This Star Wars: The Clone Wars article contains spoilers.
The Clone Wars‘ final episode, “Victory and Death,” packs a punch. It’s an emotional end to a series that’s been a major part of the saga for the last 12 years. But with Order 66 now in effect and Anakin now transformed into Darth Vader, the story of the heroes of the Clone Wars is over.
The episode gives us a final moment with Ahsoka and Rex before they move on to parts unknown. It’s a somber scene, as the duo looks upon the graves of their fallen clone comrades one last time, saluting the men they were unable to save when the Republic cruiser crash-landed on the unknown moon. It’s then that Ahsoka decides that she rejects for the last time her place with the Jedi, dropping her lightsaber on the ground to rest with the dead clones.
But the scene isn’t over. The episode fast forwards in time to the age of the Empire. The moon that seemed to be in autumn when Ahsoka and Rex landed there is now covered in ice — and Imperial snowtroopers have arrived to inspect the wreckage of the old Republic ship. We watch as an Imperial shuttle lands at the crash site to reveal that Darth Vader has personally come to check on Ahsoka’s last known whereabouts. He slowly approaches the wreckage, where he finds his former apprentice’s lightsaber waiting for him.
It’s impossible to know what Vader is thinking at this moment. Does he think Ahsoka is dead? Or does the lightsaber confirm that she escaped? Is this stop just the first in Vader’s search for his former ally? And if he were to find her, would he offer her a place with the Sith or would he kill her like the rest of the Jedi he hunted during the purge?
Above him, a bird circles the scene. This is undoubtedly a symbol of Ahsoka’s future, a reference to Morai, the convor that watches over the hero in Star Wars Rebels. The Morai is bonded with her through the Force and at times guides her. But Vader isn’t aware of this connection and doesn’t know that Morai could very well be confirmation — or a purposeful message from Ahsoka — that she’s still alive somewhere.
Vader walks away from the wreckage, lightsaber in hand, never speaking a single line, not even a command for the snowtroopers to search the ship for survivors. Just silence, his reflection bouncing off the visor of a clone trooper helmet as the series ends.
What else might be happening here? Confronted with a relic of his past, it’s possible that the Dark Lord of the Sith is conflicted at this moment. After all, this lightsaber was one of two Anakin gifted to Ahsoka right before the Siege of Mandalore, an artifact that undoubtedly reminds him of the last time he saw her before he turned to the dark side (episode 9, “Old Friends Not Forgotten”). Vader finding this lightsaber, discarded in the snow, is a grim way for this final arc of Clone Wars episodes to come full circle for him.
Losing Padme, Obi-Wan, and now Ahsoka means that Vader is truly alone. Of course, this won’t be the last time that Vader sees Ahsoka. In Rebels season 2, they are reunited for a duel decades in the making, as Ahsoka finally realizes that her former master is too far gone. This is the true breaking point of their relationship, the moment when Ahsoka will finally accept that Anakin is truly dead and only Darth Vader remains.
But his meeting with Ahsoka is still years away, and there are plenty more atrocities for the villain to commit before then. In the final seconds of The Clone Wars, Vader takes a lonely walk back to his shuttle and to Emperor Palpatine‘s side.