Rey’s training with Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi may have been cut short, but she could probably use a little more guidance in the Force if she’s planning to save a galaxy from tyranny and help a new generation rebuild the future. Lucky for her, the perfect teacher is probably still out there somewhere in the galaxy! Someone who has already told the Jedi Order what for, who is full of wisdom, who more interested in doing what is right than adhering to any group doctrine.
Her name is Ahsoka Tano. Former pupil of Anakin Skywalker, former Jedi Padawan, former general in the Clone War.
Guardian of the light.
Master of her own destiny.
[Spoilers for Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels]
Ahsoka became a part of the Star Wars universe in the canonical animated dual series The Clone Wars and Rebels. In the first show, she was introduced as Anakin’s apprentice during the war, and often fought alongside Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi as the galaxy fell further into the clutches of Chancellor Palpatine’s schemes. In Rebels, she acted as an occasional guide and mentor to the eponymous heroes of the show. By the end of its run, she had returned to shepherd Sabine Wren through the stars on a quest to find her lost shipmate Ezra Bridger.
If you’re not a fan of these shows, I know what you’re probably thinking. I know because I thought the same thing when Ahsoka was introduced as a character: You can’t just give Anakin an apprentice that he had all through the Clone War who is never mentioned in Episode III, that doesn’t make sense, and it’s a ridiculous thing to posit in a television show, and I refuse to accept this, how very dare you. Having been through that emotional arc, I can safely tell you that I was entirely wrong, and Ahsoka Tano is one of the best characters Star Wars has ever given us. It’s not hyperbolic or over-praising to insist so. She simply is.
For fans who look at the Star Wars prequels and continually wonder what the Jedi Order was thinking? see how Ahsoka navigates their weird rules and bureaucratic nonsense. Eager to find out what it’s like to watch someone truly develop their Force abilities over an extended period of time? Oh look, it’s Ahsoka. Curious as to what people actually ever liked about Anakin Skywalker? Watch him when he’s standing next to Ahsoka. Really into lightsaber combat with an opponent who wields two separate blades like an extension of their body? Hey there—it’s Ahsoka!
Ahsoka Tano’s story can easily be taken as a progenitor to Rey’s in the current trilogy. What we have is a young woman without blood-related family, who learns about the Force, but ultimately decides to go her own way with what she knows. And that choice enables her to be the perfect ally for literally anyone in need. She doesn’t require the sanction of the Jedi Council. She doesn’t need to confer with a committee. She doesn’t have to wait for orders. Just like Rey, she is permitted to make her own decisions about what is right. She carves out her own place in the universe.
What’s even weirder is how Ahsoka’s time as Anakin Skywalker’s apprentice was genuinely valuable for her… which, given Anakin’s track record with children (specifically how he tends to murder them) should come as a surprise to all of us. While a traumatic past and little-to-no understanding from the Jedi basically guaranteed Anakin’s turn to the dark side, as a teacher he was frankly an asset; right from the beginning he was encouraging and dedicated to Ahsoka’s advancement, and while his tendency to act beyond his brief was a frequent headache for the Order, it helped to make Ahsoka more adaptable and attentive as she came of age during a war. In fact, it’s safe to say that the bond between Anakin and Ahsoka is basically the only thing the Chosen One did right as a Jedi. Yes, his bond with Obi-Wan was important too, but Anakin frequently exploited that. Not so with Ahsoka.
When the Clone War was moving closer to its inevitable finale, Ahsoka found herself caught in a web of intrigue and then framed for a terrorist attack on the Jedi Temple. While Anakin worked tirelessly to clear her name, the Jedi Council turned its back on her and stripped her of her status as a Padawan. The truth eventually came to light, but Ahsoka had seen enough; though she never had any intention of harming her fellow Jedi, she realized that the corruption within the Order that led her old friend Barriss Offee to commit the attack was a well-founded concern. She refused to resume her status as a Padawan and left the Jedi behind.
To say that Ahsoka Tano abandoned ship right as it started sinking is a fair assessment of her journey as a member of the Jedi Order. Even so, she continued to help where her aid was needed—Anakin even returned her lightsabers to her when she helped a group of clone troopers liberate Mandalore toward the end of the war. As the Empire expanded its reach, Ahsoka became an informant for the burgeoning Rebel Alliance, acting as one (probably the very first) of the Fulcrum agents. She eventually spent time with Hera Syndulla and her motley crew as she helped ready them for the long game against the Emperor. During that time, Ahsoka learned that Anakin Skywalker survived the Jedi Purge in the form of Darth Vader. She went head to head against him on the planet Malachor, and her fate was uncertain until Ezra Bridger found her as he wandered through a space-time portal realm a couple years later. He pulled her out of the fight with Vader at the last second and prevented her death.
By the end of the Rebels series, the Empire is vanquished and Ahsoka returns to help Sabine Wren hunt for the lost Ezra. She seems the perfect guide to a young Mandalorian ready to go on an adventure, but there’s no record of where Ahsoka ends up, or what she is doing later on in life. It is unlikely that she hung out with Luke Skywalker and his students, as she stopped considering herself a Jedi the moment that she left the Order. So what does the make her? In a galaxy carefully sorted into Good and Bad Things, where does she fall?
The crazy part is, Ahsoka could practically be called a manifestation of the light side of the Force.
I should explain: See at one point during the Clone War, Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka were dropped on a planet called Mortis where they faced a trio known as the Ones. Made up of the Father and his Son and Daughter, these beings acted as near avatars to the Force—the Son being the dark side, the Daughter being the light side, and the Father acting as a balance between the two of them. During this odd little trip, the Son possessed Ahsoka and forced her to fight Anakin as a distraction. Once he was done using her, the Son murdered Ahsoka and then accidentally mortally wounded his sister, the Daughter, in an attempt on the Father’s life. Beside himself with grief, Anakin asked the Father to do something and an option presented itself; the Daughter’s withering life force could be siphoned off into Ahsoka. In essence, an extremely powerful celestial-ish being who embodied many facets of the light side of the Force gave over her last remaining energies to bring Ahsoka Tano back from the dead.
Look, Star Wars is all about mythic arcs, right? And the fact is, Ahsoka’s mythic arc hand selects her as a custodian for the light side of the Force. But, like, the real light side, not the side that the Jedi Order keep insisting that they’re here for and ignoring. Ahsoka is not a Jedi; she is a Force-wielder who uses her abilities to help people. She is an unstoppable agent of empathy and kindness. She’s a good wizard in a cloak with a staff and two laserswords. And in case you needed anymore clarity attached to her internal metaphors, Ahsoka’s lightsabers were green during the Clone Wars—and once she broke from the Order, she came back with two gleaming white blades.
Her influence on the narrative is frankly incalculable. You could even argue that she primed Vader for Luke’s attempt to redeem him. When Ahsoka fights Vader, his mask breaks and she sees Anakin inside of it. He recognizes her, calls her by name. Horrified, she stands her ground and tells him, “I won’t leave you. Not this time.”
I won’t leave you.
The very words Luke says to his father as he dies.
When Ahsoka says those words, she is clearly saying them to Anakin, not to Vader. She plants that seed, the insistence that Anakin is still there, that he can be reached. Without this moment, who knows if Anakin’s son would have been able to find him. Not without her reminding the Sith Lord of how it feels to have someone love you enough that they’re willing to give their life for a shot at saving you.
Ahsoka and Rey have a lot in common; they both learned from a Skywalker, they both care tremendously for others, they both have different paths to walk in the Force. There is an inherent kindness that they share, and a toughness too. There is no mentor who rings truer for someone in Rey’s position; even without her direct presence, Ahsoka is the guiding figure that could shave years, maybe even decades, off of Rey’s learning curve. They are not the same, but they are of a kind. Not to mention how helpful it would be for Rey to be presented with better, more flexible options as she works to defeat the First Order and Kylo Ren.
We all know who is in the best position to show Rey her true destiny. We’ve watched her grow from a scrappy teen to a bright light in an otherwise unforgiving galaxy. Give us what we deserve. Give us Ahsoka Tano on the big screen.