In 2013, Star Wars: The Clone Wars was canceled on Cartoon Network after airing for five seasons. Luckily, the animated series found new life on Netflix, where it aired a sixth and final season called "The Lost Missions" and fans have been able to stream all seasons ever since. Unfortunately, it now looks like that may be coming to an end.
The availability date listed in the show's details, which seems to have been noticed first by Making Star Wars, states that the show is available on Netflix until March 7. Maybe with the help of the Force nothing will happen, but even the possibility of the series leaving is disappointing since it tells many great Star Wars stories set in a time period we previously knew little about.
Just in case Star Wars: The Clone Wars does become unavailable for streaming next month, I've put together a list of the 11 episodes that you definitely need to watch while you can. These episodes aren't only fun and interesting, but they also hold larger significance in the Star Wars universe by giving us insight into aspects of the franchise that make it all so much richer. Here are my must-watch picks!
(Oh, and here be spoilers ...)
"Liberty on Ryloth" (Season 1)
As the Republic tries to free the planet Ryloth from the Separatists, Jedi Master Mace Windu needs help liberating the capital city. With his troops stretched thin, he turns to the leader of the Twi'lek freedom fighters, Cham Syndulla, for help. General Syndulla isn't convinced so easily due to his distrust of Ryloth's Senator and concern that they'd just be exchanging one oppressive force for another. He changes his mind only when the Separatists start bombing villages in order to destroy as much as possible before they leave and after talking with Ryloth's Senator. It's then that the General joins Windu and they're able to retake the capital.
Watching Windu in action in the field is one of the best parts of this episode, but where "Liberty on Ryloth" really shines is in how it offers us a local perspective of the war. The Twi'leks are fighting for their home and their lives, and hearing about their experiences makes it understandable why they might hesitate to welcome the Republic's help. Syndulla is concerned about the Republic winning and just starting another armed occupation. He ominously asks Windu, "How long before I am fighting you, Master Jedi?" We know that Syndulla isn't exactly wrong even if it might not be the Jedi he'll fight but the Empire that rises from it. It's a storyline that makes you think twice about those who proclaim to be liberators in war. Plus Syndulla turns out to be the father of Star Wars Rebels pilot Hera Syndulla, making this a must-watch for anyone curious about Hera's background and how she may have grown up.
"Duchess of Mandalore" (Season 2)
Duchess Satine Kryze of Mandalore arrives on Coruscant to speak with the Senate when the peace on her planet is threatened by the Death Watch. Unfortunately, Count Dooku is working with the group in an attempt to make things so bad the Republic will intervene, occupying the planet and making Death Watch look like freedom fighters standing up for the Mandalorian people. As the Separatists attempt to assassinate Satine, she finds herself trying to uncover the plot against her and her planet. Ultimately with the help of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Padmé Amidala, Satine succeeds and her planet is able to stay neutral in this time of war.
The Mandalorians have been a fascinating part of Star Wars for years and here we learn a lot more about what was happening with them during the Clone Wars. It's an interesting part of their history as we see the dynamic between Satine's pacifist government and the Death Watch group that wants to return to the old warrior ways. We discover more about Satine's beliefs, her leadership capabilities and her relationship with Obi-Wan, which adds another layer of depth to the Jedi Master and what we thought we knew about the character. All the political machinations we watch unfold and the final conversation between the Jedi and Duchess also provide an excellent example of how things change during war and how complex Darth Sidious' plans truly are.
"ARC Troopers" (Season 3)
Obi-Wan, Anakin Skywalker and the 501st head to Kamino when they learn the Separatists are about to attack the cloning facilities there. Joined by Jedi Master Shaak Ti, they defend the clones' home from General Grievous and Asajj Ventress ... only to realize their goal is to do more than just destroy everything. Ventress tries to steal the clone DNA but is stopped by Anakin as Obi-Wan faces Grievous. Meanwhile, for the clones this whole thing is personal. They join forces with some cadets and 99, an older clone we met in the episode "Clone Cadets," to defend their home no matter the cost.
Two reasons this episode is worth the watch: the battle and the clones. The battle itself looks amazing and it's fun to see Grievous and Ventress trying to work together. Their lightsaber fights with the Jedi are also quite impressive. Meanwhile, the clones give this episode heart. The story really hammers home how much they feel Kamino is their home, what they think it means to be a clone and the connection they all feel to each other. It's touching watching Echo and Fives walk around reminiscing about growing up at the facility and then meeting up again with 99. When they do join with the cadets and 99 helps them too, it's clear they all know they can get the job done because it's in their blood and this is what they're meant to do. "ARC Troopers" can't be missed if you want to understand more about the clones that were such an integral part of this war (hey, it was named after them, after all).
"Ghosts of Mortis" (Season 3)
This episode, like a few others below, made my best episodes of The Clone Wars list and is one I'd recommend once again. This conclusion to the Mortis Trilogy of episodes is the one to watch out of the three. Anakin, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka Tano are still stuck on Mortis where the struggle for the Force to regain balance continues. Anakin tries to figure out what he should do about the Son and ends up turning to the Dark Side after seeing visions of his future. After the Father makes Anakin forget these visions, the Son confronts them all, which leads to the deaths of both the Father and Son. This allows the Jedi to leave and Mortis to be balanced once more.
"Ghosts of Mortis" offers a unique new way to think about the Force that you just might be pondering long after it ends. Watching Anakin struggle with whether or not he is the Chosen One and with what he saw in his visions is also quite interesting. You can't help but wonder what may have happened differently if he was allowed to keep some knowledge of the visions he saw, especially after what he does as a result. What we learn about Anakin and the nature of the Force makes this episode one every fan should see!
"Plan of Dissent" (Season 4)
In "Plan of Dissent," Captain Rex and his clones are being led by Jedi General Krell as they fight on Umbara. Krell's tactics have already cost the clones quite a bit and his latest plans to go after the capital gives them even more to question about the Jedi. Some of the clones don't want to blindly follow orders that can get them all killed and potentially not succeed, so they move forward with their own plan. The clones succeed, but they lose one of their own along the way and Krell is not at all happy about what they did. Clone trooper Fives, who was part of the mission, stops Captain Rex from trying to take responsibility and Krell decides to charge the clones involved with treason.
The entire Umbara arc is great and while it has a spectacular concluding episode, I think this one is the must-watch among the bunch. It's here that we see Fives and some of the clones finally make the decision to disobey their orders. The breaking point for them arrives with Krell's latest plan and you can tell they're not making the decision lightly. It also highlights Rex's struggle of being stuck in the middle of doing what is right and doing his duty as we see his group split with other clones firmly on the side of just following orders. It not only adds another dimension to these clones (that even though they're clones doesn't mean they all think the same and are mindless soldiers) but it also forces the audience to think about such a situation and how sometimes following orders may not be the honorable thing to do.
"Bounty" (Season 4)
In the previous episode, the Nightsisters were all destroyed by Count Dooku's forces, leaving Asajj Ventress alone. She heads to the Outer Rim and ends up joining a group of bounty hunters led by Boba Fett who are hired to protect cargo. They're attacked and eventually all knocked off the tram containing the cargo except for Ventress and Fett. Fett gets knocked out after discovering the cargo they are protecting is a girl and the people attacking are led by her brother. Hearing the girl talk about being ripped from her home and family strikes a chord with Ventress. It leads to her returning the girl to her people for a price while also tricking the original group who hired them into paying as well. By the end, Ventress has a better sense of what her future holds.
It's fun to see the bounty hunters featured here in action and interacting with Ventress but it's really how this story fits into her character development that makes it an episode to see. Ventress became one of the best characters in The Clone Wars and her story went on an interesting route. "Bounty" may end with Ventress getting paid twice thanks to her plan but her decision to not hand over the girl seems to be more than about money. It's a choice that sets her on a new path. She's perhaps no longer a part of a team or anything larger than herself, but she realizes now that she's a different person and on her own she has a future in her control.
"The Soft War" (Season 5)
Ahsoka remains with the rebels on Onderon led by Saw Gerrera's sister Steela as they try to free their planet from the Separatists. When the Rebels learn that the true king is going to be executed, it leads to a fight between Steela and Saw. Saw wants to break him out before the execution while Steela wants to wait until then. Saw goes off alone to try to attempt a rescue but is captured and tortured by the Separatists. Meanwhile, Steela decides to put the king's rescue before that of her brother's and they go through with their plan. Saw is also brought to the execution and the Rebels are able to rescue both him and the king when the commander of Onderon's military turns to their side. This inspires some of the people to also finally rise up.
If you want to learn more about Saw after seeing him in Rogue One, this is the perfect episode to watch. We see how he started in the fight, what he believes and how far he's willing to go to get things done. It's also a great episode for learning more about the relationship he has with his sister. It's clearer here than perhaps in any other episode that they both want the same thing but they disagree on the tactics with which to get it. Steela describes him as always being brash and that obviously doesn't disappear over time. It's the best episode for learning about Saw's background and his role in Star Wars history.
"Shades of Reason" (Season 5)
With an alliance comprising of criminals and Death Watch, Darth Maul and Savage Opress plan an attack to take over Mandalore. Their plan to make Duchess Satine look weak succeeds and gives Death Watch the opportunity to look like Mandalore's saviors. With the people's support, Pre Vizsla is one step closer to resurrecting their warrior past and becomes the new prime minister as Satine is imprisoned. While Vizsla tries to get the upper hand on Maul, the Sith and Opress decide to replace him with someone they can control more easily. Maul challenges Vizsla and kills him, taking the Darksaber and making the Death Watch honor-bound to serve him. Bo-Katan Kryze and a few others refuse and escape but in the end Maul is in control of the planet and can now lure Kenobi to him using Satine.
After everything Mandalore has been through in this series, it's incredible to watch its and Satine's downfall. We see how far Maul is willing to go and how close Pizsla comes to victory, and the Mandalorian versus Sith fight is one of the best duels in the series. "Shades of Reason" also offers some vital background information when it comes to Vizsla and how Maul has the Darksaber that those watching Rebels will appreciate. These are connections to Sabine Wren that make watching her story unfold all the more interesting. For that reason and for what it tells us about Mandalore, this episode is not to be missed.
"The Wrong Jedi" (Season 5)
The final episode of Season 5 is essential viewing due to its importance to a number of different aspects of Star Wars. The events shape Ahsoka and Anakin's arcs moving forward and it all gives us insight into what is happening to the Jedi Order. In the episode, Anakin tries to clear Ahsoka's name as she is expelled from the Order and put on trial by the Republic. He speaks with Ventress, who admits she found things in common with Ahsoka and tells him Ahsoka spoke to Barriss Offee. Anakin confronts Barriss and Ahsoka's name is cleared, however even when she's welcomed back to the Jedi she refuses and decides to leave.
Between what Barriss says and how we see the council react to Ahsoka, this episode makes it clear just how much the war and the Dark Side are changing the Jedi. Understanding this makes it easy to see how things go so poorly for them in the future and makes Ahoska's decision seem even more sensible. Her last scene with Anakin is extremely moving as he struggles with her choice and makes very clear the different paths these characters are going to take. It was a great move for Ahsoka's arc and another thing to add to the long list of what may contribute to Anakin falling to the Dark Side. Watching this episode makes watching these characters in future works even better, whether it's the films or in Rebels. It's an episode every Star Wars fan needs to watch!
"Orders" (Season 6)
This is another episode that significantly adds to the larger Star Wars universe by exploring something very important to the saga: Order 66. It's also extra emotional if you've become attached to clone ARC trooper Fives, who is in the central role, but even if you haven't this episode is a must-watch. "Orders" is the conclusion to a four-episode story that sees Fives discovering one of his friends turned on the Jedi and died because of a hidden chip that's apparently in all the clones. While the chip is supposedly harmless, he's able to get an audience with Supreme Chancellor Palpatine to express his concerns and things go downhill from there. Fives is of course correct that it's part of a large plot and the Jedi try to investigate. He speaks with Anakin and Rex but is killed before anyone can confirm the truth ... and it's all ultimately brushed aside as nothing to worry about.
It's amazing to see one of the troopers discover the truth and nice to get some extra explanation about how the clones turned against the Jedi with Order 66. The episode does a great job of playing with our emotions as we learn this knowledge, being able to do nothing but watch as everyone gets so close to the truth and misses it ... thus dooming them all. It's so sad when Fives dies in Rex's arms and you can see how the events of this story may have stuck with Rex despite what everyone else concluded (which perhaps explains Rex's appearance in Rebels).
"Destiny" (Season 6)
While the episode after this one is a fantastic final episode for the arc and series, it loses its impact without watching the one before it. That's why I have to suggest "Destiny" as the must-watch show from the Yoda arc of Season 6. Here we see Yoda on a journey, spurred by hearing the voice of Qui-Gon Jinn, to learn how he can keep his consciousness after death. It leads him to a planet where he finds beings to guide him in his training. He goes through a series of trials where he must face his hubris and emotional temptations. Eventually Yoda passes these and is sent to his final test on Moraband.
This episode is another one that makes us think about the Force and its mystical nature differently. Not only is this a cool episode to watch for that reason, but it also reveals interesting things about the Jedi Master we first met in The Empire Strikes Back. We see that even the wise Yoda still has things to accept and acknowledge about himself, and we learn more about how the war is impacting him as well as the other Jedi. It also includes some fun cameos. We see Ahsoka for the only time this season in this episode and how Yoda is perhaps still feeling guilty about the events that occurred with her at the end of Season 5. Her, Qui-Gon, and other Jedi also appear during Yoda’s vision of the Jedi Temple in a "what could have been" moment that even includes Dooku as still part of the Light Side. It's a stunning examination of the Force, Yoda and what's happening to the galaxy.