For many people, sitting down—and staying seated—to watch five seasons worth of TV in anticipation of sitting down to watch a sixth season of TV is unappetizing at best, torturously boring at worst, regardless of what you’re watching. When Lucasfilm and Netflix announced that all five seasons of Star Wars: Clone Wars, and a new Netflix-produced sixth season, were coming to Watch Instantly last month, I knew I would gather my most loyal Star-Wars-loving companions for a Clone Wars watch-fest. But, I’m a realist, and I intuited (Watch out! These intuitions are sharp) watching every episode one after the other would likely result in my friends ending our relationship due to mind-bricking boredom. Since I like the idea of simultaneously entertaining and keeping my friends, I developed a list of Clone Wars episodes that would get the gist of the series across to first-time viewers, and would serve as a nice intro to the Expanded Universe and its many stranger, occasionally unreconcilable-with-the-movies turns.
I geared the list of episodes I chose to a pretty specific group of Star Wars fans: people who (1) love the original movies; (2) love Obi-Wan; (3) like the EU (Expanded Universe) but aren’t completely familiar; and, most importantly, (4) want this series to directly inform their understanding of the characters they already know, e.g. Ani and co.
Season one is pretty much the Episode I of the Clone Wars series: no one cares about it except for like five minutes right at the end. So if you’re short on time/patience, you can move right into Season two with very little explanation (“In yet another shockingly bad life decision, Yoda gives Anakin a padawan.”) and very little worry that anyone’s missed a vital plot point because Season 1 has none whatsoever.*
With all of this in mind, I settled on choosing about an hour’s worth of episodes from Seasons two through five. But which episodes to choose? After days of rigorous meditation on the subject (warning: elaboration), I settled on these:
-The Mandalore Plot
Reasoning: “Weapons Factory” serves as a concise introduction to Ahsoka and Anakin’s typical dynamic, and has the added benefit of introducing viewers to Barriss Offee, who, as we know, plays a preeetty important role towards the end of the series. “The Mandalore Plot” is an Obi-Wan-centric episode that develops his relationship with Duchess Satine, sees Obi-Wan damseled (in this case, a good thing), and offers lightsaber fans some wicked badassery in the form of the Darksaber. I’ll say no more. Finally, “Bounty Hunters” affords us an opportunity to see Obi-Wan, Ani, and Ahsoka all under the same roof, so to speak, as they battle alien aggressors in a tribute to Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai.
-Alter of Mortis
-Ghosts of Mortis
Reasoning: “Nightsisters” and “Monster” familiarize us with the, ahem, Nightsisters, and the transparently named baddy, Savage Oppress (“it’s pronounced Suhvaaahhj, you guys, come on”). If the trailer for Season six is to be believed, viewers should get cozy with the Nightsisters before barreling into the new episodes. The three episode arc “Overlords,” “Alter of Mortis,” and “Ghosts of Mortis,” is one of the plot lines most directly related to the transformation of Anakin into Vader, so, despite its slow pace and unsubtle symbolism/allegory/foreshadowing, the episodes are absolutely essential for any Star Wars fan worth their salt. (What does that expression even mean?) Also, everyone changes into costumes that closely resemble those worn in Episode III this season, hinting that things are getting very serious, very quickly.
-Crisis on Naboo
Reasoning: Obi-Wan fakes his own death, joins a team of bounty hunters undercover, all while Anakin gets closer to the Dark Side in his grief? What’s not to love? Also, in “Massacre,” we see how Asajj Ventress (Asajj Ventress. Savage Oppress. I hope whoever decided those two should have rhyming names gets canned) gets homeless, wayward, and demoralized, while in “Brothers” and “Revenge,” Darth Maul makes his psychotic, terrifying return to the Star Wars universe. Sam Witwer: so scary. These episodes will get new acquaintances of the EU on board, because Darth Maul was one of the most striking parts of the prequel trilogy, and they’ll be hungry for more information about that sinister murderer, guaranteed.
-Shades of Reason
-The Jedi Who Knew Too Much
-To Catch a Jedi
-The Wrong Jedi
Reasoning: “The Lawless.” Sigh. Some of the best lightsaber choreography ever in one of the most badass Force battles in recent memory. Not to be missed. The final three episode arc of the series explains just how Ahsoka is never mentioned in any of the films, and adds even more fodder to Anakin’s Dark Side bonfire. The arc also draws attention to some of the hypocrisy of the Jedi Order, which is always good for a spirited conversation.
Well, what do you think, Geeks? Any suggestions to my amalgam of episodes? Have I overlooked a favorite character of yours? A favorite episode? Let me know in the comments.
And tune in this week when I let you know how this Rancor ride turned out!
* This isn’t to say that Season 1 isn’t worth your time…well, it’s kind of saying exactly that, but if you’re interested in countless non-Anakin, non-Obi-Wan Jedi doing visually striking stuff, then by all means go for it. Otherwise, you can live without it.