This series of episodes almost feel like it could be a series finale, let alone a season finale. We’re talking about the final four episodes of season five and what were, for a while at least, the final appearances of Ahsoka Tano. That was until Disney brought her back as one of the leading figures of their new Star Wars franchise.
And these, are some damn good episodes too. It’s a shame Disney made a real boneheaded decision to cancel this show when they first acquired Star Wars from Lucasfilm, because this season has been the best of the lot overall. Both in terms of animation quality and the level of storytelling.
Season 5, Episode 17: Sabotage
A framing device for the rest of this story arc. This episode deals with Ahsoka and Anakin investigating a bombing at the Jedi temple, with the seed planted in their minds that the attack could have been perpetrated by a fellow Jedi. A thought that doesn’t sit right within Ahsoka’s mind.
For the most part, this is a pretty normal Clone Wars episode. The mystery story element acting to propel the story forward while the background elements start laying the pipe for the upcoming story. The most interesting aspect of this episode to me is the whole idea of how some people on Coruscant actually resent the Jedi for their status.
Which makes sense, there’s this stark class divide between the Jedi and the rest of the people living on the city-planet. While the vast majority of the people live in cramped apartments in unsavoury parts of the undercity, the Jedi are living in the lap pf luxury, in their massive temple.
Not helped at all by the fact that whenever Anakin enters the undercity, he seems to order people around with an authoritarian stamp. Given, his instincts end up being correct, it doesn’t exactly paint the picture of the Jedi being these beacons of hope and light at all.
Season 5, Episode 18: The Jedi who knew too much
Off the back of the capture of the saboteur from the previous episode, the early parts of this one deal with Ahsoka’s inner turmoil over the event. Her struggle to separate a thirst for revenge from a desire for justice. We’re also reintroduced to Ahsoka’s friend and fellow Padawan Barriss Offee.
The pair once again discuss their shared concerns of the role of the Jedi and how how they operate, something that continues on from a discussion the pair had all the way back in season 2. I can understand why Barriss might be struggling though, given how she seems to have an especially emotionally detached master training her. One who isn’t present throughout this entire story arc.
The rest of the episode deals with someone doing a very good job of framing Ahsoka for the murder of the saboteur and then making it look like she killed a bunch of clones in an escape attempt afterwards.
This episode feels like it’s coming to a head of something I’ve been saying about the Jedi for a while now. About how they’ve become “Warmongers instead of peacekeepers”. Maybe I never went that strong, but I have been saying that the Jedi have lost their way and rather than do what is right and just, they’ve become puppets of the government and a cog in their war machine.
The second half of the episode, and especially the ending feels like one big homage to the 1993 movie, The Fugitive. Ahsoka must escape her former allies and teacher through a Prison that looks decidedly more “Empire” than the Republic has ever looked before. Determined to escape and find the bad Jedi who framed her.
Season 5, Episode 19: To Catch a Jedi
This episode feels like a transitional one. A story to get us from the previous episode to where we need to be for the following one. It features the unlikely alliance between Ahsoka and the, now full-time bounty hunter, Asajj Ventress. In her final appearance in the franchise outside of the novel Dark Disciple.
I like this antihero version of Ventress. She’s the kind of wildcard element I would have loved to see get her own spinoff series now Disney are all over the live-action stories. But at this point, it seems like the Ahsoka series will be fulfilling that same desire.
In the end though, the mysterious orchestrator of this entire plot attacks Ahsoka and manipulates her into seeming even more guilty than she did before, having the clones discover her in a warehouse filled with the explosives that destroyed the hanger in the Jedi temple.
Season 5, Episode 20: The Wrong Jedi
The final episode of the series is, by far, the more interesting one in terms of things I want to talk about. Right from the beginning, we see Admiral Tarkin putting pressure on the Jedi Council to expel the new captured Ahsoka from the order so she can be tried in a military tribunal, one that would almost certainly result in her execution.
And other than Anakin and Plo Koon, it doesn’t seem like the majority of the Jedi have any real passion to defend one of their own. It’s almost as if they’ve already decided that she’s guilty in their own minds. Which is a staggering example of poor judgement and a lack of faith in their own people from what are supposed to be the wisest people in the galaxy.
Before they even hear what she has to say, they have made their choice to bend to the will of the senate and strip Ahsoka of her status as a Jedi and of her rank in the Republic military. Seeing this happen whilst slowly making my way through the first book in the High Republic series is a good reminder of why this version of the Jedi were always doomed to fail.
The Jedi of the High Republic prioritised doing what was right and just, trusting in the will of the force to guide them first and foremost. While Yoda claims that the dark side if clouding everything, their actions here seem purely political to me. Throwing one of their own to the wolves just to appease the government they have become totally beholden to.
Thus during Ahsoka’s trial, Anakin goes out to try and uncover evidence to prove Ahsoka’s innocence. As an aside, this is the first appearance of Palpatine after his voice actor, Ian Abercrombie passed away. With Tim Curry taking on the role for the rest of the series. Something I never even realised until I heard him speaking and thought “Hang on a minute…”
With the help of Ventress, Anakin figures out the mastermind behind this entire plot is none other than Ahsoka’s friend Barriss Offee. Through a very public duel in the Jedi Temple, Barriss is taken into custody and reveals her guilt before the tribunal, thus clearing Ahsoka of all charges.
Okay, so there are a few things I want to talk about her. First off is Barriss’s reasoning for doing what she did. In the trial, she makes a speech about how the Jedi have lost their way, that they were the real reason behind the war and their actions were just allowing them to slip further to the dark side. It’s an assessment that is ultimately incorrect, if not on the right track. Because it was actually the Sith, true agents of the dark side behind the war.
However, though their acceptance of the war and participation within, the Jedi are probably just as guilty as the Sith that started it. Barriss’s assessment that the Jedi are falling to the dark side is a bit overzealous, and very ironic considering her own actions by the end. Personally, I feel like this version of the Jedi were doomed to stagnation more so than anything else. Increasingly becoming pawns of the Government. Jedi in name only, reduced to a shadow of what they once were, not dark, but shades none the less.
While I’m on the point of Barriss and her plan. What was the actual end goal of this entire scheme? I’m not sure I see how bombing the temple and the framing Ahsoka for it was supposed to reveal how the Jedi had fallen to anyone. Maybe she was going to reveal Ahsoka’s innocence after her execution, showing everyone how wrong the Jedi were, and how quick they were to throw one of their own to the wolves despite them being utterly innocent.
I feel like some context and backstory is missing here that makes Barriss’s plan fall apart when you think about it for more than a minute. But then again, this was never Barriss’s story, it was Ahsoka’s and spending any more time with Barriss than was necessary would only detract from Ahsoka’s choice at the end.
To me, Ahsoka’s choice to leave the Jedi feels wholly justified. The Jedi ultimately betrayed not just her, but themselves and everything this supposedly stand for. For them to welcome her back with false smiles and empty praise amounts to very little when even the great Jedi Council have revealed that they can’t be trusted to come to a correct judgement, nor to even fight for one of their own order.
It was a fantastic way to end the series. After the events of these four episodes I am totally behind Ahsoka and her choice to turn her back on the Order. A collective that, while filled with great individuals, has proven that it has become corrupt from the very top. Even the great and wise Yoda ends up looking like a fool, blinded by the machinations of the Dark Lord of the Sith that has now shown that he controls the Jedi just as much as he does the rest of the galaxy.
It makes me very curious what the original plan for series six was before it got cancelled early and cut down top just 13 episodes. As Ahsoka is totally absent from that series, it makes me wonder if there were ever any more plans for her at this point, or if the plan was to simply bring everything up to the beginning of Revenge of the Sith and tie it up with a neat little bow.
I suppose, in a way, we should be thankful the series ended up getting cut short like it did, because had it not then we wouldn’t have gotten all the new Star Wars content we’ve got to look forward to today.