Features and Columns · TV

The Cartoon That Should Make Anyone an Ahsoka Tano Fan

Bryce Dallas Howard promises fans of ‘The Clone Wars’ that the new Ahsoka series will greatly reward their passion. We sure hope so.
Star Wars The Clone Wars The Wrong Jedi Ahsoka Tano
By  · Published on April 19th, 2022

Star Wars Explained is our ongoing series where we delve into the latest Star Wars shows, movies, trailers, and news stories to divine the franchise’s future. This entry re-examines the classic Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode The Wrong Jedi and how it positions Ahsoka Tano as the franchise’s most heroic character. We will be talking SPOILERS.

We’re only weeks away from the next Disney+ Star Wars series, but we’re already greatly anticipating the one that comes after ObiWan Kenobi. Fandom has a “what have you done for us lately” vibe. You either get with it, or you jump ship. The choice is yours but considering our addiction has percolated for over forty years; you can’t really blame us for not being able to break away. We’re jonesing, and we’ll take whatever tasty morsel Lucasfilm throws our way.

Over at Romper, Bryce Dallas Howard reveled in her own Star Wars obsession, which came to her early as Ron Howard’s daughter. When your dad starred in American Graffiti and directed Willow, you will have access to the latest Star Wars action figures. As she explains, the toys drove her passion for the characters and eventually led her to the director’s chair on The Mandalorian.

Now that Howard helps steer the franchise, she’s as giddy as she’s ever been about it. When discussing producer Dave Filoni, an excitement swarms around the animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Howard tells the interviewer, “Without giving anything away, you are going to love the Ahsoka show that’s coming up. I cannot tell you anything, but what I can say is that you being a fan of The Clone Wars will be greatly rewarded.”

It’s a brief moment in a much longer conversation. However, it’s enough to send ripples through the fandom. The franchise’s relationship with the cartoons strengthened with The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett. Now, we have multiple characters like Ahsoka Tano walking around in live-action, and their arrival feels like a validation for so many Rebels and Clone Wars viewers. It’s also an opportunity to pull a larger audience into the animated realm.

For years, it was difficult to convince the mainstream Star Wars audience to dip into the shows. In their defense, it took quite a while for The Clone Wars series to find its footing. Who wants to suffer through two to three mediocre seasons before the show starts firing on all cylinders? Personally, I’ve found a playlist is your best bet for converting fans over to The Clone Wars. Although, for some, ten episodes is nine too many.

Fine. For the friends in my life who’ve discovered a curiosity for Ahsoka Tano after Rosario Dawson took on the role in The Mandalorian, I’ve pointed them to one particular Clone Wars episode, “The Wrong Jedi.” Undoubtedly, if you’ve gone through the previous four seasons, the fifth season climax, which originally aired on March 2, 2013, will hit harder than if you just jumped in here. However, this single episode gives you enough to appreciate the setup, and the actions Tano commits in the climax highlight the failings of so many other supposed Jedi heroes.

She is the model. Not Anakin (duh). Not Obi-Wan. Ahsoka Tano is the champion Star Wars needs.

Technically, “The Wrong Jedi” concludes a four-episode arc that began with “Sabotage.” All you need to know going in is that the Jedi Temple on Coruscant was bombed. Anakin Skywalker’s investigation pointed toward Ahsoka Tano being the culprit. Despite years of friendship and their supposed deep connection to the Force, the various Masters place Tano into custody.

The experience more than rattles Ahsoka Tano. Her faith in their word is not tarnished; it’s shattered. Witnessing Anakin kotow to their judgment ruptures their partnership as well. As the innocent victim, she knows there is a culprit on the loose, but the Jedi cannot break themselves from the narrative they’ve constructed around her. When all is finally revealed, with the sabotage plot involving another member in their ranks, the Jedi council offers Tano a limp apology. And she tells them to stuff their sorries in a sack.

If they can be wrong about her, what else can they be wrong about? We’ve seen Revenge of the Sith. We know they’re wrong about a lot. The Clone Wars itself is a lie fabricated by Chancellor Palpatine to distract the Republic and bend their fear into allowing his Empire to rise around them. Padme was right; democracy dies with applause.

While the Jedi were chopping the heads off robots with their laser swords, the Sith were quietly supplanting their might. When Obi-Wan and Yoda realize what actually went down, it’s way too late. Order 66 is executed, and Anakin Skywalker is killing younglings as Darth Vader.

Ahsoka Tano’s experiences in “The Wrong Jedi” opened her eyes. They don’t close again.

She turns her back on Anakin Skywalker, and we nod in confirmation from the sidelines. Absolutes lead to tragedy in Star Wars. Once Obi-Wan, Yoda, and even Luke Skywalker thought they knew what and who was right, their pride erupted in their face. They failed themselves. Ahsoka Tano learns to examine everything, especially when you feel the most righteous.

When Star Wars first arrived in 1977, it appeared as a saga of black hats and white hats. Good versus evil. Say whatever you want about the prequels, but The Phantom Menace revealed that such a basic dichotomy is a fallacy. Evil grows in goodness, and goodness grows in evil. We fail ourselves more often than others fail us.

The Clone Wars lives in a moral gray zone. The series meanders in a way the films never could, and its wandering is an incredible gift. Episodes like “The Wrong Jedi” provide the audience an opportunity to ponder heroism. They force us to reckon with Obi-Wan’s pride and Yoda’s ignorance. And yeah, it smashes your hero-worship, and there is a pain in the process.

So, when Bryce Dallas Howard says the upcoming Ahsoka series will please The Clone Wars fans, I hope what she’s referring to is not just surface-level Easter eggs and guest appearances. Ahsoka Tano is a character who peeked behind the curtain, and her naivety vanished. She became a questioner, striving to do good, knowing that bad often results from virtuous passion.

“The Wrong Jedi” challenged Ahsoka Tano’s faith. Too bad the others didn’t bother to challenge their own. Their blind reliance had a violent cost.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is now streaming on Disney+.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)