Disney Infinity 3.0 is out today, reintroducing many characters from the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series that we haven’t seen in more than a year. Some, like Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano, you’ll recognize. But others, like the villainous bounty hunter Cad Bane, you may not know. There’s a lot of lore packed into the new game, and you may not immediately catch all of the references. Did you ever want to watch The Clone Wars, but weren’t sure where to start?
Star Wars: The Clone Wars is far from perfect, with some stilted dialogue, goofy characters, and a tendency to stretch thin stories out into multi-episode arcs. But there are many standalone episodes that showcase the series’ best moments and prove that The Clone Wars is an important piece of Star Wars lore. The following is a best-of list, but not just based on the show alone – these episodes can serve as breaths in a series that often runs in arcs, and many have some sort of connection to the films, especially the Original Trilogy. They were chosen to represent the scope and variety of the show, as well as to let people who may not have seen The Clone Wars before find out what they might be missing.
“Clone Cadets”/ “ARC Troopers” Season 3: Episodes 1 and 2
“Clone Cadets” quickly establishes its team of rookie characters, both their skills and personalities, and sets them on a mission. The episodes were directed by Dave Filoni and Kyle Dunlevy respectively and aired together in 2010 as the third season premiere. The stakes are relatively low, but these episodes have some quick banter and use their 22 minutes well. Clones are ubiquitous in The Clone Wars but usually accompanying Jedi – “Clone Cadets” delivers on the promise of its name, showing clone training on Kamino. It also features Jedi Master Shaak Ti, also a familiar face from Attack of the Clones, and a malformed clone who was never sent to the war.
“Lair of Grievous” Season 1: Episode 10
Airing in 2008 as part of the first season, “Lair of Grievous” is an atmospheric, well-directed episode with the occasional pacing problem. Kit Fisto, the smiling, green-skinned Jedi who was a fan favorite from the small army of Jedi seen in Attack of the Clones, leads the way into the lair of Revenge of the Sith villain General Grievous in this episode directed by Atsushi Takeuchi. Some of Grievous’ backstory is revealed in brief scenes. The hidden fortress has a claustrophobic, H.R. Giger feel which contributes to some vicious, close fight scenes. The episode also won a Golden Reel Award for best sound editing in television animation. “Lair of Grievous” also unnecessarily complicates itself a bit, and features those unfortunate Neimoidian accents from The Phantom Menace.
“Assassin” Season 3: Episode 7
“Assassin” incorporates some of the political elements of the prequels, and stars Padmé Amidala, never my favorite aspects of the Star Wars mythology. But Jedi apprentice Ahsoka serving as Padmé’s bodyguard and Aurra Sing doing her work as an assassin manage to keep this one interesting. In addition, the summit which Padmé attends isn’t the labyrinthine politicking of the prequels – it’s in regards to war refugees, a realistic situation for the galaxy to face while still calling back to Episode I.
“Assassin” aired in 2010 and was directed by Kyle Dunlevy and co-written by Katie Lucas (daughter of Star Wars creator George Lucas). She penned multiple episodes throughout the series’ run. “Assassin” is set on Alderaan, and features future Rebel leader Mon Mothma and Princess Leia’s future foster father, Bail Organa. For all we know, Leia might have walked in that council chamber as a child!
In a world where Disney markets Star Wars as something for the “boys toy aisle” the female cast carries the story. Ahsoka has a vision of Padmé’s death, a vision that Star Wars fans know will come true, if not sooner than later.
“Lightsaber Lost” Season 2: Episode 11
The fact that Anakin Skywalker had a Padawan apprentice shook Star Wars fandom when it was announced before the Clone Wars movie, and rightly so – Ahsoka’s presence felt intrusive, and giving an already immature Jedi an immature apprentice was not a recipe for high drama. Ahsoka shines in this standalone episode from 2010, though, where an unconventional Jedi helps her fix a mistake. This episode, directed by Avatar: The Last Airbender veteran Giancarlo Volpe, also shows off the underbelly of Coruscant and a variety of alien species.
“The Hidden Enemy” Season 1: Episode 16
This episode is chronologically a prequel to the Clone Wars film and first aired in 2009 directed by Steward Lee. “The Hidden Enemy” features Anakin, Obi-Wan and a group of clones (including Rex and Cody from the live action films) fighting Asajj Ventress, the villain who had her origin in the Genndy Tartakovsky series and who went on to have a rich story in The Clone Wars’ later seasons. “The Hidden Enemy” also dips into clone culture, with one soldier berating another for collecting severed droid fingers. The episode features both lightsaber and blaster battles, and some unexpected turns.
“The Citadel” Season 3: Episode 18
Original Trilogy fans will see a few familiar faces in this episode, which includes a young Wilhuff Tarkin and the first time he meets the man who would become Darth Vader. It was directed by Kyle Dunlevy and aired in 2011. The Citadel itself is an imposing tower on a cliff, and makes for some exciting action scenes of jumping and climbing. This might not be a great first episode, as it has a large cast, including Expanded Universe characters, and it benefits from the previously established camaraderie between the Jedi and their clone troopers, but it could be a good one for someone who wants to dive into one of The Clone Wars’ longer arcs and is interested in how a younger Anakin deals with those who disobey him.