In anticipation of Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ seventh season, which premieres this Friday, Feb. 21, Disney Plus listed 20 essential episodes from the series’ original run. But what makes them essential?
In order to catch you up, here’s a brief synopsis of each of those episodes, why they matter, and how some of them may feed into Clone Wars’ season 7.
[Ed. note: Summaries and analysis below each episode title include spoilers for The Clone Wars.]
“Ambush,” season 1, episode 1
Master Yoda and his band of clone troopers battle Count Dooku’s apprentice, Asajj Ventress, for the allegiance of the Toydarian king, who’s interested in joining the Republic.
This is Clone Wars’ first episode, and showcases the formula of the show pretty well. We doubt this will have anything to do with season 7, and that Disney+ included it to introduce viewers to Ventress.
“Rookies,” season 1, episode 5
What you need to know: Clone commanders Rex and Cody teach a group of rookie clones the importance of working together as a unit.
Similar to the series premiere, “Ambush,” this episode serves to introduce viewers to the clones — especially Rex and Cody. Rex and Ahsoka are very close by the time Star Wars: Rebels happens, and we expect Rex to play a key role in Clone Wars season 7.
“Landing at Point Rain,” season 2, episode 5
What you need to know: Ahsoka, Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Jedi Master Ki-Adi-Mundi land on Geonosis to attack a powerful droid factory.
The attack on Geonosis is one of the first major arcs in Clone Wars, and introduces viewers to Barriss Offee, who will eventually betray the Jedi Order and Ahsoka in later seasons.
“Weapons Factory,” season 2, episode 6
What you need to know: Anakin and Jedi Master Luminara Unduli fend off waves of droids while their Padawans — Ahsoka and Barriss Offee — attack to droid factory.
“Weapons Factory” shows the budding friendship between Ahsoka and Barriss, and features Ahsoka’s tenacity in the face of death.
“Legacy of Terror,” season 2, episode 7
What you need to know: Obi-Wan and Anakin search for a missing Jedi Master Luminara, and accidentally stumble into an army of zombies and the Geonosian Queen.
This episode sets up the Geonosian Queen and her mind control abilities, which play a key role in “Brain Invaders,” the next episode Disney Plus recommends you watch.
“Brain Invaders,” season 2, episode 8
What you need to know: After finding success on Geonosis, Obi-Wan, Anakin, Luminara, Ahsoka, and Barriss unknowingly bring Geonosian Brain Worms onto their transport, causing a outbreak of mind control.
The Brain Worms infect Barriss in this episode, and she battles against Ahsoka. This gives important context to what could’ve caused Barriss to flip in the future “Wrong Jedi” arc (see down the list), where Ahsoka leaves the Jedi Order.
“The Mandalore Plot,” season 2, episode 12
What you need to know: Obi-Wan and Anakin travel to Mandalore, where Obi-Wan reunites with an old flame: Duchess Satine, the Mandalorian ruler.
This episode introduces viewers to Duchess Satine, and the currently passive Mandalorian people.
“Voyage of Temptation,” season 2, episode 13
What you need to know: The Jedi, with some Clone assistance, defend Duchess Satine from assassination attempts.
“The Voyage of Temptation” reveals Obi-Wan and Duchess Satine have always been in love, which serves as an important connecting point between Anakin and his master. “The Mandalore Plot” and the “Voyage of Temptation” also start the twisted tale of Mandalorian politics, which we know will wrap up in season 7 (and perhaps inform what we just saw in The Mandalorian season 1).
“ARC Troopers,” season 3, episode 2
What you need to know: The Separatists attack the Clone facility on Kamino, and many of the named Clone troopers return to defend their home.
Much of Clone Wars focuses on humanizing the Clones. In “ARC Troopers,” you see Rex, Cody, Fives, and many others fear for their home, and mourn the loss of an elderly Clone, 99.
“Brothers,” season 4, episode 21
What you need to know: Savage Opress, brother of Darth Maul, makes his way to a junk planet to find his brother. He discovers Maul in a pit, a sliver of his former self.
This is the first episode to bring back The Phantom Menace’s Darth Maul, who we know will be a key bad guy in Clone Wars season 7.
“Revenge,” season 4, episode 22
What you need to know: Mother Talzin of Dathomir uses magick to restore Darth Maul’s mind and grant him a new pair of robotic legs. Savage Opress and Maul battle against Obi-Wan Kenobi and Count Dooku’s former apprentice, Asajj Ventress.
This episode reminds viewers of Maul’s intense hatred of Obi-Wan Kenobi, and is the first moment where Ventress becomes more anti-hero than villain.
“Revival,” season 5, episode 1
What you need to know: Maul and Opress wreak havoc in the galaxy. Obi-Wan and Jedi Master Adi Gallia hunt the brothers down, but Opress kills Gallia.
This battle shows off more of Maul and Opress’ capabilities, and the death of a colleague gives Obi-Wan a real reason to continue to battle Maul.
“The Gathering,” season 5, episode 6
What you need to know: Ahsoka and Master Yoda take a group of younglings to the planet Ilum, and help them craft their first lightsaber.
This episode puts Ahsoka in the role of a teacher, and a respected Jedi — which is important to see before Ahsoka decides to leave the order later this season. It’s also possible some of the younglings she befriends in this episode will appear in season 7.
“Eminence,” season 5, episode 14
What you need to know: Savage Opress and Darth Maul land on Mandalore, and form a loose alliance with the Death Watch terrorist cell.
This episode begins the second Mandalore arc, which is likely key to understanding season 7’s plot.
“Shades of Reason,” season 5, episode 15
What you need to know: Opress, Maul, and the Death Watch overthrow Duchess Satine. The Death Watch betrays Maul, but he and his brother escape captivity. Maul challenges Vizsla, the leader of the Death Watch, to a duel, kills him, and claims the Darksaber — but the members of the Death Watch refuse to swear fealty to an outsider.
This episode shows the fall of Death Watch and rise of Darth Maul in Mandalorian politics. It also features the Darksaber changing hands to Maul, which could play into season 7.
“The Lawless,” season 5, episode 16
What you need to know: Obi-Wan ignores the Jedi Council’s orders to stay away from Mandalore, and attempts to save Satine. Maul kills the duchess in front of Obi-Wan, and Satine professes her love for the Jedi. Darth Sidious feels the presence of Maul across the galaxy, travels to Mandalore, kills Savage Opress, and tortures Maul with Force Lightning.
The death of Duchess Satine is a huge turning point for Obi-Wan as a character and the political structure of Mandalore. Obi-Wan will surely mention Satine’s death in season 7.
“Sabotage,” season 5, episode 17
What you need to know: After a bombing at the Jedi Temple, Anakin and Ahsoka investigate the crime scene.
“Sabotage” starts the “Wrong Jedi” arc, which eventually causes Ahsoka to leave the Jedi Order.
“The Jedi Who Knew Too Much,” season 5, episode 18
What you need to know: A woman named Letta Turmond, who seems to know who caused the explosion at the Jedi Temple, asks for Ahsoka’s aid. But before Turmond can reveal who set the bomb, a mysterious figure Force Chokes her to death. The security footage makes it look as if Ahsoka killed Turmond, and in turn, the Clones arrest her for murder and the bombing of the Jedi Temple. Ahsoka escapes into the depths of Coruscant.
This is the first episode where the Order turns on Ahsoka, causing her to flee and discover the truth of the bombing.
“To Catch a Jedi,” season 5, episode 19
What you need to know: The Jedi Council — aside from Anakin and Jedi Master Plo Koon — believe Ahsoka is guilty. Ahsoka contacts Barriss for help. Asajj Ventress hunts Ahsoka down, and the two team up to find the real perpetrator. However, a mysterious figure knocks Ventress out and uses her lightsabers to attack Ahsoka, leading the Padawan to believe Ventress betrayed their deal. The figure knocks Ahsoka out, and she’s captured by the Clones.
This episode features the team-up between Ahsoka and Ventress, whose friendship could play a key role in season 7. It introduces Barriss back into the plot.
“The Wrong Jedi,” season 5, episode 20
What you need to know: Ahsoka stands trial for the bombing of the Jedi Temple. While Ahsoka faces the senate, Anakin hunts down the real perpetrator: Barriss. Anakin brings Barriss before the council, and they offer Ahsoka the chance to rejoin the Jedi Order. Ahsoka refuses, and leaves to make her own path through the galaxy.
This episode sees Ahsoka leave the Jedi Order for good. This is the most important decision Ahsoka makes in the series, and will likely be a major talking point for her character in Clone Wars season 7.
Without the full context of Star Wars: The Clone Wars season 7, it’s impossible to say for sure why Disney listed these episodes as essential. But if you’re looking to dive into Clone Wars for the first time, or just want to refresh your memory, these 20 episodes are a great starting point before the next season debuts.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars season 7’s first episode, “The Bad Batch,” launches on Feb. 21 for Disney+.