STAR WARS: The Bad Batch – Where To Start

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”

Whip It

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”

Order up?

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”

Capitol Offense

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”

Freedom Fighters

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.

The Mandalorian: Essential Episodes of The Clone Wars and Rebels

I’m the first in line to tell you that you should watch every episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels, but not everyone has the time. As The Mandalorian, the first live-action Star Wars TV series, finds new ways to tie in with the movies and TV shows that came before, here are, in my opinion, the essential episodes so you can really appreciate the universe The Child is part of. (I’m assuming you don’t need a refresher on the original trilogy, but these episodes are also a great tie-in to Solo, which takes place between the two series.)

The Clone Wars:

The Clone Wars theatrical movie

S2E05 – Landing at Point Rain

S2E06 – Weapons Factory

S2E07 – Legacy of Terror

S2E08 – Brain Invaders

S2E12 – The Mandalore Plot

S2E13 – Voyage of Temptation

S2E14 – Duchess of Mandalore

S3E05 – Corruption

S3E06 – The Academy

S3E10 – Heroes on Both Sides

S3E12 – Nightsisters

S3E13 – Monster

S3E14 – Witches of the Mist

S3E15 – Overlords

S3E16 – Altar of Mortis

S3E17 – Ghosts of Mortis

S3E21 – Padawan Lost

S3E22 – Wookiee Hunt

S4E14 – A Friend in Need

S4E19 – Massacre

S4E20 – Bounty

S4E21 – Brothers

S4E22 – Revenge

S5E01 – Revival

S5E14 – Eminence

S5E15 – Shades of Reason

S5E16 – The Lawless

S5E17 – Sabotage

S5E18 – The Jedi Who Knew Too Much

S5E19 – To Catch a Jedi

S5E20 – The Wrong Jedi

At this point, “Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir” is a worthwhile read. The comic miniseries was based on unproduced episodes of The Clone Wars when the series was abruptly canceled. It’s not necessary, but it does bridge a gap and answer questions that might come up with the next batch of episodes.

S7E05 – Gone with a Trace

S7E06 – Deal No Deal

S7E07 – Dangerous Debt

S7E08 – Together Again

S7E09 – Old Friends Not Forgotten

S7E10 – The Phantom Apprentice

S7E11 – Shattered

S7E12 – Victor and Death

This is a good place to read the novel “Ahsoka.”

Star Wars Rebels:

S1E01 – Spark of Rebellion

S1E15 – Fire Across the Galaxy

S2E01 – The Siege of Lothal

S2E03 – The Lost Commanders

S2E13 – The Protector of Concord Dawn

S2E18 – Shroud of Darkness

S2E21 – Twilight of the Apprentice

S3E03 – The Holocrons of Fate

S3E07 – Imperial Supercommandos

S3E08 – Visions and Voices

S3E15 – Trials of the Darksaber

S3E16 – Legacy of Mandalore

S3E20 – Twin Suns

S4E01 – Heroes of Mandalore

S4E10 – Jedi Night

S4E11 – DUME

S4E12 – Wolves and a Door

S4E13 – A World Between Worlds

S4E14 – A Fool’s Hope

S4E15 – Family Reunion and Farewell

The Force Will Be With You, Always: Love and Loss through STAR WARS

On December 24, 2016, news broke that Carrie Fisher had suffered cardiac arrest on a plane. She was in the hospital. She was stable. She had been through plenty of figurative heartbreak, literal heartbreak was the natural progression. As a fan, an admirer, I knew she would be fine.

About a year earlier, December 28, 2015, I got a text at work that my grandmother had been taken to the hospital. She had been out, buying a birthday gift for me, when she unknowingly suffered cardiac arrest in a restaurant. As a fan, an admirer, I knew she would be fine.

I was wrong on both.

On December 27, while I waited in the lobby at WXXI to discuss the cast of Rogue One and representation of women and minorities in pop culture, I read the news. I had the misfortune of sharing that with the other guests on the show, and with the host. Instead of hearing it on the radio and reacting, privately, I had to react live on air.

It wasn’t fun. I mentioned her approach to meeting the fans she loved, keeping her words during our exchange for myself, her role, not just as Princess Leia, but as a tireless advocate for mental health. What I didn’t mention, because, really, no one wanted to hear it, was that Carrie’s death was another jab in an already-open wound.

I had taken the last few days of 2015 off. I was going to do something. Instead, we planned a funeral, canceled credit cards, and she fed us for the last time from the leftovers of her last family – including friends of several decades – party. The following Monday I went back to work. I cried at my desk, with no prompt. If anyone noticed, they said nothing. I’m still not sure if that made it better or worse.

A year later, I, again, had the last days of the year off. I was doing something, and agreed to talk about Star Wars. Sharing the news with other fans was a burden, but was met with reactions mirroring my own.  Of the five people in the room, I was the only one who had met Carrie Fisher (in August 2013; after signing across her character’s chest she declared “Right on the boobs; that’s what they’re good for”), but anyone who had read her books or seen her in interviews (which were more frequent in the wake of The Force Awakens and her last memoir, The Princess Diarist) was familiar with a sometimes shockingly-candid Carrie.

A common criticism of funerals is that a priest or some other stranger tells a few dozen of the departed’s closest friends and family vague, surface-level facts about someone they likely never met. Reverse roles, though, and something special happens, as it did at Star Wars Celebration in April 2017. Four months after Carrie’s death, she was celebrated by her fellow cast members, her daughter, and even John Williams conducting the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. Later, her on-screen brother and friend of four decades Mark Hamill led an intimate look at her life with thousands of her biggest fans.

It may seem strange, but I often find myself wondering what Sue Gregory and Carrie Fisher would think about what I’m doing at that moment. By random chance, they have become linked in my memory. It’s good company to keep.

 

Star Wars Celebration Orlando: 40 Years of Star Wars


If you asked me how Star Wars Celebration started this morning, you wouldn’t believe my answer.

Trust me.

With some fans waiting in line since yesterday afternoon, expectations were high. With Endor’s own Warwick Davis as host, this celebration of four decades in a galaxy far far away did not disappoint. Joined by Star Wars creator George Lucas, who sold his company and the series that made it to Disney in 2012, Davis guided thousands of fans through the history of the franchise and the many characters that have played a part. Heroes and villains of the series shared their experiences as part of the saga dat he impact it had on their lives, their careers, and the lives of the fans around the world.

Cast members including Hayden Christiansen (Anakin Skywalker), Ian McDiarmid (Emperor Palpatine), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), along with fan favorites Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), and Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian) paid tribute to Lucas, while Dave Filoni, executive producer of Star Wars Rebels, referenced their own master-apprentice relationship.

Surprise video messages from Liam Neeson and Samuel L. Jackson paled in comparison to an unexpected guest, as Harrison Ford, Han Solo himself, crashed the panel and recounted his chance encounter with Lucas that propelled him to stardom.

A touching tribute to the late Carrie Fisher was capped with remarks from her daughter, Billie Lourde, who, like her mother, recited Princess Leia’s plea for help to Obi-Wan Kenobi. The princess’s theme, along with other selections from the series soundtrack, were performed by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by composer John Williams.

As unbelievable as it sounds, this was only the first two hours of Star Wars Celebration in Orlando. There is plenty more to come.

Star Wars Celebration runs through Sunday at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

Slipping Through Your Fingers: Kylo Ren’s Path to the Chancellor’s Award

Slipping Through Your Fingers web.png

After his breakthrough performance in “The Force Awakens,” a documentary crew follows Kylo Ren as he prepares to fulfill his destiny and receive the Chancellor’s Award.

 

I submitted this short for the 2016 Star Wars Fan Film Awards. Sound effects and music were provided by Lucasfilm (per contest rules), with the exception of the Force effect, which I created by slowing and down-pitching a purring cat, the same technique as the sound designer for The Force Awakens.

 

 

STAR WARS Celebration: Droid Tales and Baseballs | Popculturology.com (Unpublished)

Anthony Daniels. Photo by Eric Stevens.

Anthony Daniels. Photo by Eric Stevens.

Despite the water shortage here in Southern California, I am pleased to report that most people I have encountered seem to have showered between yesterday and today. So far, day two of Star Wars Celebration Anaheim is off to a good start. After an early swing through the LEGO Play Area (to assert my dominance as a LEGO builder) (to pick up the second set of posters and free mini-build), it was back to the autograph hall.

Anthony Daniels, the man who has been inside C-3PO for nearly four decades, was in a surprisingly good mood, but the big surprise of the morning was the literal marriage of sci-fi and sport. Ashley Eckstein, better known as Ahsoka Tano, star of The Clone Wars, was escorted by her husband, World Series MVP David Eckstein.

Always eager to learn something new about the movies I love, the next stop was the Secrets of the Mos Eisley Cantina panel. Over the course of 39 years, Star Wars scholars have managed to give a name to each actor who appeared in the iconic scene, which was filmed on sets in England and in California. One lucky audience member had the chance to name one of the cantina patrons who survived a quarter-century of Expanded Universe novels without an identity.

Speaking of the Mos Eisley cantina, which seems to be a recurring theme of my week so far, it was packed this afternoon, with alien and human patrons celebrating… something. Maybe it’s the newest LEGO Star Wars TV series, Droid Tales. This new mini-series, premiering in July on Disney XD, follows the adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO through the timeline of Episodes I-VI, and the comedy antics that made two unsuspecting droids the greatest heroes the galaxy has ever known.

Five episodes cover the events of each movie, as well as parts of The Clone Wars and Rebels, and are littered with happenings that took place off-camera. I won’t say the writers are pandering to adult fans, since it is meant for children, but I watched Jar Jar Binks die twice in the five minutes of clips we saw here today. I’m not sure if this series was announced here in Anaheim, but the first I heard of it was yesterday, when it was featured on the back of the LEGO Star Wars posters.

I had one more encounter with Dave Filoni, but a dry marker and eager chauffeur left me without an autograph yet again.

Costume Tally

Boba Fett – 6

Wolverine/Boba Fett mashup – 1

STAR WARS Celebration: STAR WARS REBELS Report | Popculturology.com

Ashley Eckstein. Photo by Eric Stevens

Ashley Eckstein. Photo by Eric Stevens

If you haven’t been watching Star Wars Rebels, it might be time to catch up before the Season 2 premiere this fall.

The trailer for the upcoming season, which has certainly leaked or been posted officially by now, shows a series that, despite airing on Disney XD, had a room of adult fans cheering. With the return of some old friends — both from the original trilogy and Star Wars: The Clone Wars — and the appearance of many original trilogy and prequel-era vehicles, no one can deny that this is Star Wars.

There were a few surprises, with one particular character introduction bringing the crowd to its feet and tears to some eyes.

More on Star Wars Rebels coming later today with the Season 2 premiere.

Read on Popculturology.com

STAR WARS Celebration: A Dave Filoni Sighting | Popculturology.com

Dave Filoni

Dave Filoni. Photo by Eric Stevens.

To say that the Star Wars Celebration convention is huge would be an understatement. After seven hours here, there is still an entire exhibit hall of vendors and artists that I haven’t seen. Somewhere in the vast sea of George Lucas beard doubles, dazed parents who thought this would be a quiet place to take their young children and stormtroopers who are taking their uniform a little too seriously, there is an exhibit of costumes and props from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I haven’t seen it. I’m not sure if I want to see it, as someone who has gone the past few months without seeing the first teaser for the movie, and the past few hours without seeing the second.

The second half of the first day of Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, the seventh event to be held in the United States (and second in California) was equally eventful. I walked into another Star Wars director, this time the man with an Indiana Jones-like devotion to his hat, Dave Filoni, supervising director of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series and executive producer of Star Wars Rebels (I’ll be reporting on the second season premiere on Saturday). I didn’t get a chance to speak to him, or have him sign my Ahsoka Tano action figure, but he seemed relieved when told by a young boy that Rebels is “getting better.”

There are a few food vendors inside the convention center, a line of food trucks outside and a small bar tucked to one side selling beer. The highlight of the food scene here in Anaheim is not the Wookiee Fries advertised on one of the food trucks, but this replica of the Mos Eisley cantina I mentioned earlier as the site of the JJ Abrams sighting. Perched on the opposite side is everyone’s favorite space yeti, known to the fans here as Muftak. Personally, I’m hoping to see autograph guest John Ratzenberger perched next to him at some point discussing the rigors of interplanetary postal service.

Costume Tally:

Ewoks (humans in costume) — 7
Ewoks (dogs in costume) — 1

Read on Popculturology.com

STAR WARS Celebration From the Convention Floor | Popculturology.com

JJ Abrams. Photo by Eric Stevens.

JJ Abrams. Photo by Eric Stevens.

Anaheim Convention Center — We are hours into the first day of Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, and there is an entire galaxy worth of Star Wars fans in attendance. The main event, with Kathleen Kennedy, Lucasfilm president and executive producer of the next installment to our saga, The Force Awakens, and JJ Abrams, the film’s director, stole the show. From the sunny sidewalk, I saw photos of BB-8, the spherical astro droid, and heard a rowdy line, waiting to be let in to the building, fall silent as the second teaser trailer for the movie made its way online.

If you wanted to see that panel in person, the line for the main stage — the Anaheim Convention Center Arena — was full at 11 o’clock last night. Four additional rooms were available to view it live, simulcast to another few thousand people.

As is the case with these events, much of it has been down to luck, contrary to Ben Kenobi’s beliefs. Turning a corner to a life-size replica of the classic Mos Eisley cantina, I found myself face-to-many-faces with the fourth director of the Star Wars saga, Mr. Abrams himself, along with a legion of his shiny new troops and a Princess Leia who shared the same bushy mustache as Nintendo’s Mario. You really never know what is going to happen on the convention floor.

Costume tally:

Han Solo — 4
Sexy Han Solo — 12