Thursday, March 28, 2013

TV Report: Clone Wars and Ahsoka Tano

After a gripping, emotional season finale of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, it was announced that Cartoon Network would no longer be airing the show. This wasn't really a surprise--the finale was the 100th episode; Cartoon Network had only ever contracted for 100 episodes; and with the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney, a lot of people speculated that the show would end up on Disney XD instead.

And then the bottom sort of fell out of all that.

First Lucasfilm Animation announced that it would be wrapping up all of the loose story threads in a sixth season, but they never specified just where and how people would be able to see it. Then Lucasfilm suddenly laid off a bunch of people, dissolved the team that has spent the last half-decade making the show, and put the key personnel to work on other projects (presumably pre-production on Episode VII, but no one's really said, I think). Only two finished story arcs will be released, and neither of them address the final fates of Asajj Ventress, Cad Bane, or that giant cliffhanger they left us with for Darth Maul.

And the fate of Ahsoka Tano remains up in the air.

Now, I am disappointed not to be getting more Clone Wars, because I loved the show. A lot. I looked forward to watching it every Saturday morning.

But I'm not disappointed that we won't find out what happened to Ahsoka Tano.

I love Ahsoka. Over the course of five years, Ahsoka became one of my favorite characters in all of Star Wars. I don't know if this show is officially canon or not, but I don't really care; the journey of Ahsoka Tano and what she meant to Anakin Skywalker and how she developed and reached the point she reached on that final episode was a journey worth taking, and one of the best Star Wars stories I've ever experienced. I love how it ended on the note it did: Ahsoka leaving the Jedi Council and Anakin losing the one person he could almost openly treat like family.

A lot of people still don't seem to get or want to get that a big part of the story of the Prequels is the failure of the Jedi Council, a group that has not only betrayed its ideals (the peacekeepers become generals at the head of vast armies), but it has also grown so arrogant and complacent that it doesn't even notice that Chancellor Palpatine is the Dark Lord of the Sith. That's something that always gets me: people who complain about how they find that unbelievable, that the Jedi can't figure it out. Well, that's the point: he's a better and more powerful Jedi than they are. They're so corrupted that they've become weak. They make terrible decision after terrible decision, especially with Anakin, which is why everything in Episode III happens the way it does. That's a large part of the point George Lucas is making.

The Jedi Council not trusting Ahsoka and not standing by her and her basically deciding the Council isn't the place she should be is a massive step, especially in Anakin's path to the Dark Side. Anakin, removed from his mother at such a young age, is basically an orphan, and like a lot of orphans, he's looking for family. He loves Padme, but he can't be open with his feelings because of his position. Obi-Wan has no interest in being a family figure, as much as he will later claim otherwise, because I think Obi-Wan was too young to take on a student and, in Episode II, you can see him being short and cold with Anakin. In Ahsoka, Anakin had someone he could be openly caring about, and someone who looked up to him in return. He was looking for a father figure; when he didn't find one, he became one. And now she's grown up and left him and told him that she cares about him, but she doesn't think his ways can be her ways anymore. That's a lot of fantastic character development on both sides.

But, from a fan point of view, I think what's great about this development is that it adds more shades to what Anakin does in Episode III, and it also removes Ahsoka from danger. Did she ever come back? Did she die when the clones executed Order 66? Or was she still out there somewhere, safe from harm? You can basically write your own ending now and imagine it however you want, and it seems to be driving everyone nuts. (And by "everyone" I mean "the very few people who actually watched the show and talked about it online, only a small fraction of whom liked it.")

One of the things that used to be cool about fandom--at least how I experienced it growing up--is that continuity freaks were rare and it used to be about telling good stories. Sure, things that happened in Star Wars novels weren't "official canon," but that didn't mean you couldn't enjoy them. You could pick from what happened in the Marvel Comics or in the Droids cartoon and make them part of your own personal canon, the way you saw the series, the things that made Star Wars what it was for you. Everyone didn't have to like it or not like it the same way. So maybe Plif the Hoojib isn't an essential part of the Star Wars universe for you, but he damn well is for me, even though I know he matters not one whit to what happens in the films.

It's the same with Ahsoka Tano. I like believing that she wasn't part of the Jedi slaughter. That she had a happy ending somehow, became a teacher somewhere, or a farmer, or anything but a bounty hunter, which seems to be the only alternate career in Star Wars sometimes. Somewhere way out on a rim world. She lived in peace. And since nothing contradicts me, I can totally believe that if I want to.

No canon explanation given? Don't need one, thanks.

I'll miss Clone Wars, but I'll always be glad for what I got and for the essential addition of Ahsoka Tano to my Star Wars universe.


Kal said...

Boy you are talking my language. After that Clone Wars movie I fell in love with this series HARD. Asoka's journey and disenchantment withe the Jedi way was heartbreaking to watch. But it does mean she can find her way into Episode 7 as one of the few living Jedi trained individuals left in the galaxy. But that is in my perfect Star Wars story. From the first time he called her 'Snips' I knew this would not end well for Anakin. He would lose her one way or another and that would be what really broke him and started his path to the Dark Side.
I followed alot of the little background videos the studio made to go with each story arc and I got to feel like I knew many of the creators. I hope they get to touch other Lucas/Disney projects. They sure got the Clone Wars right.

SamuraiFrog said...

They sure did. I really hope the creators and animators continue to do great things in animation. We really need it.

Jason said...
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Jason said...

Nicely said, Frog. I'll confess, I haven't watched much of The Clone Wars -- I have no problem with it, I just haven't managed to catch it (I don't have cable, for one thing) -- but I have followed the discussion of the series' end with some interest, and I agree that it's better not knowing what ultimately becomes of Ahsoka. I like your idea that she found peace somewhere else in the galaxy, far away from Jedi and Sith and war.

I'll be honest, I like to believe that Mace Windu survived too, that he's been existing somewhere deep in the underbelly of Coruscant, crippled but by no means powerless, doing whatever he can to aid the rebellion... but that's me.

Vachon said...

Ah, that stinks. I was looking forward to the next season too. Ever since I saw the Tartakovsky shorts, I had this feeling Star Wars was not really meant for the big screen exclusively. It's far too expansive a universe, rich in detail, to limit it so. I was happy to have this universe explored and have the questions the movies implied or left unanswered be explored, sometimes at length, in this series.

I very much enjoyed the series' commitment to multi-part stories. Not everything needs to be told in a single half-hour episode. Sorry to see it go...