Welcome back to The Women of Star Wars. Today, we’ll be looking at the journey of Ahsoka Tano based on what we know up to this point. Along with Captain Rex, Duchess Satine of Mandalore, Cad Bane, and more, Ahsoka was originally introduced in The Clone Wars. She was initially disliked by fans when they saw 2008’s Clone Wars movie, which presents her as an inexperienced youngling found by Master Plo Koon. Master Yoda assigns Anakin to train her in the hopes that teaching her the ways of the Jedi will help him find balance. Their relationship is an adversarial one at first, replete with sarcastic nicknames and back talking. However, in the intervening 12 years and across books as well as Clone Wars and Rebels, I think it’s safe to say Ahsoka has become the most beloved Star Wars character outside of the original trilogy. Ahsoka is tied with Leia for my favorite female Star Wars character, and she’s one of the main reasons I wanted to do this series. Leia was one of the icons of my childhood, and I never thought they’d be able to match her likable personality and commanding presence with another heroine. However, Ahsoka is one of the most well-developed Star Wars characters, period, and it’s even more impressive when you remember how she started out. This being said, let’s dig in.
Ahsoka first appeared in The Clone Wars the movie, a theatrical pilot to the now critically acclaimed Cartoon Network series. Skywalker reluctantly accepts her as his apprentice, and together with Obi-Wan, they take down a Separatist energy field. Ahsoka’s role in this military victory convinces Anakin of her potential, but he still doesn’t like the mouthy youngling. The two are then sent to rescue Jabba the Hutt’s son Rotta, while Obi-Wan heads to Tatooine to negotiate an alliance with Jabba. This mission leads to Ahsoka’s first run-in with Asajj Ventress, although it is Anakin who fights her. They ultimately realize that Count Dooku plans to frame the Jedi for the baby’s murder, and Padmé discovers that Jabba’s uncle Ziro planned the entire thing. On Tatooine, Anakin faces Dooku with a fake Rotta, while Ahsoka is tasked with delivering the real baby to Jabba’s palace. The movie doesn’t do Ahsoka any favors as a character; she’s a whiny, inexperienced, overconfident child, and they do little to compensate for this. The film itself isn’t very good at all, in fact. You could easily argue that, while the plot information and character introductions within are necessary to the overall story of the TV series, early episodes of the show better establish tone and character relationships. This is partially because the stories included in the film were never intended to be presented in this way; they’re essentially three episodes stapled together and sold as a movie. This is a lot like what Disney used to do with its direct-to-video sequels. They would occasionally be cobbled-together episodes of TV series that didn’t make it to broadcast. Basically, George Lucas watched some of the completed episodes and decided they were good enough for a theatrical release, so he got just that. The Clone Wars movie is essential viewing if you want to take the series in, but it’s important to keep in mind that it’s really three TV episodes put together, and not very good episodes compared to what was to come.
Ahsoka develops several important relationships throughout the series. While the most obvious is with Anakin and, by extension, Padmé, Ahsoka is also close to Master Plo Koon, the Jedi who found her at age 3 and brought her to the Jedi Temple. In season 1, episode 2, “Rising Malevolence,” we start to see a selfless bravery and caring nature in the young Padawan. The Separatists have a deadly new weapon and a command from Count Dooku not to leave any Republic survivors. As such, they begin destroying pods one by one, killing their inhabitants. One pod contains Master Plo Koon and his clones, led by Commander Wolffe, and Plo is determined to get them out alive. Ahsoka feels Master Plo through the Force and knows he is alive, insisting that she and Anakin stage a rescue mission. She pleads with the Council for permission to do so, a request that isn’t met with the resounding “yes” she’d hoped for. Anakin uses these events as a teaching tool, showing Ahsoka how he works around the Council to get his way without incurring their wrath. They do indeed rescue Master Plo and his men, and just in the nick of time. This ends up working to the advantage of the Jedi as a whole, as Plo and his troopers aid in the resulting attack on General Grievous’ ship The Malevolence, the source of the destruction.
Season 1, episode 9, “Cloak of Darkness,” finds Ahsoka with Jedi Master Luminara Unduli on the starship Tranquility, guarding Viceroy Gunray. This comes following the events of the previous episode, “Bombad Jedi,” in which he took Padmé Amidala prisoner on Rodia, for which he was arrested. Count Dooku dispatches Asajj Ventress to bust Gunray out, pairing Ahsoka with Master Unduli against a foe they just can’t beat. It’s also interesting to see Ahsoka working with Master Luminara because her fighting style and teaching methods are very different from that of Anakin. Despite being outmatched and afraid, Ahsoka disobeys Master Unduli’s order to be left alone to deal with Ventress, and ultimately saves the experienced Master’s life. Of course, Ahsoka’s bravery and stubbornness don’t prevent Asajj from escaping with the Viceroy. Still, without her swift actions, more lives would have been lost.
In season 1, episode 13, “Jedi Crash,” Ahsoka is stranded with Master Aayla Secura and an injured, unconscious Anakin on the planet of Maridun. Master Secura shows the Padawan the importance of respecting the beliefs of others when they meet a group of natives who refuse to get involved with the war. Ahsoka also learns that sometimes she can better help her Master if she is willing to leave his side to do so. In episode 17, “Blue Shadow Virus,” Ahsoka is willing, along with Padmé, to lay down her life in preventing the spread of an infectious disease. In the Ryloth story arc, Ahsoka is put in command of a squadron of clone troopers, most of whom die in enacting her battle strategies. This is a crucial point in Ahsoka’s character arc because she’s forced to face failure, her responsibility in the deaths of her own men, and the fact that she isn’t as smart as she thinks.
In the arc concerning the Second Battle of Geonosis, Ahsoka meets and works with Master Unduli’s own Padawan, Barriss Offee. The two younglings have wildly different styles, with Ahsoka more often than not winging it, while Barriss is more of a by-the-book kind of gal. When the two are trapped, and it seems as if their Masters have left them, it’s Ahsoka’s determination and quick thinking that saves both their lives. Their troubles don’t stop there, though; unbeknownst to the Padawans and clone troopers, Geonosian eggs manage to hitch a ride on their rescue transport. When hatched, the parasites climb inside organic beings Wrath of Khan-style and take control of their hosts. At first, it’s Barriss and Ahsoka against their own brain-washed clones, but before long, Barriss is infected, leaving Ahsoka to fend for herself. Ahsoka cleverly turns off the ship’s heat and freezes the parasites, which can’t function in the cold. Throughout the series, Ahsoka would also face off against bounty hunters, pirates, and her own emotions.
In season 3’s Mortis arc, she, along with Anakin and Obi-Wan, is pulled towards the titular planet as if by the Force itself. This arc focuses mainly on Anakin and his internal struggle, but we also see Ahsoka wrestle with the darkness within. And, I mean, she really faces her inner demons, not like Rey worrying that being related to someone is enough to make her evil or stupid things like that. The Son, one of three mystical beings known only as Force Wielders, tempts Ahsoka to the Dark Side by playing on her fears and insecurities. He uses her as a tool against Anakin, and eventually kills her when he no longer sees her as an asset. The Father seeks to control his Son and Daughter to maintain balance in the Force, but this is beyond his power. The Son attempts to kill him, but the Daughter jumps between them protectively. She saves the Father while breaking her brother’s heart, as she was “the only one [he] ever really loved.” The Daughter willingly gives the last of her life force to Ahsoka, channeled through Anakin. It’s really up for debate to what extent the Son and Daughter represent opposing sides of the Force, and whether killing her can really unbalance the entire galaxy, as the Father insists. However, following the events on Mortis, Ahsoka is frequently followed or represented by Morai, an owl who appears alongside the Daughter in many depictions. It’s unclear whether Morai is the Daughter’s spirit, or latches onto Ahsoka, who now contains that spirit and life force, or something completely different is going on. I would argue that the issue is clarified by the finale of Star Wars Rebels, which we’ll get to soon.
There are a lot of great episodes and arcs in The Clone Wars involving Ahsoka, and it would be difficult to discuss every single one. She learns valuable lessons and grows as a Jedi and a person consistently throughout the series, but for time reasons and so that we can get to Rebels, I want to focus on two more points. Episode 10 of season 3, “Heroes on Both Sides,” follows Padmé and Ahsoka on a secret mission to meet with Separatist Senator Mina Bonteri. This is one of many times when the series shows some of the Separatist perspectives, and we get to see that they aren’t all schemers like Dooku and Palpatine. Padmé seeks an end to the war, a mutual interest with her friend who belongs to the opposing faction. This is the first time Ahsoka really questions who the enemy is and what everyone is fighting for. As the audience, we see that the Republic isn’t as wonderful as it’s sometimes made out to be. This episode and the following story arc are also important because they introduce Ahsoka to Mina’s son Lux Bonteri. Ahsoka develops romantic feelings for the young man, further confusing the young Padawan. Ahsoka will again encounter Lux on his personal mission to Mandalore seeking revenge for his mother’s murder by Count Dooku. Ahsoka warns Lux about Death Watch and their self-interested tactics, but he doesn’t believe it until he sees them in action. The two work together one last time when Ahsoka is sent by the Jedi Council to train and provide aid to freedom fighters on Lux’s home planet of Onderon. There, Lux falls in love with Steela, sister of radical terrorist Saw Gerrera. This again clouds Ahsoka’s judgment as she finds it difficult to separate her feelings from her mission.
In the last few episodes of season five, the Jedi Temple on Coruscant is bombed, and Ahsoka is sent with her Master to investigate. They find the bomber dead, and his wife turns out to be tied to the crime as well. However, things get complicated when the widow asks Ahsoka to come speak with her in her cell. She’s killed in a way that looks like Ahsoka using the Force against her. As a result, the young Jedi is forced to go on the run to prove her innocence. Many of the Jedi Masters are quick to believe the youngling guilty of these acts of treason and murder, while Plo Koon and Anakin Skywalker believe in her innocence. Throughout her escapades, Ahsoka keeps in contact with Barriss, who encourages her and offers clues. She’s stalked and captured by Asajj Ventress, now a bounty hunter after her fall from the Sith and betrayal at the hands of Count Dooku. Ahsoka initially believes Asajj is the one who is framing her, but after hearing the details of the temple bombing and subsequent murders, Ahsoka’s former nemesis agrees to help her find the real culprit. They follow a clue from Barriss to an abandoned warehouse and part ways there, with Ahsoka promising to speak to the Council and Senate on Asajj’s behalf.
As she leaves the scene, Ventress is attacked and beaten by a hooded figure who steals her lightsabers and mask. Before long, the same individual attacks Ahsoka, who naturally believes it is Asajj. Ahsoka is beaten down and left in a pile of explosives and nano-droids exactly like the ones used to bomb the Temple. Masters Skywalker and Plo Koon soon arrive with their troopers and take the Padawan back to the Temple. Ahsoka is subsequently barred from the Jedi Order and released to Republic custody and judgment, which will likely result in execution. Anakin gets Padmé to represent Ahsoka in court while he goes on a mission to find the truth. At first, he believes Ahsoka’s claim that Ventress must be behind it all and attacks her. However, Asajj tells Anakin about Ahsoka’s secret communications with “someone named Barriss” who gave them the clue. She also informs him that someone stole her lightsabers after she parted ways with Ahsoka, and that person must be the real culprit. This leads Anakin to Barriss Offee’s quarters and, when he presses her on the issue and attacks her, she whips out Asajj’s red blades and one of the best lightsaber duels in the whole franchise breaks out. I guessed that Anakin would take Barriss in with the evidence and force a confession out of her. However, what comes after that floored me. The Jedi Council offers Ahsoka their apologies and suggests that this has been Ahsoka’s “great trial,” which will make her the truly great Jedi she couldn’t have been otherwise. They ask her to return to the order as Anakin’s Padawan, and in one of the show’s most heartbreaking scenes, she declines their offer, leaving her makeshift Padawan “braid” in her Master’s hand. I won’t spoil it here, but the ensuing musical cue and brief conversation between former Master and student are equally gutting.
As we don’t see Ahsoka in season 6 and have yet to see her in season 7, this brings us up to Rebels for the time being. All throughout season 1, Hera is seen and heard conversing with Fulcrum, a hologram concealed in shadow. Fulcrum offers the Ghost crew intel and advice, and Sabine in particular resents not knowing who Hera’s secret contact is. In the season 1 finale, “Fire Across the Galaxy,” Ahsoka is introduced to the crew and revealed as Fulcrum. She takes a more prominent, active role in season 2 as a part-time member of the Ghost crew. When Kanan and Ezra are beaten and run off one of their missions by Darth Vader, she senses a presence she hasn’t since the Clone Wars. She goes off alone to find answers to her questions and sends her cohorts to recruit an “old friend” who can help the Rebel cause. This leads to an emotional reunion between Ahsoka and Rex, Anakin’s clone trooper alongside whom she had fought many times. Ahsoka also joins Kanan, Ezra, and Zeb on a mission to save Force-sensitive babies from the Inquisitors and Darth Vader. This presents a truly badass sequence in which Ahsoka holds off two Inquisitors with her dual white lightsabers.
In “Twilight of the Apprentice,” the season’s two-part finale, Ahsoka, Kanan, and Ezra come face-to-face with three Inquisitors, Maul, and, ultimately, Darth Vader. The lightsaber battles in this two-parter are absolutely insane, and they escalate until the epic confrontation between Vader and his former apprentice. This is also where we get Ahsoka’s iconic line, “I am no Jedi,” in response to Vader taunting her for not behaving or thinking like one. Ahsoka pushes Ezra and Kanan out of the Sith temple on Malachor just before it closes, and the two leave safely. However, this finale ends on an ambiguous note with regards to Ezra’s orientation within the Force. More importantly for our purposes, Ahsoka’s safety and the outcome of her clash with her former Master are left uncertain.
In season 3, the Fulcrum title is taken on by another Rebel spy, and Ahsoka is only mentioned in regards to Ezra’s guilt over her “death.” However, we do see Morai flying over Ezra from time to time, as if keeping watch. In the season 4 episode “The World Between Worlds,” Ezra finds Ahsoka in the eponymous, enigmatic place. Being that time doesn’t really exist there, is this proof that she survived her Master’s blade? Finally, in the season 4 epilogue, we see Ahsoka enveloped in white and carrying a staff as she heads off with Sabine to find Ezra. I heard someone label this appearance “Ahsoka the White,” playing off of Gandalf the White, of course, and I like that a lot. Ahsoka’s garb and addition of a staff aren’t just a stylistic choice. This character has always been surrounded by symbolism, and after surviving the ultimate battle with Anakin and discovering the World between Worlds, Ahsoka is a very different person than the Jedi Padawan he met on Christophsis. She also sort of reminds me of the Daughter in this new look, which may be yet another indication of what she has become. As for Ahsoka’s voice speaking to Rey at the end of The Rise of Skywalker, well, if we even choose to acknowledge that steaming dung heap, I prefer to think of that in Dave Filoni’s way.
What else is there to say about Ahsoka? Probably a lot, and I can’t wait to see where this new season of The Clone Wars takes her. I also hope that rumors of a Rebels sequel series following her and Sabine searching for Ezra are true. There’s a reason Ahsoka has won over millions of Star War fans since 2008, and as proven by more recent Star Wars content, it’s not because she’s a girl. Ahsoka has had an incredible character arc, and I love that there are still so many places they can take her as a character. Ahsoka is smart, caring, loyal, and brave to a fault. But it’s equally important that we see her struggle and learn how to do things the hard way. For these reasons and more, Ahsoka is one of my absolute favorite Star Wars characters.
What do you think of Ahsoka? Do you have a favorite moment or quote from her? Let us know in the comments below!