Right, I think the ordering is just about nailed. This is for the Quality cut - we’ll forget the others for now, so for the purposes of this post please consider this the project for all intents and purposes.
Why spend so long on just the ordering?
I know I’ve been doing this for ages now. Recall that ultimately, the main challenge that I’m trying to solve with this full series edit is getting us from the variable quality anthology show that it started out as to the powerful and tightly focused show it ended up as. I’ve framed this a few times as “making TCW relevant to the Mandalorian audience”, but ultimately saying that is a shortcut to explaining that Star Wars has always been developed as one coherent whole, and that at its best it’s presenting powerful and emotionally resonant moments against the interesting and ever-changing backdrop of large scale good vs evil conflict, and that with a little refocusing TCW can absolutely deliver what we now recognise as the quality standard for Star Wars.
And one important part of that focusing is allowing the heart of the show to clearly be Ahsoka, the tension of the show to be our third parties and wildcards (Mauldalore++), and the backdrop to be the inevitable galactic tragedy of a manufactured proxy war.
To achieve this, I believe we need to get the Mauldalore plots started sooner and treat them as a slow burn rather than a big bang (because the finale is the biggest bang and totally pays it off), and to trim our episodes around the powerful and emotionally resonant beats. Having the ordering in mind for editing will help identify necessary trims where I have to break the odd bit of referenced chronology (I’ll be gentle, I promise) and also help me write my episode intro text (which will replace the newscaster narrator guy).
The reason that the ordering has taken so long is because I’ve wanted to take input from all of you here, consume other resources like online articles and videos around character arcs, and rewatch certain episodes. Where I disagreed with the majority I’ve gone with the majority voice, since this belongs to you all, not me. I’ll still be largely editing by my own taste (e.g. making Mortis less on the nose), but I’ll continue to keep this as transparent and community led as possible.
Now, just for ease of breakdown, I’m considering this as eight ‘seasons’. I might not release it that way, but it’s helped for the sake of cutting it into chunks and visualising the flow of the show. I’m presenting it all here in this way in case you want to have a think about the pacing, to try to visualise it all as clearly as possible.
There may be further minor shuffling, but without further ado, here’s where I am now:
‘Season’ One - roughly the length of 11 original episodes
(Optional Tartakovsky prologue), COLD OPEN of Mandalorians finding Maul then ‘MONTHS EARLIER’ text, Ahsoka’s intro on Christophsis, Death Watch on Mandalore arc, Cloak of Darkness, Rising Malevolence, Domino Squad arc, Nightsisters arc.
In this season Ahsoka is introduced, and Anakin reluctantly accepts her as padawan. Dropping into Cloak of Darkness we explain that he’s kind of pawned her off on Luminara straight away, and we see her being both competent and flawed - but far less annoying than in the original show. We then hit Malevolence to understand her strong heart, with more good tension with Anakin as they start to grow together.
We get Mandalorians on the scene ASAP for a new layer to Obi-Wan, the Domino Squad arc for new layers to the clones, and finally the lovely darkside conflict of Nightsisters ending with the hint of Maul.
My outstanding question here is what to do with the Domino arc. I could pepper it throughout, cluster it, or merge it with Ahsoka’s intro (like Smudger did). I think I am tempted towards peppering it, since it does feature time skips, and this way most of the episodes this ‘season’ are one or two parters until the Nightsisters finale, which I think makes it a bit more accessible.
‘Season’ Two - roughly the length of 10 original episodes
Storm Over Ryloth, Duchess of Mandalore, Holocron Crisis, Massacre, Bounty Hunters, Lightsaber Lost, Brothers
Ahsoka’s arc in this season is about her beginning to learn and grow. Again we lose the most frustrating episodes and moments, but we still see her mistakes (especially in Storm), and her actively paying attention to her lessons. By the end of this season, we’ve hit the point where the audience started to grow to really like her, with less of the abrasion and cringe of her earlier appearances, but hitting all of her most significant beats. She learns command, more compassion, how to teach, and patience.
We also get more Mandalorians, Sidious’ plan for force sensitive kids, more Sith infighting, the introduction of both Cad Bane and Hondo, and finally, the kickass return of Maul. Hopefully by this point the skeptic is now confident they’re in for a fun and worthy ride.
This season is the shortest, almost all one-parters, but again that gives you a good balanced and accessible bite of the show, and it gets us Maul’s return as quickly as you can without rushing, I think.
‘Season’ Three - roughly the length of 11 original episodes
Boba Fett arc, Corruption on Mandalore, Battle of Geonosis, Revival
Here we see Ahsoka’s relationship with Anakin solidify, and she starts to demonstrate solo competence. We see Boba Fett, essentially ticking off the final subject of interest if we’re fans of the Mando TV show, we get a huge cool land battle, and finally we see the Maul Bros discovered by Mandalorians, bringing us up to speed with that cold open and setting up the Mauldalore threat which will hover over the rest of the show.
‘Season’ Four - roughly the length of 10 original episodes
Heroes on Both Sides, Assassin, The Citadel arc, Trandoshan arc, The Deserter, Friend in Need, Eminence
Ahsoka and the audience get further shades of grey as we encounter Lux Bonteri, and she demonstrates boldness (as opposed to her earlier disobedience) and extreme solo competence and leadership. We get the introduction of Bo Katan and end on Maul really shaking up the underworld and building a power base.
It would be really nice to not show Obi-Wan in any of these episodes, since that way you could imply he’s been tracking Maul down exclusively since Revival, though I’m not sure if that’s doable or if you’d need to shift some episodes into and out of this season.
Here we get our first episode focusing on Rex’s relationship with orders. I’ll be cutting the traitor clone from the initial Christophsis arc because I think it’s not a good idea to have clones turn traitor (for cash, no less) right off the bat. I may return to that episode if I can later on, but it’s also got Ventress as Dooku’s pawn so I think you’d have to cut all that, leaving only ten minutes of meat. Anyway, this is a bit of a late placement for The Deserter, but that’s deliberate. Rex is a presence throughout this show, but his development comes in only three main episodes, so I opted to place them all later in the show so Rex only really ‘emerges’ as a character later, in the run up to Siege of Mandalore. The Deserter also has a B plot it doesn’t need - Obi-Wan versus Grievous AGAIN - so I’d like to cut it down too, but again, that only gives us ten minutes. These both may be candidates to intercut with other episodes; I know I’ve said ‘whatever the length’ is sensible but I feel like there’s a lower limit of diminishing returns.
‘Season’ Five - roughly the length of 11 original episodes
Kadavo arc, Rako Hardeen arc, Umbara arc, Shades of Reason
This is a fairly Ahsoka light season, but we’ve had a lot of her by now. Instead we get a focus on Anakin versus slavery, more layers to Obi-Wan, and Rex’s big challenge on Umbara. We end on Maul taking Mandalore.
Chunks start to get a little longer here, as we have more four-parters, though I’ll likely still cut them down fairly heavily so the pacing will likely remain similar to the prior seasons.
‘Season’ Six - roughly the length of 10 original episodes
Onderon arc, Jedi Younglings arc, Missing in Action, Overlords of Mortis, The Lawless
So. Two strong Ahsoka episodes - she’s first leading a rebellion, then training the next generation of Jedi. Then we have the Gregor episode of the Void arc, Mortis, and finally Sidious coming to Mandalore to put his house in order.
There’s a lot of editing to do here. Onderon I know I want to trim, Younglings will need some real attention (yet more Grievous and its tone is a bit wobbly), I’ve got to carve the Gregor plot out of the yucky Void arc, and I’d like Mortis to be more mystical and less overt. I might switch some of this with season five to better balance both - interested in opinions here. But the tone of this season definitely feels all over the place.
‘Season’ Seven - roughly the length of 14 original episodes
Ahsoka’s Fall, Scipio, Order 66, The Lost One, Son of Dathomir audiocomic
A little longer than the others, but I’ll be trimming Scipio and O66. But also, we’re in the endgame now. Maul and Ahsoka may be temporarily off the board here, but everything else is escalating very quickly, and we’re leaning into the upcoming tragegy before the rereturn of Maul.
Why Scipio this late? So, firstly, you may be aware that Scipio not only comes a little earlier in the official chronology, but it’s also often put even more early in fan chronologies. The reason for this being that it was originally planned that way, and has an earlier voice actor for Sidious plus implicitly puts some pressure on the war in a particular direction. However, I want to put it here, for what I think is a good reason: As it stands, we don’t see Anakin deal with the loss of Ahsoka. She left the order then the show got cancelled, and when it came back, we picked up closer to the end of the war. I feel like we need to pay off the growth of their relationship and see Anakin reacting to her loss. And there’s no explicit way to do that, but there is an implicit way. We use the Scipio episodes - where Anakin mistreats Padmé, beats up a rival for her affection, and ultimately lets his rival die. But, bonus, I’ll take the audio from the unfinished Utapau arc where Obi-Wan and Anakin discuss her, and play it over black at the start of each episode, as if these reflections on Ahsoka are in his mind as he violently lashes out during this issue with Padmé. I think that’s worth the cost of having it earlier.
‘Season’ Eight - roughly the length of 15 original episodes
The remainder of Yoda’s Quest, The Bad Batch, Martez Sisters, Siege of Mandalore.
The first three arcs will be trimmed to focus on the meat, and in Yoda’s case to keep his journey a bit more of a vision quest than so on the nose.
Again we feel Ahsoka’s absence, before her solo adventure and return. Anakin’s had time to patch things up with Padme, though acts cold bloodedly to a villain in Bad Batch. Then it’s a clean ride to the brilliant ending.
While this reorders things, I don’t think it breaks any established continuity (though I will of course check and welcome your input), except for thing I have to actively break: Ventress’ Bounty Hunter escapade. In this ordering, it can’t work where it originally fit. In terms of continuity, two things happen in that episode.
Firstly, Ventress, under Talzin’s guidance, has gone to find her own path, and ended up in a bar where she’s met some bounty hunters. She’s gone on this mission, and on it decided to ‘do the right thing’. In the original placement, she’s then - still as a bounty hunter - gone on to hunt Maul and Savage. However, I don’t think we need to see her choose to become a bounty hunter in order that when we see her and she’s a bounty hunter it makes sense. I think we can accept she’s fallen into bounty hunting without needing to explicitly see it.
Secondly, Boba is featured in this episode. Originally, the first time we see him he’s after Mace Windu (a good first thing to see him doing), then he’s broken out of prison accidentally by Rako Hardeen, then he’s a bounty hunter again in this episode. But in my new ordering, this appearance would be before the other two, which firstly doesn’t work from a story perspective, but also, it’s a different older character model. So it’s just not happening here.
Best solution for inclusion here would be to accept that Ventress became a bounty hunter offscreen in time for her to hunt Maul and Savage, then place this episode later in the chronology but modified to not have it be her first bounty hunt. But I think it should be cut altogether. In all of Boba’s other appearances he’s SUCH A BADASS, but in this episode he’s super soft. I know he’s just finding his feet, but in this he’s scaredy and uncertain, whereas in the other two episodes he’s firstly vengeful and calculating and then unafraid of instigating a prison brawl, both of which are far better ways of portraying him as a badass-to-be.
Other episodes not included
Right, just for reference:
Excluded because they’re actively painful to watch
Huttlet crisis arc, Supply Lines/Ambush, Downfall/Duel of the Droids, Bombad Jedi, Blue Shadow Virus, Sphere of Influence, the Ziro arc, the rest of Droids in the Void, the Disappeared
Excluded because they’re not important and they soften our focus (to be included in Complete Cut)
Cat and Mouse, Dooku Captured, crash on Maridun arc, Trespass, Zillo Beast, Grievous Intrigue, Mon Calamari arc (to be included in Continuity Cut also), Shadow Warrior, Mercy Mission, Bounty, Tartakovsky Nelvaan episode, Utapau arc, Tartakovsky Palpatine Kidnapping episode