THERE WILL BE SPOILERS for Season 2, Episode 3 of The Mandalorian as well as all of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels
The rumours are true.
The third episode of The Mandalorian‘s second season called The Heiress gave us the live action debut of Bo Katan, played by original voice actress Katee Sackhoff (who the animated version was modelled on). Bo also name-dropped Ashoka Tano, rumored to be played in live action by Rosario Dawson (we’ll find out soon enough).
Fans of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels are understandably excited. People who only know Star Wars only from the movies and now Mando (or just through Mando, I suspect there may be some), on the other hand, may be excited to see these new characters and know they’re old characters because of, well, the Internet.
If you fit into this group, you may want to know the backstory, but watching eleven seasons, most of them with 20 plus episodes, could seem like a real daunting task. If you want to get up to speed quickly, well, this is the way (pun fully intended)!
I have compiled a viewing helpguide that is comprised of just fifteen essential episodes, each roughly 30 minutes in length, and one compilation video just over 46 minutes (and put out by Disney officially, so safe from copyright strikes in theory). These focus on Ashoka’s story, Bo Katan’s story and the history of the planet Mandalore that has already been playing into and will probably continue to play into Mando’s story.
I mention some episodes that compliment the story and can be quite good, while not essential to your understanding. I also mention, briefly and when necessary, what you need to know if all you have seen are the films and the preceding episodes on this list.
Before we begin, I’d like to mention that while it may be a little slow to start and have a few clunker episodes, overall Star Wars: The Clone Wars is a great series that really breathes new life into the prequel universe and has some truly stellar moments. And while the Star Wars: Rebels animation style may take a little getting used to, it takes from and adds to the overall lore and develops new, compelling characters within it.
Both shows are fun to watch and I recommend that all Star Wars fans do, when they have the chance. For now, though, let’s get watching!
(BTW If you watch The Mandalorian legally, you have access to Disney Plus, so you have access to all of this content as well.)
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
The one thing you’ll need to know, going in, is that Ashoka Tano is Anakin Skywalker’s Padawan Learner (Jedi apprentice). She has been a major part of the show since the beginning of the first season, so this list does not cover all of her Clone Wars character development.
If you have the time, you can get some of it in The Mortis Arc (S03 E15, 16 & 17), The Citadel Arc (S03 E18, 19 & 20) and The Onderon Arc (S05 E02, 03, 04 & 05) as well as standalone episodes like Lightsaber Lost (S02E11) and Assassin (S03E07), plus some episodes that are part of larger arcs like Weapons Factory (S02E06) and Heroes on Both Sides (S03E10).
S02E12 The Mandalore Plot
This episode doesn’t have Ashoka or Bo Katan in it, but it does establish what Mandalore was like during most of the Clone Wars. It also introduces Death Watch, the group that would later rescue young Mando, and it’s leader Pre Vizsla (voiced by Mandalorian creator Jon Favreau).
We also meet Duchess Satine Kryze, ruler of Mandalore and Bo Katan’s older sister. Turns out she’s got a bit of a past with Obi Wan. This is the first part of a three-episose arc, so if you are interested in that story and have a bit more time, watch the next two episodes, if not, it will return in the essential episodes.
What you need to know going in: Nothing specifically from Clone Wars, just stuff from the movies.
S04E14 A Friend in Need
This episode features Ashoka and is also the first appearance of Bo Katan, who, at this time, is part of Death Watch, the group opposing her sister’s rule. Shows just what kind of people Death Watch are.
What you need to know going in: Death Watch and Count Douku have parted ways and Ashoka and Lux Bonteri kinda have crushes on each other. But honestly, you’ll figure that out soon enough as you watch.
S05E14 Eminence, E15 Shades of Reason, E16 The Lawless
This three-episose arc really develops Bo Katan’s story as well as the politics of Mandalore. Plus the final episode is both heart wrenching and action-packed. One of the best the series has to offer.
What you need to know going in: Darth Maul’s alive and has a brother Savage Oppress who is also his Sith apprentice. Also, Prime Minister Almec’s in jail. The Maul backstory is great, but takes several episodes. The Almec backstory has to do with tainted tea (again, not every episode of this series is a masterpiece).
S05E17 Sabotage, E18 The Jedi Who Knew Too Much, E19 To Catch a Jedi, E20 The Wrong Jedi
You want Ashoka character development? This arc delivers it in spades. Want development in her relationship with Anakin? Ditto.
This arc sets the stage for where Ashoka is in Rebels and probably will be in Mando and explains, at least initially, why she wasn’t in Revenge of the Sith. Plus some of the visuals at the end are absolutely stunning.
What you need to know going in: Bariss Offee and Ashoka once spent time buried in a tank. Asajj Ventress was Douku’s Sith apprentice until he turned on her and she became a bounty hunter. Yes, that’s the same Tarkin who ran the first Death Star and he’s already in good with the Chancellor at this point (also, yes that’s Tim Curry voicing Palpatine).
S07E09 Old Friends Not Forgotten, E10 The Phantom Apprentice, E11 Shattered, E12 Victory and Death
This is the arc that closes out the series and runs parallel with Revenge of the Sith. It’s known as The Seige of Mandalore Arc and tells the story of what Ashoka and (for a while) Bo Katan are doing during the events of the third prequel movie.
It’s also Clone Wars done with a Disney budget that includes motion-capture lightsaber battles. It’s basically a movie separated into four parts.
If you’re curious about how Ashoka went from where she was at the end of the last arc to hanging out with Bo Katan, you can watch the four-episode arc that precedes this one. It’s good but maybe a little long and the important part is that Bo and the Night Owls sought Ashoka out because Maul was back on Mandalore.
If you want to know how Maul got back to Mandalore, there is a graphic novel that tells the story called Son of Dathomir. Since we’re skipping whole seasons, we’re skipping the graphic novels, too.
What you need to know going in: Aside from what I just mentioned, a clone trooper named Fives discovered the inhibitor chip that causes all clones to kill Jedi when Order 66 is mentioned after fellow trooper Tupp’s chip acted up early. He told Captain Rex and Anakin but they didn’t believe him at the time.
Star Wars: Rebels
This one’s a bit easier.
What, or rather, who, you need to know going in is the Rebels crew: Hera Syndulla, the pilot, Kanan Jarrus, a Jedi whose master was killed during Order 66, Sabine Wren, a demolitions expert and Mandalorian graffiti artist, Ezra Bridger whom Kanan trains as a Jedi, Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios, a Lasat and former Captain of the Lasan High Honor Guard which rose up against the Empire and Chopper, the droid.
Also, the Empire has dispatched Inquisitors to hunt down the remaining Jedi.
There were only two episodes featuring Bo Katan:
S04E01 & 02 Heroes of Mandalonre Parts 1 & 2
Basically, with the help of the Rebels crew, and, in particular, Sabine Wren, Bo Katan becomes the rightful ruler of Mandalore and wielder of the Darksaber, the one the Moff Gideon held in The Mandalorian Season One finale.
What you need to know going in: Sabine, who is Mandalorian, had previously found and started training with the Darksaber and made contact with her mother, leader of Clan Wren, and convinced her to go against the Empire, which was in control of Mandalore.
The Ashoka Rebels Video
While Ashoka may not have been part of those episodes, she was still a huge part of Rebels. Instead of listing a bunch of episodes to watch, I am instead going to suggest you watch one video, put together by Disney XD (which aired Rebels before Disney Plus was a thing).
It features all of Ashoka’s appearances in Rebels, so no episode recommendations with descriptions that say you only need to watch the last part.
Here it is:
The only thing you need to know is that, at the end, Ashoka and Sabine are searching for Ezra, who had disappeared while saving everyone earlier the same episode.