Updated: Feb 22, 2020
It’s no secret I love everything about Star Wars. Certainly the music of John Williams is one of the major reasons I became a film composer. But what I love most about Star Wars, is the incredibly vast world that George Lucas created, and everything about the force: the sith, the jedi, force powers, lightsaber duels. While the movies show a small part of it, I love how the prequels (which despite performance and dialogue issues, are still my favorite trilogy) show us a grander world when the Jedi order is in its prime and the amazing adventures they embark on.
In connection to that, the Clone Wars is by far my favorite animated series, and has some of the best stories told in the Star Wars universe, which encompasses novels, comics, and video games in addition to all the movies and tv shows. Since the show was cancelled before the entire season 6 was made, I’m excited that Disney+ is bringing back a final 7th season of my favorite show. So I began rewatching the series for my 3rd time. If you just want to go back and catch some of the highlights, or watch for the first time but don’t want to wade through all the fun one-off adventures, here are some of my suggested episodes (narrowed down to 60 out of 121, but use this to pick which ones will resonate with you) that tie in with the larger stories and characters of the movies and other shows (including some great episodes on Mandalore for you Mandalorian fans), and explore more the larger mysteries of the force.
Season 1 - While the focus here is introducing characters and dropping us into a lot of battles during the Clone Wars, there isn’t as deep of a connection to the overall saga as there are in later seasons, so stick with it, it keeps getting better. If you’re new to this show and want to get to know the introduction of the characters, watch the Clone Wars feature film first, and then dive into the first few episodes to get to know Anakin’s new padawan, Ahsoka Tano. Also, there’s a 2 season Clone Wars anime series which is quite good, and I love how that final episode leads directly into the opening of Revenge of the Sith.
109 Cloak of Darkness - The introduction of Asajj Ventress, a deadly dual-lightsaber wielding assassin.
110 Lair of Grievous - A glimpse into the origins of General Grievous and his robotic "improvements" to become a greater warrior.
111 Dooku Captured - Pirate scoundrel Hondo Ohnaka, who appears in the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run ride at Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland and Disneyworld, is introduced in this episode.
119-121 Storm Over Ryloth, Innocents of Ryloth, and Liberty on Ryloth - Who doesn’t like Twi’leks? These 3 episodes introduce us to their homeworld of Ryloth and Cham Syndulla, father of Hera Syndulla, one of the main characters in Rebels.
201-203 Holocron Heist, Cargo of Doom, and Children of the Force - Darth Sidious wants to track down a list stored on a Jedi Holocron of all the force sensitive children in the galaxy, so he sends bounty hunter and mercenary Cad Bane. Sounds familiar, like the empire trying to get Baby Yoda, and the eventual Inquistors who hunt down Jedi in Rebels and the Jedi Fallen Order video game.
212-214 The Mandalore Plot, Voyage of Temptation, and Duchess of Mandalore - Mandalorian fans will get to see what the Mandalorian home world looked like, before they were forced underground. As well as meet Pre Vizsla, the leader of the terrorist organization Death Watch, who wants to restore the warrior heritage of Mandalore and wields the infamous Dark Saber.
220-222 Death Trap, R2 Come Home, and Lethal Trackdown - It’s basically The Adventures of Young Boba Fett, where he teams up with familiar bounty hunters Aurra Sing (Attack of the Clones) and Bossk (first introduced in Empire Strikes Back).
305-307 Corruption, The Academy, Assassin - More adventures on the planet of Mandalore.
308 Evil Plans - R2 and 3PO fans will enjoy this side adventure featuring the 2 droids.
312-314 Nightsisters, Monster, and Witches of the Mist - Here we find ourselves on Dathomir, the home planet of Darth Maul and the Nightsisters. The Nightsisters are a clan of magic dark side force wielding witches, run by Mother Talzin, and Ventress comes from the Nightsisters. Definitely great background for visiting Dathomir in Jedi Fallen Order, but they also are responsible for Darth Maul and his brother coming into play later in the series.
315-317 Overlords, Altar of Mortis, Ghosts of Mortis - This Mortis trilogy is the trippiest part of this series, but so interesting to see the mystical god-like characters that in some way make up the living force.
411-413 Kidnapped, Slaves of the Republic, Escape from Kadavo - The best thing about these episodes is seeing Anakin struggle a bit with the dark side when confronting Zygerrian slavers. Given his history as a slave, it recalls the time he lost it in Attack of the Clones and slaughtered a whole village of Tusken Raiders.
405-406 Mercy Mission, Nomad Droids - Another adventure for our favorite droids, R2 and 3PO.
419-420 Massacre, Bounty - I’ve always been fascinated by the dark side characters, they seem to have the most interesting back stories. So to see a battle between Ventress and the Nightsisters against Grievous and the droid army, along with some familiar bounty hunters, made this a worthy 2 episode arc.
421-422 Brothers, Revenge - Savage Opress seeks out his brother, Darth Maul. Need I say more?
501 Revival - Savage Opress and Darth Maul team up with...Pirates!
502-504 A War on Two Fronts, Front Runners, The Soft War - Worth a brief mention as it’s the origins of Saw Gerrera becoming a rebel leader.
506-509 The Gathering, A Test of Strength, Bound for Rescue, A Necessary Bond - If you ever wondered where lightsabers come from, here’s a group of Jedi Younglings traveling to the caves of Ilum to find a kyber crystal to build their lightsabers from. Mirroring a level of Jedi: Fallen Order, where Cal Kestis also goes to find a new kyber crystal. Just like Hondo, I loved seeing the young Jedi using the force to assemble their lightsabers.
514-516 Eminence, Shades of Reason, The Lawless - This is the greatest collection of baddies in Star Wars. The sith brothers team up with the Mandalorian Death Watch and several crime syndicates (Black Sun, the Pykes, and the Hutts). Building up to one of the greatest lightsaber battles, where we see what Darth Sidious can do with a lightsaber.
517-520 Sabotage, The Jedi Who Knew Too Much, To Catch a Jedi, The Wrong Jedi - This brilliant arc of episodes leading to the season finale, shows how interesting storytelling in the world of Star Wars can be when done in different genres. This one delves into mystery and thriller resulting in major consequences for Ahsoka Tano in the aftermath of a bombing of the Jedi Temple.
Season 6 - Each season gets better and better, and this is by far one of the most interesting, high stakes, and even esoteric at times, setting up force ghosts which come into play in the movies. I loved every episode of this season, so here’s a brief rundown of the episodes so you can decide if you want to watch them all or not.
601-604 The Unknown, Conspiracy, Fugitive, Orders - What’s interesting about these episodes, is the foreshadowing of Order 66 when a clone trooper suddenly turns on a Jedi and begins to question why.
605-607 An Old Friend, The Rise of Clovis, Crisis at the Heart - Worth a brief mention, for anyone familiar with Darth Plagueis, as we get a peek behind the curtain at the banking clan, of which Plagueis was a member, and how their credits are tied up in the Clone Wars and how they've played a sinister part in the manipulation of the war behind the scenes.
608-609 The Disappeared: Parts 1 & 2 - I’m no fan of Jar-Jar Binks, so skip if you must, but I loved Mace Windu and the Temple of Doom feel of these episodes.
610 The Lost Ones - Having recently read the Force Collector book, which briefly mentions how Jedi Master Sifo-Dyas dies at the hands of the Pykes (from a force sensitive who experiences a force echo vision), I had forgotten that they investigated his his disappearance so thoroughly here in the Clone Wars. You might remember him as the Jedi who had ordered the production of the clone army from Kamino.
611-613 Voices, Destiny, Sacrifice - The final episodes of what was once the show’s finale, we follow Master Yoda on a solo journey to Dagobah to discover mysteries of the force and begin down the path to learning how to become one with the force. It was definitely a magnificent finale, and if you watch nothing else, watch these 3 episodes.
Essential Episodes shortlist - If you just want a quick watch without going through everything above, here's my narrowed down list of essential episodes. If you want to watch something that ties in with the season 7 premiere, you can also watch 318 The Citadel. Also a quick tip, especially for the 2 and 3 episode arcs, you can watch the recap at the top of each episode and just watch the final one for a quick refresher.
109 Cloak of Darkness
220-222 Death Trap, R2 Come Home, and Lethal Trackdown
312-314 Nightsisters, Monster, and Witches of the Mist
315-317 Overlords, Altar of Mortis, Ghosts of Mortis
419-420 Massacre, Bounty
421-422 Brothers, Revenge
506 The Gathering
514-516 Eminence, Shades of Reason, The Lawless
517-520 Sabotage, The Jedi Who Knew Too Much, To Catch a Jedi, The Wrong Jedi
611-613 Voices, Destiny, Sacrifice