The Clone Wars season 5 shaped the future of Disney’s Star Wars

The Clone Wars. Image courtesy StarWars.com
The Clone Wars. Image courtesy StarWars.com /
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The current Star Wars hiatus is the perfect time to rewatch The Clone Wars. It’s always worthwhile to revisit the beloved animates series, but even more so with the live-action Ahsoka series debuting in August.

Every season of The Clone Wars is important and brought new and exciting elements to a galaxy far, far away. This is especially true for season 5 as it heavily shaped the future of Star Wars following Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm.

This is partly due to the fact that season 5 was the last season of The Clone Wars to air on Cartoon Network. Many of the storylines set up in that season were left unresolved for a while due to The Clone Wars being canceled following the Disney acquisition. Yet, the characters and storylines from The Clone Wars season 5 have become the foundation for many Star Wars stories since, especially for the Disney+ series.

Let’s take a look at each arc in season 5 and how it shaped the future of Star Wars.

Onderon arc (episodes 2-5)

Onderon is a planet that fell under a Separatist invasion after trying to maintain their neutrality in the Clone Wars. Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Captain Rex go to Onderon and teach a group of rebels how to wage an effective rebellion, which gives the rebels the tools they need to defeat the Separatists and take back their homeworld.

The most important contribution that this arc makes to the future of Star Wars is that it introduces Saw Gerrera. Since his introduction, almost every canon Star Wars story about rebelling against the Empire prior to A New Hope features Saw Gerrera, including Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Star Wars Rebels, Andor, The Bad Batch, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

(L-R): Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) and Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgard) in Lucasfilm’s ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
(L-R): Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) and Luthen Rael (Stellan Skarsgard) in Lucasfilm’s ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

Through this arc, Saw learns how to conduct an effective rebellion against a powerful enemy, even when he and his allies are far outnumbered and have limited resources. Many of the tactics he learns here went on to influence the tactics he and his Partisans would use against the Empire, albeit in more extremist fashion.

Dave Filoni confirmed as much when speaking about Saw’s return in Star Wars Rebels and the importance of his introduction in The Clone Wars:

"“Saw Gerrera is maybe the original rebel. He is the first one in a long line of people that got trained by Jedi to fight for themselves; to save their planets during the Clone Wars. He’s the beginning of what would eventually become the Rebel Alliance.”"

The Onderon arc is where the rebellion against the Empire begins. There is a certain irony that the man who becomes Darth Vader teaches the man who is the beginning of the rebellion against the Empire.

Young Jedi arc (episodes 6-9)

The Young Jedi arc follows a group of Jedi younglings being escorted by Ahsoka. They first go to Ilum to gather kyber crystals for their lightsabers. On the way back from Ilum, their ship is attacked by Hondo Ohnaka and his pirates. The Jedi fend off Hondo and his pirates, but when Ahsoka becomes a captive of the pirates, the younglings have to save her. In the end, the Jedi and the pirates have to work together to escape General Grievous and his droid army.

The planet Ilum and kyber crystals existed in Star Wars Legends, but their appearances in the Young Jedi arc laid the foundation for their importance in canon. The Clone Wars showed how the kyber crystal was the key to constructing a lightsaber, paving the way for Ezra Bridger getting his first kyber crystal in Star Wars Rebels, along with Darth Vader and Ben Solo bleeding their kyber crystals in the comics.

Kyber crystals also became the key to the Death Star’s superlaser, an important plot point in Rogue One. Other stories set during this era showed Ilum and its rich store of kyber crystals being strip-mined by the Empire. By the time of the sequel trilogy, Ilum had been transformed into Starkiller Base, the First Order’s superweapon used in The Force Awakens and Star Wars Resistance to destroy the Hosnian system.

In terms of characters, the droid Huyang is introduced in the Young Jedi arc. He has existed for thousands of years and helps the Jedi younglings build their lightsabers after finding their kyber crystals. The Ahsoka trailer confirmed that Huyang will be returning in that series.

This indicates that Huyang’s role will be more substantial than that of a cameo, with his extensive knowledge and experience being somehow vital to Ahsoka and her search for Ezra Bridger. Since Huyang has been around for so long and is still around by the time of Ahsoka, there has also been speculation that he could appear in one or more of the upcoming Star Wars movies.

Huyang in Lucasfilm’s AHSOKA, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
Huyang in Lucasfilm’s AHSOKA, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

As for the Jedi younglings in this arc, the Wookiee youngling Gungi became a fan-favorite, leaving fans desperate to know if he survived Order 66. Gungi returned in The Bad Batch season 2 episode “Tribe” that saw the Batch helping Gungi return to Kashyyyk, along with aiding the Wookiees in reclaiming their home from Trandoshans working with the Empire.

“Tribe” was a standout episode in The Bad Batch season 2, with Omega learning more about the Force and all of the Batch learning more about Wookiee culture. Omega’s friendship with Gungi could even lead to him returning to find and save her in The Bad Batch season 3.

D-Squad arc (episodes 10-13)

The D-Squad arc follows R2-D2 and a group of Republic droids. They are under the command of Colonel Meebur Gascon on a mission to retrieve an encryption module from the Separatists. An important contribution this arc makes is introducing the clone soldier Gregor.

D-Squad discovers Gregor on the planet Abafar. Gregor is suffering from amnesia and being taken advantage of by a Sullustan named Borkus. Thanks to D-Squad, Gregor remembers who he is again and chooses to make a heroic sacrifice to help the droids and Colonel Gascon escape.

Gregor went on to be one of the clones living with Rex in Star Wars Rebels and even helps the Ghost crew take back Lothal from the Empire in the series finale. The Bad Batch also brought Gregor back. The Batch helps him escape the Empire and Gregor then joins Rex’s network of clones resisting the Empire, meaning he will likely be in season 3 as well.

(L-R): Echo, Captain Rex, Omega, Wrecker, Hunter, and, Tech in a scene from “STAR WARS: THE BAD BATCH”, season 2 exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.
(L-R): Echo, Captain Rex, Omega, Wrecker, Hunter, and, Tech in a scene from “STAR WARS: THE BAD BATCH”, season 2 exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved. /

One other element from the D-Squad arc that has trickled into future Star Wars stories is the question of droid sentience and free will. It is touched on in Solo: A Star Wars Story with L3-37 and the droid revolution she leads on Kessel, followed by a more direct exploration of this topic in the Star Wars: Visions season 1 episode “TO-B1.”

These questions and the D-Squad will be more important than ever in the upcoming Dark Droid comics crossover. In fact, Star Wars: Dark Droids: D-Squad is part of the crossover. Original D-Squad members R2-D2 and WAC-47 are back, along with new members, such as IG-88 and 4-LOM.

Shadow Collective arc (episode 1 & episodes 14-16)

The future of Mandalore and the criminal underworld were forever changed in this arc. Following Darth Maul’s dramatic return in The Clone Wars season 4, this arc shows Maul amassing power in the criminal underworld as part of his grand plan to get revenge against Obi-Wan. Maul even wins the Darksaber and takes control of Mandalore, only to have his brother Savage Oppress killed, and to find himself brutally defeated and tortured at the hands of Darth Sidious.

Despite the cancelation of The Clone Wars, these Maul-centric developments were too tantalizing to not follow up on. This led to the Son of Dathomir comics, an arc originally planned for The Clone Wars, along with The Clone Wars being revived for a seventh and final season, the highlight of which was the Siege of Mandalore arc, which heavily featured Maul.

Solo had the reveal that Maul was the head of Crimson Dawn, a crime syndicate whose resurgence is the backbone of the War of the Bounty Hunters, Crimson Reign, and Hidden Empire comics. Maul also returned in Star Wars Rebels, which brought his story to a tragic and fitting end.

After Maul, Bo-Katan Kryze was one of the most important characters in the Shadow Collective arc. She was introduced in a season 4 episode, but this arc showed that she wasn’t just a Death Watch extremist and that she had lines she wouldn’t cross. Of course, there was also the reveal that she was Duchess Satine’s sister. This arc established that Mandalore’s future was intertwined with Bo-Katan’s future, leading to her return in Star Wars Rebels, The Clone Wars season 7, and her live-action debut in The Mandalorian, where she has become just as prominent as Din Djarin and Grogu.

(L-R): Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) with the Darksaber in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
(L-R): Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) with the Darksaber in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

The Mandalorian was heavily influenced by this arc in ways other than Bo-Katan as well. The death of Duchess Satine brought an end to Mandalore’s pacifism and went on to strengthen groups like the Children of the Watch, the Mandalorian covert that raised Din. The trajectory of Mandalore and the Darksaber in The Mandalorian was arguably triggered by the events in this arc.

The Obi-Wan Kenobi series never mentioned Satine, but her death is one of the many tragedies in Obi-Wan’s life that led to him being a broken, former shell of himself at the start of the series.

Rogue Jedi arc (episodes 17-20)

If there is one Clone Wars arc to watch before the Ahsoka series, it is the Rogue Jedi arc. When the Jedi Temple on Coruscant is bombed, the Jedi Council enlists Ahsoka and Anakin to investigate since they were offworld when the incident occurred. During the investigation, Ahsoka is framed for the bombing and for the deaths of numerous individuals, and is forced to go on the run from the Jedi and the Republic.

All the Jedi except Anakin quickly abandon her, with the Jedi Council even expelling her from the Jedi Order. Even though Ahsoka is proven to be innocent and is welcomed back by the Jedi Council, she makes the decision to leave the Jedi Order.

What happened to Ahsoka after leaving, and the impact of her decision, has been the focus of many stories since Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm. Ahsoka first returned in Star Wars Rebels, where it was revealed that she had become an important member of the Rebel Alliance. The Ahsoka novel by E.K. Johnston bridged the gap between The Clone Wars and Rebels, showing how Ahsoka became involved with what would become the Rebellion.

Ahsoka’s decision to leave the Jedi Order made Anakin even more resentful of the Jedi. In Rebels, Ahsoka learns that Anakin survived Order 66 and became Darth Vader. She wrestles with the guilt she feels, wondering if her leaving led to Anakin’s fall to the dark side, which culminates in a heartbreaking confrontation and lightsaber duel between the two characters.

The Clone Wars season 7 showed Ahsoka and Anakin reuniting for the first time after Ahsoka left the Order, and the last time they would be together before their devastating reunion years later in Rebels. If not for Ahsoka, The Clone Wars season 7 probably wouldn’t have happened, as all the arcs revolved around her or Rex.

She then made the jump to live-action in The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, showing her life after the Galactic Civil War, and paving the way for the Ahsoka series. Ahsoka’s decision to not train Grogu and her advice to Din and Luke Skywalker are connect back to the experiences that caused her to leave the Jedi Order and chart her own path as a Force user.

Next. How The Mandalorian season 3 sets up the Ahsoka series. dark