The tragedy of Order 66 has loomed large over the entirety of The Clone Wars. Knowing the inevitable made the series’s brilliance at deepening the clones and making them individuals we care about an emotional heft the movies didn’t entirely have. When Commander Cody (Dee Bradley Baker) receives the transmission for Order 66 on Utapau, the news is shocking. After seven seasons of seeing the relationships built between the clones and the Jedi, certainly some more than others, the shock deepens into the tragedy it was always meant to be. There’s a particular reason that Order 66 remains a critical part of a vast mythology. It’s precisely because of the emotional heft that is capable of delivering, such as the heft on display here.
The penultimate episode of The Clone Wars is a thrilling one, in part because the setting of a closed ship in the emptiness of space makes for a perfect execution of heightened claustrophobia. The escape within a ship storyline is some classic Star Wars but it works even better here with the stakes being so high. “Shattered” reminds me quite a bit of the season two standout “Brain Invaders,” where we as the audience got a bit of a taste as to how easy it could be for dozens of clones to track and take down two Jedi aboard a ship. A memorable quote from that episode – “If there’s one thing we clones know how to do, it’s how to catch a Jedi” – while being unsubtle, is on excellent display here, as we see the extents to which Ahsoka (Ashley Eckstein) has to go to buy moments of escape at a time.
The lack of trust that surrounds the Jedi Council is a saddening undercurrent throughout this episode. Several moments could have potentially averted the fate that awaited the Jedi Order and the Republic, but that mistrust prevented those moments from ever coming to fruition. Ashoka tries desperately to communicate with Anakin (Matt Lanter) throughout the episode, her mind drowning in the worry of what Maul (Sam Witwer) told her before their fateful duel last week. But that communication never happens and to see the profound mistrust preventing that from happening is heartbreaking.
A fundamental idea entrenched in the episode before Order 66 is executed is the idea of what happens when someone’s entire identity has been shaped by war. Bo-Katan (Katie Sackhoff) never understood her sister Satine’s (Anna Graves) idealism about peace but it hits home when she sees the wreckage left behind by the Siege of Mandalore. She opines that only if she had been better at something besides war. Ashoka noted to Rex that even though she had been told her entire life that the Jedi are peacekeepers and not soldiers, from the moment she had left the Jedi Temple, war was the only thing she had ever known. Rex feels conflicted about the war – it’s a nightmare for him to have lost so many of his brothers to the war. But he wouldn’t have existed without it.
All three of them are fundamentally shaped by war – and the additional tragedy here is that war will continue to shape them far after the Clone Wars is over for another series of wars will simply take its place. There’s the quiet sadness in these characters wanting to see what their lives would be like in a time of peace and knowing that at least for some significant amount of time, that simply is not going to happen. Moments after they expressed their desire to see what comes next, Order 66 is enacted and Ahsoka faces the heartbreaking moment when Rex turns his guns on her. My heart is still beating – if nothing else, then from seeing clones with helmets honouring Ahsoka hunting her down, determined to kill her.
+ The sense of building dread is, as in the previous two episodes and especially last week’s, excellent.
+ Great score once again – shoutout to Kevin Kiner!
+ R7 and the droids!
+ Seeing Maul unleashed so brutally was excellent – and kudos to the script for having Ahsoka and Maul pursue kind of the same goal without the traditional “we’re going to team up to fight a common enemy.”
+ Kudos to the sound design and mixing team – excellent work here.
+ Great touch with Ahsoka doing her best to not kill the clones even as they hunt her. Ashoka continues to be the epitome of who a Jedi should be and what a moment to exemplify that.
+ Loved how quietly tragic each little moment with the clones landed in this arc before Order 66 came about.
+ Ashley Eckstein’s voice work expressing her shock, determination, and fear is excellent.
+ The episode ends on a great cliffhanger, as Ahsoka was able to successfully have Rex’s inhibitor chip removed. All they have to do now is escape the ship.