Warning: This review contains major spoilers for Star Wars: The Clone Wars season 7 episode 11
Star Wars: The Clone Wars knows we know what's going to happen, and Season 7 Episode 11 toys with us like a cat leisurely batting a mouse between its paws.
That the episode is called "Shattered" is all too real, as the slow burn and buzzy, atmospheric synth that dominates the first half of the episode explodes into the betrayal we've been waiting for: Order 66. But before we get to that, I want to focus on how The Clone Wars takes us there, as it's not exactly what I expected, and all the more brilliant for it.
For starters, "Shattered" seems reluctant to give us Order 66, lingering on the opening scene as if it's stalling for time. We're slowly given nods to the problematic nature of this clone war: the clone troopers occupying Mandalore, Bo-Katan's fear that she doesn't have her sister's naive idealism, which might be necessary to move her planet forward, Ahsoka's reluctance to trust the Jedi Council. Even loading Maul, - locked in a Mandalorian Force prison - onto Ahsoka's ship seems drawn out, like a kid dragging its feet on the way into school.
As soon as Ahsoka gets on the ship, the episode's wheels begin to turn a bit faster, but it's still warming up. It's these slow moments that make the character's fates all the more tragic, as the near misses show just how close we were to getting a different story. If Ahsoka would have entered the Jedi Zoom chat at the right time, she would have spoken to Anakin right before he's sent off to lay a trap for Palpatine. If she would have told the Jedi what Maul told her about Anakin, they would have pulled him out of his secret mission. Then he would have never turned to the dark side, and Darth Vader would be nothing more than a vaguely Berlin-sounding night club.
But none of that happens, because we're following a path that leads off the side of a cliff. Order 66 is executed halfway through the episode, just after Ahsoka hears Anakin betray the Jedi and aid Palpatine in killing Mace Windu. In a lovely nod to the prequels, the actual audio from Revenge of the Sith plays - both Hayden Christensen and Samuel. L. Jackson get credits in this episode. But we don't see any other examples of the order taking place anywhere else in the galaxy - we see Aayla Secura and Plo Koon in Episode 8, but we don't see their Revenge of the Sith deaths rehashed in this format.
And that's intentional because The Clone Wars isn't about Anakin Skywalker or Obi-Wan Kenobi, or even the betrayal of the Jedi by their clone army. It's about the clones and navigating alternative ways to use the Force - it's about Ahsoka and Rex. Ahsoka Tano's unique connection to the clones and the Force is The Clone Wars' thesis statement, which explains why she invokes a chant we've only seen one other time before in Star Wars lore.
After she discovers the truth regarding the clones' inhibitor chips, Ahsoka is dead set on removing Rex's, who fought the chip's influence long enough to tell her to "Find Fives." As she attempts to locate Rex's chip with the help of an adorably goofy droid trio, she chants "I'm one with the Force and the Force is with me" and Rex's voice slowly swells to meet her. We've only heard this phrase once before, and it certainly wasn't in the Jedi temple because the person uttering that phrase is no Jedi: Rogue One's blind monk, Chirrut Îmwe, uses this mantra to help him navigate a battle while blind. Ahsoka has no clear connection to Îmwe, no interaction with him (that we know of), but both represent a purer adoption of the Force, one unencumbered by Jedi teachings or Sith motives. Ahsoka Tano is the Force. The Force is her.
The clone wars are over, but we've got one more episode of The Clone Wars left, and what we'll get from it is unclear, clouded like the aura around Palpatine. Whatever it is, it will cement this series as a brilliant bridge between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, between the dehumanized clones of the prequels and the souls that actually live within them, and between our understanding of the Force and its true nature.
The end is nigh. The final episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars airs on May 4. Here's how to watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars.