In the middle of running Andor Disney has presented Tales of the Jedi, an animated show consisting of six episodes. Three of the episodes focus on Jedi Master Dooku and his apprentice Qui-Gon Jinn, three show Ahsoka Tano. The episodes run a little over 15 minutes each and they have all been released at once on 26th October 2022 on Disney+.
Storywise, Tales of the Jedi fill in story gaps by showing parts of the protagonists’ lives that we could have surmised but that have not been shown on-screen before.
Jedi Dooku, Little Ahsoka
First episode shows the village Ahsoka grew up in. We see her birth, and the first manifestation of her Force powers. The episode also familiarises us with Ahsoka’s parents’ culture and the understanding of the relationship between life and death in it. It is clear that it was the writer’s intention to make us think of this philosophy in terms of Ahsoka’s further development.
The second and third episodes show Jedi Dooku and his Padawan Qui-Gon Jinn when the former was still an aspiring member of the Jedi Order. The episodes underline his character flaws including anger, pride and his loss of faith in the Senate and the Republic.
The final – and possibly most interesting – episode about Dooku ties-in directly to the film events. It shows his reaction to Qui-Gon’s death, but also explores his connection to Darth Sidious before the events of Attack of the Clones.
The second episode about Ahsoka is self-contained and focusses on her training, with a surprising and brutal point. The final episode recreates the scene from E.K.Johnston’s novel Ahsoka where the ex-Jedi runs into an Inquisitor.
Message From Dave Filoni?
Overall the show feels a lot like a bonus to The Clone Wars. It is not surprising that we find the name of Dave Filoni in the credits – The Clone Wars author who created Ahsoka Tano. Even more than showing so-far unexplored layers of Ahsoka’s character or previously unknown moments of her life (as the first episode might imply), the show feels like Dave Filoni’s pet project. That is not meant to be a negative statement: it is simply a description. Especially the middle episode which ties directly to some Clone Wars scenes makes one imagine Filoni cackling to himself while observing the audience’s expressions.
We could even go further and see Tales of the Jedi as a way for Filoni to convey messages to his audience. For instance the village elder’s statement that “Ahsoka is a Jedi” could be more than just a realisation, it might be a statement aimed at the audience who, in the end, know that Ahsoka will eventually leave the Order. This may be the character’s creator whispering to us (but rather bluntly) that he perceives Ahsoka as a Jedi, if not by order membership, then in spirit.
Much Ado About Nothing?
The stories about Dooku on the other hand show the past of a future villain. That is an intriguing concept by itself. Crammed into half an hour, it feels perhaps somewhat rushed and Dooku’s “evilness” crudely exaggerated. Personally, I would have rather welcomed for example a (live action?) series about young Dooku – the potential is clearly there (the difference from “basic” Jedi protagonists would be exactly Dooku’s complicated character).
My personal verdict is that the ideas Tales of the Jedi brought were interesting, but the execution was somewhat lacking. While I enjoyed the second of Ahsoka’s episodes – it had a point – I would have preferred for example her first meeting with Plo Koon and entering the Jedi Order. Since we have been introduced to her family, we could have been shown how they (and Ahsoka herself) reacted to the little one’s sudden departure.
Similarly I am not sure what was the intended purpose of transferring the epic scene from the Ahsoka novel into animation. It looks epic and it shows those who have not read the books something cool from Ahsoka’s life after Order 66, but without the rest of its story, it leaves out a lot. At the same time it gives a spoiler to the most dramatic events of the story.
Thankfully however, such a format of the series that shows individual, unrelated episodes, leaves the door open for similar projects in the future. A second season of Tales of the Jedi could be made, showing for example Ahsoka’s departure to the Jedi Order or more nuanced portrayal of Dooku. It is however more likely that if such a series is made, it would show moments from different Jedi’s lives (which would be surely nice).
Tales of the Jedi is a nice, noncommital, short show to watch. It may serve to sate the appetite of fans who have nothing to watch, especially Clone Wars fans. At the same time it does not really bring anything new to the table. It simply gives the impression of Dave Filoni being given the budget to fill in the gaps he wanted, but that is not a bad thing. And Disney could clearly afford it.