Anakin's new Padawan makes her debut in the feature-length Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated film.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and the all-new episodes coming thanks to #CloneWarsSaved, we’re undertaking a full chronological rewatch of the five original seasons, The Lost Missions, and the theatrical release. We’d be honored if you would join us and share your thoughts on the award-winning series.
Ten years ago, Star Wars fans flocked to movie theaters for the release of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a feature-length spectacle that ushered in the animated series. Starting today, we'll break down the film into three acts, deconstructing the introduction of Ahsoka Tano, the Battle of Teth, and the unraveling of the nefarious Huttlet kidnapping plot.
While Anakin and Obi-Wan continue to fight on the frontlines in the Battle of Christophsis, the Jedi Council receives an urgent message requesting their help in the kidnapping of Jabba the Hutt's son, Rotta. With communication cut off, the council's new orders are delivered by a spunky surprise visitor -- a new Padawan for Anakin, Ahsoka Tano.
It's fascinating to watch Ahsoka's introduction now, knowing the trials and heartbreak ahead for the scrappy and strong-willed Togruta teen. The war will test the bonds of master and learner; Ahsoka will ultimately earn Anakin's trust and grow into a more even-keeled yet passionate version of her teacher. She'll lose her faith in the Jedi Order and determine her own path. And far in the future, after she is no longer a follower of the Jedi ways, she will have to face what her master becomes, clashing sabers on Malachor with Darth Vader. But today, we focus on the character's beginnings, plunging straight into the havoc of a ground battle under the tutelage of Anakin Skywalker.
Part of what makes Ahsoka so refreshing is her bright-eyed response to the world. Instead of cowering in fear, she practically bounces off the ship upon arrival, eager for experiences that go beyond her temple training. She is so much like Anakin -- indelicate, over-eager, maybe a little arrogant -- and yet she will grow beyond him into a calm and measured warrior more akin to Obi-Wan.
It's no surprise that Anakin isn't interested in being a teacher. Brought to the Jedi ways too old to be properly indoctrinated, he's long been resistant to the rules that govern him. He forms attachments, flouts the teachings, and often disregards direct orders (albeit with successful results.) But Yoda is a wise and patient teacher. He hopes that by giving Anakin a student to care for, the unorthodox General Skywalker may learn to let go when Ahsoka ultimately becomes a Jedi Knight in her own right.
Anakin is reckless, bold, full of a fighter's bravado. He believes, foolishly, that a Padawan would just slow him down and he misjudges Ahsoka from the start by sizing her up by her age. At 14, she is a little young to be a Padawan -- it's true. She's energetic and exuberant, ready to charge montrals-first into battle to gain much-needed experience. Basically, she mirrors all of his most exasperating traits back at him, forcing him to take a more measured approach. Ahsoka immediately begins to challenge him in ways that test his patience and ultimately make him a better Jedi, a more cunning warrior, and a slightly more patient person. (Maybe.) She's the perfect foil for his own impetuousness, so often on display at a time when he is living a double life as sworn Jedi protector and secret husband. Their relationship, as much as his marriage to Padmé and his growing allegiance to Palpatine, helps to explain how Anakin goes from being the young man we meet in Attack of the Clones to the dark warrior of Revenge of the Sith.
As she so succinctly puts it, "You're stuck with me, Skyguy."
Which brings us to the other important relationship formed on-screen here: Ahsoka's long and beautiful friendship with Captain Rex, far lighter than the contentious partnership between Jedi and Padawan. They may be in the heat of battle, but her quip and new nickname for Anakin, at once a show of her fearlessness and youth, earns a belly laugh from Rex while incensing Anakin, which is really a win-win.
Ahsoka is, to be fair, still a little rough around the edges, but in their first real battle together, she and Anakin begin to form a partnership, learning to trust each other as they're both brought down to the same level -- scuttling around beneath a piece of debris, essentially sneaking behind enemy lines disguised as...garbage. The plan has a cartoonish humor to it, but is ultimately effective in disabling the Separatist army's mobile shield, while General Kenobi makes a very civilized ploy to surrender to General Loathsom, complete with what I can only assume in the galactic version of a proper cup of tea.
The opening act's focus on Christophsis gives us a moment to reflect on the devastation of the war and its impact on the clone cadets, cut down on the battlefield while facing a seemingly endless and monotonous barrage of stoic battle droids, leaving the gleaming, crystal world around them in ruins. "This is a dark day for the Republic," Jedi Master Mace Windu says.
But there is hope in the galaxy. With training and patience -- and experience, which outranks everything -- Ahsoka will amount to something more than she seems at first blush.
- The Lucasfilm logo onscreen at the beginning has an eerie soundtrack -- the urgent sound of clone trooper chatter mid-battle.
- Christophsis was one of two new planets developed for the animated feature film, which follows the format of three distinct episodes from the series and completes the arc featuring the crystalline planet.
- We also get our first look at the jungle planet of Teth, with a hidden monastery that was inspired by Ralph McQuarrie's early concepts for Jabba's Palace.
What did you think? Tell us in the comments below and share on social with #CloneWarsRewatch!
Next up: With the Battle of Christophsis finally won, come back Tuesday as we delve into the rescue of Rotta in the second part of our rewatch of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars theatrical release.
Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Want to talk more about The Clone Wars? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver what you thought about today's episode.
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