“Star Wars” fans let out a collective howl of anguish last year when it was announced that one of the casualties of Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm was the animated series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars.” The fan-favorite series was canceled without a satisfactory conclusion, yanked from the schedule of Cartoon Network, where it had aired since 2008. That ultimately made way for a new series, “Star Wars Rebels,” set to premiere on the Disney Channel before moving to Disney XD.
So, when word came that the final 13 episodes of the show’s sixth season would become available to fans on Netflix, the news was met with good cheer. As of Friday, viewers can check out “The Lost Missions,” which will join the previous five seasons on the streaming video service, including some director’s cuts of those earlier episodes.
“The Lost Missions” follows a rift in the Force caused by Ahsoka Tano’s departure from the Jedi Order and the growing menace of Sith lords and apprentices throughout the galaxy. In an interview with Hero Complex last fall, executive producer Dave Filoni teased that the final set of episodes would “really please the diehard ‘Clone Wars’ fans, especially the story arc with Master Yoda.”
However, anxious fans who have been waiting and hoping for final word on the fates of characters introduced within the confines of the series — most notably Ahsoka Tano, the Jedi apprentice to Anakin Skywalker who was introduced in the 2008 “Clone Wars” movie — will have to wait longer. Although the final season provides answers to many of the “Star Wars” mythos’ mysteries, her fate isn’t one of them.
“What’s important to me that came out of ‘Clone Wars’ was to learn from George [Lucas] about big portions of this time period” in the “Star Wars” universe, Filoni said. “While I know the fans might not get every answer they want … we now have all these stories that I believe will come out over the next decade in one form or another.”
Whereas the “Star Wars” prequel films, especially “Episode I — The Phantom Menace,” were criticized for being too juvenile in tone, “The Clone Wars,” set in the years between “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones” and “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith,” earned praised for its sophistication. Rather than focus on one or two main characters, the series jumped around the galaxy, telling stories from many perspectives.
“The series really aged up over the years,” said Sean Carey, Netflix vice president of content acquisition. “It went to a darker place and didn’t fit the Cartoon Network brand any longer. So it was a hidden gem that Disney brought to our attention, and we jumped all over it.”
“It’s a fun way to tell a tale,” Filoni said. “Start in a light way we can all identify with and slowly take them into a darker place with more meaning and depth.”
Although Filoni was not able to execute his plan to dovetail the “Clone Wars” series directly into the opening of “Revenge of the Sith,” he did manage to ensure that the new episodes delve further into the mythology of the Force than ever before — and, in doing so, provided an almost biblical level of import to an arc involving Jedi Master Yoda and his journey to understand the roots of that mystic force.
It’s still a cartoon based on a popular space opera, but the passages with Yoda that close out the new episodes use imagery straight out of the Old Testament.
“The story went to a very dark place in ‘Revenge of the Sith,’” Filoni said. “So it was always my plan to come out of the prequel era of ‘Attack of the Clones’ and ‘Phantom Menace,’ which were more lighthearted … to the end, when the [characters] finally see the traps that have been laid for them and be powerless to stop it.”
At this point, Filoni and his creative team have moved on to “Star Wars Rebels,” which is set to premiere in the fall and takes place in the time between “Revenge of the Sith” and “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope.”
Of the differences between the two series, Filoni told Hero Complex last year: “’Rebels’ will be different from ‘The Clone Wars’ in a couple ways, and one is the decision to stick with one story and one main group of characters. We wanted fans to get to know the new characters and what they are fighting for. Each episode has its own unique story, while still fitting into the much larger picture of what is going on in the ‘Star Wars’ universe. ‘Rebels’ will tell the story of a group of characters — in this way it is more like the original trilogy which followed Han, Luke and Leia — where the prequels showed us the grand scale and political as well as personal.”
Now, as the “Star Wars Rebels” publicity campaign rolls into high gear, he said he’s ready for the reaction from the heavily invested and re-energized fan community.
“I prefer to meet the fans out on the battlefield head-on and discuss things with them,” he said. “I love hearing theories … and I love hearing the passion behind it.”
As for any lingering questions about Ahsoka, Filoni is able to provide these words of calm:
“I’m really protective of that character, having written her and worked alongside George on all of her thoughts and actions,” he said. “One thing I’m really grateful for is even though there’s been a lot of transition at Lucasfilm, everybody here working creatively understands I feel that way and comes to me with questions about her.
“I have a good idea of what happened to her, and I’ll just leave it at that,” Filoni said.
–Patrick Kevin Day | @patrickkevinday
Follow us on Twitter: @LATHeroComplex
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