Star Wars: The Clone Wars Revisited 3.15 - 3.17 The Mortis Arc
Eleven years ago, George Lucas and Dave Filoni introduced the world to Star Wars: The Clone Wars, an animated series that filled in the gap between Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The story takes place during the Clone Wars, with the Jedi-led clone army facing off against the droid armies of the Separatist Alliance. With the announcement of a surprise seventh season by Disney, The Digital Fix will be revisiting the animated series, looking back at the most important episodes and story arcs of the show’s five seasons, highlighting the elements that made this show so beloved by Star Wars fans.
We return with a look at the Mortis arc, which originally aired back in 2011...
While I normally focus on one episode at a time for this series, I realized that the Mortis arc really needs to be discussed as a whole because to this day it remains one of the most mystical, mysterious, (and downright confusing) story arcs in all of Star Wars. How mysterious is this story? Well, if you go to the behind-the-scenes video for this story arc on the Star Wars: Clone Wars blu ray, all you will get is a video of Dave Filoni explaining that he really can't tell you anything about it because it's that important.
The three episode arc (Overlords, Altar of Mortis, and Ghosts of Mortis) follow Anakin, Ahsoka, and Obi-wan as they become pulled into a strange place known as Mortis. This seemingly inter-dimensional space is inhabited by three beings, each embodying an aspect of the Force:
- The Daughter: The Light Side of the Force (can also appear as a griffin).
- The Son (Sam Witwer before he took on the role of Darth Maul): The Dark Side of the Force (can also appear as a winged monster).
- The Father: The Balance in the Force (maintains the status quo between the Daughter and the Son).
The overarching plot involves the Father entreating Anakin to stay on Mortis because he is the Chosen One and must maintain balance between the Son and the Daughter (naturally Anakin doesn't want to stay even if it is allegedly his duty). Setting aside the mystical implications however, there are two events of great importance that occur during these three episodes.
First, Ahsoka is forcibly turned to the Dark Side before dying and is later brought back to life by the Daughter (who sacrifices her own life in the process). The ramifications of Ahsoka's death and resurrection have theoretically been hinted at in Star Wars: Rebels, as Ahsoka is periodically followed by a bird-like creature whose coloring matches the Daughter, but any deeper ramifications have yet to be revealed.
Second, and equally important: the Son reveals to Anakin that he will become Darth Vader. It's one of the most bone-chilling moments in the entire series as Anakin is forced to watch visions from Revenge of the Sith play out, ending in a scream of horror as the masked face of Vader is briefly revealed. I'd always wondered how Anakin would react if he'd somehow learned in advance what was going to happen to him. The answer? Anakin is horrified at what he is going to become and wants to stop it, revealing that at his core he IS a good person (as Luke knew all along in Return of the Jedi).
Unfortunately, the Father wipes all of this knowledge from Anakin's mind, rendering the revelation pointless. It's the most frustrating aspect of this story arc and fans debate it to this day: what was the point of revealing the future to Anakin if it ultimately changed nothing? It's possible that the point was to demonstrate that Anakin is not evil. In actuality, it's more likely that this arc was meant to set up a deeper revelation that never happened due to the series being abruptly cancelled by Disney.
However, with the final season of The Clone Wars happening at long last, it's possible we might get some deeper answers regarding what happened on Mortis. Until then, the Mortis arc will continue to mystify and delight fans of Star Wars.