If the rumors and reports are to be believed, The Clone Wars has aired its final episode. What was billed as merely the season five finale has, unfortunately, become the series finale. Understandably, people are upset. With the promise of a sixth season that was nearly finished with its production and the talks of a seventh on the horizon, fans, perhaps justifiably, feel as if they have just been prematurely robbed of something they love.
There’s really no way to try and completely diminish that if this is true*, it’s lousy news and incredibly disappointing for many TCW fans. There was little reason or the show to simply end in this manner, particularly if the reports that season six were almost finished are true. For Disney and Lucasfilm, it makes sense to have Star Wars on the air in some capacity until at least 2015 when the first of the sequel films hits the silver screen. For Cartoon Network, it makes sense to be able to make at least some money off of the finished season six episodes. Failing to air these episodes (if they are actually done) is an unfortunate and seemingly irrational outcome, but it wouldn’t be the first time Hollywood has behaved in a less than rational fashion.
*As my own note, I’m still not entirely convinced that this is the case. Even if The Clone Wars officially ends, I think there’s a distinct possibility it appears on another network as a re-branded show. At the very least, I just don’t see them permanently tabling all the work they’ve put into season six.
Still, as much as this may hurt if all of this proves to be true, there are some silver linings for TCW fans. To the jump.
It’s better to go out on a high note
If you’ve never seen the X-Files, all you need to know was that it was a paranormal thriller that was a huge ratings machine and cash cow for Fox. It was a show that was smart, clever, well written, and for six seasons or so and a movie, was weekly must-watch entertainment. Then came seasons seven-through nine in which sharks were jumped and quality plummeted.
As far as genre entertainment goes, The X-Files became perhaps the best example of a show that had overstayed its welcome. The writers couldn’t keep extended an increasingly stretched-out primary plot to keep the show going, leaving viewers increasingly frustrated with the lack of resolution to plot points that had started years earlier. This was a show that should have ended at least three seasons earlier than it did.
There’s no guarantee that The Clone Wars would do the same if it airs for another few seasons, but it’s not unprecedented for a show to deteriorate in quality and deteriorate at a stunningly rapid pace. There’s plenty of examples in television of shows that fell off the proverbial cliff.
But regardless as to whether or not a hypothetical situation plays out in which the show rapidly deteriorates in quality, if this is really it for TCW, take some solace in knowing that at the very least the show went out on what was regarded to be a high point. I’d argue that there is a very real and even more unfortunate outcome than the show ending right at this moment. What if season six airs and the last episode of that season isn’t nearly as effective a closer as the last episode we all saw? From a narrative and emotional perspective, it can be argued that this would be a much better ending than a season finale meant to bridge into a seventh season we may never see.
If this show were to end on the 20th episode of its fifth season, it could do a whole lot worse. Yes, there’s still unanswered questions and things we’d love to see, but if this is the it, at least it was an ending that was emotionally compelling for many and could serve as a powerful and functional final chapter for one of its most important characters.
Is this ideal? No, but as far as endings go, you can do a whole lot worse.
It might be necessary to take the universe to bigger and better places
We as fans need to acknowledge that we don’t know why The Clone Wars seems to be ending so abruptly. Going through my Twitter feed last night, the common refrain seemed to involve blaming Disney for it. I caution against this, because chances are things are a whole lot more complicated than the Mouse House deciding to pull the plug on a whim. Remember that there’s three major players in the game: Disney, Lucasfilm, and Cartoon Network. Perhaps Disney just didn’t want to invest in TCW anymore (I find that unlikely). Perhaps Cartoon Network didn’t want to play ball and indirectly help a competitor now that Disney owns Lucasfilm (I find this much more likely). Perhaps Lucasfilm needed to reallocate resources to bring Star Wars back to the silver screen in 2015 (possible, but unlikely).
For all we know, it could be any combination of the above or other factors which we aren’t privy to.
Right now, though, let’s go with the elephant in the room and assume that the problem was trying to figure out how to make everything work with Disney and Cartoon Network. It’s possible that there was no feasible way for The Clone Wars to continue on after Disney acquired Lucasfilm. It’s within the realm of reason that the instant Disney bought Lucasfilm, TCW was doomed simply because of the complications of having one powerhouse intellectual property living with two very powerful and competing networks.
If that’s the case (and given the realities of Hollywood, it very well could be), it might be a necessary but painful loss. If TCW had to end because Disney now owns Lucasfilm, it may be best to view it as a bitter but unavoidable step that needed to be taken to grow Star Wars in new and exciting ways. With Disney, we’re getting a sequel trilogy, perhaps standalone films, and who knows what else.
A sequel trilogy!
For years that’s always been the thing that would never ever ever ever EVER happen. Without Disney, we probably wouldn’t be getting these new films and we very well may not be seeing both Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise push itself in new and exciting directions. Disney buying Lucasfilm was likely a necessary event to make these new feature films happening. It’s entirely possible that Disney buying Lucasfilm simultaneously was the final nail in The Clone Wars’ coffin.
While it’s a bitter pill to swallow, losing TCW may have been the unavoidable result of an extremely valuable brand moving from one competitor to another. Just remember that while this is decidedly unfortunate, it may have been necessary in order to allow Disney to buy Lucasfilm and grow the Star Wars brand.
I fully admit that I wasn’t as invested into TCW as other fans were. It was a show I enjoyed greatly, but this was something that definitely meant a whole lot more to other fans than it did to me. That said, I do feel terrible for fans of the show right now. At this moment, they are going through similar uncertainty and fear that Expanded Universe fans are dealing with (which is something I can definitely identify with). Star Wars is changing, and changing rapidly, and in ways we can’t fully see yet. While I’m confident that this franchise is moving in a great direction, there’s no getting around the fact that these changes have the potential to be painful. This time around, it’s TCW fans that are feeling the hurt.
The Clone Wars potentially ending so suddenly is nothing short of a gut punch for fans. At least, though, it would be ending on a high note and there’s still an awful lot of Star Wars to be excited for just over the horizon.