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With "Victory and Death," Star Wars: The Clone Wars finished off its epic animated run on Disney+. The animated world and the live-action films have had their timelines intertwined, with the ballad of Ahsoka Tano finally getting its climactic answer to its looming Order 66 question. But one moment from the finale was a standout, not only because it encapsulated one of the show's central relationships, but because it was a shocking, tragic time jump positioned at the series' very end.
Of course the jump — happening at the very end of the final episode and making its final image a meaningful, spoiler-filled look at the franchise's grim future — was sure to hit fans where it hurts, even if it wasn't unexpected. But now the man behind it all has explained why exactly he chose to end the Clone Wars the way he did.
**This story contains spoilers for the finale of Star Wars: The Clone Wars**
Speaking to Entertainment Tonight, the man of many hats — cowboy included — on Clone Wars (including executive producer, writer, and supervising director) Dave Filoni explained why the memorable appearance by Star Wars' most iconic villain needed to happen. The final scene of the show involved Anakin Skywalker, completely Darth Vadered out, finding the graves and lightsaber marking Ahsoka's escape. The saber is one of his physical connections to his old Padawan, so it is filled to the hilt with significance.
According to Filoni, the time jump — to a time when Vader was in his post-Revenge of the Sith armor and on the hunt — was always in the plan. "That's an idea that I've had for a very long time," Filoni said. "As I went over different ways to end the show, that was always one of the options I had. Ultimately, since Star Wars is a saga about the Skywalker family and Anakin plays a large role in the Clone Wars but also in Ahsoka's life, I felt that if you watch the four parts, as much as Sidious has this hidden layer of character arc in the episodes, so does Anakin."
The final moments of the show involve Vader picking up the lightsaber Ahsoka left next to her trooper memorial, turning on the blue blade he left behind for Sith red. "The through line is the lightsabers that he worked on for her," Filoni said. "There's this symbolic arc of Anakin underneath that all." The moment is brief and sad, with the final reflection of Vader in the clone's visor sticking with fans. It's a poignancy, that still doesn't mess with the Vader canon of the films, Filoni wanted fans to take away from the series as a whole.
"It was a nice way to bring a shape to the whole series, that shows you a subversive thing about what the Clone Wars was really about for Anakin, how [Ahsoka] found her way through it intact — which is what I believe — and just show that the clones, for all their character and all their individuality, by the end also you have stormtroopers walking around who are completely devoid of it," Filoni explained. "Everything is bleached out. Everything is pretty stark. Everything's washed away color-wise, which is what George did it at the end of Revenge of the Sith. A lot of things I do are just ways of taking what George did and reasserting them, enhancing them, showing that this is what his half of Star Wars is about, ultimately, and how the heroes will prevail through it, despite all of the wickedness of the enemy."
But before that time jump, there was the last moment between Ahsoka and Anakin. Filoni said the scene, like so many in the extended Star Wars universe, was filled with the anticipation of the canonical fallout in the future. "For the actors, for Dee [Bradley Baker] and Ashley [Eckstein], I had to keep telling them, 'You know it's going to happen, but they don't. For this to be successful, you've got to get in that headspace,' Filoni said. "Because there's no awareness. The hope is this is all going to be over soon. The hope is we're going to get through this. And especially for Anakin, that things are going to get back to normal. He likes the way things are. He's a hero and he's got everything going for him."
While Filoni doesn't know if George Lucas himself, who had been giving Filoni notes on episodes in the final season, has gotten a chance to check out the Clone Wars finale ("Maybe! Who knows?"), the longtime helmer of the series is satisfied with his finale — Vader cameo and all — saying, "I think we've finally realized the full potential of the show. It feels good to complete it."