The Clone Wars S5 finale: Whose fault is Ahsoka’s fate?

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After seeing the The Clone Wars finale at Lucasfilm, and then watching ‘The Wrong Jedi’ again at home, there’s certainly a lot to talk about regarding what happened in that final episode of the season, especially with Ahsoka. This article will move into spoiler realms after the next picture, so go watch the episode if you haven’t done so already.

Also, Ashley Eckstein and Dave Filoni go behind the scenes with ‘The Wrong Jedi’ in the behind the scenes commentary. For more insight on the episode (and the whole finale arc), check out the Question and Answers segment from the Lucasfilm screening with Dave Filoni, Ashley Eckstein and Matt Lanter, recorded by Bryan Young for the Full of Sith podcast, episode XII (If you just want to skip to the Q&A, it starts around 35:10).

Spoilers from here on out! (including the comments)

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Whose fault is it that Ahsoka ended up where she did?

So, the Jedi Council doesn’t trust Ahsoka and kick her out because they feel pressured to bend to Tarkin’s call for a military trial instead of a Jedi trial. Without any real questioning, they give her the boot, and not until Anakin shows up with the real traitor (who confesses and has hard evidence of her involvement), do they even consider that they made a mistake. And then they try to play it off as “this was your Jedi trial” and ask Ahsoka back. And she walks away – not before a last moment with Anakin with more bombshells.

But while the Jedi were pretty quick to not back her up, does Ahsoka share some of the responsibility of her predicament? At any time, she could have mentioned that Bariss was the one who told her to go to the warehouse where the nanodroid bombs were found. But sometimes teenagers have to stick together against the grown-ups? She felt like she couldn’t trust anybody and she kept jumping to wrong conclusions (Asajj is the mastermind!) – is it the cloud of the dark side, or is she just being a teenager, trying to fit into the room of adults who she feels are all against her? If she did mention Bariss Offee when she talked about being set up and deceived, chances are that the Jedi would have investigated, and perhaps found the stolen lightsabers, or at least gotten a discrepancy in testimony. Or do the Jedi not work that way, and instead just rely on their gut?

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By the way, the Jedi Temple’s Chamber of Judgment? Talk about how to use interior design to make a hostile environment for judgment. You’re on trial in a tiny, dark, claustrophobic chamber where the Jedi look down on you from all sides, and you have to balance on a tiny platform with no railings. Even the Republic’s military tribunal space has railings. Even the name of the room – it’s judgment, not justice or inquiry. This doesn’t seem to fit with the Jedi way, as embodied by the Council chambers – sure, people in the middle are put on the spotlight by being surrounded, but there, you are at least at the same level as the Council members, and have no worry of falling twenty feet while making your case. But it does make for a great setting to let the audience know that Ahsoka is hosed. As Anakin points out, her expulsion has already been decided, and this is just formality. But the Jedi Council could have explained why they were doing what they were doing – Tarkin’s going to use public sentiment against us unless we hand you over for a non-ecclesiastical trial, so we have no choice but to bend to the Republic yet again without even stalling. If they had been more forward with their reasons, perhaps Ahsoka could have given them more to back her up with?

Meanwhile, the Republic’s military court space has a very different effect on the defendant – you’re the center of attention, but just a puny speck in this giant cavern that should normally be part of a Death Star. On Coruscant, where real estate space is the ultimate luxury, the Republic has clearly enough room for a giant courtroom inside a military base that screams Empire (or some sort of G.I. Joe playset re-themed for Nazis). But at least there’s a railing, even if your counsel has to stand on a separate walkway.

Yay for Padmé finally showing up this season! We had gotten a hint that she would be returning from Ashley, though the players in the military court just seemed wacky if trying to impose any real world sense on it – normally, court cases, even military ones, have regular lawyers, judges, etc. and that these things take time. But nope, the Supreme Chancellor has nothing better to do that preside over a terrorist trial, and a top military admiral and a senator are available to serve as prosecutor and defense counsel. But this is a kid’s show, so both the courtroom cast and the sped up trial timeframe work. Besides, Tarkin clearly has an anti-Jedi agenda, so any chance for him to break them down in the public eye is time well spent for him. And Senator Amidala is a familiar face to Ahsoka, so she could confide in her… but she doesn’t mention Barriss or give any indication that she shares her side at all. Mrs. Jawa pointed out that all this episode needed was a line about Ahsoka giving a reason not to betray the Barriss connection, and the rest could all worked.

TCW-520-AwkwardThe final scenes: The scenes of Ahsoka back in the Jedi council chamber, and then outside with Anakin were so well executed and fit so well. The Jedi Council’s lame spin of ‘this was your Jedi trial’ with no real apology and the arrogance that she would accept this and return fit perfectly with where they are headed in Episode III – they are seeing a lot of things, but not getting it – trying to shape outcomes but failing, and Anakin is watching this happen. And that all ties in with Barriss’ rationale for her actions – the Jedi are on the wrong path. Not sure how Barriss expects her actions to be a wake-up call for the Jedi or the public, but then again in real life, do terror attacks really ever get people to get people to think.. “Hey, maybe the terrorists are right?” (And the official site, in the trivia slideshow we get this statement to chew on: “Barriss’ rebuke against the Jedi Order, though they led to dark actions, is a hundred percent true.” (Trivia Gallery Slide #4).

Back to Ahsoka: Even knowing that her hesitation when asked back was essentially her decision to leave, and the hand closing Anakin’s offered padawan braid chain was more the visual confirmation, this was a powerful moment. Mrs. Jawa hoped that Ahsoka would tell Mace Windu bleep off after his lame positive spin (a la Dean Venture at the end of The Venture Brothers season 4: Operation P.R.O.M.), but this ain’t Adult Swim, and Ahsoka is still minds her elders, even when they are wrong. And if you notice, that while the Jedi Council has female members on it at this time like Shaak Ti (seen in the opening bit with the holo of Tarkin), it is only male members that are present at the Council’s apology (the five who were on her Jedi hearing, plus Saesee Tiin and Anakin).

But the final scene on the Jedi Temple steps is the tear-jerker. (Even watching it a second time when it aired still made me misty-eyed). Anakin pleads, and even reveals that he’s thought about walking away from the Order, to which Ahsoka drops: “I know.” BAM! and cue the music. Also, a yay for Cartoon Network to not put promo material over the closing credits of their final episode of The Clone Wars, with a new score just for this episode.

If you listened to the Q&A from the USO or Lucasfilm screenings, you knew that Kevin Kiner, the composer, got a full orchestra to build the music for the final episode arc, and hearing some portions of the John Williams score incorporated into this episode (when Anakin & Bariss are fighting in the corridors of the jedi temple, we get a riff, and then obviously when Anakin is chasing Ahsoka outside the temple at the end) really helped cue the emotions.

Well done.

And Barriss Offee – total badass in combat. And Asajj gets more badass points too, starting the fight with Anakin without having a lightsaber of her own. and Yay for the younglings return – I was almost afraid that Barriss would use them as hostages.

Anyway, questions to be answered that we can bug Dave Filoni with all convention season long:

  • What’s going to happen to Barriss Offee? (presumably after her trial)
  • Will Asajj get grumbly that she never got that pardon? (I’m assuming that Ahsoka leaving the order kinda meant she didn’t fill out that paperwork?)
  • Will the Jedi give Ahsoka a little bit of a severance package, so that she can start her pony farm?
  • How does Ahsoka feel about Barriss? – the one person she protected was the one who framed her with terrorism and murder
  • Did Barriss act alone (besides Letta)? Tarkin discounts Ahsoka’s theory that someone else choked Letta because his prison is secure – was someone else helping Barriss out in her prison ninja missions – killing Letta, and helping Ahsoka escape/killing clones while remaining off of the cameras?

17 thoughts on “The Clone Wars S5 finale: Whose fault is Ahsoka’s fate?

  1. Dunc

    I actually watched this episode! Okay, I came in about 10 minutes in, and I’m mostly kind of fascinated by the pokemon thing and it didn’t convert me or anything, but I watched TCW, for the first time since Mortis made me decide to peace out for a good couple of seasons.

    I think this is a good place for the series to – let’s say pause – and it works either as an ultimate finale OR as a doorway to new stories. Knowing what’s ahead, and even with minimal attachment to Ahsoka, I was glad she chose to get while the getting is good. (Though I totally thought they were going to offer to promote her at first.) Ahsoka on her own has pretty much infinite possibilities…

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  2. Tricia

    Awesome write up, James. I think Ahsoka definitely shares some of the blame, but she’s perhaps the only person who chooses in the end to make a stand. If she keeps caving she becomes what they Jedi are now. There is no good time to tell the Senate, “Thank you, but no thank you. We are keepers of the Peace.”

    I’m with your wife in wishing for a bleepable moment with Mace.

    Very curious what will happen to Barriss and who influenced her. She sounded an awful like Palpatine’s mouthpiece in her admission.

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  3. Michael Falkner

    I didn’t cry at the end. In fact, I was a bit numb and flooded with thoughts. But, I did cry at one point during the big duel.

    When Anakin gets kicked off the ledge of the temple and he lands face-down, pretty much defenseless, in the middle of the lightsaber class, one youngling looks at Barriss leaping down for the killing blow and yells, “Look out!”

    A youngling saved Anakin’s life.

    My first thought immediately afterward was how powerful that was, especially considering what happens to those younglings by Anakin’s hand in Episode III. It was a very sad and poignant moment for me, and definitely choked me up a bit.

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  4. Larz

    The counsel is to blame. They’re a symptom of the sickness and a source of weakness. “Trust your instincts. Ignore them at your own peril.” For the presence of the Sith and the Republic sinking, the Jedi counsel do little to prevent the boat from sinking. Aside from Ahsoka, can you blame Anakin for his distrust, forgoing Jedi values and eventually leaving and destroying what he once was a part of?

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  5. jawajames Post author

    Dunc: I felt that the Council did offer to essentially make her a knight – they said that they would count this as her trial. so i guess offering her the braid chain back was so that they could officially take it back at a promotion ceremony.

    As for the tooka: this arc was their first appearance as real creatures (in season one, Numi the Twi’lek girl has a tooka doll) – they are named for one of Dave Filoni’s cats (now deceased).

    Tricia: I wouldn’t say that Ahsoka is the only one to make a stand against what the Jedi had become – Barriss clearly did.

    Michael: definitely having that fight in front of the younglings brought links to Episode III. Not only does Petro alert Anakin, these younglings see Anakin as a hero for stopping a traitor in their midst, and are more inclined to trust him (and share their story with other younglings). and that’s heartbreaking when it comes to RotS.

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  6. Dom

    Great ending, but I agree they could have tightened up the logic with Barriss’ role. Some of it was convoluted. Like why did Barriss have to implicate Ahsoka (and not any of the other Jedi)? Why didn’t she issue a statement after the bombing? How did she get so powerful that she could trounce Ahsoka, knock out Ventress, and hold her own against Anakin?

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  7. jawajames Post author

    Dom: implicating Ahsoka makes sense if she doesn’t want to get caught yet. this may have been the first act in her master plan – show the Jedi as weak and vulnerable and even able to turn on their own kind. or she recognized that covering her own tracks would be better than delivering her platfrom at this time. as for how she got so powerful without anyone knowing – better go talk to her master about that! i’m sure that will lead to some serious soul-searching within the jedi.

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  8. Darth Myon

    Did anyone else sense a continuity mix up with Barris’ part, or was it just me? Wasn’t she supposed to get killed in Order 66 by her clones?

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  9. Dom

    jawajames: but Barriss could have implicated any other Jedi, not just Ahsoka. Why get her best friend in trouble? Also, Barriss could have issues some sort of statement anonymously. Terrorists usually have messages that coincide with their attacks, or find other ways to make their goals known. If Barriss felt so strongly about her goal, couldn’t she have forced Letta to make a statement? Again, I love the episode, but the plot seemed a bit convoluted.

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  10. jawajames Post author

    Dom: Ahsoka was easy pickings – she was on the case and had access to Letta (and Letta was a loose end). I’m sure that Barriss wasn’t happy about framing her friend, but she also did BLOW UP a Jedi master she knew personally. She just stuck to her cause over her friends.

    The plot was a little convoluted because they had an outcome they needed to reach (Ahsoka leaving after being betrayed). Barriss may have masterminded the terror bombing but no one says she was actually good at being a terrorist (ie taking responsibility, issuing a statement). maybe she wanted it to be a wake-up call to just the Jedi, and when Tarkin got involved and pulled it over to the military, she didn’t have a plan for that, so covering it up and framing Ahsoka became her plan.

    I’m hoping that season six does spend a little time with the consequences of Barriss’ actions. i’m gonna go back and re-watch the older Barriss episodes.

    Myon: Bariss’ death in Order 66 as led up to in the Reversal of Fortune webcomic and depicted in the comic adaptation of Episode III may or may not be invalidated. At the end of this episode, she’s still alive, and we still have plenty of time to get us to the Episode III timeframe. Maybe she reforms and is re-admitted? Maybe she’s under mind control this whole time and gets cured? or maybe that’s all over-written by her actions now in The Clone Wars. i’m not going to be all bent out of shape over it.

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  11. Paula

    I suspect Bariss was acting for change with much the same misguided approach as others in the Jedi Order: she thought that something dramatic (like Ahsoka being kicked to the curb by the Council) would be enough to get the Jedi to see how wrong things are going.

    Bariss obviously gave the Council (by the way… most dysfunctional EVER!) way too much credit.

    Even if they are being clouded by the Dark Side, basic management skills should have come into play.

    And I still think Mace is a putz. Forget blaming Jar Jar. Mace is the reason why things fell apart.

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  12. iiari

    Myon:
    I definitely sensed a continuity hiccup on Bariss’ part. It’s hard to reconcile what we’ve seen of here here with the padawan of Ansion, the Jedi healer of the Medstar books, and as one of the established victims of Order 66. EU books seem to have gone out of the way to portray her as quite average from a combat standpoint and not the superstar dueler of this last arc.

    However, as we all know, TCW has always played fast and loose with this kind of adherence to continuity, which has always struck me as a pointless dissonance and poke in the eye to people invested in the novels and, frankly, as a bit lazy from a storytelling standpoint. I guess they can always recon this in the future, though, by saying that the Jedi needed bodies on the front line so Bariss had a quickie trial, was rapidly “redeemed,” and was right back out in combat and thus available to be blown away once Order 66 arrived.

    Also, while by no means excusing Anakin, it’s far easier to understand his anger and actions in ROTS than it was from the movies alone, which is a great contribution to the complexity of the overall Star Wars storytelling arc…

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  13. iiari

    Paula:
    Yup, in broad retrospect, Mace has to get a ton of blame, as does Yoda. The cool thing about the ROTS novelization, if you haven’t read it, is that Yoda, during his duel with Sidious in the Senate chamber, totally has the massive revelation of all of the mistakes that the Jedi, that HIS Jedi made for the last 800 years in dealing with the Republic and the Sith. Mace, too, had a lesser insight as well before being blasted out the window…

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  14. Stooge

    I was also a bit disappointed with the convoluted bits of the story (and no real mystery since there was only one possible suspect), but dayum if this episode — and this arc in general — didn’t have a boatload of style, suspense, and intelligence behind it. Great way to cap the season and great observations all around.

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  16. jon

    I gave up on TCW when they decided to bring back Darth Maul. I know lots of people like the show, maybe even liked Maul coming back. But it’s hard for me to enjoy the Star Wars mythology when Filoni keeps changing characters and history to suit the story.

    He did this with other Jedi like Eeth Koth, Even Piell, etc.

    Which is fine if you enjoy it. Filoni has the right to do it, but he’s jumped the shark as far as I’m concerned.

    Having Barriss be the Mastermind and having her let her own friend take the fall? It may have resolved Ahsoka’s story for fans, but Barriss’ place in Star Wars is now messed up. It’s completely out of character with no previous story arc to explain this change.

    Unless Filoni has ideas for Season 6 up his sleeve, it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth for keeping up with canon, because it seems nothing is off limits, and fans eventually get a raw deal.

    In other words, Filoni is pretty much the blame for lazy, cheap story tricks.

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  17. Arthur

    I actually thought Barriss falling to the dark side was very logical, she is introduced as a very formal upstanding Jedi padawan right from the start (you can see the distinction just by looking at her very first interaction with Ahsoka) she was brought up by a very hard line Jedi with very specific teachings about what a Jedi should be, and in every episode Barriss was in something horrible happened to her and Ahsoka, the jedi weren’t living up to what her strict teachings taught her they should be and eventually that mixed with the stress of being in a war that none of the Jedi should have been in drove her to snap, its tragic that it happened considering that she was a good Jedi.. this is just my point of view however, i know it doesn’t agree with the books but from any other standpoint it made sense, the dark side drives people to do things that go entirely against their nature.. its an unfortunate established fact.

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