There are two obvious options for watching the Star Wars saga.

So neither order really works. What to do?

Beyond this, Episode I establishes Anakin as a innocent little kid. But Episode II quickly establishes him as impulsive and power-hungry, which keeps his character consistent with eventually becoming Darth Vader. Obi-Wan never really seems to have any control over Anakin, struggling between treating him as a friend (their very first conversation together in Episode II) and treating him as an apprentice (their second conversation, with Padme). Anakin is never a carefree child yelling "yippee", he's a complex teenager nearly boiling over with rage in almost every scene. It makes much more sense for Anakin to have always been this way.

"Aren't parts of Episode I crucial pieces to the story?"

May the Force be with you, always.

Further, the very first versions of the original trilogy I saw were the Special Editions, because that's what was available on VHS at the local video store at the time. Han never shot first for me. A cartoon Jabba always talked to Han after Greedo, Jabba's palace has always had an extended dance number, and the entire galaxy (not just Ewoks) always celebrated the fall of the Empire, at least for me. I didn't see the "Despecialized" versions until years and years later, and so I can once again confidently say, with total objectivity, that they are better than the special editions. The improved special effects for Cloud City and some matte improvements are welcome, but otherwise the Special Editions make the movies worse.

This order also preserves all twists, and adds a new one (or rather, makes one more effective).

Qui-Gon is mentioned once in Episode II and once in Episode III. Luckily, both times he is mentioned, his relationship to the characters is restated, so it works. Dooku explains that Obi-Wan's "old master, Qui-Gon" was once Dooku's apprentice, and then in Episode III Yoda tells Obi-Wan that Qui-Gon has learned to communicate after death. It's alright, just a little weird.

"Doesn't Machete Order ruin the surprise that Emperor Palpatine can shoot lightning?"

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If you skip Episode I and go straight to II, all we ever see is that Count Dooku is leading a separatist movement, all on his own. Dooku tells Obi-Wan that the Senate is under the control of a Sith lord named "Darth Sidious", who we haven't seen at all yet. At the end of the movie, after Dooku flees from Geonosis, he meets with his "master", who turns out to be Darth Sidious. This is the first time we realize that the separatist movement is actually being controlled by Sidious, and it's so brief that it doesn't give the audience as much of a chance to realize he's Palpatine (remember, nobody has ever referred to "Emperor Palpatine" by this point in the series, he's only called The Emperor in Episode V).

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I kind of always thought the lightning wasn't a "Sith power" so much as something that Palpatine could do because he's so incredibly fucking evil. But no, the prequels make it clear this is just one of the video game powers you get by embracing the darkside, and they just do it willy nilly all over the place. Apparently you can just absorb it with a lightsaber if you have one handy, or without one if you're Yoda (hint to Luke, don't throw your lightsaber away, it has a +2 against Force Lightning!)

Star Wars Machete Order: Update and FAQ - No …

The only way to preserve this twist is to simply move Episode VI two movies earlier, which is effectively just Release Order (IV, V, VI, I, II, III). I like the lightning surprise a lot but I think overall it's worth giving it up in order to make the final confrontation between the Emperor, Vader, and Luke more enjoyable by watching II and III first.

‘Star Wars’ Han Solo Spinoff: Why Kathy Kennedy Fired …

With Machete Order, this surprise happens when Count Dooku just casually does it in Episode II. It's a real shame because it doesn't have the emotional or narrative impact here. I have no real defense for this, and I actually now consider it Machete Order's greatest flaw.