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Star Wars The Clone Wars Ending Explained: Ahsoka Tano's Order 66 Fate And That Surprise Appearance

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Between the execution of Order 66 and a surprise appearance by Darth Vader, the final episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Disney+ had everything a longtime franchise fan could want.

It couldn't be more appropriate for the final episode of the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars to release on May 4th, Star Wars day. The last installment of the seven-season show, which is streaming now on Disney+, is among the series' best episodes--and managed to tie up a number of lingering story threads.

If you haven't watched the final episode of the series, "Victory and Death," you should stop now as we are going to dive deep into spoiler territory. This is your final warning.

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There was a lot for the final episode of The Clone Wars to accomplish--namely how Ahsoka Tano would not only escape the Star Destroyer full of Clone Troopers trying to kill her due to Order 66 (the order to kill all Jedi) but how Darth Maul would make it out alive. Any fan that's seen Star Wars Rebels knows both of them escaped Clone Wars alive, but for a moment it looked as if all hope was lost. Still, Clone Wars managed to not only make both of their escapes some of the most thrilling Star Wars moments in recent history, it also provided a surprise ending that packed a powerful and emotional punch to the proceedings. Let's break it all down.

Ahsoka and Order 66

"Victory and Death" picked up with where the previous episode left off, with Ahsoka and Captain Rex attempting to escape the Venator while being hunted by a large group of Clone Troopers who have been ordered to kill Tano under Order 66. The final confrontation with the troopers was hands-down one of the most visually impressive scenes Star Wars has ever pulled off, with one lightsaber-wielding former Jedi and one Clone Trooper with a blaster facing down an entire army. What's more, it was all happening as the Star Destroyer was crashing to a planet (more on that later).

Through it all, Ahsoka reminded Rex time and again that she couldn't bring herself to kill the Clone Troopers she'd known for so long, even if they were determined to end her life. In the final confrontation, the two of them were careful to incapacitate the troopers, but not kill them before ultimately escaping the crashing ship.

Even with the best of intentions, though, we next see Tano near the ship after it crashed into the planet, as she stands to mourn over the fallen troopers, all of whom died in the catastrophe. Even though her intentions were to keep them safe, when it comes to war, nobody's life is assured. It's then that Tano takes the final step in shedding her life as a Jedi, discarding one of her lightsabers on the makeshift gravesite for the fallen troopers.

Then there's Darth Maul

Darth Maul's escape from the Star Destroyer wasn't as emotional as Ahsoka's but it was just as thrilling. While Tano and Rex were attempting to get to an escape ship, Maul was sabotaging the Star Destroyer by using his Force powers to rip apart the hyperdrive, which ultimately doomed it to crash into a distant planet. After doing so--and killing more than a few Clone Troopers--he escaped on the ship Ahsoka and Rex were attempting to reach. It's his last act of defiance on The Clone Wars, leaving Ahsoka and Rex in a lurch as he flies away to safety--only to be seen again in Rebels.

The surprise ending

With Maul having disappeared once more and Ahsoka and Rex having made their escape from the ship, The Clone Wars final scene was a flash-forward. It's unclear exactly how far into the future the show has gone, but at the very least it's post-Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Back on the planet that the Star Destroyer crashed onto, none other than Darth Vader--the former Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka's one-time Jedi master--arrives at the wreckage, flanked by Snowtroopers. He approaches the wreckage, now covered in snow, and picks up Ahsoka's lightsaber.

Vader doesn't say a word as he inspects and powers on the lightsaber, but this is clearly a turning point for the character. Ahsoka was the only link the character still had to his old life. Obi-Wan Kenobi disowned him, while Padme was dead. Now, with her lightsaber in his hands, we are led to believe that Vader thinks his former apprentice is also gone.

It's a somber note to end the series on. What's more, it sets a dark tone for a galaxy now ruled by the Empire, where Rebels begins. In terms of bridging the gap between the Clone Wars and the eventual rise of Luke Skywalker, The Clone Wars should be considered essential viewing. However, this final episode, and it's parting shot of Vader's reflection in the visor of a dead Clone Trooper's helmet as he walks away with Ahsoka's lightsaber, is a powerful and important reminder of all that was lost in the Clone Wars--something which is often forgotten about because, well, most of us don't like to revisit the prequel movies.

All seven seasons of The Clone Wars, as well as the followup series, Star Wars Rebels, are streaming now on Disney+.

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Chris E. Hayner

Chris E. Hayner is Senior Editor at GameSpot, responsible for the site's entertainment content. Previously, he contributed to a number of outlets including The Hollywood Report, IGN, Mashable, CBS Interactive, Tribune Media, and Nerdist. Chris loves all movies, but especially Jaws and Paddington 2.

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