The Phantom Apprentice: A Shatterpoint

This article contains massive spoilers for “The Phantom Apprentice”

In Shatterpoint, by Matthew Stover, the idea of shatterpoints in the Force is presented. A shatterpoint is “akin to fault lines, similar to different pathways of actions.” Break the glass here, watch it break this way. Break the glass there, watch it break that way. 

In the novel, Mace Windu, the protagonist, explains, “I sometimes can see the weak places in an opponent—shatterpoints where the unbreakable can be broken. They can occur in individuals…and in events.” Windu uses these shatterpoints to direct things the way he believes they should go, yet he struggles with riding the line between dark and light as he goes. 

Albeit Legends, this idea of shatterpoints is something that can transfer over nicely to the canon, particularly with regards to Ahsoka in the most recent episode of Clone Wars, “The Phantom Apprentice.” Ahsoka, and the galaxy, have reached a shatterpoint. As an audience we feel this tension because we know about the events of Revenge of the Sith, which is where Palpatine presses just right to make things shatter how he wants. That shatterpoint is Anakin Skywalker.

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In this episode, Ahsoka has two shatterpoint moments. But first, some symbolism. When Maul offers Ahsoka his hand, the glass in the throne room shatters, spewing embers around them. There is even a shot going through the broken glass toward them as Ahsoka decides if joining with this dark sider for the sake of those she cares for is the right thing to do. Then, at the end of the episode, Ahsoka looks up to the broken glass in the structure where she and Maul dueled. Dave Filoni does nothing by accident. The repetition of this broken glass tells us that it is important, and both instances being related to Maul and Ahsoka make it doubly so. These are the shatterpoints. 

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Before even getting to the throne room (or at least the confrontation there), Ahsoka had a choice to make with regards to Anakin. Obi-Wan asks her to speak to Anakin, for fear of what he’s becoming; Ahsoka considers, but then the immediate needs of Mandalore take her away. She tells Kenobi, “Tell Anakin….” To which Obi-Wan replies, “I will.”  While many speculate that this is foreshadowing another talk between Anakin and Ahsoka, the idea of shatterpoints would argue otherwise. Instead of foreshadowing hope, this moment is foreshadowing tragedy. Ahsoka, and thus the audience, are being left to wonder not only what she would have said, but if it would have made the difference. 

When we get to the throne room confrontation between Maul and Ahsoka, we have reached her true shatterpoint. The point of no return. In order to prevent what is coming with Darth Sidious, Ahsoka agrees to join Maul, if he answers one simple question, “What do you want with Anakin Skywalker?” Maul tells her, “He is the key to everything.” He is the shatterpoint. This leads Ahsoka to a decision between trusting Maul or trusting herself. She chooses herself, and the duel begins. 

Imagine if Ahsoka had chosen differently. Chosen to trust Maul’s word. It is not out of the realm of possibility, as Obi-Wan told her to try to capture Maul to learn the details of Sidious’s plan. Here Maul freely tells her, and she chooses not to believe him. If Ahsoka joined him it would beg us to ask a similar question to Anakin joining Palpatine. Does the ends ever justify the means? Being that Anakin fails in spectacular fashion, the answer we have now is no. But what if Ahsoka went and was successful in saving Anakin? Would joining Maul, and possibly killing Palpatine, be the answer?

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The second instance of shattered glass comes in the duel between Maul and Ahsoka. In an attempt to escape, Maul breaks open the glass dome of the city to leave Ahsoka behind. If the throne room was telling us that Ahsoka’s decision was important, this is telling us that there is no turning back; her and Maul can never unite. It is that same hole in the glass, that same shatterpoint, that the episode ends on. Ahsoka peers into that shatterpoint, likely contemplating if she made the right choice. 

We came to the Siege of Mandalore with many questions. Where was Ahsoka during Order 66? What is the Great Purge? How do we go from the Mandalorians of this time to the Mandalorians in The Mandalorian? There is a high likelihood we get the answers to at least some of these questions. Yet, if there is anything we should learn from these first two episodes of the arc, it is this: Dave Filoni will pull no punches, dull no tragedy, nor allow you to leave without saying, “But what if….” Dave Filoni’s choices are our shatterpoint.  

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