Star Wars: The Clone Wars - 7.09 Old Friends Not Forgotten
From the very start, it's made obvious that Old Friends Not Forgotten is the start of something special. The usual Clone Wars fanfare is absent, replaced by the traditional Star Wars overture that opens the saga films. The opening titles are all in an ominous red, and tellingly this episode is presented as Part 1. Clearly, we're meant to regard this final arc as one huge story, one that gets off to a roaring start with this episode.
It should be mentioned at the start that the shadow of Star Wars: Episode III-Revenge of the Sith looms over this episode. Eagle-eyed viewers will note that various Jedi are now stationed on the planets they're seen on during the events of Order 66. Furthermore, the Separatist's attack on Coruscant (which opens the film) is directly mentioned early in the episode, as is Obi-Wan and Anakin leaving to aid the chancellor. From this point on, everything that happens is happening at the same time as Revenge of the Sith, and viewers would do well to keep that in mind as the Siege of Mandalore progresses.
It would be fair to say that this is the episode many Star Wars fans have been waiting for, as so many long awaited events begin to happen at once. Not only does the Siege of Mandalore begin in epic fashion, but there's also the long-awaited reunion between Anakin and Ahsoka, who haven't seen each other since the end of season five. Some might argue that these two didn't have enough screen time together before events draw Anakin away. I would counter, however, that there was just enough time to establish that while Ahsoka has matured somewhat since she left the Jedi Order, Anakin remains mostly the same. He's so fixated on Ahsoka being back, that his only thought is to ask what she's been up to, despite being told that there's an opportunity to capture Maul. This lack of change in Anakin is important, as it shows he still hasn't learned from past mistakes (as Ahsoka has).
Speaking of change, there's a surprising amount of tension between Ahsoka and Obi-Wan in the short time they share the screen together. Either Ahsoka has changed more than I realized, or the Togruta wasn't as close to Kenobi as I imagined. Their interaction was jarring, but perhaps that was the point; to better illustrate just how much Ahsoka has changed during her time away from the Jedi Order.
Those interactions aside, the highlight of this episode is without a doubt the beginning of the Siege of Mandalore. This is one of the best action sequences ever created for the Star Wars universe, right up there with anything created for the Skywalker Saga. There's a particularly spectacular moment that follows Ahsoka from her ship to the surface of Mandalore. There's more than enough lightsaber action to satisfy any fan's wishes. All of it feels cinematic and reinforces the idea that all of this is bigger than anything that's come before. The battle scenes on Mandalore itself do not disappoint either. There's plenty of action both in the air and on the ground. Anyone who loved a certain battle scene in The Mandalorian will love these battle sequences.
And no review would be complete without briefly mentioning the end of the episode, which serves as a perfect hook for Part 2. Seeing Maul finally put in an appearance in the flesh (excluding his appearance as a holo-message) is spine-chilling. In a nice touch to continuity, the former Sith lord is still obsessed with getting his hands on Obi-Wan, a trait that continues through his arc on Star Wars: Rebels. Seeing Maul confront Ahsoka in Part 2 will be most interesting, as this is the first time the two characters have ever met.
If this is how the final arc of Star Wars: The Clone Wars begins, then the Siege of Mandalore might just be one of the greatest Star Wars stories ever told.