This week’s episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars marks a truly special time for not only fans of the show, but for Star Wars fans as a whole. Episode 9 of the final season, titled Old Friends Not Forgotten, is a contender for one of the most special creations coming from Lucasfilm Animation. This may seem like an overstatement considering the “Siege of Mandalore” arc is just getting started. However, this episode ignites a spark that is sure to cause a ripple effect across the fandom. Not very dissimilar to what Jon Favreau did with The Mandalorian, Dave Filoni and the creative team behind the show blur the line between television and the theatrical experience at home. Old Friends Not Forgotten feels like the first quarter of an animated feature with the upmost cinematic quality.
From the first few minutes of the episode, this notion obviously presents itself as deliberate. “The Siege of Mandalore” was long in the making before the show’s initial cancelation. It has grown to become almost like a mirage on the horizon for long time viewers. Promising to tie the era between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith with a huge pretty bow of the most ever satisfying closure. Fans were close to this greatness once before and have since only imagined what fruits it could bear. What would the last confrontation between Ahsoka and Anakin pre-Vader be like? What visual limits would Maul’s last stand on Mandalore reach? Lucasfilm makes it clear that they are not taking their second chances for granted.
The episode directed by Saul Ruiz and written by Filoni comes at a whopping 27 minutes. Not new for shows designated for streaming but noticeably longer for a show first aired within a 30-minute time slot with commercials. Fans are dropped into the final bursting point of the Clone Wars as key pieces finally make their way to their positions as seen in Revenge of the Sith. Fans will be suddenly rushed with emotions and immense gratification, seeing a show that was once denied the finish line reach the place that George Lucas himself always envisioned. Ahsoka and Bo-Katan reach out to the Jedi council with a risky proposition to dismantle Maul’s reign on Mandalore. Little do they know that General Grievous is about to launch a surprise assault on Coruscant, his target being to kidnap the one and only Chancellor Palpatine.
Old Friends Not Forgotten almost does not feel real in this sense. Are fans seeing an almost forgotten but intricate piece of Star Wars canon manifesting on screen? Ruiz and Filoni craft this episode with love and precision. The weight on their shoulders could not be heavier, but they take on this pressure with open arms. The pacing benefits greatly from the extra time. Long-awaited moments are given space to resonate while leaving plenty of room for some of the absolute best set pieces the show has ever flaunted to date. Not a single crack of pressure or ill confidence makes itself visible on the canvas. One can evidently feel that Filoni and his team have waited what must have felt like a lifetime to visualize this story through. They pull out the big hitters and gleefully swing on all fronts.
Clone Wars has built a repertoire for its episodic nature. This episode is not so much different, but the show is rightfully constructing its finale to be viewed in the same way that any fan would sit down to watch their favorite Star Wars film. The animation has never looked this vivid and the direction from Ruiz makes this not only the best episode in the season so far (perhaps to an unfair degree), but also a new fan-favorite. Fans should have tissues nearby and be prepared for a rush of blood to the heart. Old Friends Not Forgotten knows exactly what is expected of it and plans to deliver even more right from the start. The show knows how much people have waited and wastes no time.
The beginning of the epic “Siege of Mandalore” reminds viewers why they even dedicated so much time to this show in the first place. Intentionally sealed with tender love in efforts to create warm yet riveting fulfillment upon delivery to viewers’ hearts. It turns out that the show actually still does have more surprises in store. The Clone Wars knows that many are aware of most of the final outcomes, it is thus prioritizing on the journey getting there – as it should. Old Friends Not Forgotten sets a very strong precedent for the finale of what is arguably one of the most favored Star Wars stories.