My Top Seven Favorite Arcs Of Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Right when we thought Star Wars couldn’t get any better, we got Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Airing from 2008 to 2013 on Cartoon Network, The Clone Wars became an immense hit with fans, myself included. Even the people who hate the Prequels have to admit this show was good. As a bonus, it marked the debut of Dave Filoni in the Star Wars franchise. Ten years later, and people now consider him George Lucas’ apprentice and heir.
With The Rise of Skywalker out in a few weeks, and the final season of The Clone Wars coming to Disney+ in 2020, now is the to strike. Now is the time for me to look back on my favorite stories from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Two things, though: this will be about story arcs which span several episodes. I’ll be doing my favorite episodes of the show at a later date. Secondly, there’s going to be spoilers ahead. If you haven’t seen it, go watch it on Disney+.
The Malevolence Arc
The very first arc of The Clone Wars, The Malevolence Arc started the show with a bang. In this three episode story, the Jedi face down against General Grevious’ deadly new flagship, the titular Malevolence. Aside from absolutely massive, what made the Malevolence so terrifying was its twin Ion Cannons that could shut down any ship. In a tribute to the original trilogy, the firing sequence of said cannon’s copied the Death Star’s firing sequence.
What some people may not realize is that this arc and the Malevolence were based on the real-life battleship, the Bismarck. This Nazi warship had the potential to turn the tide of World War II in the Atlantic. As a result, the British threw everything they had into hunting it down. Like the Malevolence, the Bismarck was crippled by a small group of bombers before ultimately being sunk. However, seeing the Malevolence crash into a moon looks cooler.
The Zillo Beast
When the Republic tries to test its new droid-destroying bomb, they wake something up. That “something” is a nigh-invincible called the Zillo Beast, and its armor’s so thick not even lightsabers can cut through it. As a result of this revelation, Palpatine orders it captured and brought to Coruscant. Predictably, it gets loose and starts killing everything; which I called, by the way.
When I first saw the Zillo Beast in The Clone Wars, I knew where the show was going: a Kaiju story. However, with the plot and themes, I thought it was more like King Kong than Godzilla. The end result was still epic in scope though. Even if thousands of Coruscanti died as a result, it felt a little cathartic to see Palpatine/Darth Sidious genuinely afraid. I actually hoped the Zillo Beast ate him.
The Nightsisters Trilogy
As Dooku’s best assassin, Asajj Ventress, continued to grow in strength, Darth Sidious saw her as a threat to him. As such, he ordered Dooku to leave her to die to prove his loyalty. Unbeknownst to all, Ventress survived and returned to her homeworld of Dathomir. There, she plotted with her fellow Nightsisters to take revenge on Dooku. This, in turn, would lead to the birth of a powerful new enemy, and hinted at the return of an old one.
Dathomir and the Nightsisters were first introduced in the Expanded Universe content as a group of powerful dark side users. Seeing them get focus in The Clone Wars was an absolute joy to see. It also marked a big change to the show’s status quo, as Ventress went from outright villain to cool anti-hero and the introduction of recurring villain Savage Oppress, voiced by the great Clancy Brown. In the long run, it laid the foundations for the return of one of Star Wars best villains.
The Mortis Arc
On a mission to investigate a distress beacon, Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ashoka wind up on the mysterious planet known as Mortis. There, they encounter a family of Force-users so powerful, they’re essentially the embodiment of the different aspects of the Force. The time that the three spend on Mortis with these three beings ends up changing how we view the Force itself.
Unlike much of The Clone Wars, which dealt with the war and its effects on the Star Wars Galaxy, the Mortis Arc’s unique. It deals with the spiritual aspects of Star Wars: the purpose of the Chosen One and the different aspects of the Force. It’s been years since these episodes, and I still don’t think we fully understand the ramifications of what happened.
Aside from dealing with the Force, this arc also saw cameos of deceased characters Qui-Gon Jinn and Shmi Skywalker. The show even got Liam Neeson and Pernilla August to reprise their roles.
The Mon Cala Arc
Season Four of The Clone Wars may have been its best overall, as it includes my last three picks on this list. In the three-part opening to Season Four, Anakin, Ashoka, and Padme travel to Mon Calamari to aid in its planets civil war over the planet’s throne. On one side is the Mon Cala and the young Prince Lee-Char against the Separatist-backed Quarren. However, Dooku has no plans on giving the planet to the Quarrens.
Aside from reminding me of the stories of The Lion King and Hamlet, I love this arc for several reasons. Firstly, the battle in the premiere episode involved thousands of characters and animals, and that’s an impressive feat of animation. Secondly, it gave us a look at Ackbar, the future Rebel Admiral that uttered this legendary phrase: “It’s a trap!” Seeing Ackbar fighting alongside the Jedi in his younger years was enough to make fans squeal with joy. Third and finally, and I didn’t learn this until years later, it served as my introduction to Adam McArthur. Providing the voice to Prince Lee-Char, Adam would go on to play the role of Marco Diaz in Star vs. The Forces of Evil.
Darkness on Umbara Arc
As The Clone Wars progressed, I noticed that the show was getting progressively darker and grittier, and I consider the Umbara Arc one of the darkest stories in the show. That is both metaphorically, and very literally. When the Republic launches an invasion of the darkened world of Umbara, Anakin’s recalled to Coruscant. Meanwhile, his Clone Troopers are placed under the command of Jedi Pong Krell, who proves to be a terrible leader! His strategies are so bad, that’s it’s almost like he’s trying to lose.
Underneath the Sci-Fi technology, I think that the Umbara Arc was the closest The Clone Wars got to a big budget war film. Whereas much of the show focused on the Jedi or leaders of both sides, this arc focused exclusively on the Clone Troopers. Characters like Captain Rex and Fives had done wonders for humanizing the Clone Troopers. However, seeing the Clones chafe under Krell’s seeming incompetence reinforced the idea that they were still people. I shared their frustration at Krell’s poor plans, and when Krell’s true alliegance came to light, I felt my rage boil over. In my eyes, making a viewer or reader feel great emotion is the sign of a great story, and Umbara was one.
Return of Maul Arc
After disappearing for the rest of Season Three and most of Season Four, the four part finale to Season saw us return to Savage Opress and Asajj Ventress. Left without a home and no one else to trust, both end up on the run from the Republic and Separatists. While Ventress eventually builds a new life as a bounty hunter, Savage goes searching for his lost brother. As a result, we see the return of one of Star Wars best villains, Darth Maul.
When I first saw The Phantom Menace years ago, I thought that Darth Maul was one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen. Seeing Kenobi slice him in half remains one of my favorite moments from the Prequel Trilogy. So when The Clone Wars brought him back to get revenge on Obi-Wan, I went crazy with excitement. He was every bit as scary as I remembered him. Maul went on to become a recurring villain in The Clone Wars and its successor, Star Wars: Rebels. Thank you, Dave Filoni and everyone else!
May the Force Be With You
Without a doubt, Star Wars: The Clone Wars was one of the best things the franchise has ever given us. Every time a new episode came on, I’d stand in front of the TV and swing my old toy light saber to the opening credits and I had a blast. With the Skywalker Saga seemingly about to end, I’m glad I got to look back on this amazing addition to the Star Wars mythos. Now, though, I have to ask all of you: what was your favorite story from The Clone Wars? Let me know in the comments. May the Force be with you!
Click here for some of my Star Wars stuff.