One of the great things about Star Wars is that it inspires endless debates and opinions on a wide array of topics. Best bounty hunter? Most powerful Jedi? Does Salacious Crumb have the best haircut in the saga? In that spirit, StarWars.com presents From a Certain Point of View: a series of point-counterpoints on some of the biggest — and most fun — Star Wars issues. In this installment, two StarWars.com writers discuss which episode from Star Wars: The Clone Wars ranks highest.
“The Wrong Jedi” is the best episode, says Bryan.
I’ve been given the difficult task of having to choose the best episode of The Clone Wars, which is, at the least, Sisyphean. First, though, let’s be up front about the idea that “best” doesn’t always equate to “favorite,” otherwise I’d be up here talking about episodes like “Senate Spy” and “Duel of the Droids.” No, best implies technical achievement in storytelling, adding meaning to the greater tapestry of the Star Wars saga, and being a great story all on its own.
And for that, I think the culmination of meaning, storytelling, and technical achievement in The Clone Wars came with the finale of Season Five, “The Wrong Jedi.” Every facet of this episode is firing on all cylinders, from Kevin Kiner’s haunting and emotional music, weaving new themes and old, to Ahsoka’s decision to finally leave the Jedi Order. For those who watched the prequels and weren’t satisfied with their understanding of exactly how the Jedi went wrong and how far Anakin had really fallen and how badly he was hurting, this episode triples the context. Of course, Anakin would have issues with struggling with loss anyway, but in losing Ahsoka, he blames not only himself for failing, but the Jedi Council for not trusting him or his Padawan. Anakin’s trust in the Council was shaken in a hundred ways, but before the events of Revenge of the Sith, none were more painful or emotional than their treatment of Ahsoka.
Losing Ahsoka is an additional catalyst to Anakin’s descent and it’s ironic, too. The Council, in The Clone Wars movie, offered Anakin a Padawan in the hopes that it would temper and mature him. Ahsoka’s leaving in “The Wrong Jedi” adds the final, bittersweet turn to the entire series.
Thanks to this episode, watching Revenge of the Sith will never be the same. It allows your mind to race with the additional story and context, making this one of the best and most important episodes of The Clone Wars.
As a confession, it is one of my favorites, as well. I was fortunate enough to be able to see it at a screening at Lucasfilm, right next to my son, Anakin, and not 10 seats away from Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka. Needless to say, tears were shed by all.
It’s a fantastic episode however you see it, though, because it is the best. <waves hand in Jedi mind trick fashion>
The Clone Wars movie is the best episode, says Jamie.
So, the very concept of a “best” anything is inherently subjective. Even more so when it comes to determining the best episode of an entire television series. And when that series is something as beloved as The Clone Wars? Forget about it.
I mean, sure, you could establish fairly objective criteria to judge against (e.g., writing, acting, animation), but those criteria would ultimately be arbitrary, and whoever’s judging would still be unfairly influenced for a variety of personal reasons. Usually, in situations such as this, “best” equals “favorite.”
So it is with some hesitation that I enter the fray and try to name a best episode of The Clone Wars. Nevertheless, here we are.
First of all, let’s remember the name of this column: From a Certain Point of View. Each of us carries our own personal point of view, and I am no exception. My best will not be your best. My favorite will not be your favorite. And even if you agree with me, my reasons will undoubtedly be different from yours. Just Google “best Clone Wars episode,” and you’re bound to find countless different opinions based on countless different reasons — and all are equally valid.
There are popular choices. There are nontraditional choices. And then there’s my choice.
When it comes to The Clone Wars, my point of view is admittedly different from other Star Wars fans. I came to the show as a father watching with my kids. I didn’t watch the show during its first run (I was living abroad), so I watched it through their young eyes, which is very different than watching as an adult steeped in the fandom.
What I see as the “best episode,” then, is heavily weighted toward what my kids enjoyed, and when we started watching The Clone Wars, they watched the premiere movie again and again. They were obsessed with it. I recognize that this is technically not an episode. And whatever your thoughts happen to be about the movie, set them aside for a moment and let’s consider what it manages to accomplish:
1. It establishes a rich galaxy and narrative that will continue to grow and develop for more than 100 episodes.
2. It introduces Ahsoka Tano, arguably the most vital new character introduced to the saga since the original trilogy.
3. It reimagines prequel-era characters and conflicts and infuses them with fresh energy and love.
5. It shows Jabba the Hutt as a caring father.
That last one is the clincher for me, and it’s a very, very important point. It’s not just because I’m a dad and appreciate strong representations of fatherhood (though this is true). Rather, it’s because — as I’ve written about before — we don’t see many positive, strong, and present fathers in the Star Wars saga. I’m not talking about father figures, but actual dads caring for and raising their children.
So seeing Jabba the Hutt — that slimy piece of worm-ridden filth — genuinely love his stinky little Rotta and be willing to launch all-out war because of him was mind-blowing for me. I had certain expectations for the show, it’s true. But this? Making me relate to Jabba on a surprisingly personal level? This I was not expecting.
Was The Clone Wars movie perfect? Of course not. In fact, it fairly quickly gets eclipsed by the series it sets up, and I recognize the greatness of many episodes that follow. But we need the movie to get the show.
And it was watching that movie (over and over) that I realized The Clone Wars was going to be something completely different than what we’d seen before. It was going to explore characters in a brand-new way; help skeptical fans find an appreciation for young, angst-ridden Anakin; and branch out in unexpected directions.
I mean, if Jabba could suddenly be a loving father, what else might be possible?
Which episode do you think is best? Let us know in the comments below!
Jamie Greene is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He’s also a contributor to GeekDad and runs The Roarbots, where he focuses on awesome geeky stuff that happens to be kid-friendly. On top of that, he cohosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates geek culture by talking to people who create it. With two little ones and a vast Star Wars collection at home, he’s done the unthinkable: allowed them full access to most of his treasure from the past 30 years, opening and playing with whatever they want (pre-1983 items excluded).