The Clone Wars improved the prequels, can The Mandalorian do the same for the sequels?

Photo: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode 712 “Victory and Death” - Image Courtesy Disney+
Photo: Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode 712 “Victory and Death” - Image Courtesy Disney+ /

Today, the Star Wars prequels are broadly appreciated amongst the fanbase, but it’s easy to forget that this was not always the case. When they were released, many took issue with the emphasis on worldbuilding as opposed to storytelling and the plot holes that occurred as a result. Since then, the prequels have steadily grown in popularity and I believe this is in large part due to the success of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The show provides important context and character development that makes the prequels even more emotional.

The Clone Wars makes Anakin’s disillusionment with the Jedi Council make sense

In The Revenge of the Sith, we see Anakin Skywalker’s tensions with the Jedi High Council reach a boiling point when he is asked to spy on Chancellor Palpatine. However, we never get a chance to really see any other conflict between the Jedi leadership and the hotheaded Chosen One.

In The Clone Wars, we see Anakin clash with the Council time and time again. He is never truly recognized as a leader and tactician in his own right, always forced to defer to Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. Anakin often feels he could better accomplish his objectives and save lives, if only he were able allowed a little responsibility.

During The Clone Wars season 4, Obi-Wan Kenobi actually fakes his own death in order to infiltrate a cadre of bounty hunters working with Count Dooku to kidnap Chancellor Palpatine. Upon hearing of his mentor’s death, Anakin is distraught. When he finally uncovers the truth about Obi-Wan’s whereabouts, he is understandably furious that the council and his own master would lie to him. This pivotal story arc laid bare the council’s mistrust in Anakin that leads to the events of The Revenge of the Sith.

By far, the biggest conflict between Anakin and the council is in season 5’s epic final episodes, in which we see Anakin’s padawan Ahsoka Tano framed for a terrorist attack on the Jedi Temple. Ahsoka goes on the run and eventually, fellow Padawan Barriss Offee is revealed to be the culprit, clearing Ahsoka’s name. However, Ahsoka still leaves the Jedi Order, citing a lack of trust in the Council and the Order’s goals.

Throughout The Clone Wars, Ahsoka and Anakin grow extremely close. Witnessing this mistreatment of someone so meaningful to him would damage Anakin’s own relationship with his superiors, and makes his eventual betrayal of the Jedi Order far more believable.

The Clone Wars has time to dive deeper into how the Jedi Council failed Anakin, and The Revenge of the Sith is all the better for it.

The introduction of inhibitor chips makes Order 66 more emotional

Prior to Fives‘ revelation of the inhibitor chips in The Clone Wars season 6, fans had a lot of questions regarding just how the soldiers could turn against their leaders on a dime, without any dissent whatsoever.

After seeing the relationships many clones had with their Jedi generals throughout the show, an explanation for the events of The Revenge of the Sith was necessary.

Although The Bad Batch has recently raised questions regarding just how effective the chips are, they still make Order 66 more realistic and tragic. Seeing that these men had no control over their actions erases any blame for the Jedi purge from the clones, leaving us with only sympathy for them.

Anakin’s betrayal of Padme Amidala makes more sense after watching The Clone Wars

At the end of Attack of the Clones, we see Anakin and Padme Amidala clandestinely but happily married. In the opening sequence of Revenge of the Sith, they are a loving couple expecting children. With only this context, Anakin’s actions on Mustafar resulting in Padme’s death seem unrealistic, even with his recent switch to the Dark Side.

The Clone Wars improves this plot point greatly as we see Padme working with dubious ally and former romantic partner Rush Clovis. Throughout several story arcs, Rush makes advances on Padme, much to Anakin’s chagrin. At one point, Anakin almost physically assaults Clovis before Padme steps in.

This tension between Anakin and Padme contextualizes the emotional scene on Mustafar and casts doubt on their seemingly idyllic marriage.

The Mandalorian has already done the same for the sequels

Similar to the prequels, the sequel trilogy has been a point of contention for many Star Wars fans. Poor character development and plot holes are once again a sticking point for contemporary viewers. However, I believe that shows like The Mandalorian have the potential to remedy many of these ills and elevate the sequel trilogy significantly.

The Mandalorian has already hinted at several key plot points from the sequels. Seeing Carson Teva, Cara Dune and other New Republic fighters, along with the Imperial remnants led by Moff Gideon, could lead into a full-fledged explanation as to how the First Order amassed so much power right under the New Republic’s noses.

The Empire’s interest in Grogu, presumably for cloning purposes, could explain how the Sith cultists on Exegol under Emperor Palpatine were able to create Snoke. The cloned monstrosities in season 2 episode 4 of the show further hint that we’ll get to see Snoke’s origins in The Mandalorian or a future show.

Finally, Luke Skywalker’s groundbreaking appearance in the season 2 finale holds potential to fix one of the biggest grievances fans had with the sequel trilogy — what happened to Luke? How did the powerful and wise Jedi Master become a decrepit hermit on the edges of the galaxy? The fact that Grogu is with Luke and will presumably become a member of his Jedi Order opens the door to a multitude of stories that could make this fall more believable and tragic.

What about the other shows?

One of the most highly anticipated upcoming Star Wars projects is the Ahsoka show, starring Rosario Dawson. We already know from The Mandalorian season 2 that Ahsoka Tano is searching for Grand Admiral Thrawn and most likely Ezra Bridger. Both of these characters could conceivably impact the events of the sequels — Thrawn would be a powerful ally for the Imperial remnants and/or burgeoning First Order, while a grown Ezra might assist with Luke’s Jedi Temple.

Additionally, The Book of Boba Fett and future seasons of The Mandalorian will all take place leading up to the sequels. We could see a detailed look at the galaxy’s criminal underworld post-Imperial rule, the fate of Mandalore after Din Djarin claimed the Darksaber, or a broader look at galactic affairs as a backdrop to these individual stories.  Any content within this era has the potential to contextualize and add depth to the sequel trilogy films, and given Dave Filoni and John Favreau’s track record, I think we have a lot to look forward to.

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