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            ‘The Clone Wars’ Ahsoka Tano: The Journey of Anakin Skywalker’s Padawan So Far

            Donna Dickens
            TV Movies
            TV Movies Streaming Disney Star Wars

            Outside of those who were introduced in the live-action films, it’s arguable that no Star Wars character is more well-loved than Ahsoka Tano. Created by George Lucas for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the Torgruta from Shili has had an outsized effect on events in a galaxy far, far away. From her time as a Padawan at the Jedi Temple, all the way through her crucial role in forming the Rebel Alliance, Ahsoka has grown from a stubborn teenager to a prototype for what the Jedi might look like in a post-First Order universe.

            Introduced in The Clone Wars animated feature film in 2008, Ahsoka has been around for over a decade now. She was featured in most of The Clone Wars’ run, has had her own novel, and became an important character in the narrative of Star Wars Rebels. Her voice (as always, played by Ashley Eckstein) is even one of the Jedi that calls out to Rey through space and time during the climactic battle of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Now, with The Clone Wars returning for a seventh and final season on Disney+, Ahsoka has the potential to be introduced to a whole new audience. So whether you just heard of Padawan Tano today or have been a fan for years, here’s a refresher on the most important moments in her life story so far, including what we already know about how the Clone Wars ended for her and what happened afterward.

            THE JEDI YOUNGLING

            Since Star Wars follows the story of the Jedi and the Sith, it can be difficult to remember they make up a tiny fraction of the galaxy’s population. At their high point before the rise of Darth Sidious and the Empire, the Jedi Order numbered around 10,000 members. For perspective, during the same time period, the galaxy’s total population of sentient beings numbered around 100 quadrillion, spread across 3.2 million habitable star systems. Most beings in the galaxy lived and died without ever seeing a Jedi Knight, making it easier to see how they passed into myth quickly after Order 66.

            Most Jedi came to the Temple on Coruscant as infants or toddlers. The Jedi kept meticulous records, encoded into holocrons, about potential Force-sensitive children across the galaxy. But they weren’t the only ones interested in these children. Ahsoka Tano was one example of this. When the 3-year-old Tano began to exhibit signs of Force potential, her people were elated. Ahsoka’s power was a cause for celebration and they eagerly awaited the arrival of the Jedi to test her. Jedi Master Plo Kloon was sent to observe and retrieve young Ahsoka. He almost lost her to an impostor though — a slaver pretending to be a Jedi who would have no doubt sold the young Torgruta to a proponent of the Dark Side. Plo Kloon thwarted that attempt, forever endearing himself to the Ahsoka, who would harbor a love for him for the rest of her life. Despite the Jedi Code to reject attachment, Master Plo Kloon reciprocated with a parental-like affection for Ahsoka, as would become evident during later events.

            JEDI RAISING JEDI

            The next eleven years of Ahsoka’s life are still shrouded in mystery. One can assume she spent her childhood as most Jedi Padawans did; ensconced in the Temple learning the ways of the Force and the code of the Order. At the age of fourteen, Ahsoka’s life veered from the traditional Jedi path, as the war between the Republic and the Separatists caused a breakdown in norms. In times of peace, a youngling like Ahsoka would have had a Jedi Knight or Jedi Master choose her as their Padawan.

            Instead, Grand Master Yoda handpicked Ahsoka to become the Padawan of Jedi Anakin Skywalker. This was unusual, not only because Anakin didn’t choose her, but because Anakin himself had only recently been granted the rank of Jedi Knight. Usually, Jedi spent several years in their new status before taking on the responsibility of teaching. So much so that when Ahsoka first landed on the battle-stricken planet of Christophsis, Obi-Wan Kenobi, who previously had Anakin as his Padawan, assumed Yoda had sent him a new apprentice.

            Ahsoka was an excellent foil for Anakin though: impulsive, headstrong, and reckless, she would not have thrived under the tutelage of a more traditional Master Jedi. But her compatibility with Anakin also meant their bond became far deeper than teacher/student; something closer akin to parent/child or siblings (if one was far older and granted custody of the younger). Yoda’s hope that a Padawan would temper Anakin’s wild behavior and help him grow emotionally to make smarter decisions in order to protect his charge did come to pass. But Yoda’s belief that Ahsoka would help Anakin learn how to let go of his fear of losing loved ones was a massive miscalculation. As the relationship between the two deepened over the course of The Clone Wars, it became obvious that Anakin would lose it if anything ever happened to his not-child.

            INNOCENT QUESTIONS

            After several misadventures, Ahsoka’s first real test as a Padawan in the field was in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Quell. A mistimed hyperspace jump landed Anakin, Ahsoka, Jedi Master Aayla Secura, and their Clone Troopers on the planet Maridun. With Skywalker gravely injured, Ahsoka and Master Secura set out to look for any sign of civilization and help.

            During their journey, Ahsoka struggled with the core tenet of the Jedi Code: to have no attachments. Compassion without vulnerability was easy when it was helping strangers. But now her concern for Anakin Skywalker’s life was based in fear of his loss, personally. Aayla reassured Ahsoka that she too had struggled with separating compassion from attachment. Much like herself, Aayla believed Ahsoka’s bond with Anakin would loosen over time as she got older. The Padawan, however, was not entirely convinced. It would be the first of many times Ahsoka came to question the beliefs she was raised in.

            THE FIRST LOSS

            Part of being a Jedi, even a Padawan, during the Clone Wars meant eventually taking command of a squadron of clones during battle. For Ahsoka Tano, this happened during the crucial Battle of Ryloth. She was given command of Blue Squadron, under the command of both Jedi Skywalker and Admiral Wullf Yularen. Her mission was to take her men and punch through the Separatist blockade surrounding Ryloth.

            Unfortunately, the Republic forces were outmaneuvered and the Admiral called for a tactical retreat. Yet Ahsoka remained undeterred and urged Blue Squadron to press the attack. This decision led to a gap in the Republic’s flying formation, allowing droid fighters to make successful suicide runs on two out of three Star Destroyers. Admiral Yularen was gravely injured, the crew of one Star Destroyer was lost, and all but three of Ahsoka’s Blue Squadron team was picked off by the enemy.

            Ahsoka was devastated. While attempting to emulate the fearless stubbornness of Anakin Skywalker, she had instead caused numerous deaths. Both Anakin and Captain Rex pointed out the blockade had been a trap and casualties were part of war, but Ahsoka’s confidence in her leadership remained shaken. Yet when the Jedi Council insisted the blockade must be broken within the next solar cycle or the people of Ryloth might not survive, she rallied. Left in charge by Skywalker, and dubbed Commander Tano, Ahsoka successfully strategized a new plan to help her Master trick the Separatists and liberate Ryloth. The experience would leave a deep impression on Ahsoka. She learned that recklessness in leadership had heavy costs, so strategy was important. But timidity was just as dangerous and leaders must be able to think quickly and commit fully in order to carry the day.

            FRIENDSHIP AND SACRIFICE

            Over the next few months, Ahsoka’s confidence in her abilities as a commander and war strategist grew. Despite her growing experience, Skywalker continued to see Ahsoka as her younger self. This caused a small rift in their relationship during the Second Battle of Geonosis. Overprotective and cautious, Anakin wanted to protect Ahsoka. In turn, Ahsoka saw this as mistrust of skills; that Master Skywalker did not trust her judgment.

            Enter Jedi Master Luminara Unduli and her Padawan, Barriss Offee. Together, the two of them represented the polar opposite of Anakin and Ahsoka’s relationship. Whereas Skywalker and Tano behaved in a familial way — bantering, bickering, and generally being in each other’s business — Unduli and Offee were a more traditional pairing. Master Luminara’s zen-like detachment and cool confidence in Barriss’ abilities are clinical in comparison.

            In order to meet the objective of controlling Geonosis once and for all, the Jedi hatched a plan that required the Padawans to sneak into the Geonosian stronghold, follow a maze-like warren of underground tunnels, and blow the place from the inside. While Luminara showed little emotion at sending Barriss on such a dangerous mission, Anakin worried about Ahsoka’s safety. This, in turn, spurred Ahsoka to take on the dangerous mission.

            With Barriss leading them through the tunnels based on complex maps she had memorized, the two Padawans quickly formed the beginnings of a friendship that would leave a lasting mark on them both. Despite their caution, Ahsoka and Barriss alerted the guards to their presence. With the plan scratched, the two chose to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. Commandeering an enemy tank, they blew fortifications manually, leaving no time to escape. Instead, Ahsoka and Barriss were buried alive.

            Trapped in the dark, with limited air, Barriss was resigned to their fate. On the surface, Master Luminara consoled Anakin that their Padawans had died to save the Republic. But neither Skywalker or Tano were distracted by Jedi platitudes about zen acceptance of the will of the Force. Instead, Ahsoka used her mechanical skills to send a weak Morse code signal, convinced Anakin was looking for her.

            He was.

            The experience would be another watershed moment in Tano’s life, showing the Jedi mantra of detachment sometimes veered into giving up too easily.

            POLITICAL EDUCATION

            With both weariness at the deadlock and a lack of liquidity to fund the war gaining ground in the Republic, Senator Padme Amidala asked Ahsoka to assist her with a little backdoor negotiating. Using the Jedi Order’s neutral status, Padme and Ahsoka smuggled themselves onto a Separatist planet of Raxus in order for the Senator to discuss brokering a peace behind the Chancellor’s back.

            At first, Ahsoka was dubious. Throughout the war, she had seen only the ugly side of the Separatists. The warlords and weapons expert; their assassins and spies. But before the war, everyone had been on the same side. Padme was still friends with some of the Separatist leadership. During the visit, Ahsoka got to know Lux Bonteri, a boy around her own age and the son of Padme’s friend. He was nothing like what Ahsoka expected. By learning more about the people behind the Separatists, Ahsoka was forced to confront her assumptions. It turned out the people on the other side of the war, by and large, were just regular people. Once more, Ahsoka realized the world was far more grey than she had believed.

            MORTIS MADNESS

            The Mortis arc was really Anakin’s story, but Ahsoka’s supporting role makes it worthy of inclusion here. Responding to a distress beacon using a code that was 2,000 years old, Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, and Obi-Wan Kenobi found themselves sucked into a plane outside of time and space. Known as Mortis, the Force permeated the strange planetoid. The only three inhabitants were Force entities known as the Daughter (Light), the Son, (Dark), and the Father (Balance).

            Ahsoka was used as a pawn by the Son to coerce Anakin to do his bidding. Kidnapped and infected with Dark Side energy, Ahsoka was forced to fight Skywalker. Once she outlived her usefulness, the Son murdered her outright. If not for The Daughter sacrificing the last of her dying life energy, Ahsoka’s story would have ended there. Instead, the experience opened Tano’s eyes to the concept that the Force was more complex than the Jedi ever imagined. This would come in handy later when the former Padawan would find herself pulled into the World Between Worlds…

            BETRAYAL AND DISILLUSIONMENT

            In the end, the Jedi failed Ahsoka Tano. In the waning days of the Republic, Tano was framed for a deadly bombing of the Jedi Temple. When the Chancellor sent Admiral Tarkin to demand justice, the future Grand Moff insinuated that if the Jedi Council did not turn Tano over to Republic authorities, it would look as if the Jedi were above the law. However, Jedi could not be tried as civilians. Not wanting to appear unfair, the Council summoned Ahsoka and stripped her of her Jedi rank, essentially cutting her off from the only family she had ever known.

            It was a devastating betrayal, as only Anakin Skywalker believed Ahsoka to be innocent. His efforts unveiled the true bomber: Barriss Offee. Ahsoka’s former friend believed the Jedi had become corrupted by the war, an evil that needed to be wiped out.

            Proven innocent of any wrongdoing, Ahsoka was once again summoned before the Jedi Council. There, the senior members of the Order declared the ordeal Ahsoka suffered was great enough to earn her the rank of Jedi Knight. Ahsoka declined. Shaken to her core by how quickly she was cast out, Ahsoka denounced her old life for good.

            SURVIVAL

            From revelations in both Star Wars Rebels and the book Ahsoka (by E.K. Johnston), we know the basics of where Ahsoka Tano was during Order 66. She was present for the Siege of Mandalore, fighting on behalf of the Mandalorian people to free them from Darth Maul’s rule when Palpatine activated the brain implant in the clones. We know Ahsoka dueled Maul, and fled from her battalion of clones with Captain Rex (who had previously removed his implant). We also know the new season of The Clone Wars will dive deeper into these details.

            After faking her own death, in the early years Ahsoka bounced between several planets in the Outer Rim while using the alias Ashla. Over time, she made a new life for herself; first as a ship’s mechanic on Thabeska and then as a farm equipment mechanic on Raada. It was on the latter planet that Ahsoka began her first tentative steps as a Rebellion leader.

            Soon after Ahsoka settled on Raada, the Empire arrived to conscript the populace for their agriculture. Forced to grow a genetically-engineered crop that stripped the soil of future nutrients under increasingly authoritarian rules, the Raada populace grew agitated. Ahsoka channeled that into a small resistance. But when a sub-faction decided on brute force instead of patience tactics, things went sideways and Tano was forced to use her Jedi abilities to rescue the survivors. This drew the attention of both the Empire and the nascent Rebellion. Each sent a representative to search out and find Ahsoka, albeit for very different reasons.

            The Empire sent the Sixth Brother, a Jedi-hunting Inquisitor, to kill Ahsoka. Without her lightsabers, which she had left behind and buried in a fake grave in the early days of a post Order 66 world, Ahsoka was at a disadvantage. But in the end, Inquisitor training had nothing on Jedi reflexes. Not only did Tano dispatch the dark side user, but she also took the kyber crystals from his lightsabers and healed them. Ahsoka then crafted new hilts to create the two white lightsabers she would carry with her going forward.

            FULCRUM

            When the Rebellion finally caught up with Ahsoka, it was in the form of Bail Organa. At first, the senator from Alderaan hoped to recruit Tano in her capacity as a Jedi and a war general. However, Tano was adamant in her rejection of the Jedi label. She also had no taste for open battle. Instead, she convinced Bail to put her in charge of the Rebellion’s intelligence arm. Organa agreed, and together they arrived at a code name: Fulcrum.

            Fulcrum played a crucial role in the earlier days of the Rebellion. She was directly responsible for juggling various independent cells of resistance. She provided critical mission information, such as troop movement and convoy timings. Over the course of Star Wars Rebels, Ahsoka plays an increasingly central role after the reveal that she is, indeed, Fulcrum.

            Her story seemingly culminated on the Sith planet of Malachor. Brought there by a Force vision on Lothal, followed by a cryptic conversation with the Bendu, Ahsoka went to Malachor realizing two things: that Darth Vader was her former Jedi Master, and that she was probably going to die.

            During an extended lightsaber duel with Vader, while the Malachor Sith Temple collapsed around them, Ahsoka managed to slice off part of his mask and voice modulator. When next Vader spoke, Skywalker’s natural voice was interlaced, proving without a shadow of a doubt they were one person. Instantly, Ahsoka declared she would not leave Anakin a second time. Vader hesitated only a moment before declaring then she would die. The last Ahsoka Tano was seen, she was locked in battle with Darth Vader in the heart of the Sith Temple as the locks slammed shut, with only Vader emerging soon after.

            THE WORLD BETWEEN WORLDS…

            That was not the end of Ahsoka’s story though. In the final episodes of Star Wars Rebels, Ezra Bridger discovered the “World Between Worlds.” Created eons ago by either the Mortis gods or those like them, doorways to the “World Between Worlds” allowed those who entered to step outside of space and time. Ostensibly, they are fast travel portals. While stuck in the highway connecting linear time, Ezra stumbled across the battle between Vader and Ahsoka. Determined to save her from imminent death, Ezra used a portal to pull Ahsoka from Malachor just before Vader cut her down. Together, they fought off the Emperor as he attempted to pull them through his own portal. After Ezra and Ahsoka returned to the physical realm, Erza mysteriously vanished during the final battle with Thrawn’s forces above Lothal. When Tano was last seen, after the fall of the Empire, she had committed herself to find him, joining up with Sabine Wren to search the Unknown Regions for any sign of Ezra.

            Intriguingly, there was also a short moment in The Rise of Skywalker that featured Ahsoka Tano, making her among the rare animated characters to make the jump to live-action. True, it was only her voice, but it cracks open interesting doors for the future. During the climactic battle on Ahsoka may have been able to communicate with Rey while still alive. Possibilities are endless but it would stand to reason that between Ahsoka being imbued with the life energy of the Daughter and her ability to access the World Between Worlds, puny concepts like linear time might be more flexible for her…

            We’ll get more insight into what Ahsoka’s life was like after she left the Jedi Order when Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7 debuts Friday, February 21 on Disney+.

            Donna Dickens
            Donna has been covering genre entertainment for nearly a decade. She is a mom, a wife, a Slytherin, a Magical Girl, a Rebel, and a fan of House Tyrell.