With Star Wars: The Clone Wars season seven coming to Disney’s streaming service, Disney+, fans will get the chance to see stories which were for a long time just scattered pieces of concept art. Ahsoka Tano’s descent into the underworld, the Bad Batch clone troopers, and the Siege of Mandalore will all finally air on the small screen like originally intended before the show was canceled in 2014.
The Siege of Mandalore, in particular, has wider ramifications that ripple throughout the Star Wars universe. This storyline was meant to be the end of The Clone Wars, Lucasfilm Story Group member Pablo Hidalgo said in an interview about its connections to Star Wars Rebels, and may or may not still fulfill that role. So what exactly makes this arc special?
The novel Ahsoka by E. K. Johnston alluded to the Siege, showing a duel between the former Jedi and Maul. That’s the same duel Dave Filoni talked up at The Clone Wars panel at Star Wars Celebration Chicago, describing it as a long, elaborate fight.
Since this battle is set right before the rise of the Emperor, we already know how the Siege of Mandalore ends. The Republic brings Mandalore into its fold. When the corrupt galactic government becomes the Empire, the once-friendly presence of the Republic turns into a “soft occupation,” as described by Rebels Co-Executive Producer Henry Gilroy. The Siege turns the planet from an independent stronghold to one of the Empire’s many subjects.
For those curious about this pivotal moment in the Clone Wars as well as why it might be one of the more exciting stories to watch in the upcoming seventh season of the show, here’s what you need to know:
What is Mandalore?
The home of the Mandalorians, the source of Boba Fett’s infamous armor. In current Star Wars canon, Mandalore is a planet ruled by a duke or a duchess. While in Legends canon the Mandalorians were a warlike society that once tried to take over the galaxy in a bloody fight against the Old Republic, the current canon either built on or destroyed this notion, depending on how you look at it. The canon Mandalorians have a violent past but try to end it by becoming pacifists during the days of the Clone Wars.
Who besieges it?
The Republic after Darth Maul raises an army on Mandalore. At the moment, the story is a bit fuzzy as to how he recovered from several downfalls on the show (perpetuated by Darth Sidious, of all people). But somehow, he returned to Mandalore and still had enough loyal troops there to present a serious threat.
Even if the majority of Mandalorian citizens are pacifists in canon, the more militant Death Watch faction has armor, jet packs, and weapons aplenty. It’s this faction the Republic deems dangerous enough that a large group of clone troopers is sent to stop them.
Isn’t Darth Maul dead?
Not for a while. After being sliced in half at the end of The Phantom Menace, he was able to keep himself alive through sheer force of will and his connection to the dark side. (It’s pretty far-fetched, but in the world of space magic, what isn’t?) Since then, he’s been trying to find a way to gain power and go back to or defeat the Sith master who doesn’t have any further use for him. As seen in The Clone Wars, he raised a group of disparate gangs under the name Shadow Collective, with the violent Death Watch Mandalorians as his closest and most deadly enforcers.
Maul wants to gain power, and the political situation on Mandalore aligned just right for him to do that. While he will eventually be overthrown, Maul will continue to run a criminal organization known as Crimson Dawn, as revealed in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Actor Ray Park, who played Maul in The Phantom Menace, returned for Solo and will do so again in The Clone Wars season seven, providing motion-capture for the big fight scenes during the Siege. This means that when Maul finally faces off against Ahsoka on screen, it’ll be Park providing the stunts.
When does the Siege take place?
Order 66, the Jedi slaughter in Revenge of the Sith, happens right in the middle of the Siege. Former Jedi apprentice Ahsoka Tano has left the Jedi Order by this time, as seen in the original run of The Clone Wars. She returns to fight alongside her former master, Anakin Skywalker, and the Republic, although we’re not exactly sure what form that partnership will take. Many clone troopers are still willing to follow her into battle, as evidenced by a clip shown during the show’s Celebration panel, but just days later, the Republic will formally become the Empire.
Who are the major players?
Darth Maul, Ahsoka Tano, and Captain Rex. Ahsoka left the order before she could reach knighthood, and the same strong sense of right and wrong that pushed her away from the Temple also drives her to confront the Sith. Her loyalty to the clone troopers also makes a big impact. She most often serves beside Rex, commander of the infamous 501st Legion. This is the same legion that marched into the Jedi Temple behind Darth Vader, but Rex wasn’t part of the purge. He had already learned that Sidious was trying to brainwash the clones through implanted control chips and made his escape after the Siege.
Maul has gained a lot of experience since The Phantom Menace, including rather poorly running a criminal cartel, but he’s still a Jedi-killer at heart. In Ahsoka, he taunts the young hero for not being “a real Jedi” and trying to impress her master, but his blows don’t land. Instead, she uses his preoccupation with banter to draw him into a trap. It still remains to be seen how much of this will appear in The Clone Wars.
What does Ahsoka do?
The Siege bridges two major parts of Ahsoka’s life: her time on Coruscant and her wanderings afterward. She knows that, even though she has formally left the Jedi, she is not in exile. Anakin and the 501st’s clones are still loyal to her. The Siege of Mandalore shows that she is powerful enough to trap Maul or otherwise defeat him (depending on how closely the finalized episode hews to the information adapted for the novel.)
Her emotional wounds are still fresh, though. Some of them heal in the course of Ahsoka, in which she still thinks of Anakin and Obi-Wan as her family. Considering that no additional information about her adventures after the Clone Wars exists, the novel is the closest we get to a clue about how she reaches the serenity she exhibits as a mentor to other surviving Jedi in Rebels. It won’t be until much later that she learns what became of Anakin.