StarWars.com examines the rise and fall of Master and Padawan.
Every Jedi needs a teacher — and every Sith apprentice aspires to be a Sith Lord. Always Two follows the stories of teachers and students throughout the Star Wars saga, exploring their role in the story and what they learned from one another.
From learning about the harshness of war together in The Clone Wars to leading others on opposite sides of the fight in Star Wars Rebels, Ahsoka Tano and her master, Anakin Skywalker, followed an unconventional path into Jedi history.
Both their similarities and differences are key to their relationships. At first, Ahsoka was as impulsive toward Anakin as Anakin was to Obi-Wan. Although she had been assigned to Anakin specifically to calm him and to try to teach him not to be so rigid about his attachments, the two sometimes worked precisely because they took risks together. This was particularly noticeable in the starship battle over Cato Neimoidia near the end of the war, in which Ahsoka rescues Anakin after his starship malfunctions.
Anakin and Ahsoka’s bond was built on mutual rebellion from the start. Ahsoka tends to rush ahead to confront things, and Anakin’s tendency to do the same thing meant that they could confide in one another. The two of them have very different backgrounds -- she was raised by the Jedi Order, while he was not -- but they have similar attitudes in that they often jump right into conflict and try to solve it on the fly. In the Ahsoka novel, Ahsoka notes that Anakin would make trouble for himself, while Obi-Wan tried his hardest to avoid trouble and ended up in it anyway. And Ahsoka? She makes trouble when she feels that it’s morally justified.
The two act similar on the surface, but often have different motivations for tackling the same problem, with Ahsoka being more idealistic and Anakin more angry. When their motives align, they align well. When they clash, an an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.
Ahsoka also helps Anakin to be a better teacher. He isn’t always sure that he can be a good teacher, especially compared to calmer Jedi. However, it is exactly Anakin’s empathy that draws him and Ahsoka together. Unlike the other Jedi of their time, Anakin and Ahsoka eschew non-attachment for teamwork. While Jedi Master Luminara Unduli is willing to let her Padawan Barriss Offee die in a collapsed building on Geonosis, Anakin goes to rescue Ahsoka.
Their backgrounds mean that they fight for slightly different reasons, though. Ahsoka is more idealistic. As she grows, she learns more about the places where the galaxy isn’t black and white, such as the seedy lower levels of Corusacant, or when she's hunted as prey by the Trandoshans and encounters a certain Wookiee.
Ahsoka and Anakin’s partnership is key to their story, but other parts of Ahsoka’s growth happened without Anakin being present. On Ryloth, Ahsoka learned that sometimes orders do need to be followed: she lost pilots under her command, a sobering reminder of the impact of the war. And her decision to leave the Jedi Order may have been her bravest act as a Jedi.
In this way, Ahsoka is almost a reflection of Anakin’s fall. She also left the Jedi Order, but out of kindness and a sense of broken trust. Where Ahsoka walks away from the Order to find a lifestyle that she feels more comfortable living, Anakin's fear of loss leads him to take a new path. And their later battle, as former Jedi and evil Sith Lord, was a tragic end to their story -- but the emotions stirred in both, from Ahsoka's desire to save him to Anakin's anger, shows how strong their bond was.
Megan Crouse’s work has appeared in Den of Geek, FangirlBlog, and Star Wars Insider. She podcasts on Western Reaches and Blaster Canon and can be found on Twitter at @blogfullofwords.