Last week’s episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars warned fans of what looms on the horizon. With the show now existing concurrently with Revenge of the Sith, anybody who has been even remotely following along can guess what is next. Despite all the signals, nothing can rightfully prepare viewers for what unfolds in episode eleven. Subtitled Shattered, the episode directed by Saul Ruiz and written by Dave Filoni follows Ahsoka, Captain Rex, and Maul during one of the most critical events in Star Wars Canon: the definitive end of the Clone War. Who would have thought that these three would form the show’s game-changing trifecta?
Before the entire universe gets turned upside down, the episode rightfully takes time to reflect. The Siege of Mandalore coming to a close last week definitely justifies a break in pace. Ahsoka and Rex are tasked to transport Maul to the Jedi Council on Coruscant. The heroes part ways with Bo-Katan and the newly liberated, yet still shambled, Mandalore. With Maul in custody and Obi-Wan Kenobi hunting General Grievous on Utapau, the war seems to be at an end. Ahsoka and Rex use this time to meditate on the forthcoming peace. Of course, little do they know that this will be peace welcome by those only with skewed vision. The two, and even Maul, have known nothing but war their entire lives. When one is literally bred for battle, can they come to terms with a galaxy at ease?
This can be said for every episode in this final arc but, nonetheless, Shattered pulls the heartstrings to unexplored extremities. In fact, thanks to delicate craftsmanship, there might not be such another fulfilling episode of an animated Star Wars program for quite a while. Ruiz and Filoni balance beauty and tragedy, delivering magnificent visuals pumped by love, frustration, and fear. The show has never looked better with jaw-dropping sights, yet this comes at the absolute worst time in Star Wars – almost symbolic in a timely kind of way. Again, this has been said with the previous two episodes, but pure endearing moments followed by a long time coming catastrophe will have viewers reaching for more tissues.
More pieces of canon come together, making events between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope slightly less clouded. Creating such clarity is not truly necessary, but when it deals with highly loved characters like Ahsoka and Maul – it is always welcomed. The episode already features certain deep lore cuts, which make for killer imagery and payoff, but what is most impressive is the show’s commitment to Revenge of the Sith. Few, reasonably, have never considered the show to totally fall in line with the prequel film’s characterizations and rhythms. Understandable, but one pivotal scene in Shattered serves as the final case to prove these naysayers wrong.
Not enough credit can be given to the artists who molded Shattered into what it is. The first third of the episode operates within an uneasy and chilling atmosphere. The reflexive nature of the script matches this tension, making the characters feel like they do not want the war to end themselves. Just like the viewer, they do not want to say goodbye. Although, all good things must come to an end and it could not be more bittersweet to see this sentiment from Ahsoka and Rex. It is beautiful moments like these emerging from total direness that Star Wars is loved for.
The majority of the episode takes place en route to Coruscant. Being confined in a ship within the endless nature of space gives Shattered a sense of claustrophobia. In spite of this, the intensity of it all still reaches fantastical heights. One scene-stealing sequence with Maul perfectly encapsulates this. An aura of bleakness can rarely look this gorgeous, thanks to the balance coming from the hands of Ruiz and Filoni. However, one who must, once again, not go unsung is composer Kevin Kiner.
Just like how the score took cues from The Phantom Menace in last week’s episode, Kiner takes a few notes from John Williams’ Revenge of the Sith score here. Certain musical cues are instantly recognizable and pack a punch to the soul. Thankfully, Kiner borrows only when necessary. The rest of his original work stands on its own and feels fresh for the show, in the second to last episode no less. To meet the difficult demands of Shattered‘s atmosphere, Kiner evokes his own balance of bliss and melancholy from the viewer. When placed over the dire events at hand, the music adapts to create sensational rushes of uncertainty. Kiner’s original score here is the most Blade Runner Star Wars compositions have ever felt.
Beautiful just to look at while stressing the heart in more ways one could expect – Shattered is not an easy episode to shake off. It carries a long-lasting power, a unique piece of the show that will be referenced for time to come. The final moments tease of what is at stake in the finale while giving totally nothing away. With the show’s emotional core coming to a burst this week, and the fact that fans know things will not get better, how The Clone Wars chooses to spend its last 25 to 30 minutes will be utterly fascinating.