Star Wars: The Clone Wars - 7.11 Shattered
From the beginning, the Siege of Mandalore has raised the bar for storytelling in Star Wars: The Clone Wars in every way imaginable. While part two, The Phantom Apprentice, brought the action to the highest possible level, this week's episode, Shattered, focused on the aspect of suspense. In the wake of Ahsoka's capture of Maul on Mandalore, there's no sense of relief, only overwhelming dread as the story braces for the hammer blow of Order 66 to fall.
It hasn't been mentioned enough, but Kevin Kiner's score has long been used to help the story of the Clone Wars along, and that is still true in this episode. The music is tense, almost eerie with its strange melody that lingers with every step Ahsoka and the clones take to return to Coruscant. It's as if Kiner is using the music to say "something is very wrong and soon you'll find out what it is." This makes sense, since everyone's known for weeks that this moment was coming, so there was no point in pretending that this would be a surprise to anyone watching.
Naturally, the bulk of this episode revolves around Order 66 and how it turns Ahsoka's world upside down. The moment, when it comes, is extremely well done. The writers pulled a master stroke by recycling audio from a pivotal moment in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith to let everyone know that the moment we all dreaded had finally arrived. It was also a brilliant piece of exposition to have Rex spell out to the clones (and the audience) exactly what Order 66 means. To be sure, the actions of the clones didn't really leave much doubt as to what the order meant, but it was still nice to hear it briefly explained in detail.
While the execution of Order 66 is the pivotal moment in Shattered, the two performances to watch in this episode are that of Ahsoka and clone Captain Rex. Actually, Ahsoka surprised me in this episode: given that all of her clone friends are now trying to kill her, Ahsoka appears to be handling the situation fairly well, although to be fair this is probably the former Jedi's combat and survival training kicking in. The truly gut-wrenching performance comes from Captain Rex, one of Ahsoka's closest friends. You can visually watch the clone struggling against the command to terminate Ahsoka and it's a powerful moment. If this is how just one clone handles Order 66, just imagine what's happening across the galaxy.
On a separate note, it was fun to see the idea of Maul and Ahsoka teaming up for real being teased, only for Ahsoka to squash the idea flat. While seeing the former Sith and former Jedi work together would look amazing, it just doesn't make sense given everything that's happened. Instead, Maul gets to do what he does best: cause chaos. There's a fantastic scene that appears to be an homage to Darth Vader's final scene in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story that perfectly demonstrates that Maul doesn't need a lightsaber to be lethal.
There is one part of Shattered that some might not follow as well, and that's the final part where Ahsoka attempts to save Rex from himself. There are a number of references to the first story arc of season six (also known as the Lost Missions), and if you haven't seen those episodes, you might not understand everything being talked about. That being said, the episode does provide a bit of exposition to cover for that possibility, enough that the audience should be able to follow along even if they haven't seen any part of season six.
Shattered does move a bit more slowly than The Phantom Apprentice, but the quality hasn't diminished in the slightest. There's plenty of tension and suspense that sets the stage for the final act of not only the Siege of Mandalore but the entire Clone Wars.