As American Horror Stories, Marvel’s What…If?, and Star Wars: Visions have taught us, anthology shows can be a great format with which to experiment with storytelling styles or explore lesser visited corners of a popular universe. And after the success of its riveting anime anthology, the galaxy far, far away is back with more bitesize adventures. Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi promised to revisit the sometimes maligned Prequel Trilogy, and with the first six episodes out, it’s already proved to be a whistlestop of Lucas lore.
Whether it’s the adorable Baby Ahsoka or getting Liam Neeson back as Qui-Gon Jinn, Tales of the Jedi is a big win for this pseudo-prequel to The Clone Wars. And there’s one moment in particular that fans will be talking about long after they’ve finished these short films. The animated anthology brings back a forgotten prequels character…only to kill them off in brutal style. Get ready, #JusticeforYaddle is sure to start trending online.
For those who need a refresher, Yaddle was a Jedi Master who sat on the Jedi High Council during the last years of the Galactic Republic. What makes Yaddle stand out from the likes of Ki-Adi-Mundi is the fact she was effectively a female version of Yoda. Originally created as a sketch for young Yoda by concept artist Iain McCaig, Yaddle became a fully-realized fan-favorite of her own. But it must’ve come across as a cheap gimmick to fans in 1999, because after her debut in The Phantom Menace, we never saw Yaddle again.
Tales of the Jedi’s fourth episode is set during the events of The Phantom Menace, while running alongside Qui-Gon’s discovery of the Sith and his eventual death at the hands of Darth Maul in the year 32 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin). Unfortunately, another great Jedi died that year without us even knowing it. In “The Sith Lord,” we see the softer side of Count Dooku, who was played by Christopher Lee in live-action and is voiced by Corey Burton here. With Dooku being Qui-Gon’s former master, we explore the relationship between the pair and learn Dooku is a close friend of Yaddle. But undercutting their friendship is the fact that Dooku is falling to the dark side and being enticed by the Sith.
When a suspicious Yaddle trails the untrustworthy Dooku, she confronts him and the two have a showdown (complete with some “Duel of the Fates”-inspired music) that mirrors Dooku’s future fight with Yoda in Attack of the Clones. An exhausted Yaddle pleads for Dooku to come back to the light side of the Force. But when Palpatine tells Dooku, “Do you want to prove your loyalty? Kill her,” Tales of the Jedi seals Yaddle’s fate. Darth Tyranus cuts her down with all of his hatred. It’s a tragic end for yet another Prequel Trilogy legend.
The episode also confirms that Yaddle resigned from the Jedi High Council because she disagreed with its tyrannical ways, which explains why she’s replaced by Master Shaak Ti and didn’t appear in the movies beyond The Phantom Menace. In reality, the character likely raised more questions than answers and was sidelined to the puppet department to keep the focus on Yoda.
Although modern Star Wars has done a great job of adapting defunct Legends canon like Boba Fett’s escape from the Sarlacc Pit, Yaddle’s death in the old continuity plays out very differently. Revealed in 2003 YA novel Jedi Quest: The Shadow Trap, Yaddle dies at the age of 48, absorbing a bioweapon while accompanying Anakin and Obi-Wan on a mission to Mawan. Revamping her death for something more dramatic with Dooku makes sense, but given that she spoke the same way as Yoda in Legends, there’s a second change that will turn out to be too much for some Star Wars canon purists. Namely, a lot of fans are confused as to why Yaddle speaks “normally.”
Yaddle is voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard, who is a big deal in Star Wars, having directed episodes of The Mandalorian and arguably the best one of The Book of Boba Fett. The character didn’t have a speaking part in The Phantom Menace, however, most assumed she’d talk with the same riddle tones that have made Yoda famous for the past 42 years. We should’ve expected Howard’s normal voice, as 2021’s canon novel The High Republic: Out of the Shadows featured Yaddle speaking like any other Jedi. Thankfully, creator Dave Filoni has shed some light on why the change to Yaddle’s diction was made for Disney canon.
Filoni told Nerdist that when Howard asked about Yaddle’s voice, he said, “Does she speak backwards? I’m like, ‘No, I don’t think so. I think that’s a Yoda thing’…Frank Oz told me once that Yoda speaks that way specifically in honor of his own master. That was what he had thought about it. I try to keep moving forward these thoughts.” Legends established a serpentine Jedi named N’Kata Del Gormo as Yoda’s master, although the Hysalrian’s diction was never explored in any Legends stories, so it’s not clear how Yoda ultimately ended up developing his unique turn of phrase.
Vocal confusion aside, you might remember those wild theories that Yoda and Yaddle did the dirty, and that’s what led to Grogu. Following her death in Tales of the Jedi, it looks like that’s another tinfoil idea we’ll have to park alongside Jar Jar Binks being a Sith. For now, Yaddle is just another name etched onto the Jedi Council’s “in memoriam” wall, as Filoni wraps up another longstanding Star Wars mystery.
Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi is streaming now on Disney+.