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The end of Star Wars: The Clone Wars is upon us. So far, the final season has been fantastic and shows no signs of slowing down. As the series winds down, and with the world basically on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, we wanted to give you a quick checklist of the top 5 Clone Wars stories so far.
There’s a little bit of everything on this list. Some stories will connect you deeper to the Force, others are important character studies, and still, others are just plain fun. The only arc not included for selection is the final 4 episodes of the show, as they haven’t released yet.
These arcs are fantastic, but just miss the cut for me. Both are personal favorites with important lore, but ultimately others feel more important.
The Trial of Ahsoka Tano
Season 5, Episodes 17 – 20
Ahsoka started off as Jar Jar-level unpopular – remember Sky Guy?! – but ended up being one of the most popular characters of the Clone Wars era. The story of her accusal of a terrorist act and eventual acquittal showed how society had already started to turn against the Jedi. Tarkin plays a key role, foreshadowing his ambition and political skill that would make him the most featured Imperial outside of Darth Vader.
Season 6, Episodes 10 – 13
There isn’t enough Yoda in The Clone Wars. There isn’t enough Yoda in general, though the comics have given us some additional insight into the Jedi Grand Master with Yoda’s Secret War. This arc really lets Yoda shine as he digs into the mystery of Sifo Dyas commissioning the creation of the clone army. He uncovers the origins of the Sith as well as a new way to connect with the Force in what was the original series finale story.
#5 – The Bad Batch
Season 7, Episodes 1 – 4
First up on our list is the most recent story arc, The Bad Batch. These episodes were first released as unfinished animatics as part of the Blu Ray release of Season 6. When the series came back to Disney+, Dave Filoni and crew finished off the animation, updated the story a bit, and tweaked the timeline. The end result is a perfect example of what The Clone Wars is all about.
What I love about this arc is just how much fun it is. We get to see the clones at their best, soldiers fighting with a purpose. The personalities of all the clones shine through here, especially Clone Force 99 (the Bad Batch). Rex gets some time to shine in this story as well, further establishing him as the greatest clone of the era.
To top it all off, we get our first canon acknowledgment of Obi-Wan knowing Anakin and Padme are together. It’s a small moment, but it helps flesh out Obi-Wan figuring out Anakin is Luke & Leia’s father in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. While the audience already knew during the film, Obi-Wan suddenly figuring it out felt a little too convenient for me. The quick scene in Episode 2, “A Distant Echo,” shows Obi-Wan has known something was up for a while.
#4 – Nightsisters, The Backstory of Asajj Ventress
Season 3, Episodes 12 – 14 & Season 4, Episodes 19 – 22
Ahsoka gets all of the press, but for my money, the best character of the Clone Wars era is Asajj Ventress. While not the first character to go from the Dark Side to the Light, her story is pretty significant in a lot of ways. This arc spans two seasons and shows just how well The Clone Wars used the matinee serial format to tell connected stories when they felt right.
When first introduced in the original Clone Wars micro-series, Ventress was a one-note scary face. That series, now not canon, didn’t have much time for character development, so Ventress got her time to shine here. It is in this arc that we learn her deeply tragic past, discover that she was once a defacto padawan, and that her fall to the Dark Side gives her a lot more in common with both Anakin and Obi-Wan than either ever knew.
While this backstory was further explored in the novel Dark Disciple by Christie Golden and the audio drama Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott, all the key elements of Ventress are present in these episodes. If I have one criticism of them, it’s that Ventress still manages to become a side character in this story. As is too often the case with her, the focus shifts away from Ventress to Maul and his brother, Savage Opress, setting the stage for another key storyline, the Invasion of Mandalore.
#3 – Fives Discovers Order 66
Season 6, Episodes 1 – 4
Order 66 is a watershed moment in the history of the Galactic Republic. It all but ended the Jedi Order and set the stage for the formation of the Galactic Empire, the original trilogy’s villains. The execution of the order, shown in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, is one of the most heartbreaking moments in the Skywalker Saga. If you didn’t watch The Clone Wars, you wouldn’t know that Order 66 was nearly discovered by the Jedi.
The first episode of Season 6, “The Unknown,” sees a clone trooper suddenly lose his mind and attack a Jedi general, killing her. This triggers an investigation by both the Jedi and the military. Clone Fives is caught in the middle, trying to help his fellow clone by uncovering the truth. He goes rogue and discovers the control chips that trigger Order 66.
Fives continues is rogue investigation and it is revealed that the conspiracy goes all the way to Chancellor Palpatine. The future emperor manipulates the process, eventually leading to Fives’ capture, escape, and eventually his death. He does impart crucial info on the chips to Rex, which will likely prove crucial in the final arc, the Siege of Mandalore.
#2 – The Gathering
Season 5, Episodes 6 – 9
The Gathering is a series of episodes that seemed like filler at the time but ended up being referenced in several pieces of Star Wars content including the Galaxy’s Edge theme park experience. The episodes detail the process in which a Jedi Initiate receives their first kyber crystal and learn how to build their own lightsaber.
The Savi’s Workshop lightsaber building experience leaders are called The Gatherers because of the ritual in these episodes, The Gathering. The ritual, and its location on Ilum, is also a key sequence in the Jedi: Fallen Order video game. I personally found the Ilum puzzle sequence in Fallen Order much easier because I’d watched those episodes.
The Gathering episodes also have special meaning to me personally. For about 18 months, well before Galaxy’s Edge ever opened, my daughter kept asking to build a lightsaber at Disney. Back then, the only option was the plastic, telescoping blade versions at a few kiosks around the parks. I told her she needed to watch those episodes first to appreciate the build process and meaning behind them. We never got around to it until just before her Savi’s Workshop experience. Having seen those episodes beforehand significantly improved both her experience at Savi’s and mine. I highly recommend watching these episodes, at least the first two, before going to Savi’s.
#1 – The Mortis Trilogy
Season 3, Episodes 15 – 17
The shortest arc on the list is also the best. The Mortis Trilogy follows the experiences of Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka on a strange planet-like area called Mortis. Anakin is tested by both the Light and Dark sides of the Force, and is tabbed to become the one who keeps the Force in balance. Sound familiar?
To do so, he must keep the two embodiments of the sides of the Force, The Son and The Daughter, from overtaking each other. Ahsoka ends up being temporarily possessed, Obi-Wan is visited by the Force Spirit of Qui-Gon Jinn, and balance in the Force is ultimately lost when The Daughter is killed by the Son. This foreshadows the fall of the Jedi Order to the Sith and everything that soon comes to pass via Anakin’s decisions.
This arc is incredibly important from a lore perspective for how it introduces the concept of Force Spirits. We’ve seen Obi-Wan and Yoda as Force Spirits, aka Force Ghosts, since the original trilogy. Obi-Wan takes what he saw and passes the information on to Yoda. The Jedi Grand Master doesn’t investigate the matter until the end of Season 6. More importantly, it helps tie in the end of Revenge of the Sith, where Obi-Wan is given training by Yoda. This training is later referenced in the novels Heir to the Jedi and Ahsoka in vignettes about Obi-Wan.
Beyond the lore, these episodes are some of the best The Clone Wars team ever produced. They are incredibly well-acted and even include a return to Star Wars by Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon. The Mortis family would later be referenced in the closing episodes of Rebels and provide the gateway to the World Between Worlds, the extradimensional area that helps Ahsoka survive her confrontation with Vader.
Best Yet to Come?
As I mentioned, this list doesn’t include the unaired series finale arc, “The Siege of Mandalore.” It’s hard to rank an arc I haven’t seen, but I also avoided it because I expect the finale to be the best piece of Clone Wars ever made. The reunion of Ahsoka and Anakin, Rex and his squad somehow avoiding Order 66, the battle between Maul and Ahsoka…it’s all set up to be a truly epic finale. “The Siege of Mandalore” kicks off on Friday on Disney+.
What do you think of our list of the top 5 Clone Wars stories? Agree, disagree, think we’re nuts? Let us know in the comments below!