This is going to be a long one, so the review’s posted below the cut.
Whoever thought people would care this much about a cartoon and so much about a character who didn’t exist in the Star Wars canon until just five years ago? How could Anakin have had a padawan for Petey’s sake? One got the impression from AOTC and ROTS that the Council wouldn’t trust Anakin with a puppy much less a person to train.
But here we are and most of what I read from people who watch the show were so moved because after five years fans have become invested in Ahsoka and her fate. I guess it’s because the people behind the show and who have brought her to life managed to do that good of a job with her, so that not only she’s a plausible part of the mythos, her presence actually matters. Maybe more than we ever thought possible. I’ll get to that in a jiffy.
Right off the bat in this episode, we see just how things have become terribly wrong. Tarkin demands that the Jedi Council kick Ahsoka out of the Order so that she could stand trial in the Senate. And the Council quickly folds like a cheap suit for political reasons. Many of them assume Ahsoka’s totally guilty anyway, and they don’t want to make the Senate mad. (If I were to offer any advice at all to Luke on how to rebuild the Order post-ROTJ, #1 would be to make the Jedi completely independent from the government.) So after a quickie kangaroo court hearing, Ahsoka is booted out of the Order and her little padawan beads are yanked away. Anakin’s furious and lunges at the Council. By the way, who are those masked guards? They’re creepy. So Ahsoka’s offered as a political human sacrifice to the Senate and an increasingly powerful military.
Anakin, being a Skywalker, will not abandon Ahsoka. He sends in the Mrs. to defend Ahsoka in her Senate trial while he goes to find Ventress, who Ahsoka thinks is the real perpetrator. Isn’t that cute, Anakin and Padmé trying to save their unofficial little sister? Anakin goes to the underworld to seek out Ventress and when he finds her, he throttles her around until she starts talking. She reiterates her innocence and says Ahsoka, like her, was abandoned by her master. Anakin glowers at her because deep down, he knows Ventress has a point. Anakin was acting on behalf of the authorities, believing in the system even if he didn’t think Ahsoka was guilty. He knows he made a mistake. But Ventress drops a valuable clue…Ahsoka had spoken to a buddy at the Temple, Barriss.
Now I think most viewers had figured out last week that Barriss was the likely culprit. That wasn’t a big shocker. When Anakin confronts Barriss at the Temple and she whips out Ventress’s red lightsabers, it’s an epic lightsaber fight. Frankly, a Jedi as powerful as Anakin should’ve wiped the floor with Barriss, but the fight was extended for artistic license. It was kind of funny when they ended up in the middle of a training class featuring some of the kid Jedi seen last fall, but the fight comes to a violent end. I was hoping Anakin would have enough control to keep Barriss alive because only she could exonerate Ahsoka.
In the meantime the big Senate trial gets underway. The court chamber looks like the Death Star interior. It’s big and imposing and gray while poor little Ahsoka is a bright orange dot. Presiding over the whole kabuki theater posing as a trial is Palpatine, now voiced by Tim Curry. Curry sounds different from Ian Abercrombie and from Ian McDiarmid, but I hope he’ll grow more into the role over time. Not a bad job the first time out. Padmé passionately pleads for Ahsoka’s life while Tarkin just acts like a jerk and claps sarcastically. Just think what would have happened if everybody knew defense counsel was secretly married to the defendant’s Master. Anyway, sham justice is curtailed when Anakin, in true Perry Mason style, drags in Barriss just as they’re about to announce Ahsoka’s guilt.
Barriss confesses to everything, bleating about how the Republic’s corrupt and the Jedi solve everything with violence, becoming war mongers when they should be keeping the peace. Factually, she’s right. But in her lack of self-awareness, she’s allowed herself to be corrupt and violent. Setting up Ahsoka to be blamed for her crimes and expecting someone who had been a friend to take the fall, even lose her life in the bargain, is a horrible betrayal. It’s unbelievably cruel. As she sneeringly tells Anakin about Ventress’s lightsabers, “These suit me just fine.” Funny how we saw the former villainess proclaim “this is the new me” just before she loses her last connection to the Sith.
Now some folks have wondered how a seemingly nice Jedi like Barriss could end up like this. I do remember during the brain eater episodes a couple of seasons back, she expressed to Ahsoka her misgivings about peace keepers being in a war. I guess the seeds of discontent were there for a while. But the question remains, who was working with her? Could she have been manipulated by someone to fall this far? If so, who? I was also curious as to where her Master Luminara Undala was in all of this. Could Barriss be the tip of some iceberg?
With Ahsoka cleared, the Council gives her the most mealy-mouthed apology I’ve heard in my life. When Mace Windu started blathering about the Force working in mysterious ways, I wanted to lop off his hand and throw him out the window myself. The thing is, what COULD the Council do to make it all better at this point? They screwed up majorly and they knew it. They just hoped Ahsoka would be nice enough to just forgive and forget. The truth of the matter is, Ahsoka’s response was nicer than the one they deserved (something along the lines of “take this job and shove it”). Anakin killed these guys for far less than what they did to her.
For a second there I thought they were offering Ahsoka full knighthood and maybe they were, but Anakin offers Ahsoka’s padawan beads back. Whatever the case, Ahsoka refuses. She says if the Council doesn’t trust her, how can she trust herself but I think what she really meant was, “I don’t trust you.”
Anakin pursues her and tries to change her mind, but she’s done. Before they part, Anakin admits he’s thought about leaving the Order himself and Ahsoka tacitly admits she knows about his love for Padmé.
This episode really was about Ahsoka and about Anakin and how the galaxy changing beneath their feet is going to set them up on the path to ROTS. As for Ahsoka, let’s remember this little moment from the Mortis trilogy a few years back:
Grown up Ahsoka warns her younger self that if she remains Anakin’s student, she may never reach adulthood. We all know what that meant. Being tied to Anakin meant being tied to the Jedi and to the war. Meaning she’s putting herself in danger of getting killed at the Temple or turned to Swiss cheese by clone troopers. Many fans assumed she would die during Order 66.
Getting out now means she’s free from the war–it’s what Barriss should have done–and if she’s smart, she’ll get as far away from Coruscant as possible. I think she will join up with Lux, the only person now who truly understands the position she is in. Both of them have found the galaxy a place of lies and those who stand up for what’s truly right don’t have a “side” anymore. Clone Wars now has a whole mess of wild cards who have found their whole lives turned upside down and now don’t fit in: Lux, Bo Katan, Asajj Ventress, even Darth Maul though now he’s going to be used by Sidious. Now Ahsoka joins their ranks. Dave Filoni emphasized in the Insider that this is NOT the end of Ahsoka’s story. It’s the beginning of a new chapter that opens all kinds of possibilities. Unless she does something monumentally dumb like rejoin the Order or is monumentally unlucky, she could even find herself surviving into the Rebellion. She may cross paths with some of the Jedi but her relationship with Anakin is permanently altered. She will never serve beside him again. They may never meet again. She can’t, unless she wants to be on the losing end of Darth Vader’s red blade.
As for Anakin, well, the cap’s been taken off of him and now all of his issues are going to spill all over the floor like a shaken bottle of Coke. Not only will he never trust the Council again and will resent it from here on out, I think this will fuel the ambition he has in the ROTS novelization to get on the Council to change things. Yoda’s little experiment in teaching Anakin how to let people go will drive him, in his despair and feelings of failure, to rely even more on the attachments he still has: Obi-Wan, who at least had the decency to support Ahsoka, Padmé, and unfortunately, Palpatine. And Palpatine is going to milk it for all its worth.
It’s also interesting to note that Anakin loses all of the women in his life: his mother, Ahsoka, Padmé, and Leia, who is lost to him in utero.
The vocal acting was of course terrific but props have to be given to the animators as well. Not only did they do an awesome job rendering Coruscant, but they have also conveyed the emotion in the characters phenomenally. The brief little smile Ahsoka gives to Padmé, the look Ahsoka and Anakin exchange after the trial, the utter heartbreak on Anakin’s face at the end, and the shock at Ahsoka’s knowledge of his secret love really drive the emotional effect of the episode. Also, I loved that in the final scene Ahsoka walks off toward the light while there are dark clouds where Anakin stands.
Many people have noted that this felt like a series finale, right down to the funereal music played during the credits. But it’s not over until the fat lady sings “execute Order 66.” There’s still the Outer Rim Sieges. There’s still Ahsoka’s true fate. There are still questions to be answered and crazy revelations. To end it now out of studio politics would be a huge disservice to those of us who love the show, to those who worked on it, and to George Lucas himself. Give Filoni the time to wrap it up the way it needs to be done.
Tags: Clone Wars