If the new era of Star Wars were a battle, the first casualty would have been The Clone Wars. It was canceled by the new regime right before the end of its fifth season, even though at least two more seasons had been planned. There was a lot of consternation from fans. The show, which had initially been met with skepticism, particularly surrounding the character of Ahsoka, had become a fan favorite. Petitions were launched. A hashtag, #SavetheCloneWars, was born on Twitter.
During the 10th anniversary panel at San Diego Comic-Con, Dave Filoni said that a day doesn't go by when someone doesn't tweet that out to him. The love for the show is visceral among Star Wars fans now, so you can imagine everyone's surprise when it was announced that same panel that The Clone Wars would be coming back to finish its story.
As the panel of reminiscing was coming to a close, Filoni said that he had a surprise for fans, and no one quite expected to get this:
It was breathtaking listening to the crowd slowly realize what the trailer meant. As it started, it felt like it might have just been a new trailer to commemorate 10 years of the show. But then, as new things were revealed and the tagline was shown, reality set in. Then, when Ahsoka turned to the audience, everyone lost it.
In a press release that came out just after the panel, Filoni said, "I honestly didn't think we would ever have the opportunity to return to The Clone Wars. Thanks to the relentless fan support and the team behind Disney's direct-to-consumer streaming service, we will now get to tell more of those stories."
For those of us keeping track of The Clone Wars over the years, we know there are still many stories to tell. Some have been released as unproduced story reels. "The Bad Batch" and "Crystal Crisis" are stories that made it pretty deep into production but never got finished. Eight unproduced episodes, written by Katie Lucas, were turned into the novel Dark Disciple. Four more episodes turned into the comic book series Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir. Over the years, Dave Filoni hinted at other stories, showing story reel scenes at Star Wars Celebrations featuring Boba Fett in his armor facing off against Cad Bane.
The holy grail, though? That was hinted at in E.K. Johnston's wonderful book Ahsoka. The Siege of Mandalore. The story of the liberation of Mandalore and Ahsoka's showdown with Maul at the close of the Clone Wars, bridging Ahsoka from the Clone Wars era into the Dark Times. And, with this new trailer, it looks like that's exactly what we're going to get.
It's great news for fans of The Clone Wars. Dave Filoni will finally be able to finish the story of these characters in this setting exactly the way he wanted. According to the press release, we're getting 12 new episodes of The Clone Wars, and my guess is the last of those will be the aforementioned Siege and all of it will be happening on Disney's yet-to-be-named streaming service.
This means a lot in the grand scheme of Star Wars. With the one story we know for sure that we're getting, it will tie a bow on the entirety of The Clone Wars era, but, maybe more importantly, it will set the stage for the ending of Ron Howard's Solo: A Star Wars Story.
The last time we saw Maul on The Clone Wars, he'd been left in the custody of Darth Sidious. If you didn't read Son of Dathomir, you might not have known that he escaped with the help of the Mandalorians and still had at least part of his criminal empire intact. These episodes of The Clone Wars, which Filoni hinted at with drawings earlier in the panel, will be able to explain the events that brought Maul back to the galactic stage as well as take things to a point where his cameo in Solo is more easily understood.
Here are three pages of sketches shown at the panel that detail at least some of the early ideas for this arc:
You'll see Ahsoka teamed up with Bo-Katan (voiced by fan favorite Katee Sackhoff), Maul inspecting his Mandalorian troops, and Ahsoka and Maul having their final face-off.
Thanks to the trailer, we can see that this is the closest The Clone Wars has ever come in the timeline, bridging the gap further and further toward Revenge of the Sith. These are brand-new character animation models for Anakin and Obi-Wan that look very much like their costumes from the final installment of the prequel trilogy. There's also the first fully animated shot we've seen of the leader of the Bad Batch, a group of malformed clones.
With Captain Rex in the mix, these arcs may very well give us the information we've been begging for since Rebels: How did Rex escape Order 66 and remove his neural inhibitor?
Whatever the answer to that question and any more we can think of, this is Dave Filoni's chance to answer them. There's no specific word on when these roll out. There's not even a name for the streaming service yet, but it seems likely that The Clone Wars is being used to convince us all to subscribe to it. Which I'm fine with. I was already on board with a Disney streaming service for Star Wars; give me new Clone Wars and I will pay them twice as much twice as fast.