Ahsoka Tano has one of the most incredible story arcs that we have been graced with in recent memory, and part of that allure is thanks to the fact that her story is not yet finished.
She was first introduced back in 2008, in the movie that preceded the series with the same name Star Wars: The Clone Wars, where she made a huge impact, albeit not a very positive one at the time. Since I’m here I have to address the fact that I cannot understand why people hated her. She was charismatic, optimistic and ready to learn from the greatest of the greatest, and outrank them as soon as possible. Having attitude is not a bad thing, and I certainly don’t think she had too much of it, it was quite a healthy amount. I dare say I was expecting more.
Kids that age are insecure – well, we are insecure regardless of age, but that is the point when children start their road to adulthood, and the surge of feelings is all the more shocking, as it is sudden – , and dealing with insecurity usually leads to either being outspoken, or being reticent. I was the reticent type, a chameleon, I preferred to not speak too much and that way I became invisible. I was never “not confident” because no one ever had a reason to see me otherwise. Ahsoka is the outspoken type, the one that lacks confidence, but is bold and daring. If you talk too much, people usually stop paying too much attention to you, resulting in “invisibility by ignorance” – but Ahsoka doesn’t talk too much, she talks enough, and what she throws are mostly challenges, and if anything, challenges help one grow faster.
From the first moment she’s onscreen, she bonds with Anakin on a very intimate level: they are both snippy, they both challenge rules, they bite off more than they can chew because they want to grow, faster and better than everyone. Ahsoka wants to be appreciated in the eyes of Anakin, her new master, the same way Anakin seeks appreciation from Obi-Wan and the entire Order, and they both want to trust and to be trusted. That alone instantly sold me on their relationship and left me eager to see their adventures. Of course as a child her judgement is not crystal-level-refined as opposed to the mature audiences that met her. Of course her questions would sound pointless to you who already know the answers, but you forget that she is not you. Ahsoka may be the eyes of the audience, but she is not the audience, she is Ahsoka, and she was a child, and from questions and mistakes you better yourself.
Under Anakin’s tutelage she grew, from that point on, slowly but steadily, and although she is not a very poignant presence up until the later seasons, her contributions are always vital. Anakin taught her to be open-minded, and challenge rules and leadership when necessary. She challenges him after a dangerous flight through the Balmorra Run after he lost his men, saying, “Master, you can make it, but everyone else is getting shut down.” Shockingly he accepts her correction, thanking her as he had also just learned a valuable lesson from her.
Ahsoka proves time and time again bravery and resourcefulness in her face-off with General Grievous. In a rush of daringness, she tries to allow the clones to escape the General’s wrath and complete their mission. She lands ships on the brink of exploding only to get Anakin to safety, and challenges Ayla on what attachments mean in the life of a Jedi. Her faith is fully given to her master as she waits for him to return with the antidote to the Shadow Virus, and even then she chooses to play her part, portraying determination and dutifulness. She’s decisive and innovative after the loss of her first squadron as she jumps once again to her master’s rescue.
Anakin and Ahsoka’s relationship develops so healthily and so beautifully, it’s hard not to smile in the midst of all the death they have to witness when you see them joyfully bickering mid-battle, just as all the times she voices her thoughts and confronts him directly. She proves selflessness in her mission with Barris on Geonosis and openness of mind in her inquiries about the duties of the Jedi :
Barris : ”Master Windu has said we are keepers of the peace, not warriors.
However, once the war is over, it will be our job to maintain the peace.”
Ahsoka : “Yes, but… Will we do so as keepers of the peace, or warriors?
And…what’s the difference?”
That said, Ahsoka still manages to be her own person, something that is especially stressed on in the same episode that featured the above quotes, as Anakin and Ahsoka are pinned against each other. Anakin is seen strangling Poggle in an effort to gain access to his information whilst Ahsoka struggles to surpass the danger of the mind-controlling parasites without taking one single life. Anakin is the one that does anything to achieve his ideals, no matter the cost, even if that means becoming the bad guy fighting the good fight, whereas Ahsoka holds true to her values and creates different paths to reach her goal. Where Anakin would smash through his obstacles, Ahsoka would make sure to circle them. One problem is, Anakin, taking the Uchiha Sasuke route, by choosing to engulf himself in darkness and take all sins upon his own shoulders, he not only alienates himself from others, but also from himself. Ahsoka is the Naruto that knows her weaknesses, and relies on other people to help her where she can’t. (Anakin’s problems are mostly caused by the Council and the prophecy themselves, though, but more on that another time).
While her solo adventures help her shape her character even more, none of the experiences can be eclipsed by her glorious season five finale, when she is faced with a situation in which she has to run from the same people that nurtured her soundly up until that point. If that prospect doesn’t sound terrifying enough, the way it all plays out is sure to give the coldest soul a few tingles. In a reenactment of the “I am your father” scene in Empire Strikes Back, Anakin chases his Padawan all the way to the end a a sewer pipeline and all the way to the end of an excruciating conversation : “I would never let anyone hurt you, Ahsoka, ever!” Ahsoka’s jump perfectly mirrored my soul quitting my scrawny body whilst a maelstrom of internal screams manifested… Why you wreck me, Star Wars? Oh, how I love you.
Let’s envision for a moment, the horrors Ahsoka must have faced in the war, and now her exile. Let us just imagine her confusion as she kept finding piles and piles of clones killed in her name, and not knowing who and why they did it; her confusion at seeing her family violently giving chase after her instead of trying to reason the situation.; clones that respected pointing their guns at her with no remorse at the utterance of simple orders, mere words. She spends the entirety of season five, episode 19 hiding amongst different levels of scum, and finding an unexpected ally in Ventress and trying to scrape her way back to innocence. As of episode 19, Ahsoka has been broken, and if even when broken she’s this strong and resilient than I dare say, Anakin. He trained her, put all the knowledge and the love and passion he had to offer the world into her, and she is strong and brilliant and she strives and she is fabulous, and just…
We would be remiss to dig into the character of Ahsoka and not look see how the Jedi handle Ahsoka’s loss:Mace Windu (talking to Anakin) : “You must prove to us that you will stay focused. Can you?” – It’s just amazing to me how the Council diverts the discussion from them – because by all means it was their mistake – to Anakin. No matter what occurs, Anakin is a constant subject to doubts and tests. Their problem was getting Ahsoka back, something which they were anyway struggling with agreeing upon, and yet somehow, the whole discussion transcends into Anakin receiving yet another test. There short-sightedness would ultimately lead to their downfall, and would force Ahsoka to grow more rapidly than time may have planned.
Fast forwarding to the finale, where hearts break faster than a cascade of empty glasses hitting a floor :
Anakin Skywalker. : “Why are you doing this?”
Ahsoka Tano : “The Council didn’t trust me, so how can I trust myself?”
(This line is very important, as she highlights for one last time that the
Council, her supposed family, had turned their backs on her
at the slightest inconvenience.From this point on, it can be safe to
assume that Anakin started actively reconsidering the Order’s loyalty
to him, henceforth everything evolving into the conflict we see in Episode III).
A.S.: “What about me? I believed in you, I stood by you! ”
A.T.: “I know you believe in me, Anakin, and I’m grateful for that
…but this isn’t about you…I can’t stay here any longer! Not now.”
A.S.: “The Jedi Order is your life! You can’t just…throw it away
like this! Ahsoka, you are making a mistake!”
A.T.: “Maybe…But I have to sort this out on my own, without the
Council…and without you…
A.S.: “I understand! More than you realise, I UNDERSTAND
wanting to walk away from the Order.”
A.T.: ”I KNOW!”
(This is brilliant use of nostalgic dialogue, this well known line from the originals that we already know packed a lot of punch is brought forth once again to smash the ceiling above my head and allow me to drown in my own tears. Not to mention the implications are huge in this context).
Practically, Ahsoka had reached a level of intimacy with Anakin, one that not even Padme would ever be able to equal. The man in front of her, her mentor, her brother, her best-friend, and her father-figure, in this very moment, is the most loved person in the galaxy, and he’s loved by this girl. She knew him, really knew him, and trusted him, and kept his secrets safe with her, and who knows how much she treasured and cherished them for how human and admirable they made him seem. Who can ever know how giddy she felt when she’d sneak a look at him and Padme, seeing him joking around joyfully, so fulfilled and without a worry in the world. Ahsoka loved Anakin with all her being, and no one can tell me otherwise, and suddenly she was forced to leave him, stripped away from her (up until that point clearly defined) life by none other than the Jedi Order, the same that had nurtured her onto her path.
Ahsoka was Anakin’s pillar, and he was hers; it is through her that he grew, and it is through him that she evolved into the woman that we know, love, and can’t get enough of today. It is through her that we got to see Anakin Skywalker for what he was always meant to be (the layers and shades of his character are suddenly so rich).
If anything, her love for Anakin is very well portrayed in the Ahsoka novel, as it was both insightful and heartbreaking to see how much she misses him, and how much she blames herself for his loss, but also to see how fondly she remembers him alongside Kenobi as the bickering parents.
It is no mistake perhaps that the most debated subject that can ever be initiated and probably never answered is whether Ahsoka would have been able to save Anakin had she stayed, or if she’d have perished just like everyone else. Of course, if I am to give my personal dime on the matter, I’d say Ahsoka was the chosen one of The Chosen One – this might just remain my head-canon though. First off, I never thought Padme was the right choice for Anakin as a (romantic) partner, not because the romance in the prequels is handled badly, but rather thanks to it. Even during the whole run of the Clone War, the Jedi are engaged in war and Padme is off in her political exploits, so Anakin and Padme never quite got to spend time with each other, not in significant ways anyway. I don’t think their clumsy interactions were handled that way by accident. Even if that were the case, by comparison, Ahsoka was with her master constantly, daily, in the midst of warfare where they had to protect each other. The amount of trust resulting from this background is astonishing and noticeable at first glance; Anakin doesn’t hesitate to allow Ahsoka harder tasks because he trusts her to see them through; he doesn’t need to worry about her because he has full confidence in her and her abilities, whereas Padme…well, she might be a woman of action herself, but definitely not to the same lengths, and her husband certainly isn’t around to see her abilities manifest at their full potential; plus, she usually seems to be getting herself into a lot of trouble before she fixes anything, so really Anakin has no reason to trust her to take care of herself in the same way that he does with Ahsoka.
Ahsoka being a Jedi is also an advantage as she understands firsthand what Anakin might experience and how his problems might be solved, and especially after the bombing for which she was framed and mercilessly expelled. Her guidance to Anakin by Episode III’s time-frame would have been essential and, I consider, life-saving. If there’s anyone that could have had an effect of Anakin and overturned his fate I have full confidence Ahsoka was the one for the job. I am inclined to consider the events of Mortis in small part as well, for as we all know, Ahsoka was revived by the Daughter’s life force, an embodiment of the “Light,” of positive energy. We have no way of knowing if Ahsoka is now a literal force of Light, but nonetheless that has to account for something, and in Anakin’s moments of darkness where he only needed a flicker of light, maybe she could have been his light.
After being crushed by The Order she goes back to being the more optimistic Ahsoka, the one that helps people and cannot stay put while life happens by, and she becomes Fulcrum. Fast forward to season 2, episode 16 (“Shroud of Darkness”) and the rich dialogue in Ahsoka’s vision :
Anakin : “Ahsoka, why did you leave? Where were you
when I needed you?”
Ahsoka : “I made a choice…I couldn’t stay..”
Anakin : “You were selfish! You abandoned me,
you failed me! Do you know what I have become?”
To me, this whole dialogue is a dilemma, because at first (specifically from the trailer glimpses) I thought that somehow Anakin had found a way of communicating with her, just like Qui-Gon manifests himself to Yoda perhaps (without the ‘being dead’ part, obviously), and of course that had me all excited because how about this, after all these years they finally met again, and he shows himself to her not like the killing machine that he hides behind, but as her old master. It was an especially overwhelming thought, considering Anakin’s first line holds so much sorrow that in my rush of creativeness I interpreted it as him trying to find if perhaps he was the reason behind her departure and if she was disappointed in him. When the episode aired and the second line kicked in, my judgement was brought to its knees.
But I still am not sure how to look at it even to this day; it is known from the novel that she considers herself guilty for what happened to the Jedi and above all to her master, and she clearly voiced her belief that she was unworthy to be alive. So is this still her guilt manifesting? Has she carried that in her heart for so long and it’s the guilt that’s talking? And in this case, is she taunting herself? But, then, why does Vader appear in her vision? She doesn’t know at that point who Vader is, she can only speculate, so at most she could be fearful of the truth and the realisation that Anakin is behind the mask. Is is a manifestation of fear that not only Vader might be Anakin, but that also he would blame her for it, or that she would blame herself for it (or…why not both, let’s be generous, I only have one heart, how much can it break?).
Moments later and Ahsoka, Ezra and Kanan are forced out of the collapsing temple, and there is a brief moment when Ahsoka says to herself : “There is still a way,” and bear with me on this,:Ahsoka doesn’t know about the kids, about Luke and Leia. So the question here is, what is her hope, her way? By that point, the dynamic trio didn’t know anything about Malachor and its “hidden knowledge” either. So what is Ahsoka referring to? My most plausible answer here is that she probably plans to plant the seed of hope in him herself. But I need to go back and chase my tail again, because she doesn’t have the confirmation that Vader is Anakin, so she can’t be as reckless as to go to war planning to change the Dark Lord with her mere presence, because that would be hoping he was Anakin. So what is she referring to?
I love that we can go back to the original trilogy, look at A New Hope and gamble upon how it clearly symbolised Luke. but now with Rogue One into the picture, and with as much as we got from its trailers, plus the revelations in Ahsoka’s vision, I’ve come to realise everyone has their own (new) hope. So what is Ahoska’s?
Since from now on, I’m heading into “Twilight of the Apprentice” territory, more specifically, “Ashoka limping in the doorway” territory, I’d like to remind everyone that in “Shroud of Darkness” Yoda the tells Ezra that if they are not careful, they will be consumed by darkness. The next step he takes is sending the trio to Malachor…in a, by all means, dark place…where they could be swallowed by darkness…to find…knowledge. The trio finds…a Sith Holocron…which can only be opened by Sith and darksiders…which the trio is not. Yoda wouldn’t have sent them, after warning against being consumed by darkness, into a place shrouded in it, only to find an object, that requires…it. Case and point, the knowledge they were looking for was not the Holocron, and the last thing we see of Ahsoka is her going back into the temple (wonder why).
And then there’s the Convor, which as already noticed by thousands of eyes, bears a striking resemblance to Mortis’ Daughter. The Daughter’s transformation was a griffin…griffins are considered guardians of priceless treasures, both guardians and symbols of the divine, masters over earth and sky (Sky?! Skywalker! Hooo- what is this?). So as a reference to the griffin, is the convor also an smaller incarnation of it? And since it’s following Ahsoka, is it protecting her – thus making Ahsoka a divinity – as she’s scaling the walls of dark knowledge, or even the walls of her own subconscious? If the griffin’s dominion encapsulates both earth and sky, Skywalker, or “walker of the sky,” may I just point out reunites both worlds? Anakin as a vergence is close to divinity, and Ahsoka as a host to the Daughter’s spirit is now just as near, so is the griffin/convor watching both? What is going on anymore, will I ever stop anywhere? Not to mention “earth and sky,” or the joining of earthly and celestial creates a unified whole, and maybe a reference to complete knowledge.The speculations just seem to pile.
And in the centre of all this speculation stands Ahsoka, as she is the one we should be thankful for, for bringing us on this adventure, as she still stands standing fiercely and just as defiantly as she did the day she was first introduced. Once more, the layers she managed to bring to Anakin Skywalker and now Darth Vader, the perspective she offered upon the Jedi, the depth she managed to bring the story, and the complexity and strength she herself has is something that can never be properly praised. This is Ahsoka Tano, and so she will still continue to be. She is alive, day by day, she is more alive than the one before, even if we don’t know it for sure, she’s there, and she solemnly swears that she’s up to no good. Mischief managed.