, but from this first episode of the arc, Filoni is making sure this goes out on a high.

So much to take in with this episode, I’ll need to rewatch this a Hot Dang lot. Anakin and Ahsoka back together, Maul, the Ahsoka troops, Bo-Katan, Mandos.

Roll on Friday, I need my Clone fix!!!!

Paul DePaola

It’s here, the beginning of the end. The first of the final four episodes of The Clone Wars.

Immediately, we notice the show does not have the standard opening. Instead, they chose a nostalgic opening with the original green Lucasfilm logo from the 80s. Gone is the regular main title score as well, replaced by a version of the main title theme from the live-action films. This adds weight to the event feel of the episode, that we truly are watching a film, only broken up into 4 chapters. However, the nostalgic opening feels a bit more like a throwback to the older fans and I wonder how many of the newer fans really got anything from it.

The episode gets into the action quickly. The opening bridge battle is classic Clone Wars action with Anakin boldly striding in, ignoring all the danger with a crazy plan. Echoing Kanan’s first Jedi reveal in Rebels and Luke Skywalker’s appearance on Crait in The Last Jedi. This episode is filled to the brim with easter eggs and sly references to other Star Wars media, including a few that called back to the original Genndy Tartakovsky series. The initial invasion of Mandalore is an action scene that fans will be talking about for years to come. The scale of this is massive.

This episode is immediately one of the best Clone Wars episodes I’ve ever seen. It’s action-packed, emotional and everything we’ve wanted from the show.

Epic is a word we use a lot to describe Star Wars, but this episode is truly deserving of that description. It’s on a scale that the show has rarely gone to and it’s only the first part of the finale. I’m almost afraid of what they have in store for us for the remaining three episodes.

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Matt Shope

I had completely lost track of the week and was surprised to find my two Padawans anxiously waiting for me to wake. “Come on! It’s time for Clone Wars!” they excitedly shouted and pressed the “Play” button before I could in front of the television. Even with the heightened anticipation for the episode, nothing could prepare us what we were about to experience over the next thirty minutes.

From the first few seconds of the unusual opening credit for Lucasfilm followed by the title scene in red, it felt like you were on a rollercoaster that is just about to go over the peak. That feeling lasted for the remainder of the episode. The episode certainly was a rollercoaster of action that left us out-of-breath at the end.

There was so much in this episode for me that I could easily write over 500 words on it. From Anakin Skywalker’s “Colonel Kilgore”-esque (Apocalypse Now) casually ignoring direct fire as he nonchalantly averts the annihilation of Obi-Wan and his 212th Attack Battalion, the unabashed display of loyalty to Ashoka by the clones of the 501st, to the epic assault on the Shadow Collective, this episode comes at you from all sides.

This is just the first of the last four episodes and I am completely blown away. I can’t possibly imagine what is in store for the final three. Somehow I don’t think I am going to be losing track of the days next week. Rather, I’ll be counting down the days until next Friday.

Ben Földi

Let me first correct myself: I might have written before that the Ahsoka story-arc was a filler. Well, I hold my view that the arc could have been one episode shorter, but it showed us how Ahsoka lost her faith in the Jedi. That’s why it was a vital arc in the final season of The Clone Wars. (Although I am sure that her view against Obi-Wan’s in their dispute is wrong in this episode: Coruscant is way more critical in war than capturing Maul and getting the Mandalore back for Bo-Katan.)

And so we arrived at the finale of this epic animation series. This first chapter of the final story-arc, The Siege of Mandalore, was more enjoyable for Star Wars nerds, than all of the episodes before in this season. We had everything that can make a grown man cry: the old Lucasfilm logo, red The Clone Wars logo, fanfares, John Williams score, funny dialogues between Anakin and Obi-Wan, excellent battle scenes, Ahsoka, Mandalorians, etc.

But somehow Old Friends Not Forgotten did not make me cry. As Editor-in-Chief of Hungarian fansite http://Ziro.hu, I consider myself a Star Wars nerd. I said before that the strength of the previous story-arc was the many references and connections to other Star Wars projects. Well, this episode had too many of these. As a Star Wars nerd, I enjoyed many of them, but around half of the ninth chapter, it became simply too much, and I did not recognize a couple of these references. (For example, there was a sentence that Mandalore and the Galactic Republic lives in peace together in the last 100 years. So probably we will see battles between them in the High Republic era.) What I want to say with these: I don’t know whether a NON-Star Wars nerd did enjoy this episode as much as many commenters I’ve seen around the internet.

All in all, it can be seen the creators of The Clone Wars distributed their energies and resources to create an epic four-episode finale with The Siege of Mandalore. Sam Witwer said before that this could be seen as a whole, as a standalone movie. Hopefully, we will get a supercut from these episodes, and I hope the last three chapters will blow our minds.

http://Ziro.hu

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Paul Naylor

Never before has “A Lucasfilm Limited Production” generated so many goosebumps. The classic styling is a statement. It tells us that this is important to the story arc and more so that its creator, Dave Filoni, understands just how important.

A beautiful introduction follows, in cinematic quality recapping events that are leading ever closer to 2005’s Revenge of the Sith.

As Rex leads the air assault on planet Yerbana and with Cody leading troops on the ground, you could almost believe it was live action. Beautifully directed.

That mission accomplished, an awkward reacquaintance then takes place between Snips and Sky Guy. Some matters are more pressing than getting to know each other again. That would have to wait a little while. Ahsoka brings news that Maul has arrived on Mandalore – she and the Mandalorians are here to request help from the Republic.

Plans discussed, Ahsoka is reunited with Rex and some familiarly decorated clones, but as importantly she is reunited with her lightsabers.

John Williams’ soundtrack resonates through out, more prominent in this fast-paced episode than the previous installments in this the final season of Dave Filoni’s masterpiece.

It soon becomes clear that the mission is nothing more than a trap, conceived by Maul himself – desperately seeking revenge on his nemesis Kenobi. But it is Ahsoka who leads the charge, not Obi-Wan.

We will have to wait for episode 10, but it looks very much like we are about to witness an epic duel between the former Sith and the disillusioned Jedi. Bring it on.

Old Friends Not Forgotten. The title in itself is a love letter to the fans from Filoni. After all these years, he’s not forgotten us.

Becca Benjamin

This episode, part 1 of the final arc of The Clone Wars was remarkably cinematic for an animated TV series. It begins like a Star Wars film should, a panoramic view of an epic space battle. Instantly, you forget it isn’t live action that you’re watching.

The characters that we know so well and have invested in for 12 or more years are electric! Never mind that they’re animated, they’re alive and better than ever. The difficult part of taking it all in is that we all know the outcome of all this. That the Clone Wars will not end well for our beloved characters and that demise is inevitable.

So, rather than focus on the negative, let’s look at the positive. Ahsoka is back! She’s beautiful, she’s matured emotionally (to some degree, more so than her former master, Anakin Skywalker), and her focus on who she needs to be has never been so clear. Ahsoka is admirable and that’s the Jedi we’ve been waiting for!

Key moments:

• R2-D2 being the first to welcome Ahsoka back into fold. How does one not cry when seeing this?
• Anakin’s painfully obvious need to reconnect with his padawan.
• The mirroring moment of Anakin Skywalker walking out on to the bridge to take on the whole Separatist Army by himself, like Luke’s force projection on Crait in The Last Jedi.
• The banter between Anakin and Kenobi and between Rex and Ahsoka – pure Star Wars.
• Watching Ahsoka in action is a beautiful display/homage to the 3 generations of influence and training bestowed upon her: Qui-Gon, Kenobi, and Anakin.
• Maul’s introduction hitting a familiar chord to Luke’s on Ahch-To with “Why are YOU here?” – Chilling.

Thanks to Ben Turfrey, Ben Földi and Paul DePaola for their reviews.

Star Wars Ahsoka
  • Johnston, E. K. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 368 Pages - 10/03/2017 (Publication Date) - Disney Lucasfilm Press (Publisher)