As the new year starts and excitement about The Force Awakens grows, I find myself still going back to The Clone Wars and the light of my life: Ahsoka Tano. When I first saw The Clone Wars in passing on TV, I was curious and bemused by Ahsoka, a totally new character to me. Who was she? What was her story? Was she going to die?
Since her introduction in 2008, Ahsoka grew from a fiery, proud little padawan into a determined, self-confident girl able to do what Anakin never could: walk away. As the series stretched on and the events of Revenge of the Sith loomed ever closer, fears for her life grew too. While her departure from the show was heartbreaking, it could have been worse. Her walking away showed how much she’d changed since I’d first wondered about this strange new padawan.
By the time the series ended last year, Ahsoka had become a symbol of a kind for female fans of the franchise, and a target for the misogynistic ones. She is still ever-present in the fandom, and it’s not only me who’s been thinking of this young Jedi lately, as Amy Ratcliffe recently wrote an article about 5 Life Lessons from Ahsoka Tano.
In 2015, also dubbed “The Year of Star Wars” by excited fans, Ahsoka’s future is a mystery to us all–except maybe Dave Filoni and others within Lucasfilm. Will we see her this year? We just don’t know, but we can hope. I miss seeing her fiery spark onscreen, and I’m sure others are with me in wondering where she is now and what she’s doing.
On the flip side, I’m also terrified of seeing her back, thanks in part to Rebels and a certain cameo. What if Ahsoka is brought back, only to die or get hurt? Logically, I know that one day Ahsoka must meet her end. The Star Wars canon will once more extend past her lifespan one day, but I never want to witness her death. If she never returns, she can’t ever be hurt, right?
Of course, that’s a ridiculous line of thinking. I want to see her grace our screens once more. She deserves to have her story told in a way befitting of a main Star Wars character. Ahsoka spin-off film, anyone? Enough rumours are out there that Lupita Nyong’o will be playing her (which is very unlikely)!
But why do I, and fellow fans, like this young Togruta so much? What about her has forever forged her a place in our hearts?
She’s a strong female character.
And not in the way that the phrase is so often thrown around. She’s more than a tough girl in a man’s world, or a great character with no action, or a hyper-sexualized woman more obviously aimed at the male audience. Ahsoka is a fully rounded character, with fears, anxieties, dreams, struggles, and love for those around her. You see her in a full range of emotions–emotions she’s not afraid to show despite her Jedi training.
Ahsoka actively affects those around her (just look at Anakin through The Clone Wars) and has storylines that are directed by her actions and choices. The show is as much about Ahsoka as it is about Anakin and Obi-Wan, and it would be sorely lacking without her presence from the get-go.
Ahsoka is also a strong character in that she is actively strong in so many ways, from her physical strength to her cleverness, to her utter determination and willpower. From the first time we meet her, she’s not about to let any guy (especially Skyguy) walk over her and ignore her. Then, years later, after realising the Jedi might not be what she thought, after having a friend betray her and a mentor–and her whole community–unable to help her, she’s strong enough to walk away.
She shows friendship between women.
Unfortunately this is something lacking in many popular shows and films, including the Star Wars films. The Clone Wars takes steps to fix that, and Ahsoka is a huge part of that. She learns (and in turn herself teaches) Jedi masters, such as Luminara Unduli and Aayla Secura. She befriends Padawan Barriss Offee and rebel leader Steela Gerrera. She becomes a pillar of hope and strength for the younger Katooni, Ganodi and Kalifa. From politicians to killers, Ahsoka somehow finds a way to work with them and forge bonds.
These friendships, even the tenuous ones, are learning experiences for both Ahsoka and the other women and help to show her growth as the seasons go by. Even better, these friendships show deep, positive relationships between the many women of the series. Even after her initial, boy-driven friction with Steela, the two end up respecting and helping each other.
It’s even hinted in episode six of season two, “Weapons Factory”, that Ahsoka and Barriss have romantic feelings for each other. So says episode director Giancarlo Volpe on a piece of art by previously featured artist Gisele J. While this may unfortunately not strictly be canon, it’s an interesting side of Ahsoka to think about (and a miniscule step closer to canon LGBT representation in Star Wars).
It’s been pointed out that a reason she may form these bonds with others so easily is because of her being a Togruta, a species that is highly community-based. It’s in her nature to build strong friendships around herself despite her training to not form attachments. Unlike with Anakin, however, Ahsoka shows that she can let go when the time calls for it.
From her determination to help her friends to her acceptance of others’ lessons and helping hands, Ahsoka goes to show that women too can have lasting and strong relationships just like the men of the series.
She has flaws.
And she’s not afraid to show it. Any well-rounded character needs them, and she is well-rounded indeed. Most of her flaws are obvious: her impulsiveness, her hotheadedness, her impatience. These are often typical main character traits for children’s shows and often reasons people use to justify disliking Ahsoka (while loving Anakin, who displays the same traits).
Other traits get lost in the war zone the characters find themselves in, such as her love for battle and heading into dangerous situations. These are also shared by her master, Anakin, and are probably encouraged in part by him regardless of his intent. Her flaws are seen as very un-Jedi, and though she can be self-conscious of her abilities at times, she’s hardly ashamed of them. Despite her not displaying typical Jedi attitude some of the time, it’s hard to imagine her falling to the dark side. Ahsoka’s heart is clearly filled with light.
In general, Ahsoka can be seen as a parallel to Anakin. They share many of the same flaws, the same strengths. Ahsoka’s potential future self even warns her of this danger on Mortis in “Overlords”, telling her, “Seeds of the dark side [have been] planted by your master . . . You may never see your future if you remain his student.” However, Ahsoka diverges from Anakin’s path when she leaves the Order.
She belongs in Star Wars.
Ahsoka simply fits into the universe. She embodies the spirit of Star Wars with her loving nature and strong will. It’s obvious her creators (especially Dave Filoni) loved her and saw her in tune with the other characters. She’s a later addition to the main cast, but it doesn’t feel that way. Even though the young girl isn’t in the films, one could easily believe she was in the main trio’s lives the whole time.
This is hugely in thanks to the cast and crew behind The Clone Wars and behind Ahsoka herself. Ashley Eckstein, her voice actress and fangirl-inspirer, does an amazing job of capturing her emotions and bringing Ahsoka to life. It’s a truly a team effort.
From her in-universe characterization to how she’s treated by the creators, she’s become a character that Star Wars sorely needed. There are some fans of the saga that would say she was unnecessary, but I would argue that they are very wrong. Ahsoka was a missing puzzle piece that fit perfectly, and I thank The Clone Wars for giving her the chance to shine. Ahsoka was only the start of a pivotal change in the representation of women in Star Wars.
I hope that Ahsoka will never be forgotten for what she did for Star Wars, especially for its female fans. She has inspired younglings, given strength to those who felt as lost as she and carved her own space within the canon as an extremely important character. She’s strong enough to do what is right for her, an important lesson for many people young and old, and something that her own master only learned many years later.
Hopefully, we’ll see her again sooner rather than later. There are even theories that she could be the mysterious Fulcrum from Star Wars Rebels. Whether or not this pans out, I have no doubt she’ll be back. Ahsoka is too important to the universe now, too beloved by fans and LFL crew alike to never be seen again. She may have turned her back on the Jedi, but we’ll never turn our backs on her.