While it’s true Star Wars: The Force Awakens released on home video this week and fans are all freeze-framing Poe Dameron’s biting his lip and dissecting various deleted scenes, another massive Star Wars event has just occurred: the season two finale of Star Wars Rebels. While the two-part “Twilight of the Apprentice” pushed Ezra and Kanan into new, scary territory, the story of another character concluded. The story of Anakin Skywalker’s Jedi apprentice from The Clone Wars, Ahsoka Tano.
Back in roughly 2011, Star Wars.com debuted these hysterical “soundboards” where different buttons would produce out-of-context phrases from your favorite (and not-so favorite) Star Wars characters. Relentlessly, I used these noises to torment my office mates at Tor.com by pressing buttons at inappropriate times that produced Lando’s crescendoing laugh, Anakin bitching everything was “unfair,” and Wedge suggestively telling us to “look at the size of that thing!”
But, my favorite voice selections were easily Ahsoka Tano, mostly because no less than three of her phrases were her simply stating her name, albeit with different inflections. There was the cheerful “I’m Ahsoka Tano!” the sassy “The name’s Ahsoka Tano,” to a weird questioning, “I’m Ahsoka?” That one I think was the most telling because it’s as though voice-actor Ashley Eckstein was having the character wonder aloud if Ahsoka herself was relevant. While George Lucas takes credit for the existence of Ahsoka, it’s clear that exec producer Dave Filoni and other writers of both The Clone Wars and Rebels made her what she actually became. And now, with Ahsoka’s story seemingly at an end in the season two finale of Rebels, her relevancy has never been stronger.
I’ll admit, like many fans, I wasn’t initially sold on this wise-cracking Jedi who responded to the nickname “Snips.” In the movie version of The Clone Wars (which serves as a pilot for the TV show), Ahsoka was kind of annoying and felt like a character created by a marketing department at Lucasfilm to make the horrors of the Clone Wars “cute.” In fact, way back in 2010, I was completely anti-Clone Wars, even going so far as to publicly claim it was bad for young Star Wars fans.
I am far from being a hater of The Clone Wars these days and probably love it more than I love Rebels. Still, even back when I wasn’t crazy about The Clone Wars, I did find myself developing a growing admiration for Ahsoka. I was babysitting a lot back then and I could see the young boys who were into The Clone Wars being challenged by the existence of Ahsoka. Not only was she obviously a strong female, but she was more charming and more intelligent than Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. In the course of the show, Anakin even admits that he “forgets how young” she is because she’s just so damn talented.
A lot haters have thrown the term “Mary Sue,” around to disparage Rey or other cool sci-fi characters who seemingly come into a story and just magically have the ability to do impressive things in an established narrative—things that were supposedly reserved for other characters previously. Obviously, I don’t think Rey is a Mary Sue, nor do I think Ahsoka is either. But, I do think Ahsoka does represent one positive aspect of what one might associate with a Mary Sue character: she is in many ways a stand-in for the fans themselves.
What I mean is Ahsoka is the character who exists within the canon of the Star Wars prequel universe and seemingly doesn’t tolerate all of the bullshit associated with it. It’s almost like she’s the manifestation of a critique of the Prequel universe. Anakin was super unlikable in the actual Star Wars films, but through his friendship/mentorship/partnership with Ahsoka, he’s rendered a lot more likable. Roles for females not played by Natalie Portman are scarce in this version of the Star Wars universe, and Ahsoka obviously corrects that. She’s also not as gloomy and depressed as all the other Jedi are in the Prequels. Ashoka has a positive attitude coupled with a believable personality. In fact, her sense of right and wrong is so clear that she straight-up leaves the Jedi Order in the penultimate season of The Clone Wars because she feared the Order had compromised its position as a force for good in order to win a war.
One of the coolest lines in “Twilight of the Apprentice Part 2” is when Ahsoka declares almost proudly, “I’m no Jedi.” The Jedi in the Prequels are obviously the victims of systematic murder perpetrated against them by Darth Sidious and his conspiracy. But, the Jedi are also incompetent to a point where they’re hard to feel sorry for prior to said conspiracy unfolding. Most frustratingly, they’re rude to Qui-Gon Jinn, jerky with Obi-Wan, and straight-up push Anakin to the Dark Side. In The Clone Wars, Ahsoka gets fed up with this BS. When she is falsely accused of bombing the Jedi Temple, the Jedi totally screw her over. Most of this is because their bureaucratic power structure coupled with their stoic and detached attitudes. Ahsoka walking out on the Jedi in The Clone Wars and helping the Rebellion in Rebels is exactly what a regular person would do if they were thrust into the universe of Star Wars. Ahsoka is like Osgood on Doctor Who. She’s like you and me. AND she’s pretty great with not one, but two lightsabers.
She is also apparently good at making deals with Darth Vader. If you haven’t seen the episode yet, a cursory scan of the internet will make you believe that Ahsoka’s fate is “unclear.” That is nonsense! The episode clearly depicts her safely walking through the ruins of the trashed Sith Temple on Malachor right after dueling to the death with Darth Vader. The bottom line here is clear: Vader could have killed her, but didn’t. Ahsoka could have killed him but didn’t. Not all heroes can conquer the bad things that happen to them. Sometimes the only sensible thing to do is to simply walk away. And in turning her back on conflicts no regular or good person could hope to solve, Ahsoka has walked in another direction: straight into the hearts and minds of Star Wars fans and possibly the best and most realistic Star Wars character ever.
Obi-Wan stayed with Luke because he became a pesky ghost. The memory of Han Solo will live on in some younger actor playing the character in a stand-alone movie. But we’ll always love Ahsoka Tano because of her bravery to get real about the awful situations she tolerated. All of her friends turned into jerks and the galaxy she loved betrayed her. But, Ahoska isn’t bitter about it. She just keeps on walking.