Welcome to round two of Blogging From A to Z: Fictional Characters. Apologies in advance: while I have every intention of drawing from the full array of fandoms and pop culture properties I enjoy, there’s a significant chance that this is going to be a whole lot of Star Wars. NOTE: there will be spoilers for all of the movies as well as the animated series, including the recently concluded Star Wars Rebels. SO MANY SPOILERS.
So, buckle in. Prepare for light-speed. Here. We. Go.
I have Issues with the Prequel Trilogy*, not the least of which is we never really got to explore just how Anakin Skywalker made the transition from adorable, tow-headed moppet to Samurai Robot/Force Choking Champion Darth Vader. Enter the surprisingly** brilliant animated series The Clone Wars***.
It launched with a theatrical release (really, three episodes of the television series stitched together) that gave – wait for it – A PADAWAN LEARNER to Anakin Skywalker. And suddenly, over the course of five seasons, I came to care about him. I understood him. He was still a glorious human disaster, but I got to see how he changed, how he feared, how he loved. And it all started with Ahsoka Tano. Sent as a fourteen year old (!!!) in a questionable costume to the battlefield of Christophsis, Ahsoka was the padwawn Anankin neither requested nor wanted.
Yoda figured giving The Chosen One a student would be a great way to teach him about releasing attachments. Nice job, short stuff! I’m sure that’s going to work out just fine. Anakin and Ahsoka butted heads, they snarked, and they ultimately found a way to work together. Though the fandom bristled (she’s annoying!) and nitpicked (but she isn’t in the movies!), George Lucas had spoken. Skyguy and Snips were born.
While quite capable, Ahsoka was overconfident (but also: 14. Years. Old. And given the rank and responsibility of Commander. WTF, Jedi Council? Yeah, sure: shadow of the Dark Side, machinations of Sidious. Still seriously uncool). She made big mistakes. On her first command, she ignored orders and lost most of her squadron. She snuck onto missions. She complained. She chose poorly.
And yet… she grew. She learned. She was good for Anakin – he learned to take a breath, to think of his student, to rein in his wildest impulses. He was good for her – she learned to balance order and instinct, to use her emotion wisely, to look to others even as she looked to take down those arrayed against her. She got a better costume. She was drawn to jar’kai. He encouraged her.
She learned from Jocasta Nu, from Padme Amidala, from Plo Koon, from Chewie, from Hondo Freakin’ Ohnaka. Let us not forget that this is the girl who went from ‘bound and on her knees’ to ‘decapitating four Death Watch Mandalorians in an single stroke’.
Enjoy this moment from a kids’ show for kids. Also, I love her SO FREAKING MUCH.
But when she was betrayed by the Order itself, it was Anakin (and Obi Wan, because Ahsoka most certainly had two dads) who had readied her.
She made the most difficult, heartbreaking decision. She walked away.
Click through for the full scene, and composer Kevin Kiner’s BRILLIANT Ahsoka Theme (starts about 1:25).
In the real world, Disney bought Star Wars. The Clone Wars never got its finale. But Ahsoka, once an annoyance and now a rightful fan favorite, lived on.
She slogged along, heartbroken, after Order 66. Living every single day ‘cause that’s what you do, even though every single light in the Force had been extinguished. She found purpose in helping Bail Organa build the Rebellion. She created Fulcrum. She forged new, pure white lightsabers. She continued to rail against the darkness, even as she found moments of light.
She came to realize, heartbreakingly, what Anakin had become. She fought him, reached out to him, sacrificed herself when it came clear he was too far gone (until much later, when his son was able to connect him to the Light once more).
And then, she was drawn back. There was more to do. Her final stories are yet to be told.
From the awkward fourteen year old, thrust into war and cheekily nicknaming everyone to the cheerful badass to the kyber-bright heart of the Rebellion, there is no character in all of Star Wars that speaks more to me than Ahsoka Tano. May the Force be with you, always.
* I’ve come around in the past few years, but still… not the greatest.
** so speaketh the disillusioned Kelly of years past
*** You know what? I’m going to stop here. My thoughts about the series as a whole need their own blog posts. Maybe a podcast. Maybe a puppet show. I HAVE FEELINGS is what I’m saying.