Updated: Feb 26, 2021
If you have ever merely been in the vicinity of a conversation about The Clone Wars, or heard someone try to convince another person to watch the series, you may have heard things along the lines of “the first two seasons are bad, though” or “just skip the first two seasons.” People call the episodes “too kiddish,” they call beloved character Ahsoka Tano “annoying” in her early appearances, they complain about Jar-Jar (very original). It is, apparently, a pretty popular sentiment among some fans of the show.
Unfortunately, this sentiment is very, very wrong, and the fact that it seems to be somewhat popular does not change that. As Yoda says in the first episode, “Ambush,” an episode that these people skipping the first two seasons would miss, “smaller in number are we, but larger in mind.” It’s not the numbers that matter, but the facts, and I’d like to prove to you today that you should not skip the first two seasons of The Clone Wars, not for a first time watch, and not for a rewatch.
1: Background Jedi Awesomeness
One of the many, many great things about The Clone Wars is how it takes characters that were only in the background of the prequel movies, and gives them spotlight, personalities, and general episodes dedicated to showing them off (because let’s be honest, background Star Wars characters have some of the best designs, and Clone Wars seasons 1 and 2 give us plenty of poncho and cloak goodness). Should you skip the first 2 seasons of The Clone Wars, you’d miss episodes like the Malevolence arc, that shows off the greatness that is, of course, Master Plo Koon, or the Jedi Crash arc, that lets viewers spend time with Aayla Secura and her clone commander, Commander Bly. And while not a background character to the degree Plo or Aayla are, Mace Windu gets time to shine (and use that purple lightsaber we all love) in the early seasons as well.
Getting to see these Jedi (as well as the great lightsaber fights that go with them, like when Luminara Unduli fights Asajj Ventress) is of course fun, but it also adds emotional attachment to them, and it shows off the relationships they have with their clone commanders.
Also, Kit Fisto rocks in “Lair of Grievious.”
2: Clone Trooper Awesomeness
You can’t talk about The Clone Wars without talking about the titular clones.
The clone troopers are of course, a highlight of The Clone Wars. And while some of my personal favorite clone-centered arcs may be in the later seasons (like the Umbara arc, the Conspiracy arc, and the new Bad Batch arc), there are still some unmissable clone parts of the early seasons. Most notably, of course, is the Rookies episode in season 1, which introduces the beloved Domino Squad and shows a great clone mission where the clones don’t have their Jedi to back them up, and handle it on their own. Season 2 also has an episode called “The Deserter,” in which we see a clone trooper that not only left the Grand Army of the Republic, but started his own family, with a wife and two children.
Not to mention, it all shows off Dee Bradley Baker’s incredible voice acting talents.
Besides episodes just focused on clones, we do get a lot of clone awesomeness in almost every episode. The Blue Shadow Virus arc and the Ryloth arc in particular have some great clone moments that show not only their various abilities in fighting the battles of the Clone Wars, but also their bonds with each other and the Jedi they serve with.
3: Prequel Character Awesomeness
The prequel series gives us a large number of characters, and in The Clone Wars, we get to see a lot of them shine and be explored more than they get to. General Grievous, for example, is introduced in Revenge of the Sith, but killed shortly after. Watching The Clone Wars, you get to see a lot more of Grievous, and how scary he really is when he cuts through clones (and even some Jedi). One of Grievous’s strongest episodes is an early one from season 1, “Lair of Grievous,” where you follow Kit Fisto, his former padawan and some clone troopers into, as the title suggests, Grievous’s lair, where you see him at his most desperate, and most intimidating. Count Dooku also gets to show his skills, both with a lightsaber and with the Force, as well as his tactical and leadership abilities strongly in the first two seasons.
But the villains are far from the only prequel character to get some extra spotlight. Anakin Skywalker, of course, is a lead character in the series, and his appearances in the early episodes let us watch him grow with other characters, before he really begins to go off the deep end, but we do see the inklings of dark before him, long before his fall to the darkside. Obi-Wan Kenobi also gets plenty of time in the first two seasons to show us some trademark sass, pointed at both his friends and his enemies. R2-D2 has several episodes in the first two seasons dedicated almost entirely to him, and watching R2 win fights never, ever gets old.
The prequel character that gets to shine the most in the first two seasons, however, is Senator Padmé Amidala. Padmé has some great episodes in the first two seasons that show how important and capable she is both on and off the Senate floor. Seasons 1 and 2 show Padmé investigating a secret Separatist lab to save her planet, helping Anakin rescuing her fellow senators, going on spy missions for the Republic, solving a murder, delegating with other senators, giving speeches and fighting for what she believes in. Padmé still has powerful moments in the later seasons, but the first two seasons do have some of her best work, and can’t be missed.
4: Important Themes
Star Wars isn’t known for being particularly subtle with its core messages, and The Clone Wars is no exception. With The Clone Wars, they even put the central theme of each episode in a little “fortune cookie” in the beginning. And while the whole series is full of episodes with great thematic elements, seasons 1 and 2 have some of my personal favorites in that regard, such as season 1’s Jedi Crash arc, in which Jedi Ahsoka, Anakin and Aayla along with clones Rex and Bly convince a village of the peaceful Lurmen people that fighting to defend themselves is more honorable than laying down and letting the Separatists destroy everything, though the question is raised by the chief at the end- what is the cost of that fight?
And these kinds of themes are commonplace in these first two seasons. There’s the Ryloth arc towards the end of season 1, in which we see Cham Syndulla struggle between trying to keep his people’s independence and fighting off the Separatists, and knowing that his only chance of success is allowing help from the Republic. The Season 1 episode, “Tresspass” shows a conflict on one of Pantora’s moons, where a tribe known as the Talz lives, despite the moon previously having been believed to be uninhabited. Senator Riyo Chuchi has to handle the conflict, being urged towards peace by the Jedi, and has to make the difficult decision of disobeying her superior, Chairman Chi Cho, who wants to take a more violent approach.
The many key themes that the first two seasons have and how they present them are part of what makes the first two seasons so strong, and important to watch.
5: Ahsoka’s Growth
Ahsoka Tano is one of the lead characters that was originally created for The Clone Wars as Anakin Skywalker’s padawan, though we now know she’s grown far beyond that role. A lot of people who say to skip the first two seasons of The Clone Wars often cite that Ahsoka was “annoying” in the first two seasons as a reason. While I find that untrue, I also find that a very important part of all of The Clone Wars is the growth and journey that Ahsoka goes on. And you cannot have significant character growth if you just push aside the starting place. That kind of defeats the whole point, doesn’t it?
Ahsoka learns many very, very important lessons during the first two seasons, and from many different teachers, not just her Jedi Master. Before Ahsoka can get to the confident, capable and fearless leader and not-Jedi we know her as, she has to learn some very important and fundamental lessons to learn, and many of her episodes in seasons 1 and 2 show her learning those lessons and coming into her own as she learns her place in the war. There are various episodes in which Ahsoka works with different Jedi beyond Anakin and Obi-Wan, and they teach her various lessons, though sometimes inadvertently. There’s many episodes I could use, but one of my favorites is “Lightsaber Lost” in season 2, where Ahsoka works with Tera Sinube to retrieve her stolen lightsaber. He’s older, and slower than her, but teaches her the value of patience, and his ability to slow down and examine the whole situation rather than rushing headlong into things is ultimately what gets her lightsaber back.
These lessons and early padawan experiences lay the groundwork for Ahsoka’s growth into becoming more independent and mature in not only The Clone Wars series, but in all other material she’s appeared in, such as the novel Ahsoka and the Star Wars Rebels series.
6: Relationship Building
One of my personal favorite parts of The Clone Wars as a whole is the personal relationships we see between all of the characters- Jedi, clone or otherwise. And seasons 1 and 2, as with many other things (you may be noting a theme here) lay the groundwork for many of those relationships. Most important of these relationships is of course, the growing one between Anakin and Ahsoka, as they adjust to their master-apprentice relationship, and as they both teach each other important lessons. Their early missions together really show us how Anakin is as a teacher, such as in “Storm Over Ryloth” where he comforts her when she’s upset about losing her squadron, and we see the confidence he inspires in her helps her come up with a plan that wins them the battle. These early experiences forge the strong bond we know they have, and only add to the heartbreak of later seasons and other content that features their relationship, such as Star Wars Rebels.
Of course there’s more foundational relationships in these seasons than just those two. We see the beginnings of Ahsoka and Barriss’ friendship in the “Weapons Factory” and “Brain Invaders” episodes in season 2, and we see an important reunion between Obi-Wan Kenobi and his old flame, the Mandalorian Duchess Satine Kryze in “The Mandalore Plot.” There are other relationships that get to grow in the first two seasons that only grow further throughout the rest of the series, and watching these early beginnings will only enhance things later.
7: Hondo Ohnaka
It’s simple math. Hondo Ohnaka is in 9 episodes of The Clone Wars. Four of those are in the first two seasons. Do you want to miss almost half of Hondo’s The Clone Wars career? Do you really?
Also, after season 2, his only other appearances are in season 5. If you skip the first 2 seasons and only watch seasons 3 through 7, you get 1 season of Hondo, and that’s just no way to live.
It’s Hondo Ohnaka. Enough said.
8: Great Episodes
The Clone Wars has great episodes, I don’t think anyone actually denies that. But the first two seasons are no exception, despite what people who are wrong will tell you. I love every episode of The Clone Wars, and that very much includes the first two seasons. Season 1 includes many many episodes (among a whole season of great ones), one of my favorites being the Ryloth arc, where we get to see the Republic clones and Jedi team up with Cham Syndulla and his Twi’lek resistance to fight to push the Separatists off of their planet. Season 1 also has the Blue Shadow Virus arc, which is one I’ve always loved since I was a kid, and honestly found as one of the most memorable arcs in all of The Clone Wars (also we get to see one of those angels of Iego that Anakin talks about in The Phantom Menace). Season 2 includes Mandalorian episodes, a return to Geonosis an episode where Ahsoka, Anakin and Obi-Wan team up with a dynamic crew of bounty hunters, episodes featuring young Boba Fett working with famed Aurra Sing. Of course there’s the Dooku Captured arc too, in which we get to see Anakin, Obi-Wan and Dooku tied together and forced to cooperate, which is so fun.
And how could you forget the Zillo Beast arc- a series of episodes that not only show off Palpatine’s dark tendencies, but also are basically a monster movie in Star Wars, with a giant monster rampaging across a big city. You miss so much fun and creative Star Wars adventures when you skip the first two seasons, which is exactly one of the reasons that you shouldn’t. They’re good episodes- just watch them!
9: Character and Plot Introductions
The last, and probably most important reason to make sure you watch the first two seasons of Clone Wars, is all the introductions we get to characters and plot points that turn out to be very, very important later. There’s countless set-ups in those early seasons that pay off a lot once we get into the third season, where you’re “allegedly” supposed to start.
To begin, there’s the “Rookies” episode, where we meet Domino Squad. We get a flashback episode for that squad as the premiere of Season 3, and there’s many later episodes that feature clones Echo and Fives- Fives getting an arc almost entirely about him in season 6. The first two seasons also spend a lot of time establishing Asajj Ventress as a villain, letting the viewers get to know her. If you started at season 3, your first introduction to her would be when Dooku abandons her. The first 2 seasons also establish Hondo Ohnaka and his “friendship” with Obi-Wan, which of course is relevant in season 5. Season 1 introduces us to Riyo Chuchi, who teams up with Ahsoka in a later episode. We also see the Ryloth conflict at the end of season 1, which we go back to in the “Supply Lines” episode of season 3. The finale of season 1 introduces us to Cad Bane, who plays a lead role in season 4’s “Deception” arc.
Season 1 introduces us to a lot that’s relevant later, and season 2 doesn’t slow down. We meet Rush Clovis in “Senate Spy,” who plays a key role in season 6, Barriss Offee in “Weapons Factory”, who has an important role in season 5’s Wrong Jedi arc, and Satine Kryze in “The Mandalore Plot,” who is important for many of the following seasons. In fact, Satine brings Mandalore and Death Watch’s conflict with her, which play very important roles in many arcs as the show progresses, and all will be coming to a head in season 7’s finale with the Siege of Mandalore. And there’s even more in season 2. Admiral Trench’s first appearance (and defeat) is in season 2’s “Cat and Mouse,” and he makes appearances in both season 6 and 7, and we get to see young Boba Fett in action, who works with Asajj Ventress in “Bounty.” And none of this even gets into how some characters may play into other material, like Star Wars Rebels.
The Clone Wars, like any TV show, sets up many of its most important characters and plots in the first two seasons, and skipping those two seasons doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be completely lost when watching the rest of the show, but you will be missing out on a lot of the set-up, and won’t have all the context.
The first two The Clone Wars seasons get too much hate and lack of credit for all of the good that they put into the Star Wars universe. They provide important groundwork for everyone’s favorite arcs in the later seasons of the show, they give us fun Star Wars adventures, and most importantly- they’re just good. It’s not fair to dismiss them as “kiddish.” They’re not, first of all, but also, the fact that they mostly tend to be a little lighter than some of the later episodes only makes those episodes better. By having these lighter episodes, The Clone Wars makes those heavier episodes stand out more, and add more weight. Even if you don’t love the first two seasons on their own like I do, you should still be grateful for how their existence enhances the quality of the other ones.
In conclusion: watch the first two seasons of The Clone Wars. They’re important, and good, and you’d be missing out on a lot.