Josh Reviews Tales of the Jedi
Somehow I hadn’t yet written about one of the best new Star Wars stories in recent memory: Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi! The series was released last spring. I hope it’s the first of many!
This series of six short stories (each about 15 minutes in length) tell two interweaving stories. Three of the shorts focus on Ahsoka. For anyone who hasn’t watched the animated series The Clone Wars and Rebels, these three shorts are an excellent primer for the new Ahsoka show! We get to meet Ahsoka as a baby, then catch up to her as the Jedi Padawan of Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars, and then again in the days immediately after the fall of the Jedi and the rise of the Empire.
The other three shorts focus on Count Dooku. While the Ahsoka stories show her rise (from a newborn to one of the greatest characters in all of Star Wars), the Dooku stories depict a character on the opposite journey: his fall from heroic Jedi to villainous Sith.
The shorts could each be watched independently, but together the six short stories work beautifully well.
The series was overseen by Star Wars mastermind Dave Filoni, who ran both The Clone Wars and Rebels animated series, and who has been working with Join Favreau to help shape the modern live-action Star Wars series, beginning with The Mandalorian.
The Ahsoka shorts are a wonderful summation of this character’s journey. You get a taste here of why fans of The Clone Wars and Rebels love this character so much. (I’ve enjoyed Ahsoka’s two appearances in live-action, on season two of The Mandalorian and in episode six of The Book of Boba Fett, but I don’t think either of those episodes quite captured the magic of this character in the way these animated shorts do.) Dave Filkoni created Ahsoka, so it’s no surprise to me how great a job he did at telling these new Ahsoka stories.
It was fascinating to go all the way back to Ahsoka’s birth, and to get to meet her parents and the world she came from before joining the Jedi Order. (This was all brand new information, as we’d never before learned anything about Ahsoka’s life before the Jedi.) I loved the middle short, in which we got a new story of Ahsoka’s somewhat unorthodox training under Anakin Skywalker, and a peek at her bond both with Anakin and also with Captain Rex and his clone troopers. The final short is also terrific, giving us a look at Ahsoka’s attempt, following the events of Episode III, to lose herself in the universe. But, of course, a true hero like she is can’t avoid getting drawn back into events when there are people who need help. I love the design of the awesome new Inquisitor with whom she tangles at the end. (See the image at the top of this blog!)
Count Dooku has been a major player in the Star Wars story ever since his first appearance in Episode II, but he’s a character about whom we actually know very little. He arguably gets more development in these three shorts than in all of his previous appearances put together! I absolutely adored this exploration of Dooku. And here’s another hot take: Dave Filoni tells the story of this Jedi’s fall to villainy better in these three shorts than George Lucas did for Anakin Skywalker in all three Prequel films.
We heard in Episode II that Qui-Gon Jin had been Dooku’s Padawan learner, so it was a joy to see young Qui-Gon (played by Liam Neeson, returning to the character!!) paired up with Dooku in the first short. Qui-Gon is another character from the Prequels who always seemed to me like he could have been cool had he been better developed as a three-dimensional character, so I love seeing him again here. It’s fascinating to explore the relationship between these two characters (and I was very moved to learn, in the third Dooku short, that it was Qui-Gon’s death at the end of Episode I that was a key instigator in Dooku’s rejection of the Jedi.)
One of the more interesting aspects of the Prequels is how George Lucas made the choice to depict the Jedi order as flawed. That was a bummer to me, as a fan, when those films originally came out. I’d spent years dreaming about how awesome the Jedi were, and so I was disappointed to see in the prequels how lame they turned out to be. I’ve subsequently come to understand that this was a conscious choice Mr. Lucas made. I don’t think it was well executed, but I do think it’s an interesting idea. Mr. Filoni really dives into that here, showing us Dooku’s legitimate reasons for being frustrated by the Jedi. That especially comes through in the second Dooku short, in which he is paired up with fellow Jedi Knight Mace Windu. I loved how Mr. Filoni leaned into what was already part of Windu’s character from the Prequels: that he’s sort of a dick!
But it’s the third and final Dooku short where things really come together, as we see Dooku’s alliance with Palpatine and his final break from the Jedi. I was surprised and delighted by the choice made by Mr. Filoni – always one to incorporate deep-dive Star Wars references into his stories – to bring Yaddle into this story!! Yaddle is, of course, the female Yoda seen on the Jedi Council in Episode I. Fans like me were intrigued to see a glimpse of another member of Yoda’s race, and we were bummed that Yaddle vanished from Episodes II and III. Mr. Filoni tells us why, and it is absolutely heartbreaking. (Bryce Dallas Howard, who has done a fantastic job directing multiple episodes of the live-action Star Wars shows, voices Yaddle, and she’s fantastic.)
I loved Tales of the Jedi! If you’ve never yet sampled any of the animated Star Wars shows, this is a great way to dip your toes in these waters. (You can watch all six shorts in under an hour and a half.) And for those who are already converts, this is pure joy. I hope we get many more Tales of the Jedi shorts in the future!!!
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