|Ahsoka's life hangs in the balance in The Wrong Jedi. Images: LUCASFILM ANIMATION|
We're at number three in our Top Five of THE CLONE WARS Season Five, out now on UK Blu-ray and DVD from WARNER BROTHERS. The quirky adventuresome antics of an amnesiac Republic Commando alongside Artoo Detoo in Missing in Action, plus the tense drama of The Jedi Who Knew Too Much were early candidates, but the final choice had to be the sad but distinctive finale to the season, and the series, that was Episode Twenty: The Wrong Jedi.
And here's five reasons why it made the grade...
1. Ahsoka in the dock. She willingly and dutifully gave everything to the Jedi Order, and now they've thrown her to the wall. Framed for murder, hunted like an animal, and now facing the indignity of being declared a traitor to the Republic, the future is looking decidedly unhealthy for our Togrutan heroine. Throughout the storyline, Ashley Eckstein's vocal performance has been consistently good, in a developing script by Charles Murray that really gets to show the popular character out her out of her element and fighting for survival. Now after five years work, the actress must find these final episodes quite a pay-off- a rewarding, yet sad, acting experience to play...
2. The trial begins. Within a huge amphitheatre evoking the John Barry production designed EPISODE IV interiors of the Death Star (part of a Coruscant now looking more and more like an Imperial enclave), the cruel and cunning Captain Tarkin begins his trial against Ahsoka, watched by a subtly bloodthirsty Supreme Chancellor Palpatine (newly voiced by Tim Curry-whom I hope returns for STAR WARS: REBELS) and her weak and ineffectual Jedi Masters, with only an anger-fuelled, relatively powerless Anakin Skywalker and the political talents of Padme Amidala (seen all too little this season), now acting as her friends defender, rallying to her cause as best they can amidst huge stakes: Tarkin, never of a fan of Ahsoka since Season Three, pushing for the death penalty!
|Jedi vs Jedi.|
3. The traitor revealed. It was signposted in the story early on-especially considering the fact that the character hadn't made a proper contribution to the series since Season Two, but the reveal of young Barriss Offee as the traitor behind it all, deliberately setting up her former friend, ultimately works well if you think about it. Barriss was a Jedi but above all else a healer (as stated in the Expanded Universe), so if anyone was beginning to have doubts about the war it would be her-her mindset likely intensified by the conflicts continuing huge loss of life. Barriss's actions are understandable in the plot even if her murderous activities can't be condoned. And in the end, she was right about the Republic being dangerously corrupt and the Jedi being powerless and weak-willed within the shroud of their enemies, serving an army for the Dark Side. Some Jedi have gone rogue, some dangerously unstable, but this young Jedi's reasons add new layers not just to her character but the rest of the series players as a whole, working well within the final animated episodes on-screen elements leading in to EPISODE III.
4. Anakin vs Barriss. Their fight in and around the interior and exterior of the Jedi Temple is stunningly handled by Dave Filoni, with moves and parries worthy of those decided for the Prequel movies, alongside some nice visual cameos from the younglings seen earlier in the season, being trained by Jedi Master Tera Sinube, as well an appearance from the sinister double lightsaber wielding Jedi Guards (in a case of Who Watches the Watchers?). Its nice to see Anakin back in heroic action, though bordering on Dark Side vengeance once he's captured Barriss- throwing her up against a tree and Force-choking her: That's my Vader! Its a dramatic tonic after so little involvement in this season, especially with his and Padme's arc with Rush Clovis having been removed from the run. Bringing the real culprit to trial, though, would Tarkin have pushed for her execution in the same way?
|The end of the Republic, as seen by Barriss Offee.|
Special note to series composer Kevin Kilner for his score this episode, backed up with the full use of the Prague orchestra, and his clever, inverted use of light vs dark lightsaber duel themes concocted by John Williams for EPISODEs III and V.
5. Fade out. And so THE CLONE WARS animated series ends on a bittersweet note echoing the dark future ahead for the Jedi and the Republic, as Ahsoka, emotionally bruised and disappointed by her Jedi masters, who fail to see how she won't come back to the order, walks out on them, and her beloved brother figure of Anakin (shocked that she too has turned done his personal request), seemingly forever. A sad but perfectly understandable action for her character to decide. Fans predicting and hoping for her final Jedi fate to have been at the hands of Darth Vader (which George Lucas ultimately wanted, or at least having her killed her off somewhere down the line) may have been disappointed, linked to the equal disappointment of fans worldwide that the series run had been stopped in its tracks, but there's no denying the final scenes act as a generally satisfying closure to it all, and the Anakin/Ahsoka arc, making the former even more resentful and distrusting of his Jedi colleagues for the time he destroys them in EPISODE III.
Filoni's silent fade out idea finally comes into play and works well, followed by the return of Kevin Kilner's much-loved theme for Ahsoka, realised with an added aura of sad parting. For STAR WARS fans and LUCASFILM ANIMATION, it is the end of an era...
The unified elements of script, animation, voice and sound work, direction and score all come together for one of the series finest episodes and another true quality landmark for STAR WARS and the animation genre. STAR WARS: REBELS really has a lot to live up to after five worthy, exciting, dignified and highly successful series of THE CLONE WARS.
Blu-ray alternate final scene: Ahsoka gives Jedi a piece of her mind in 'Clone Wars'
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Star Wars Clone Wars - Season 1-5 Blu-ray Region Free: Amazon.co.uk: Film & TV