The Moment Anakin Became Vader
When I first heard there was going to be a seventh, and final, season of Clone Wars, I thought, “Great! More Anakin and Padme story! More Anakin and ObiWan and Ahsoka and Palpatine!” But Anakin has been scarcely seen this season. You’d think I’d be disappointed by this, but quite the opposite. It turns out that the only scene I needed to see Anakin in is the actual moment he goes from being Anakin Skywalker…to becoming Darth Vader - and WE GOT IT.
The entire prequel trilogy builds up Anakin’s relationships with Padme, the Jedi, and Palpatine. We know that story and how it ends. What we didn’t know is how Anakin’s fall impacted the only person to ever be taken as his Padawan, Ahsoka Tano. While Anakin is barely featured in season 7, Ahsoka is the main character of the majority it - and arguably, the entire series. Her perspective on her relationship with Anakin, Rex and the rest of the clones, are the perfect compliment to Revenge of the Sith.
Let me make the case: I don’t think Anakin had fully given himself over to becoming Darth Vader when he "saved" Palpatine. We see that he was remorseful for aligning with Palpatine when he cried, “what have I done?” but that's not where he lost himself. I would argue he still hadn't fully turned after losing his battle with Obi-Wan. Much like the reason he defeated Mace Windu, Anakin was driven to do what was necessary to keep his hope of saving Padme alive. Saving her was his primary motivation for everything he did since Attack of the Clones. Nothing would stand in his way from this - not even the Jedi.
After the Jedi had been destroyed, Padme had died, and Obi-Wan had left him for dead on the lava flow shores of Mustafar, there was only one meaningful relationship he had left. It was Ahsoka Tano - his padawan, the only "child" he ever knew.
After the final episodes of The Clone Wars we are shown that the last Anakin hears of Ahsoka is that she is being taken back to Corusant, but the Venator-Class Destroyer never made it. After some time had passed (weeks? months? years?), we see Anakin among the ship’s wreckage. It is clear from his actions that the Jedi-Formerly-Known-As-Anakin wasn’t there to check for his old comrades Rex, or Jesse, or any of the clones for that matter. He was there to learn what had become of his Padawan.
There are three terrifically poignant moments that closed the book on The Clone Wars animated series:
1, Anakin discovers and ignites one of Ahsoka’s lightsabers. He clearly recognized it as the audience saw him gave it to her a few episodes before. Filoni and crew were able to show that, even though he’s now masked, there is longing in his gaze as he ignited it. There are only two times we've seen Darth Vader hold lightsaber that was not his own and they belonged to Luke (his actual child) and Ahsoka (his symbolic child).
2. Next we see Anakin look into the sky to see a bird circling above him. While it is never completely validated to be Morai, the Convor with the spiritual connection to Ahsoka, we are treated to some of the most symbolic scenes in the entire series: Ahsoka is distant, flying free, while Anakin is on the ground, enslaved to his heavy cyborg suit of armor and unable to reach her. The fact that he can still see her offers hope that there is still good in him, but...
3. Finally, the once legendary Jedi, turns off his student's saber, turns and walks away. The infamous black mask somehow showing sadness and defeat. This is the moment when Obi-Wan's failure is complete. This is the moment Anakin truly dies. This is the moment Darth Vader is born.
The last positive, healthy relationship Anakin had was now gone - whether she was dead or simply missing in action. Without hope, he had no reason not to fully embrace the dark side and become Darth Vader. This is the seminal moment of transition. The perfect, final scene of the series. There might as well have been a grave for him next to the saber and the last of the 501st clones because this is truly where Anakin died.
At what point do you think Anakin fully became Vader? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org