For five years, we've worried ourselves over the fate of Ahsoka Tano. After all, Anakin's scrappy Padawan doesn't pop up in Revenge of the Sith, and the popular theory is that she either perishes in Order 66 or, more likely, dies before the events of Episode III. But in this week's season finale, Ahsoka made a shocking decision, one that proposes another possibility for her ultimate fate—and offers Anakin another possible nudge toward the Dark Side. Major spoilers within and in the video.
Last week, a team of Jedi and Clone Troopers, led by Anakin, captured the fugitive Ahsoka, who is under suspicion of coordinating the bombing of the Jedi Temple and killing Letta, the woman who turned her husband into a bomb. Admiral Tarkin insists that the Jedi Council expel Ahsoka from the Jedi Order and hand her over to the military so she can be tried by the Republic. At this point, Obi-Wan and Anakin are Ahsoka's only allies. Obi-Wan argues that the Jedi should stand with Ahsoka during her troubles, but the other Master Jedi suspect Ahsoka might be behind the bombing, and Mace Windu fears that protecting Ahsoka could harm the Order's ties with the Senate. Really, the way the Jedi Council behaves in this episode perfectly exemplifies why this whole tragic mess began.
Ahsoka and Anakin are whisked off to the ominous Chamber of Judgment, where Ahsoka pleads her innocence. She still suspects that Ventress set her up, but she's clearly not certain. Her pleas fall on deaf ears, however; the Council expels her from the Order, stripping her of her rank. Anakin roars in anger while Ahsoka hangs her head in defeat, barely flinching at the indignity of having her beaded Padawan braid removed.
Padme agrees to represent Ahsoka in her Republic trial, and Ahsoka looks genuinely touched by the appearance of Padme and Anakin in her cell. She reiterates her suspicions that Ventress set her up, explaining what she saw in the warehouse. Anakin leaves to seek out Ventress and get to the bottom of this mess, while Ahsoka laments that, save for Anakin, all the Jedi have abandoned her.
Anakin finds Ventress easily, and, after a brief battle (which Ventress must fight sans lightsabers). Ventress is completely honest with Anakin, telling him that she was going to turn Ahsoka over and collect the bounty until she realized she and Ahsoka shared a kinship, both abandoned by their masters and their orders. She offers that last bit with such bile that Anakin realizes it's the truth.
Meanwhile, Ahsoka is brought before Chancellor Palpatine (our first episode with Tim Curry in the role; a moment of silence for the departed Ian Abercrombie), with Tarkin on the prosecution and Padme advocating for the defense. Tarkin makes it clear that he would see Ahsoka put to death. Meanwhile, the Jedi Council watches silently from their high horses, I mean, their high balcony.
Back in the lower levels, Ventress explains to Anakin that she was robbed of her lightsabers by another Jedi, and reveals that Ahsoka had contact with one other person during her fugitive stint: Barriss Offee. Sure enough, Anakin confronts Barriss and finds she is hiding Ventress' lightsabers in her quarters. "You should have gotten rid of them," Anakin tells her, his blue lightsaber pressed against Ventress' red ones. Barriss smiles, "I think they suit me."
Okay, I'm going to take a brief timeout here, because I promised I would do this last week, and I am a lady of my word: Chewgumma, you were completely right and I was completely wrong. Last week, we were debating whether Barriss would prove the final villain of this piece. I had huge, major doubts that Barriss was behind the bombing because she has an established history during this time period, one that includes dying in Order 66 in the comic adaptation of Revenge of the Sith and I didn't think they'd go so far off-book with this particular character. But today, Barriss' Wookieepedia entry is a mess. I don't know if you're one for victory boogies, Chewgumma, but I cede the dance floor to you.
Putting questions of canon aside, however, Barriss actually works quite well as the mastermind behind the bombing for the purposes of the show alone. She and Ahsoka are peers, after all, and Ahsoka has been through a lot this season—training freedom fighters, battling pirates, and now operating as a fugitive and murder suspect without the aid of the Jedi Council. Barriss' murderous bombing of the Temple seems nearly as extreme as Anakin's slaughter of the younglings in Revenge of the Sith, but we don't know what tragedies and betrayals Barriss has witnessed in parallel. Barriss and Ahsoka have both come of age in an era where the Jedi have given them much to doubt. It's a shock that Barriss would go this far, but between Barriss' radical actions and the Council's refusal to stand by Ahsoka during this trial, Ahsoka has to question whether she is truly on the side of right.
Barriss and Anakin fight for a bit, but this is really just another act of defiance on Barriss' part. There's no way she's going to fight her way out of the Temple, and that becomes painfully apparent when they battle their way into a youngling lightsaber class.
Palpatine is about to find Ahsoka guilty when Anakin charges in to interrupt the proceedings. He trots in the captive Barriss who, head held high, confesses to the bombing and Letta's murder. I can't condone Barriss' actions, but her reasoning is right on the money: "I have come to realize what many people in the Republic have come to realize, that the Jedi are the ones responsible for this war.... And my attack on the Temple was an attack on what the Jedi have become: an army fighting for the Dark Side [camera on Palpatine, brilliant], fallen from the Light that we once held so dear. This Republic is failing! It's only a matter of time." Truer words, Barriss.
It's interesting to watch the reactions to Barriss' speech. Obi-Wan is sorrowful and reflective. Anakin is surprised, but his anger seems to fade; at least a few of her words have slipped into his brain. Palpatine is stoic, unreacting. Ahsoka looks as pained as she did when the Jedi took her braid. After Barriss is escorted from the chamber, Anakin smiles at Ahsoka from across the platform; he thinks that this means everything will go back to normal. Ahsoka tries to return the smile, but finds she ultimately can't.
Oh, but it's not over. We still have another infuriating scene with the infuriating Jedi Council. Everyone apologizes for suspecting Ahsoka of the bombing and tells her that she conducted herself with grace, but here comes the kicker: Mace Windu tells her, "This was actually your great trial. Now we see that. We understand the Force works in mysterious ways, and because of this trial, you have become a greater Jedi than you would have become otherwise." Translation: Oh yes, we're very sorry we suspected you of being a murderous terrorist, but don't you see? The Force conspired to make us think you were a terrorist so that you could show us what an awesome Jedi you are. Please come back.
Seriously, no introspection with these people. No thoughts that maybe the Council should devise better methods for identifying threats and investigating their members. No questions of how they failed Barriss and whether the Jedi Order needs to reassess its role in the Republic. It must be nice to be able to wave your hand and say, "The Force did it."
Fortunately, Ahsoka isn't buying it. She turns to Anakin and tells him that she isn't coming back, then walks out the door. Anakin runs after her, demanding an explanation. "How can I trust the Council when they wouldn't trust me?" she asks. He points out that he has always trusted her, and she tells him that she's grateful, but this isn't about him. She needs to sort out her life and her feelings alone, "without the Council and without you."
He tells her that he knows what it's like to want to leave the Order. "I know," she replies, and his eyes go wide. I've always suspected that Ahsoka knows a lot more than she lets on about Anakin and Padme's private life. In that moment, he realizes she's not his little Snips anymore. He lets her go.
So Ahsoka has gone ronin, which opens up a whole host of questions. One, of course, is whether there is a chance she might return to the Order during the run of the show. It's entirely possible that Ahsoka will ultimately decide that the Jedi Order is the best place for her—faults and all—but she may well find it easier to hold to her values and serve the galaxy without the Jedi. And does this increase or decrease her odds of survival? She might find a new home and a new role for herself somewhere far from the Sword of Damocles that is Order 66, but she still might perish before the events of Revenge of the Sith.
And what does this mean for Anakin? His story is one about loss and fear of loss, and losing Ahsoka is huge for him, even if it doesn't prove permanent. Ahsoka hasn't just been his companion and his spiritual little sister; she's also provided a moral center for him within the Jedi Order. Sure, he still has Obi-Wan, but Anakin's role as Ahsoka's mentor has been central; he's had someone he desperately didn't want to let down. We've seen shades of darkness within Anakin throughout Clone Wars, but now that he has an Ahsoka-shaped hole in his heart, will he venture farther into the Dark Side? And will he come to resent the Jedi Council for driving her away?
For now, though, I am quite satisfied with this emotional ending to a riveting arc. This has been a season of ups and downs, and it's great to see it end on such an amazing high note. And I can't wait to see what future adventures are in store for Ahsoka now that she has broken with the Jedi.