Star Wars: The Clone Wars has a fan favorite returning in one of its most promising story arcs. Since Clone Wars release in 2008, Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) overcame some chilly reception and made a meaningful debut as the first onscreen female Jedi of prominence—meaning that she isn’t a background female Jedi and has centrality in the story. Overall, the risk to give Anakin Skywalker a young apprentice who discovers her autonomy ended up enriching the Star Wars universe in a major way.

When Clone Wars was canceled in 2014, fans were deprived of a chance to see how Ahsoka dealt with post-Jedi life when she descended the steps of the Jedi Temple. Now that Clone Wars has revived a planned arc in its final season, seeing Ahsoka again is worth the five-year wait.

True to the opening epigraph “If there is no path before you, create your own,” Ahsoka is forging her independence with little creds. After leaving the Jedi Order and her Master Anakin Skywalker due to false treason charges, she is on her own on the skyline of Coruscant. While on a ride, her airspeeder malfunctions and plunges her down a Coruscant hole into the deeper levels. She happens to crash land on a garage of the mechanic and aspiring pilot Trace Martez (Brigitte Kali), a causal young dreamer who immediately clocks in a kindred spirit in Ahsoka and takes her in. Ahsoka finds that Trace works under her elder sister Rafa (Elizabeth Rodriguez), who is starting an unscrupulous business.

Concealing her Jedihood, Ahsoka drinks in a corner of Coruscant civilian life kept from her Temple education. Ahsoka’s mechanical education at the Order and on the battlefield has shaped her and granted her some advantages in surviving. Now her work with droids has been transformed into more mundane tasks. From Trace’s mouth, Ahsoka also hears out an unsavory perspective on the Jedi Order that raised her, with Trace sharing the common (in-universe and perhaps meta) criticisms of the Jedi Order: Are they really “peacekeepers” by participating in the war? This is one of Clone Wars most effective demythologization of the Jedi because of its singular focus on the lower-class civilians impacted by institutional limits, rather than just scratching the surface or merely backdropping the skepticism of the Jedi Order.  

Rafa and Trace’s sisterhood is also a fascinating portrait of something we don’t often see in this world. Rafa is her sister’s boss and but she is not unreceptive to her sister’s criticism and her restrictiveness comes from a place of protectiveness. Ahsoka and the audience can clock in Rafa’s questionable business ethics, while also seeing her sincerity at being a provider. Even though Ahsoka is our point of view, little gestures indicate Rafa clocking in our audience surrogate with understanding skepticism since she has to navigate the world with hardscrabble means.

These class-motivated conflicts fuel the episode’s third act when Rafa and Ahsoka discover their first paying clients’ droids have a destructive potential—Ahsoka first recalls their destructive history due to her firsthand experience—leading to a rogue robot chase. Despite the huge demonstration of the droid’s destructive tendencies around the neighborhood, Rafa still takes the clients’ money and hands over the droids. Morals for her doesn’t pay the bills to keep the bullying debtors away.

Written by Dave Filoni and Charles Murray and directed by Saul Ruiz and Kyle Dunlevy, this episode might feel like its class themes were well rehearsed in Filoni’s recently ended Star Wars Resistance. Ahsoka is shaped by the Jedi heritage she left behind, as Trace and Rafa are hardened by hardscrabble lives. It’s nothing new to observe how the shady pay the downtrodden for their labor, and the downtrodden forgo ethics simply because they see no other option. The humanities, resilience, and frailties of Trace and Rafa have integrity to their upbringing.

The sisterhood between Trace and Rafa is real, plenty in thanks to their convincing interaction and Kali and Rodriguez’s chemistry. Ahsoka and Rafa’s immediate and developing rapport contrasts nicely with the former’s botched friendship with Barris Offee, who is never explicitly referenced, but the chasm that Trace fills for Ahsoka at the end reminds us how Ahsoka was impacted by the betrayal and has never been around trust and warmth. We know Ahsoka’s stay won’t last, but this new companionship is a much deserved respite for Ahsoka.

Tidbits

  • Hey Bobby Moynihan voices Pintu!
  • It’s nitpicky, but I had to squint to be convinced that Rafa’s bruise was immediately visible to her sister. Perhaps the animation model couldn’t afford to go far?
  • Ahsoka getting a mechanic jumpsuit is a bump up from her original outfits, which included a tube top and outfit with a boob window. Remember how George Lucas decided to put her, a 14-year-old girl, in a revealing tube top according to The Clone Wars art book?
  • For those who read E.K. Johnson’s Ahsoka novel, you know that a female character, Kaeden, displayed an attraction to Ahsoka. And because there is a tendency to be conservative with depicting queerness in leading characters—Doctor Aphra is one exception—the book never makes it clear if Ahsoka felt the same way although awkwardness is evident. In old Clone Wars renderings, the writers partnered Ahsoka with a guy instead of Trace. It was a worthy change to give Ahsoka Tano a female companion, and I can attest that previews have been fueling some shippers who headcanon Ahsoka as queer.
  • Now Ahsoka can be considered the first forefront onscreen female Jedi, if you don’t count Shaak Ti, the proto-Ahsoka of the 2003 proto-canon Clone Wars created by Genndy Tartakovsky.
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