The Mandalorian Season 2: Ahsoka Tano’s Return Explained

The return of Ahsoka Tano, played by Rosario Dawson, on The Mandalorian season 2 brings with it big implications for the future of the show and the Star Wars universe.

The Mandalorian Ahsoka Tano
Photo: Lucasfilm

This Star Wars article contains spoilers.

Just hours after Ahsoka Tano had returned to the small screen in the final season of The Clone Wars, Variety confirmed one of the biggest Star Wars rumors circulating the internet: that Rosario Dawson would play Ahsoka in the live-action series The Mandalorian, bringing the Jedi out of the realm of animation for the first time.  

Ahsoka, Anakin Skywalker’s apprentice who left the Jedi Order just in time to escape the Jedi Purge, was herself a much-discussed addition to the story of the Prequels. Introduced in 2008 as the break-out star of the animated movie Star Wars: The Clone Wars, fans watched her grow up in The Clone Wars series and later watched her come face to face with her former master in Rebels.

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In Chapter 13 of The Mandalorian, an episode appropriately titled “The Jedi,” Ahsoka finally makes her live action-action debut, bringing with her an air of mystery, some new developments regarding her current quest, and some answers about Baby Yoda’s past. Here’s what you need to know about Ahsoka’s return on The Mandalorian:

Where Has Ahsoka Been Since Rebels?

Ahsoka’s story stretches through most of the Star Wars saga. She debuted in the Prequel era as a young Jedi padawan and re-emerged as a friend to the Rebel Alliance in the years before A New Hope. In Rebels season 2, she confronted her old mentor and discovered Darth Vader’s true identity was Anakin Skywalker.

In The Clone Wars and the novel Ahsoka, she tries to find her place as an ex-Jedi at a time when most Force users are being hunted down. We don’t get to see her adventures in the years between the fall of the Republic and the rise of the Rebellion, but by her debut on Rebels, she’s become a confident and powerful Jedi Master in every way except in title.

At the end of Rebels, after the Battle of Endor, Ahsoka sets out on a new journey to look for Jedi apprentice Ezra Bridger, who jumped to hyperspace to parts unknown before A New Hope. But why wasn’t she around to help Luke during the Galactic Civil War? She was stuck on the ancient Sith planet of Malachor, unable to escape for years before she finally found a way off the dead planet. (Yes, it’s a little convoluted but it gets Ahsoka from point A to B on the timeline.)

The Mandalorian, which takes place approximately five years after Return of the Jedi, confirms that Ahsoka is still searching for Ezra, and maybe she’s getting closer to finding him. “The Jedi” hints that Ahsoka has finally learned the location of Imperial Grand Admiral Thrawn, the villain who disappeared alongside Ezra so many years ago. Whether we’ll see her search for Ezra continue on this show or in her own spin-off remains to be seen.

How Old Is Ahsoka Tano?

The Mandalorian gives us the oldest version of Ahsoka that we’ve seen on screen. Wookieepedia says she was born in 36 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin), making her about 45 at the time of The Mandalorian. Dawson herself turned 41 in May.

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Ahsoka’s Connection to the Rebellion and Mandalore

Ahsoka was a major operative for the Rebellion in its infancy. In fact, Ahsoka was the first “Fulcrum,” the spy codename Cassian Andor would later use in Rogue One. This means that she could have a connection to at least one of the ex-Rebel characters on The Mandalorian.

The character most closely connected to the Rebellion on The Mandalorian is Cara Dune, who left her years of service as a Rebel shock trooper behind after she became disillusioned with the New Republic, the government formed out of the Rebellion after the Emperor’s defeat. The Star Wars saga has long been a story of connections and coincidences, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Cara and Ahsoka knew each other from their days fighting the Empire. Either way, we don’t get to find out in Ahsoka’s debut.

She also has a major connection to the Mandalorians themselves. At the Siege of Mandalore, she helped liberate the planet from Maul, which opened up a power vacuum the Republic filled. But since the Republic became the Empire almost immediately after that, Mandalore was promptly subjugated by a different tyrant.

Ahsoka’s victory on Mandalore inadvertently handed Palpatine the planet, which led to the Empire committing a “Great Purge” against the Mandalorians, who were forced to go into hiding across the galaxy after that. The Jedi’s participation in the Siege of Mandalore that led to the deaths of so many could eventually put Mando at odds with Ahsoka, but this again isn’t explored in “The Jedi.”

The Jedi and Baby Yoda

It was never necessarily a fact that Ahsoka would take Baby Yoda, who we now know is actually named Grogu, under her wing. And ultimately, she doesn’t after sensing a strong bond between Mando and the Child that she doesn’t want to break. She knows from experience that strong attachments can lead to fear and anger, which are paths to the dark side. Ahsoka saw this first hand with her former master, whose separation from his mother and quest to save Padme eventually turned him into Darth Vader.

Instead, she sets Grogu on a path to make his own decision. Ahsoka tells Mando to take the child to Tython, the ancient Jedi planet that is a particularly strong conduit for the Force. Once Mando and Grogu reach the ruins of the Jedi temple there, Grogu must make a choice: to reach out with the Force to contact another Jedi who might train him or stay with Mando as a galactic wanderer.

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“The Jedi” seems to make a clear distinction between Mando and Grogu’s journey and Ahsoka’s search for Ezra. These are separate missions and the episode doesn’t really blur the lines, placing a literal wall between Mando’s duel with Michael Biehn’s Lang and Ahsoka’s interrogation of the Imperial magistrate who knows where Grand Admiral Thrawn is. It’s possible the episode is actually a backdoor pilot for Ahsoka’s own spin-off series, although nothing has been formally announced by Disney. For now, The Mandalorian gives us just enough to satisfy both fans of Baby Yoda and those who grew up watching Ahsoka on The Clone Wars.

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