Have you spent the last twelve years insisting that you’ll never watch an animated Star Wars TV show? Have you now given in, after two seasons of The Mandalorian, and started watching The Bad Batch?
You’re not alone.
While The Bad Batch, in its first season, is a new series, it is very much part of a larger universe. The first episode begins with Jedi and Clone Troopers in a fight against Battle Droids in one of the finals battles of the Clone Wars – you know, from that other TV series. The episode even includes The Clone Wars‘ logo, burning away to reveal one for The Bad Batch.
I’m not going to tell you to watch seven seasons of The Clone Wars before starting this new series. (I’m not going to guarantee you won’t want to, though.) This is just a little viewer’s guide if you’d like some additional information. Since the season isn’t complete as of this writing, I will update it each week. This will be as spoiler-free as possible, which is why all of my recommendations will be something to watch after an episode of The Bad Batch – with one expection.
Prologue: The Bad Batch
The Clone Wars, Season 7, Episodes “The Bad Batch,” “A Distant Echo,” “On the Wings of Keeradaks,” and “Unfinished Business”
The “Bad Batch” was introduced to audiences in this four-part arc that premiered way back in 2015 as an unfinished story reel. The Clone Wars had been canceled after Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm. A sixth season premiered on Netflix in the US, consisting of episodes that were far enough along in production, but many more episodes were left incomplete. With the Disney+ series-ending seventh season, The Bad Batch arc was completed (with some changes) and set up the heroes of the new series.
These episodes are where you first meet the members of Clone Squad 99 and the unique mutations that make them valuable assets to the Republic, as they assist Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the clone legions that serve them.
Episode 1: “Aftermath”
So What’s the Deal with Echo?
The Clone Wars, Season 3, Episode “Clone Cadets,” Season 1, Episode “Rookies,” and Season 3, Episode “ARC Troopers”
The Clone Wars, Season 3, Episodes “The Citadel,” “Counter Attack,” and “Citadel Rescue”
The Clone Wars, especially in its earlier seasons, didn’t always stick to chronological order. The writers would create a character, kill them off, and then decide (sometimes a few seasons later) that they really liked that guy, so they would make a prequel episode. Supervising Director and Executive Producer Dave Filoni really learned a lot from George Lucas.
Echo was no exception. He was introduced in the series’ fifth-ever episode, saw some action, and got some major development (looking back and forward) during the third season. These six episodes cover the major events of this dedicated soldier’s life.
Okay, So What About These Chips?
The Clone Wars, Season 6, Episodes “The Unknown,” “Conspiracy,” “Fugitive,” and “Orders”
Every master plan has its complications. After a mid-battle incident with one of the 501st clones, ARC Trooper Fives – old friend of the Bad Batch’s Echo – begins his own investigation.
Episode 2: “Cut and Run”
So Was That Guy…?
The Clone Wars, Season 2, Episodes “Grievous Intrigue” and “The Deserter”
Jedi weren’t meant for war, but what about the clones who were bred for that purpose? And yes, those are are human-Twi’lek hybrid kids. No, they’re not his. The timeline just doesn’t work.
Episode 3: “Replacements”
Rebels, rebels, Rebels
The Clone Wars, Season 5, Episodes “A War on Two Fronts,” “Front Runners,” The Soft War,” and “Tipping Points”
Saw Gerrera’s rebels from the first episode of the season might have (mostly) gotten away, but where have you heard that name before? Gerrera is a recurring character in the Star Wars saga. His first appearance came years before Forest Whitaker’s portrayal in Rogue One, in a four-part arc from The Clone Wars‘ fifth season. He pops up a few more times, in other media, before he becomes one of the first casualties of the Death Star.
Episode 4: “Cornered”
This doesn’t look like Avatar
The Clone Wars, Season 1, Episode “Trespass”
The Clone Wars, Season 3, Episode “Sphere of Influence”
I admit, these two are not essential by any stretch of the imagination. Both of them, however, deal with the moon Pantora (with a T), home to the blue-skinned Pantoran people. In the Season 1 episode, the Jedi mediate a dispute over Orto Plutonia, the uninhabited planet around which Pantora revolves. In Season 3, the daughters of Pantora’s Chairman, Baron Papanoida, are kidnapped. As an Easter egg for the then-final film in the series, Revenge of the Sith, George Lucas and several of his children (including future Clone Wars writer Katie Lucas) appear as the Pantoran delegation on Coruscant.
Episode 5: “Rampage”
The Clone Wars, Season 4, Episodes “Kidnapped,” “Slaves of the Republic,” and “Escape from Kadavo”
Zygerrian slavers aren’t new to Star Wars, either. Though outlawed by the Republic, as pointed out by Echo in The Bad Batch and many years ago by Padmé in The Phantom Menace, slavery is very much alive in the galaxy. Anakin Skywalker will certainly handle it well, though.
Episode 6: “Decommissioned”
Who’s the Girl?
The Clone Wars, Season 5, Episodes “Sabotage,” “The Jedi Who Knew Too Much,” “To Catch a Jedi,” and “The Wrong Jedi”
This isn’t the answer to your question, but it’s super important. You’ve seen Ahsoka Tano, teenage Padawan of Anakin Skywalker, in episodes of The Clone Wars from this very list. You’ve seen Jedi hunted down in Revenge of the Sith and the very beginning of The Bad Batch. And you’ve seen The Mandalorian, set almost 30 years after Order 66, where a very-much-alive Ahsoka Tano insists she is not a Jedi.
When Ahsoka was introduced in the 2008 movie that launched The Clone Wars, she was instantly disliked by fans. Over the next five years, and in eight more since then, she has become a fan favorite character. This arc, full of action movie homages, briefly served as the series finale of The Clone Wars in the uncertainty of the Disney acquisition, and deserves to be seen. It matters, trust me.
But Really, Who Are They?
The Clone Wars, Season 7, Episodes “Gone With a Trace,” “Deal No Deal,” “Dangerous Debt,” and “Together Again”
War takes a toll on civilians, and civilian life takes a toll on warriors. Navigating a galaxy in conflict while maintaining your moral compass can be a challenge, but at least some of them have family.
Episode 7: “Battle Scars”
The Clone Wars, Season 7, Episodes “Old Friends Not Forgotten,” “The Phantom Apprentice,” “Shattered,” and “Victory and Death”
You saw her at the end of the Martez sisters’ arc, and you saw her in The Mandalorian; it’s time to see another small part of Bo Katan’s story. The story of Mandalore is a recurring thread in The Clone Wars, and one that continues into Rebels and is alluded to, though still unseen, in The Mandalorian. The latter half of this arc overlaps with Revenge of the Sith and that first episode of The Bad Batch, setting up Captain Rex’s post-Republic life. Also, remember the Jedi, Master Depa Billaba and Padawan Caleb Dume? They do appear in hologram form in an alternate-angle reproduction of a scene lifted directly from Revenge of the Sith.
By the way – if you’ve watched everything I’ve suggested so far, you have officially watched the entirety of The Clone Wars‘ seventh season.
Episode 8: “Reunion”
A Different Shade of Blue?
The Clone Wars, Season 3, Episode “Evil Plans,” Season 1, Episode “Hostage Crisis,” and Season 2, Episode “Hunt for Ziro”
The Clone Wars, Season 2, Episodes “Holocron Heist,” “Cargo of Doom,” and “Children of the Force”
The Clone Wars, Season 4, Episodes “Deception,” “Friends and Enemies,” “The Box,” and “Crisis on Naboo”
Boba Fett might have a reputation as the toughest (and most Clint Eastwood-inspired) bounty hunter in the galaxy, but he’s still a few years away from his Han Solo-chasing prime. In the waning years of the Republic, that title belonged to Cad Bane. He served as the antagonist of three distinct story arcs in The Clone Wars, including one that spanned two seasons as well as some non-chronological storytelling. The writers originally planned for a showdown with a teenaged Boba Fett, but with the premature cancellation of that series, Bane’s fate remains open-ended.
Episode 9: “Bounty Lost”
Alpha and Omega
The Clone Wars, Season 2, Episodes “Death Trap,” “R2 Come Home,” and “Lethal Trackdown,”
You know him best as the guy in the green armor who fell to his apparent death in Return of the Jedi, and whose survival will hopefully be detailed in the upcoming Book of Boba Fett series, but the last big-screen appearance of the cloned son of Jango Fett was as a ten-year-old kid in Attack of the Clones. While The Bad Batch believes that he disappeared at the beginning of the Clone Wars, Boba Fett serves as a foil to our heroes that certainly put him on the Republic’s radar.
Episode 10: “Common Ground”
The Clone Wars, Episodes “Heroes on Both Sides” and “Pursuit of Peace”
This isn’t the first time Star Wars animation has visited Raxus Secundus. The often-mocked opening line from Revenge of the Sith‘s crawl inspired the title of one of these episodes, set heavily on the Confederacy of Independent Systems’ capitol. Like The Bad Batch‘s Avi Singh, we see a side of the Separatist movement that is interested in improving the lives of their citizens, unaware that they were leading their people to an even greater oppressor.
Episodes 11 and 12: “Devil’s Deal” and “Rescue on Ryloth”
The Clone Wars, Season 1, Episodes “Storm Over Ryloth,” “Innocents of Ryloth,” and “Liberty on Ryloth”
Away from battlefields on the ground and in space, the war takes a toll on civilians. The citizen militias of planets like Ryloth may have started as a defense against the Separatist droid armies when the Republic could not defend them, but that drive for self-determination ultimately becomes a threat to the Empire.
After a two-part adventure with the Twi’leks, if you’re looking for more mouthy astromechs and young women with a love of flying, a fourteen-year time jump and four seasons of Star Wars: Rebels might fill that void and bring with it some familiar faces (and voices).
Episode 13: “Infested”
Episode 14: “War-Mantle”
Lost in Space
The Clone Wars, Season 5, Episodes “Secret Weapons,” “A Sunny Day in the Void,” “Missing in Action,” and “Point of No Return”
While Operation War-Mantle (first name-dropped by Jyn in Rogue One) is underway, replacing Clone Troopers with enlisted proto-Stormtroopers, elite soldiers are not a new addition under the Empire. Admittedly, this arc from The Clone Wars is far from a fan favorite, but it’s worth seeing this element of the war, even if you jump directly to “Missing in Action.”
That’s it for now. Check back every week for updated recommendations – or check out StarWars.com’s official guide to the series in chronological order, and start watching.