Subtitled as “Secrets Revealed”, the first half of the third season of The Clone Wars focuses on revisiting earlier episodes and providing prequels and sequels to the stories. The appearance of these new prologues and epilogues has created a disjointed chronology for the series as a whole, leading StarWars.com to produce a viewing order for the episodes. The second half restores the linear storytelling as the series continues to bridge the gap between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. This particular season drifts away from the bigger battlefields to instead showcase character development and more intimate skirmishes from the Clone Wars, whilst continuing to develop Ahsoka into a strong breakout character.
We have reviewed and rated each story-arc in the season, and will provide an overall score for the Season Three boxset.
3×01 – “Clone Cadets”
3×02 – “ARC Troopers”
Taking a cue from George Lucas’ non-linear storytelling, the initial two episodes of Season Three act as a prequel and sequel for the Season One episode “Rookies” and focus on the Domino Squad. “Clone Cadets” shows how the team is initially dysfunctional and unable to operate together, providing a bittersweet view of the five clones before they are mostly wiped out in “Rookies”. Much like how the prequel trilogies underscore the tragedy in Anakin’s downfall, this episode develops each of the five clones into likeable supporting characters despite the fact only two of them survive the events on Rishi Moon.
“ARC Troopers” is a direct sequel to “Rookies” and whilst Fives and Echo feature prominently, the focus is on the attack on Kamino as Grievous and Asajj Ventress attempt to stop clone production and end the war. There’s some great moments in this episode with lightsaber battles between Obi-Wan & Grievous, and Anakin & Asajj, evoking memories of their frequent Season One match-ups. The two episodes also serve to detail the clone training process and underscores the fact that each of these ‘disposable’ clones that we see killed off in swarms during battle scenes are actually individuals.
Score – ★★★★ ½
3×03 – “Supply Lines”
Acting as a prequel to both the series’ premiere “Ambush” and the Ryloth Trilogy seen at the end of Season One, “Supply Lines” focuses on the political machinations of the Republic and the Separatists. Similar in theme to “Ambush”, this episode revolves around Bail Organa and Jar Jar Binks attempting to convince the neutral Toydarians to provide humanitarian aid to Ryloth. While this episode retreads themes that were present in the first season, such as the spread of war and how other planets are drawn into the conflict, it does stand out for featuring the death of a Jedi. Typically presented as unstoppable infantry, it was shocking to see a Jedi cut down by ordinary robot troops, reminding us of the brutalities of war.
Score – ★★★
3×04 – “Sphere of Influence”
This time, we have a sequel to a Season One episode as we revisit the blue-skinned Pantorans first seen in “Trepass”. Similar in theme to “Supply Lines”, this story involves the Trade Federation putting pressure on a planet to join the Separatists – this time using the chairman’s hostages as blackmail to encourage the Pantorans to leave the Republic. Ahsoka takes the lead in this episode, highlighting her growing confidence as a Padawan, and it is also notable for showcasing Greedo in his first appearance since The Phantom Menace. Fun, although ultimately forgettable – this is another example of this season’s focus on revisiting past episodes and expanding upon the stories through prequels and sequels.
Score – ★★★
3×05 – “Corruption”
3×06 – “The Academy”
Acting as a sequel to the Mandalore trilogy from Season Two, this two-part storyline highlights the corruption inherent in political organisations as Duchess Satine attempts to weed out the criminal elements from her government. There is a strong focus on female protagonists in this storyline with Padme and Ahsoka both sharing the spotlight with Satine in each of the episodes. Satine’s return to the series is a welcome one as she provides an interesting parallel to Padme, both as a strong female leader and as Obi-Wan’s love interest. While the episodes themselves lack any strong set-pieces, they do well to establish Satine’s character and the ongoing schism occurring within the Mandalore leadership; both of which become important plot points in later seasons.
Score – ★★★
3×07 – “Assassin”
“Assassin” continues to develop plot threads from the previous two-parter, showcasing Ahsoka’s growth from an immature Padawan to a self-assured Jedi alongside Padme’s prominent role as a senator during the Clone Wars. It’s nice to see the two female leads of the series mixing with each other, especially considering how important they both are to Anakin’s life. Meanwhile, bald-headed bounty hunter Aurra Sing returns from the dead after her unconvincing demise in last season’s “Lethal Trackdown” and the irritatingly voiced Ziro the Hutt also makes a reappearance as Padme’s shadowy nemesis.
It was nice to see Ahsoka work independently (and successfully) to save Padme’s life; reacting to the prophetic force visions much better than Anakin does in Revenge of the Sith. A key moment in Ahsoka’s maturation, this episode is an enjoyable digression away from the overarching ‘Clone Wars’ narrative that focuses on two of the series’ most interesting supporting characters.
Score – ★★★ ½
3×08 – “Evil Plans”
3×09 – “Hunt for Ziro”
Acting as both prequel and sequel to Season One’s finale “Hostage Crisis”, these two episodes finally put an end to the long-running ‘Ziro the Hutt’ plot thread by eliminating the irritatingly-voiced Hutt in a satisfying manner. The first episode, “Evil Plans” features R2D2 and C3PO and showcases the same ‘odd-couple bickering’ between the two that characterised them in A New Hope. It’s great to hear Anthony Daniels reprise his performance as the fussy Threepio, and there is a real sense of nostalgia at seeing the two droids interact and develop their friendship.
The second episode, “Hunt for Ziro” delivers the pay-off to Ziro’s prison break with a few shocking twists and turns. As much as I disliked the character, I have to admit that I didn’t expect him to be killed off and the identity of his killer was a genuinely shocking twist. It was also entertaining to see Quinlan Vos appear as Obi-Wan’s partner as they attempted to recapture Ziro. A prominent figure in the ‘Legends’ continuity, Vos was originally conceived for the Dark Horse Comics series, Star Wars: Republic, and underwent a significant character arc during the run, most of which now appears to have been erased in the ‘Canon’ continuity. He is one of those fascinating side-characters with a rich history to explore, and I hope that future ‘Canon’ stories touch upon it.
Score – ★★★★
3×10 – “Heroes on Both Sides”
3×11 – “Pursuit of Peace”
Acting as prequel to the Season Two episode “Senate Murders”, these two episodes focus on the political machinations of Count Dooku and Chancellor Palpatine as they manoeuvre the Republic and the Separatists into further warfare. “Heroes on Both Sides” reminds viewers that there are people on the Separatist side who are innocent and have manipulated by Dooku in the same way that the Jedi and Senate are unwittingly following Palpatine’s plans. Padme continues to feature prominently in these episodes, as does the political backdrop of the war, showcasing the behind-the-scenes paper pushing that prolonged the physical element of the conflict.
“Pursuit of Peace” continues this focus on propaganda and warmongering, whilst fleshing out the relationship between Padme and Bail Organa – explaining why the latter would choose to adopt the former’s daughter. The episode is also notable in that it showcases Palpatine in a sinister light when he is alone with Mas Amedda, marking one of the few instances where the Chancellor hints at his dark side without using the Darth Sidious persona. While these political-driven episodes may be somewhat dry for the series’ child audience, they are fantastic at showcasing the bureaucratic drama underscoring the Clone Wars to an older demographic.
Score – ★★★ ½
3×12 – “Nightsisters”
3×13 – “Monster”
3×14 – “Witches of the Mist”
After eleven episodes of prequels and sequels to existing episodes so far this season, this three-parter finally provides some forward momentum with some dramatic changes to the status quo such as Asajj Ventress leaving Count Dooku’s employ and the introduction of Savage Opress and the Nightsisters. With such meaningful changes occurring in these episodes, including the tease that Darth Maul is still alive (a complete jaw-dropper at the time!), this trilogy turns The Clone Wars from a fun curiosity into must-watch source of continuity.
As the only female representative of the Sith, Asajj Ventress has been an intriguing character in previous seasons of the show, although she has had little focus on her. This storyline rectifies this by revealing her backstory and giving her some motivation and agency as a character beyond being Dooku’s apprentice. There are some wonderful lightsaber battles across these episodes with Dooku himself showcasing his expertise – I particularly enjoyed seeing him indulge in a duel in his pyjamas. Even though Dooku’s fate is set in stone, I still found myself invested in the plot to kill him and what will happen to Ventress and Opress as a result. Definitely one of the stronger storylines to date, this three-parter has reinvigorated the season after a slower start.
Score – ★★★★★
3×15 – “Overlords”
3×16 – “Altar of Mortis”
3×17 – “Ghosts of Mortis”
Returning the focus back to Obi-Wan, Anakin and Ahsoka, this ‘Mortis trilogy’ takes the series in an unexpected direction with some divisive additions to the canon; almost as controversial as midichlorians. Personally, I’m not a fan of omnipotent beings added to fiction and the characters of The Father, The Son and The Daughter didn’t feel like Star Wars to me; it felt like another sci-fi storyline crammed into the Star Wars mould. The story addresses Anakin’s role as “the chosen one”, offering another interpretation of the prophecy; bringing balance to the Force as the guardian of Mortis.
The episode also gives Anakin a glimpse of his future as Darth Vader in a rather self-indulgent moment; one that is predictably reversed before the end of the story. Despite this, it was interesting to see Anakin turn to the Dark Side in an effort to prevent his dark vision coming to life, foreshadowing how easily seduced he can be. I also enjoyed seeing ‘Dark Ahsoka’, although she didn’t quite go as far as I’d hoped in her evilness. There was a true sense of scale to these episodes that made them feel like a season/series finale, but ultimately, I struggled to accept this new layer of lore surrounding the Force and its origins into my own head-canon.
Score – ★★★
3×18 – “The Citadel”
3×19 – “Counterattack”
3×20 – “Citadel Rescue”
This ‘prison break’ three-part storyline is notable for two events: the first meeting between Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader (in their Clone Wars roles of Captain Tarkin and Anakin Skywalker) and the death of Jedi Master Even Piell. There’s a buoyant energy to this adventure from the outset as our heroes get frozen in Carbonite to infiltrate the secure Citadel prison on Lola Sayu. I particularly loved the luminescent yellow lava of the planet as a visual, and the scale of the prison was also impressive. Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka bounce together off each other brilliantly and I enjoy the banter they have, especially when Ahsoka bends the rules in a similar fashion to a youthful Anakin.
Even Piell is the guest Jedi for these episodes, coming across as a grumpier version of Yoda. I was actually shocked that he met his end in this storyline as he was a recognisable character from the prequels and merchandising. Tarkin’s appearance was another shock, showcasing his cold and calculated approach to war in all its harsh cheekboned glory. It made me want to check out the Star Wars novel “Tarkin” to find out more about the character and his rise up the ranks to Grand Moff. Despite the energetic start to this trilogy and the humour of R2D2’s reprogrammed droid army, there are some dark moments with the death of recurring Clone Trooper Echo, as well as Master Piell’s own demise. A solid storyline, this ‘Citadel trilogy’ captures all of my favourite elements of the series in one package.
Score – ★★★★
3×21 – “Padawan Lost”
3×22 – “Wookiee Hunt”
A homage to the classic novel “The Most Dangerous Game” and the popular concept of ‘Battle Royales’, this two-part season finale sees Ahsoka trapped on an island as a group of Trandoshan hunters attempt to hunt her down. Without her lightsaber and forced to rely on her wits to survive, this is a notable chapter for Ahsoka as she is put to the ultimate test. It was great to see the Padawan adopting a leader role for the other Jedi younglings that had survived on the island, inspiring them to fight back in an effort to escape their plight.
The storyline has a lovely link to the original Star Wars trilogy with the appearance of Chewbacca in the second episode, in what is his first chronological appearance in the current canon. He is such a charismatic and well-loved character from the films, despite the fact that the audience cannot understand a word of his guttural roars. His gentleness exudes even in his animated form as he helps Ahsoka and her friends escape from the Trandoshans, setting up the Jedi’s defence of Kashyyyk during Revenge of the Sith. A great way to end the season, this surprisingly intimate storyline focuses on the series’ breakout character and explores what makes her so likeable.
Score – ★★★★ ½
Season Three was definitely a season of two halves with the first eleven episodes focused on introducing prequels and sequels to existing storylines as part of its “Secrets Revealed” tagline, whilst the second half actively propelled the plot forward quite dramatically with Asajj Ventress leaving Count Dooku’s employ and the first hint that Darth Maul may have survived his bisection in The Phantom Menace. There is a nice momentum to those final eleven episodes, even if I found the ‘Mortis trilogy’ to be a bit off-brand at times, and I liked how the character designs changed from some of the characters to reflect the passing of time. This season represents a conscious decision to introduce new elements of canon (Mortis, Darth Maul, Savage Oppress) as opposed to filling the gap between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith with animated battles and the series is all the better for it.
Season Score – ★★★★ ½
Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Season Three is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Amazon, or it can be watched on-demand from Disney+.
Other Seasons Reviewed: