Tales of the Jedi was released today, giving us a series of six animated shorts centered around two Jedi who leave the Order: Ahsoka Tano and Count Dooku. This will be part two of two in my review of Tales of the Jedi, as this will focus on the three episodes about Ahsoka. To read my review of the three episodes about Dooku, head here.
Ahsoka is the focus of three episodes: “Episode 1: Life and Death,” “Episode 5: Practice Makes Perfect,” and “Episode 6: Resolve.” Let’s dive in to our review! Full spoilers are ahead.
The first episode introduces us to Ahsoka as a baby, with her mom and dad caring for her on her homeworld of Shili. When she is one year old, as per a ritual, Ahsoka’s mom takes her on a hunt for a kybuck. She kills the animal and gets food to feed the tribe, but only takes what they need and nothing more. In this, Ahsoka is introduced to both life and death at an early age. But a big cat-like predator then approaches, and after Ahsoka’s mom tries fighting it off, the cat takes Ahsoka. But Ahsoka uses the Force to connect with the animal, who then brings her back to the village. Afterward, the village elder says that Ahsoka is Jedi.
The second episode jumps forward many years to Ahsoka training in the Jedi Temple very early in the Clone Wars. While many Jedi masters watch (and even another padawan, Caleb Dume), Ahsoka faces off against training probes designed to mimic battle droids. Anakin is frustrated with this training and sets up a more rigorous course instead, having Ahsoka face off against the 50st. This training continues on throughout the Clone Wars, with the Jedi growing more and more adept at countering the attacks. The episode ends in the wake of Order 66, as Rex and Ahsoka walk out to confront the clones who have turned on them, and Rex tells her, “let’s hope all that training paid off.”
The third episode is set after Revenge of the Sith, and picks up on Naboo where a disguised Ahsoka attends Padmé’s funeral. Bail Organa speaks with her and tries to recruit her to keep fighting, but Ahsoka declines. He gives her a comlink by which she can contact him when ready. She heads to a remote planet where she works with a group of farmers, but one day she uses the Force to save one of the others from an accident. This outs her as a Jedi, and another member of the village turns her in. An Inquisitor shows up and destroys the whole village, killing all but two members, but Ahsoka confronts the Inquisitor and kills him. Knowing that they can’t stay there, she contacts Bail Organa, who gives the survivors a ride off-planet. Ahsoka is ready to get back into the fight.
These episodes were enjoyable and good, though they did take a back seat to the Dooku episodes for me. I think a large part of the reason why is because we’ve already had a ton of Ahsoka stories in formats like this, whereas with Dooku it felt far more fresh and intriguing. But that is certainly not to suggest that these episodes weren’t entertaining enough in their own right, and thematically connected and thought-provoking.
We’re introduced to Ahsoka’s family, and though she would mostly grow up on Coruscant at the Jedi Temple after Plo Koon found her, we see her as a baby here. It’s cool to see their homeworld and customs, and it teaches Ahsoka – and us – the value of life. It stands in contrast to the episodes about Dooku, and I wonder if that’s the reason this one was placed before the episodes about the Count. In those episodes, there is considerable loss of life, and even though Dooku’s aims are noble, it stands in contrast with the attitude of Ahsoka’s mom, who says that they take only what they need and nothing more. I thought that the themes in the episode were great, and seeing a new side of Ahsoka’s life was great, but overall I found it to be the weakest episode.
I really enjoyed the second episode, though it was also quite simple. It shows us Anakin training his padawan, and that was a nice touch, because most of the training we saw of Ahsoka in The Clone Wars was “on-the-job” training in battle, not in environments like this. She trains against the 501st, and it’s awesome how it connects back to the way Ahsoka survived Order 66. In other words, Anakin was literally preparing Ahsoka (unknowingly) to survive the attack of the clones that was coming. It adds depth to the Siege of Mandalore arc, and though it’s depth that wasn’t necessary, it’s still quite cool.
The final episode includes the most stuff to talk about. Let’s start with the fact that Ahsoka was present at Padmé’s funeral, which I love. And when she explains why to Bail, wanting to be there because they were friends, it’s a gut-punch. It’s awesome to have Ashley Eckstein back as Ahsoka, and the line is a great one. It also adds even more depth to Ahsoka’s line in The Book of Boba Fett about being “a friend of the family,” as she wasn’t just friends with Anakin, but with Padmé too. It’s cool to see Bail Organa already trying to recruit her to the rebellion, and to see how that winds up happening on-screen. And the fight against the Inquisitor was epic (as was the Inquisitor’s design), thanks in large part to Kevin Kiner’s fantastic score.
Of course, those moments do create a bit of a problem, however: they contradict moments from the Ahsoka novel by E.K. Johnston. I think there’s probably some ways to work through the Inquisitor differences and reconcile them (though they aren’t exactly the same), but the part about Bail recruiting her is definitely different. But this isn’t the first time that the novel is contradicted by something on-screen, as the Siege of Mandalore did it as well (though the moments in the book were more minor there than here). But with all of this, it has some fans online upset and soured toward Tales of the Jedi as a whole because of the retcons. And it is unfortunate that there have been such changes made, but at the same time I think that Star Wars fans, by and large, make far too big of a deal about retcons than are necessary. The books should fit in well with the shows and films, ideally, but it’s been the case in this saga from the very beginning that the films (and later the shows) take precedence, and I think the aim there should be to try to tell the best story possible while respecting the stories that have come before. And particularly here, I think Dave Filoni has more of a right to do that with the stories that he started and the characters that he created than other storytellers might. Nonetheless, it’s been a longstanding method of Star Wars storytelling to do something on-screen that looks to contradict a book, and then leave it up to future material to clarify how it can actually fit together. I’m sure there will be efforts made to do that here as well.
So I totally understand why fans would be disappointed with things from the novel being changed (and I’m admittedly not as huge of a fan of the book to begin with, so that’s probably feeding into my thoughts here as well), but it’s a shame that wondering how it fits in on a wookiepedia page keeps some fans from enjoying what we’re seeing on-screen. Canon is important, and as someone who tries to read and pay attention to everything that comes out, it is incredibly rewarding when we see it fit together. I think it’s fair to criticize the show for how it changes it, but it didn’t keep me from enjoying these episodes.
Because overall, I did enjoy them! They didn’t reach the same heights as the Dooku ones did, but that’s probably more because of our familiarity with Ahsoka than anything else. But I do think that it makes sense to have Ahsoka as a part of this series: she’ll be a major figure in the live-action Star Wars storytelling moving forward, and these short episodes give more ways for fans to get to know her. Then with Dooku, there’s expanded stories that are new that catch even those already familiar with Ahsoka. And my hope is that, by starting with two established figures like this, they’re paving the way for more potential stories about different Jedi, even in different eras. I would love that. As it is, though, these episodes focus on the two most prominent Jedi to leave the Order, and what happened to them after they left. They both grew disillusioned with the Jedi, but one turned to the dark side while the other remained true to the light.