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Clone Wars’ Siege of Mandalore arc kicks off with lots of subtle Star Wars connections

It’s still the season for Easter eggs

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Ahsoka and Mandalorian on hologram call with Anakin in Clone Wars season 7 Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.

“Old Friends Not Forgotten,” episode 9 of the final Clone Wars season on Disney Plus, opens with John Williams’ classic Star Wars fanfare and the timbre of a blockbuster movie. Fitting, as the first chapter of the hyped-up Siege of Mandalore finale arc snaps into a timeline set by Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Movie viewers will recognize the beats with anticipation and dread. They may also clock in the callbacks to The Clone Wars 2008 pilot: first with Anakin feigning surrender to Separatist forces like Obi-Wan Kenobi did and Ahsoka Tano descending upon a ramp to meet her Master Skywalker and Kenobi.

Since this is a wide galaxy, “Old Friends Not Forgotten” cannot help but scatter other little treasures for fans who consumed not just the movies, but the comics, other animated series, and books.

[Ed. note: This post contains major spoilers for The Clone Wars, season 7, episode 9.]

The Jedi that will fall

Aayla Secura on Felucia in Old Friends Not Forgotten” clone wars
Aayla Secura on Felucia, echoing her downfall in Revenge of the Sith
Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.

The opening montage in “Old Friends Not Forgotten” is a tough watch, showing Jedi Masters Plo Koon and Aayla Secura stationed at the sites of their eventual demise in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Aayla is seen leading her clone troopers on the vibrant Felucia, while Plo Koon flies off to his presumed fatal voyage over Cato Neimoidia. If only they sensed what their clones would do to them when Darth Sidious eventually utters “execute Order 66.”

Long time, no see, Depa Billaba

In the opening montage, keen-eyed fans will recognize Master Depa Billaba, a background Jedi who first appeared in Episode I: The Phantom Menace, at a holo debriefing. Fun fact: There were plans to have Depa debut on Clone Wars in the scrapped “Crystal Crisis on Utapau” arc. She ultimately played a large role in the Kanan Marvel comics and recruited Caleb Dume as her Padawan.

Caleb Dume, the boy who would be Kanan Jarrus

Depa Billaba in Clone Wars season 7
Depa Billaba and Caleb Dume in Clone Wars
Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.

See that Padawan boy imitating Depa Billaba’s arm-crossing? Freeze-frame it and that’s Caleb Dume, the Padawan who will survive Order 66 and change his name to Kanan Jarrus by Star Wars Rebels and the Kanan comics. Take a good look at those familiar blue eyes that will eventually be — Rebels spoilers! — ravaged by Maul’s blade .

So that’s where the Fulcrum comes from

Later in the episode, Ahsoka contacts Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker with the subspace frequency “Fulcrum,” which she will adopt as a codename in E.K. Johnson’s Ahsoka novel and Star Wars Rebels. Ahsoka is the one who established the network of “Fulcrum” agents for the Rebel Alliance that would recruit the likes of Cassian Andor, the star of Rogue One. Clone Wars now indicates the Fulcrum code had been seeded in Ahsoka’s mind long before she proposed the alias to Bail Organa.

A first act featuring Resistance and Rebels Alumni

Star Wars Resistance alumni like Bobby Moynihan and Josh Brener appeared in previous Clone Wars arcs. Now, “Old Friends Not Forgotten” features Donald Faison, aka Hype Fazon, the lead Ace pilot in Resistance, as the unlucky Separatist Tactical Droid. Vanessa Marshall, the voice of the Twi’lek pilot Hera Syndulla on Rebels, also voices the Death Watch Mando Rook Kast.

The more Mandos the merrier

Ursa Wren cameo in Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode 9 season 7
Ursa Wren phones in
Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.

If you watched Rebels, paid attention to the gold color scheme of a helmeted Mando, and caught Sharmila Devar’s voicework in the previous two Clone Wars episodes, you already spotted Countess Ursa Wren serving as Bo-Katan’s subordinate. The mother of Sabine Wren in Rebels is explicitly named for the first time in the new episodes, but her comrades interestingly do not address her by the Countess honorific.

In the Mandalore Sundari throne room, we also catch the faces of two other significant pro-Maul Death Watch Mandos: Gar Saxon and Rook Kast. They first popped up in the 2011 “Son of Dathomir” comic miniseries, which adapted a canceled Clone Wars storyline that depicted them jailbreaking Maul out of Darth Sidious’s prison. Saxon also appears in Rebels as the power-hungry Imperial Viceroy of Mandalore and he thrives on subjugating Clan Wren. Now that we’ve seen Saxon and Countess Wren fight on opposite ends of the Siege of Mandalore, it’s no wonder he despises Clan Wren in Rebels.

Shaak Ti may have failed, but she fought well

Mace Windu reports that Master Shaak Ti failed to secure Chancellor Palpatine, harkening back to a deleted Revenge of the Sith scene in which she apologizes for failing to protect the Chancellor and General Grievous promptly impales her. Windu’s moment in “Old Friends Not Forgotten” also nods to Genndy Tartakovsky’s 2003 hand-drawn Star Wars: Clone Wars micro-series where Shaak Ti defends Chancellor Palpatine to the end until she is outmatched by General Grievous. The final lines of Jedi Shaak Ti in the cartoon? “I failed.”

While the 2D Clone Wars sits in the proto-canon archives, sometimes you behold the visual scope of the canonical CGI The Clone Wars and sense Tartakovsky’s impact.

Next week, we’ll see if Lucasfilm Story Group has more connections up their sleeves. The Siege of Mandalore arc, and The Clone Wars series itself, wraps up in three episodes.

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