Maybe They Should Have Stayed Lost

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008), Season 6 - The Lost Missions

When The Clone Wars was canceled in 2013, it left the creators with a set of stories left to tell. There were a number of stories left in storyboards, ideas still to pursue to bring the series to a satisfying conclusion. This left fans of the series wondering if those stories would ever be told. Ratings had been failing at Cartoon Network, yes, but Star WarsThe modern blockbuster: it's a concept so commonplace now we don't even think about the fact that before the end of the 1970s, this kind of movie -- huge spectacles, big action, massive budgets -- wasn't really made. That all changed, though, with Star Wars, a series of films that were big on spectacle (and even bigger on profits). A hero's journey set against a sci-fi backdrop, nothing like this series had ever really been done before, and then Hollywood was never the same. will always want more. Someone had to pick up the series to continue it on, right?

Thankfully for the fans, NetflixOriginally started as a disc-by-mail service, Netflix has grown to be one of the largest media companies in the world (and one of the most valued internet companies as well). With a constant slate of new internet streaming-based programming that updates all the time, Netflix has redefined what it means to watch TV and films (as well as how to do it). came in to the void left by Cartoon Network to pick up the pieces of The Clone Wars to help get the next season on the air. The following season, dubbed "The Lose Missions", provided an additional 13 episodes of content that the creators had wanted to put out, filling in a number of stories and content that helped add shading and explanation to, I guess, many of the mysteries of the franchise. Personally, though, I just wish the stories that "needed to be told" were any good.

The season opens with the best arc of it's run: Clone Trooper Fives and the discovery (at least by Fives), of Order 66. This is one of those moments fans were likely expecting for a while, for some hint of the eventual order that would lead to the Clones killing all the Jedi (as seen in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith). Fives's discovery happens when Clone Trooper Tup goes berserk and kills a Jedi. The Kaminoans blame it on a virus but Fives suspects more, and when he discovered a bio-mechanical inhibitor chip, one that all Clones have but that corrupted inside Tup, he steadily learns there's a deeper conspiracy that could unbalance the whole of the galaxy. Sadly, before he can reveal the truth he's killed in the eventual cover up.

This arc is absolutely trilling, mind you, as it puts a spin on Order 66. That order was just a little too convenient, a little too easy in Episode III, but by recasting it with Clones we know, and making it more of a dark conspiracy story, the whole idea of Order 66 really shines. It's not the standard story that The Clone Wars tells, but because of that it works really well. It's great to see a show stretch its legs and take it's own format for a spin. Plus, the tragic nature of the whole story gives the arc added weight.

Sadly, from here the season take a big nose dive. After this excellent arc immediately dive into a Amidala arc that adds nothing to the Saga as a whole. Amidala is called to Scipio to work with the Banking Union, the neutral government that keeps the finances of the war going, on both sides. Amidala has to renegotiate the terms of the Republic's loans but the man handling the Bank's side of things is Amidala's old enemy, Rush Clovis (you remember him from earlier in the series because I sure don't). Rush, naturally, eventually betrays her after Amidala helps him get a seat on the Bank counsel, and then the whole of the Bank's government falls apart when first the Separatists invade (to protect their assets) and the the Republic invades (to take over the Bank).

Don't get me wrong, the story does have implications on the greater arc of the Saga. As we learn, everything with the Bank situation (as with, apparently, everything) was orchestrated by Palpatine and his flunky Dooku, all so that the Republic could consolidate the power of the Bank under Palpatine's rule. It makes sense (or as much sense as any governmental storyline does in Star Wars), and it also provides the insight that Dooku knows that Palpatine is also his master, Darth Sidious (a detail I was never sure on up until now). That's all great stuff.

The downside is that it's told from the perspective of Amidala. This arc clearly shows the limitations of her character: she's not a fighter, so she can't handle action scenes at all well. She's also not a very strong governmental figure, just one Senator of many, none of whom have much (or any) power on their own. Whenever Padme has an arc it also feels like she's on the periphery of the important stuff actually happening, and while big moves occur behind the scenes because of what she learns, none of it actually has any bearing on Padme herself. Once again the series proves just how much of a waste she is whenever she's in the lead.

This is then followed by a two-part episode that pairs Mace Windu up with JarJar. I literally groaned when I saw what the plot of this arc was going to be -- "we sat through a boring Amidala arc for the series to then give us a boring JarJar arc?!" -- but, honestly, this two-parter was pretty decent. It's not a great story, focusing on JarJar playing the diplomat on planet, Bardotta, that doesn't trust the Jedi, but the story remains short, with plenty of action and a minimum of the worst parts of JarJar's personality. Had this come in the previous season, or the next season, I might have hated it, but here it serves as a nice palate cleanser.

However, from here the series spirals back down again. We get an arc with Yoda, which should in theory be interesting, but the whole of the arc basically amounts to the series explaining away one of the bigger plot holes of its own creation: why don't dead Jedi automatically turn into force ghosts. We see Obi-Wan, and Yoda, and Anakin all turn into force ghosts in the original trilogy, but that never happens in the Prequels (nor the Clone Wars), so what makes those three guys so special while everyone else just died and becomes so much meat?

I understand the impulse to try and find a way to hand-wave away this seeming discrepancy. A four-part arc to explain it all proves to be the wrong way to do it. In fact, I honestly thing having any kind of arc focusing on this at all is a bad idea because, frankly, whenever the Saga tries to explain the Force it ends up removing more of the mysticism from the Force. The Force is at it's most interesting as, simply, "the energy that guides us all," but an arc that explains, "well, with training and concentration you can learn to turn yourself into a ghost and live on, just ask Qui-Gon, he knows." Yeah... it doesn't work. Seriously, this entire arc is so boring it just shouldn't have bothered addressing it at all.

It leaves me in a position where I have to wonder why the creators felt like these stories needed to be addressed. Was anyone clamoring for an explanation about how the Emperor seized the power of the banks? Did anyone need to know that JarJar could be good at something? Did we really need yet another explanation about the Force? The only arc that actually justifies itself is Five on the hunt for answers about Order 66 and, even then, it's not enough to carry the full weight of this flabby and slow season.

There are ideas in this season that have merit -- power consolidation and how the Jedi can continue to fight on when the entire Galaxy falls to the Empire -- but the rest of it is all just filler. In any other season that might have been okay, but as the last season fans would get for a while, the season that had to serve as the last statement on The Clone Wars (until, unexpectedly, Disney gave the series a new, final season), "The Lost Missions" lacks. It would have been better if the series had stayed at five seasons and ended with Ashoka leaving the Jedi Order. That, at least, felt like a conclusion the series could live with.