Dearest Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
I hadn’t thought of myself as a Star Wars fan. Sure, I grew up with Episodes IV, V, and VI on repeat, as did every other child of the ‘80s, but it was largely due to my older brother’s proclivity for watching the films . . . and reciting every line of dialogue . . . and anticipating every beat of the score. To be honest, I hadn’t given the films, the characters, or their adventures much thought. For me, they were the background noise of my childhood - worlds that carried no weight and an endless cast of characters whose names, ships, and backstories I never cared to know. That is, until there was you.
It was 2008 when we met. While I was familiar with your predecessor, Star Wars: Clone Wars, it didn’t have the same effect that you had on me. It was simply another iteration of the same world and characters which didn’t connect. Granted, you and I didn’t click at first, what with each of us still figuring out who we were and how we defined ourselves. But then, something changed. There was something different about you. You had . . . nuance. You had . . . perspective. You had more than one female character, and each one had agency and complexity. You had underlying messages (or “fortune cookies” as they are often referred to) in every episode that were lightyears beyond the “knowing is half the battle”-style, after-episode PSAs of a bygone era. You dived deeper into the characters and themes of the franchise in ways that the films hadn’t found possible. Your heroes faced insurmountable odds while battling dramatic villains, but the characters’ motivations varied, and their internal struggles often became the more captivating of storylines. You put the Star Wars tenet of no person being beyond redemption to the test, carving paths for morality to become corruption and vice versa. You had Ahsoka.
As you continued to define yourself, I became in awe of your ability to take the shadows of characters with which I was familiar and develop them into the most fascinating, complex, and three-dimensional beings that I identified with, mourned for, and wished a happier ending. For a child who missed out on the freeness of imagination, you enabled me to connect the dots of what others felt in watching the Star Wars films for the first time (and every time thereafter). As I became more enveloped in your world, I revisited the original trilogy (and, yes, the prequels) and became a treasure trove of questions about the Jedi, the Sith, and everything in between. I realized the joy of geeking out over in-world hypotheses. I drew excitement from “getting that reference.” I found a sense of belonging to a community that was growing larger, more inclusive, and more mindful.
Most of all, though, I found a connection to family. You enabled me to connect with my brother regarding the Star Wars universe in a way that I hadn’t been able to for 30 years. You allowed me to feel cool and to revel in my “Star Wars knowledge” as if I had something new and insightful to contribute to the decades-old conversation. You also allowed me to connect with my husband regarding one of his favorite fandoms. He became my Holocron of canon and extended universe knowledge. We devoured each new episode and became devoted fans of your creator, Dave Filoni. Together, we found a new world of creativity and art that beautifully encapsulated and illustrated the struggle to do the right thing, to be the best person you can be, and to seek the knowledge that will allow you to grow, change, and evolve.
I could write an epic tome about how impactful each of your episodes have been, how much I adore your new and seasoned characters, and how I wish that you could have lasted for seasons beyond your run. For now, I will quote one of your own fortune cookies: “Where we are going always reflects where we came from” (“Kidnapped”). I am grateful to have had the Star Wars journey that I have - to have known early on that it existed, but to have found new meaning and import from it years later. You afforded me the opportunity to reflect on my own Star Wars journey and to forge a new one as part of a community.