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THE APPRENTICE LIVES: THE STORY OF AHSOKA TANO

Written By:

Mark Newbold
ahsoka-tano 18

[This article was originally published March 2020 in STARBURST Magazine #471]

It was April 2005, onstage at Star Wars Celebration III in Indianapolis, when George Lucas first revealed that Lucasfilm was working on a new animated Star Wars TV series, “a 3D continuation of the pilot series that was on the Cartoon Network”. That would eventually become Star Wars: The Clone Wars, but fans had no idea that, along with the characters they expected to journey through the three years of the wars – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, Mace Windu, Chancellor Palpatine, the Jedi Council, as well as Padmé Amidala and her secret husband Anakin Skywalker – they would be introduced to a new lead character, a 14-year-old Togruta who soon becomes the Padawan to Anakin, himself by now a well-respected Jedi Knight and hero of the Republic.

Initially, she was a tough sell to a large proportion of Star Wars fandom, but Ahsoka Tano was the character who would become the eyes through which much of the series was viewed. Young and relatable for the latest generation of Star Wars fans to connect with, she was feisty and headstrong as well as being (Ewok movies aside) the first female lead in a major Star Wars series; as she grew, so the audience grew with her. Voiced by Ashley Eckstein, she would weather the initial storms of protest, developing through six – soon to be seven – seasons of The Clone Wars as well as appearances in RebelsForces of Destiny, and the climactic moments of The Rise of Skywalker to become one of the most beloved characters in the entire saga.

Identified by Jedi Master Plo Koon on her homeworld of Shili, young Ahsoka was taken to Coruscant and the Jedi Temple to begin her training. As the Clone Wars erupted across the galaxy, Master Yoda decided to assign Ahsoka to Anakin Skywalker in the hope that focusing on a Padawan of his own would help Skywalker with his personal development. With her joining Anakin and Obi-Wan on the world of Christophsis (as seen in The Clone Wars theatrical movie in 2008), Master and Apprentice had a tricky beginning to their relationship, especially after Kenobi assumed the new Padawan had been sent for him to train. Quickly learning how to work together, they battled to rescue the kidnapped son of Jabba the Hutt and return him to his father on Tatooine, securing an alliance between the Republic and the Hutts.

Her journey as a Padawan just beginning, the young Togruta would soon be crossing the galaxy on missions with Masters Skywalker and Kenobi. The constant threat from the Separatists and the mysterious General Grievous occupied much of their time, including a mission to the Bith system and on to the Abregado system, where the Separatist vessel Malevolence had been spotted by a now-missing Master Plo Koon. This saw them lead a mission to rescue Master Plo and return with Shadow Squadron to destroy the Malevolence.

After the Republic’s defeat at Falleen and now stationed at Bothawui, Ahsoka would find and rescue the missing droid R2-D2, remaining one step ahead of Grievous while engaging him in a lightsaber battle to protect the ever-loyal Captain Rex. The capture of Viceroy Nute Gunray by the Republic would bring Ahsoka into contact with Count Dooku’s loyal servant Asajj Ventress (first seen in the 2003 Genndy Tartakovsky animated Clone Wars shorts) as Ahsoka and Jedi Master Luminara Unduli teamed up to survive.

After an encounter with Dooku, a skirmish on the crystalline world of Vanqor saw Tano and her Republic troopers rescue Anakin and Obi-Wan before going to the rescue of Aayla Secura after her defeat at the Battle of Quell. A crash-landing on Maridun meant they would encounter the furry Lurmen and defend them from the villainous Neimoidian Separatist Lok Durd.

Entering the Mid Rim, Ahsoka, Anakin, and Kenobi were dispatched to locate the missing Senator Padmé Amidala and Jar Jar Binks, stumbling on a plot to unleash the lethal Blue Shadow Virus. A trip to the world of Iego led back to Naboo where Padmé, Jar Jar, and Ahsoka became infected. Anakin and Kenobi eventually found a cure for the virus, thankfully.

The Battle of Ryloth saw Ahsoka take command of her own squadron for the first time, leading her team into battle against Separatist Captain Tuuk, a mission where her headstrong nature worked against her as many of her group were lost. Regrouping and coming up with a new plan, the Republic drove the Separatists off Ryloth and out of Dooku’s clutches.

Initially slow to learn from her errors, she once again refused to retreat and fight tactically as Separatist Battle Droid forces on Felucia overwhelmed her position. Defeated, Ahsoka was ordered back to the Jedi High Council on Coruscant and sent to the Jedi Archives to work with Master Jocasta Nu to reflect on her actions. It was here that the bounty hunter Cad Bane pulled off an audacious Holocron heist. Ahsoka captured Bane’s shape-shifting Clawdite colleague but lost Bane. Sent to the Devaron system, Ahsoka and Skywalker attempted to apprehend Bane, only for Ahsoka to be captured. She was later saved, but Bane once again outwitted them. A further chance to seize Bane sent them back to Naboo, where a plot was discovered to kidnap Force-sensitive children, but yet again Bane escaped.

Her training and adventures continued throughout the Clone Wars, taking her to the Second Battle of Geonosis, where she fought to save her friend Jedi Master Barriss Offee from the brain invaders, losing her lightsaber in the depths of Coruscant’s streets. This is the same locale they hunted for the bounty hunter Aurra Sing before a trip to Mandalore on a mission to educate the planet’s youth about law and public service. Her association with Padmé brought her into the shadowy world of politics, but a 2,000-year-old distress signal from the Chrelythiumn system took her to Mortis, where she was infected by the dark side, died, and resurrected. Her time on Mortis would have repercussions that would echo throughout the rest of her life….

As she moved into her mid-teens, her actions and adventures would bring her into contact with some of the most important and influential people in the galaxy. She would help foil a plot by Darth Sidious, fight Asajj Ventress and General Grievous on multiple occasions, and become a cornerstone of the Jedi Order, inspiring young Padawans who were still in training. Rewarded for her efforts, she travelled to Onderon to assist the rebel cell there as they fought Confederate forces and battled alongside Steela Gerrera and her brother Saw (later seen in episodes of Rebels and most famously in Rogue One, where he was portrayed by Forest Whitaker), but a life-changing event waited for her on Coruscant as she was framed for a bombing at the Jedi Temple by disillusioned Jedi Padawan Barriss Offee. Going on the run, Ahsoka allied briefly with Asajj Ventress before being captured by Anakin, expelled from the Jedi and taken to trial by the Republic. Only a forced confession by Offee saved her, but the damage had been done, and Ahsoka decided she would take a new path and not return to the Jedi Order.

Her decision unknowingly undid one of the reasons she had been seconded to Anakin, as his own frustrations with the Council grew, something that would affect the fate of the entire galaxy. Kenobi believed her decision to leave had been her own, cementing a fracture in their relationship. Ahsoka would only meet with Anakin one more time as a friend, on Mandalore. Darth Maul had taken control of the planet as the leader of the Death Watch. As Anakin and Obi-Wan headed back to the interior to rescue Chancellor Palpatine from the grasp of General Grievous and the start of the Battle of Coruscant, Ahsoka and Captain Rex stayed on Mandalore, where she fought and captured Maul, efforts that stood for nought as Order 66 was given and her troops – apart from the ever-loyal Rex who had removed his inhibitor chip – turned on her.

After her departure from the Jedi Order and the rise of the Empire, Tano aimed for the Outer Rim to hide from the Jedi Purge, taking the name Ashla and working as a mechanic. Lying low, she lived with a family for a while before heading away when the Empire arrived. She aimed for Raada in the Outer Rim, once again lying low but soon working with the locals to fight off the Imperials, a move that brought her to the attention of both the Empire and Bail Organa, who sent Captain Antilles to find her. Organa was recruiting for a war against the Empire and offered Ahsoka a place in the Rebellion. She initially refused but agreed to help if Organa helped track down and protect the Force-sensitive children who were being hunted across the galaxy. A mission to Raada saw Tano meet with Organa and convince him to allow her to run his intelligence networks, operating under the cover name ‘Fulcrum’.

It was the mysterious Fulcrum who fed information to the crew of the Ghost, and where Ahsoka entered the realm of the TV series Star Wars Rebels. Avoiding direct meetings with the Ghost crew, Fulcrum eventually revealed herself as Ahsoka, bringing the Ghost crew into Phoenix Squadron and mentoring the rebels. However, a trap set by Darth Vader on Lothal was sprung, and after tracking the rebel fleet, Tano discovered that Vader and Anakin were one and the same.

After escaping, they were on the run, eventually reuniting with old friend and former clone trooper Captain Rex, who gave them info on Old Republic installations in the Outer Rim. But Ahsoka needed to know more about Anakin and headed to Lothal and the Jedi Temple, where she faced visions of Skywalker and information that took them on to Malachor. Here they battled Inquisitors and Maul, who initially aided them but slashed out at Kanan, blinding him before being thrown off the temple. Ahsoka finally confronted Vader, confirming that he was Anakin Skywalker after smashing his mask and engaging in a furious battle as the temple closed around them. Ahsoka was believed to be dead. She wasn’t.

The world between worlds, a mysterious time-altering portal, allowed Jedi Padawan Ezra Bridger to reach through and pull Ahsoka away from Vader’s death blow. Very much alive, she aided Ezra and promised to meet with him again in the future, the two parting ways and leaving through separate portals.

From there, her future is uncertain. It’s known that after the Battle of Endor she journeyed back to Lothal and met with the Mandalorian and Ghost crew member Sabine Wren to search for Ezra, but it’s another 30 years before anything else is heard – her voice, one of many Jedi speaking to Rey Palpatine as she makes her last stand against the rejuvenated Emperor during the Battle of Exegol at the climax of The Rise of Skywalker.

Anakin Skywalker: “The Force surrounds you, Rey.

Aayla Secura: “Let it guide you.

Ahsoka Tano: “As it guided us.

Mark Newbold

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