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Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Shattered (The Clone Wars - S07E11) - Animated Series

Series: The Clone Wars

Title: Shattered

Season: Seven

Episode: 11

Original Air Date: May 1, 2020

Runtime: 25 minutes

Credits: Review & Text: Thomas; Page layout & Design: Chuck Paskovics

Maybe Mace should have sensed the Jedi Order's stupidity instead

What do you do when the viewers know so much more than the characters in your tv show? What do you do when viewers have known about crucial events for years, decades even, but you decide to make a movie or series about said events? You can either pretend no one knows anything at all and go ahead with your project as if the viewers were as ignorant about upcoming events as the characters are. Or you can use it to your advantage and fill your viewers with dread and impending doom when they see your story unfold on the screen. For the final arc of The Clone Wars season 7 Dave Filoni and his team chose the latter option. And nowhere does it get more evident than in "Shattered" the penultimate Clone Wars episode.

Before I talk about the important story bits I want to talk about the music. Because in "Shattered" the music is used in a very clever way, it's very unsusual, it's very unlike any Star Wars music you usually hear in media. The music is used to play with the viewer's expectations. And everyone knows what to expect. Order 66 will be carried out. The Jedi Order will be destroyed. Anakin falls to the dark side, the Republic falls and the Empire rises. Neither of the characters know that. But we, the viewer, know. And thus even in what could be interpreted as happy or maybe nostalgic moments, Maul captured, the war drawing to a close with Grievous cornered, Ahsoka telling Rex what a great friend he is... Kevin Kiner, the composer for the series, underlays all of these seemingly happy or nostalgic moments with a haunting and eerie soundscape. Electronic soundscapes, not too much unlike Vangelis' Blade Runnner score, underlay almost every scene in the beginning, a menacing electronic drone builds up tension. We all know what's going to happen. And the music plays with that anticipation. I have to say that is one very smart way to use prior knowledge to your actual advantage.

Maul has been secured, ready for transport

The story of "Shattered" is quickly told. With Maul captured and the war drawing to a close Ahsoka and Rex take Maul to their Star Destroyer headed for Coruscant. But then Palpatine seizes power, kills Mace Windu, Anakin falls and Order 66 is executed. Now Ahsoka is onboard a Star Destroyer filled to the brim with clones. And a harrowing fight for survival begins when Rex himself turns on Ahsoka and wants to shoot her.

Ahsoka considers Rex a good friend

We get several touching and nostalgic moments in the episode. But also moments that once again play with what the viewers know. When Ahsoka is informed that she can't talk to Anakin right now, because he's with the Chancellor, Yoda offers to relay a message to him, but Ahsoka replies she will tell him herself when she sees him. Ahsoka's mistrust of the Jedi Council is once more evident in the short scene with the Council, since she doesn't tell them about Maul's revelations about Anakin Skywalker, that he has been groomed as a dark side apprentice all these years. Maybe in part because Ahsoka herself still can't believe it. Also, the scene with the council once more drives home the point what an arrogant person Mace Windu - and in many ways the Jedi themselves - could be. He dismisses Ahsoka as a "citizen", and acts as if the Order didn't disappoint Ahsoka when they chose to believe the allegations against her. Only Yoda appears to be more caring, he certainly knows they treated Ahsoka poorly and that they alone are to blame for her departure.

We are then treated to a very emotional scene between Rex and Ahsoka on the Star Destroyer when they muse about the nearing end of the Clone Wars. Rex is of course of two minds here, on the one hand no more war is great for the galaxy, but on the other hand the clones owe their life to the conflict in the first place. Ahsoka then tells Rex that no one could have asked for better soldiers, that something good came out of it in the end, and that she couldn't ask for a better friend than Rex. But their talk is interrupted when Rex is informed that the latest briefing has come in. So he goes to receive the transmission......

Maul and Ahsoka sense that something has gone terribly wrong

We are then treated to an audio clip from the final moments of the fight between Mace and Palpatine in "Revenge of the Sith" overlayed over close-ups of Maul and Ahsoka who feel that something terrible is happening. And we actually hear Hayden Christensen's voice from the movie here, only the last line "What have I done" is voiced by Matt Lanter. That's an interesting artistic choice here. Paying respect to Christensen's role and performance and Matt Lanter's. A very nice touch!

Execute Order 66!

Meanwhile Rex receives his "briefing". And we all know what that briefing is about. It's Order 66. And then the tone of the episode shifts. The drone and haunting music abruptly stops. Now the one big question is. What will Rex do? And here we have the one moment that - not for the first time - wreaks havoc with Star Wars canon. In Rebels Rex said that he had his chip removed before Order 66 and never turned on Ahsoka. As it turns out, that is not true. Not only does he still have his chip. He also turns on Ahsoka, despite a few vain attempts to fight the command from his chip in the brain.

Hands are shaking and one single tear is shed

And Rex does struggle. He is shaken by the command, drops his helmet, he still raises his blasters, tells the other clones that he will "do it" and kill Ahsoka, but with his last vestiges of free will he manages to relay a message to Ahsoka before the madness begins: that she is to find Fives.

Hanging on to dear life

And after a slow, wistful, outright eerie beginning of the episode all hell breaks lose as the clones turn on Ahsoka. She barely escapes with her life through the ceiling. We then learn that Order 66 doesn't just include Jedi. Ahsoka is no longer a Jedi, but - as we just saw - she is a target. But not just her. It turns out Maul is also a target. And while we don't know for certain, chances are that all current or former Sith apprentices were on the list, including Dooku, had he not died shortly before. With Anakin replacing all of them.

The Clone Wars goes full Rogue One

Ahsoka makes her way to Maul and frees him. But not just because she's a kind heart or actually wants to team up with him. Not in the least. She wants to use him as a distraction, he's supposed to cause mayhem and destruction, while Ahsoka tries to figure out how to escape from the situation. And Maul does as he is told. We get a scene that very much resembles the Vader corridor scene from Rogue One. With the only exception that Maul doesn't require a lightsaber to decimate Clones left and right. It's quite brutal. One Clone is basically cut in half, another Clone loses his arm as he is pulled towards a closing bulkhead. It's not explicit but you know what happens in those scenes.

Ahsoka makes her way to the droids. And it turns out the droids are not affected by Order 66, they were not remotely reprogrammed. The droids have no idea either what's going on. But they are on Ahsoka's side. Ahsoka then acts on Rex's last message to her. She searches the database for info about Fives and after entering Anakin's PIN (the Republic really needed better security) she eventually finds out about the inhibitor chip in the brain of the clones. She manages to capture Rex with the help of the droids and she drags him to the medical bay where she finally manages to detect the chip in his brain, but only after using the Force, because for some reason the medical scanner didn't pick it up.

A very distressed Rex just shot his comrades

But the clones have found Ahsoka, the door is sealed but they are trying to override it and will break through any time soon. And in what turns out to be the probably fastest brain surgery ever, the medical droid manages to remove the chip in record time. Just in time for Rex to aid Ahsoka as the door is overridden and clones have her pinned down. Rex shoots some of his former comrades and then the droids manage to seal the door again. For now. Ahsoka then learns from Rex the truth, that all clones are affected and have turned on the Jedi. The episode leaves us with Ahsoka, Rex and the droids trapped in the medical bay, with clones slowly cutting open the door again.

"Shattered" was quite the emotional rollercoaster. It's one thing to know of certain events, it's still another to actually see them unfold. In the movies George Lucas only ever gave us a brief montage of clones turning on their Jedi. Here we experience it in much more detail and it's also much more heartbreaking, because unlike the clones and their Jedi in the sequels, who we hardly knew at the time, Rex and Ahsoka have a long history together and have been central characters for seven seasons.

The episode is certainly yet another masterwork. All the less than stellar moments from season 7, but also from all the seasons before, are easily forgotten. That final arc shows what the show could accomplish, what it ascended to, when all things came together. The final arc is movie material. The show has never looked better than in its final moments. The camerawork is cinematic. And I mentioned the music in the beginning of the episode, it's not very melodic in the first half, but it masterfully creates atmosphere and builds on the anticipation the viewer has.

All that being said "Shattered" is problematic in some ways. It utterly trashes canon. I mentioned Rebels previously, this episode completely contradicts what Rex said in Rebels. He did turn on Ahsoka, his chip had not been removed before. Now you may try to retcon it as Rex just being embarrassed about the whole thing, so he's lying about the darkest moment of his life. But the episode also contradicts the novel "Ahsoka" which stated that Order 66 occured with Maul on Mandalore and that he used the general confusion to escape. Which is certainly no longer true.

I don't want to dwell on the topic too much, but "Shattered" once more proves that it's a very dumb idea by Lucasfilm to declare every book, comic or game "canon". How will people feel who consider these things actual canon, only to find out that tv shows and movies can easily overrule 2nd tier canon from books and comics? But even more problematic is that "Shattered" completely retcons another tv show, Rebels. both by Filoni. It's understandable that Rex still has his chip in "Shattered", it makes for a much better episode. Once again, it's apparent Filoni only came up with this story after Rebels, where Rex tells a very different story. It's not the end of the world. And it's unrealistic to assume that showrunners or writers know all the details years in advance. The take away from all this is that Star Wars canon is a mess, it's more or less meaningless, especially canon as it's told in books, whenever someone has a new and better idea it will be used and destroy whatever canon there was before. But maybe Lucasfilm should stop treating books and comics as "canon" then and free them from those shackles.

But this must not distract from the fact that "Shattered" violated canon for all the right reasons, it made for a much more emotional and much better episode. It's another 10 out of 10!

Added: May 1, 2020
Category: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Reviewer: Thomas
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