One of the positives — in my opinion, anyway — to come out of streaming services creating their own original content is making space for short films to be created and to live on. Whether they be standalone tales or bits and pieces of a larger franchise, they are opportunities for filmmakers to tell a moving story within a short span of time.
Last year, Star Wars revealed a taste of that when the first season of the anthology series, Star Wars: Visions, came out. This time around, Star Wars expands the stories of two characters from its lore — Count Dooku and Ahsoka Tano — in its new anthology series, Tales of the Jedi.
Personality-wise, having these two characters be the central focus of the series might seem as a bit of an odd choice. They couldn’t be more different. Yet they bear quite a bit in common. Aside from being part of the same Jedi lineage, they also share a similar narrative: they both walked the path of the Jedi, yet abandon it after losing faith in the Order. Of course, how they had their fallouts and the aftermath are also just as contrasting of one another.
Dooku’s fall to the Dark Side was known of from what was spoken about it in the prequel trilogy, as well as corresponding media. However, showing how it all unfolded was next level. From learning of a corrupt senator from the people he represents, to investigating the death of a Jedi against the wishes of the Jedi Order, his episodes paint a picture of how his faith was shaken. While his allegiances were already turning at the time of the death of his former padawan, Qui-Gon Jinn, its clear that the circumstances of how that even came about was enough for Dooku to completely turn.
Dave Filoni, who created the series and wrote a majority of the episodes, is known for adamantly adding depth and nuance to the characters of this world. In the case of Tales of the Jedi, that especially goes for Dooku. While it doesn’t validate the actions he would later commit under the guidance of Darth Sidious, these short films do give an understanding as to how and why he even got to that point.
As for the episodes centered on Ahsoka, I can’t say that they’ve added that same level of nuance. Viewers have seen her journey, for the most part, through watching The Clone Wars. We’ve seen why she wound up leaving the Jedi Order, and we’ve seen what she went on to do after the fact in Star Wars Rebels.
One episode that felt more so like filler than anything else was the fifth one, “Practice Makes Perfect,” where her master, Anakin Skywalker, teaches her how to defend herself against the clone troopers. While yes, it goes to show how this training later came in handy during Order 66, it wasn’t a story that was necessary to show.
The last episode, “Resolve,” would have been more of a robust story to see how Ahsoka eventually regained the endurance to return to the fight. However, as someone who has read E.K. Johnston’s novel, Ahsoka, I would rather have seen a film adaptation of that instead.
It’s the first episode, “Life and Death,” that was the strongest in expanding Ahsoka’s story. Viewers have seen the origin stories of several Jedi, from Luke Skywalker, to his father Anakin. While it’s been known how Ahsoka was found, it was never known how one of the most popular character of Star Wars came to be identified as Force sensitive until now. It was more than just seeing the early years of her life. This episode showed how and why she is the kind, headstrong character that she is.
Tales of the Jedi made for an enlightening experience. A lot was learned about these two characters and then some — even going so far as showing the record about Kamino being deleted from the Jedi Archives, to finally answering the question of the fate of Yaddle. Filoni and the rest of the team really utilized the power of a short film in expanding this constantly growing universe.