We want to manage expectations as this is a rather ‘small’ project considering what came before. Tales of the Jedi is not a new series, per se, but more of a collection of short stories focused on two specific characters. This collection of stories aims to fill in the blanks around the timeline leading to The Clone Wars, and explore said characters’ journey amongst the ranks of the Jedi during these uncertain times for the Republic. Interestingly, those two characters are never connected and never met during the events of the Clone Wars series. We are talking about Count Dooku (before he became a Sith Lord under Darth Sidious) and Ahsoka Tano (in different stages of her life). The connection between the two is quite subtle, but it is apparent to fans who know the arc of the characters well: both left the Jedi order as they had moral problems with the Council’s decisions and overall philosophy. One chose to join the Dark Side as a political puppet master, the other chose exile, while still believing in the good principles taught by the Jedi Order.
In the runtime of six episodes of about 15 to 18 minutes each, we will discover key events in Dooku and Ahsoka’s life prior and during the events that led to the Clone Wars and the rise of the Empire. Key Star Wars characters will cameo in the short episodes, namely Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, Captain Rex and Mace Windu.
The Fall of Count Dooku Explained…At Last
For my money, this was the most interesting storyline of Tales of the Jedi. Finally, the character of Count Dooku received the treatment he deserved, which he never really got since we were first introduced to him in Attack of the Clones (2002). While the three episodes focused on him are short, we have enough information to understand exactly what pushed him to form the Separatist movement and join Palpatine’s scheme.
We are first introduced to him as a Jedi Master, with young Qui-Gon Jinn as an apprentice at his side (voiced by Liam Neeson’s son, Micheál Richardson. The pair is sent on a diplomatic mission to a remote planet of the Republic to negotiate the release of the son of a Senator, which happens to represent the interests of this system. At first, they believe they are representing the good and noble side, but following a conversation with the locals, they were informed of the Senator’s wrongdoings, and that said Senator is the real tyrant. The son is a hostage, but well treated…this was the only solution they had at their disposal to incite change. So, noticing how both he, Jinn and the Jedi Order at large were manipulated for political benefits, Dooku’s instinct is anger and frustration (hard to blame him, though). The Senator arrives on the planet to solve the problem himself, but will be stopped by Dooku, who will come this close to killing him. Qui-Gon, with good intentions, will stop the hand of his master just in time. This represents the first blow to Dooku’s beliefs and a first step towards the Separatist movement.
The following episode happens a few years later, when Dooku and a young Mace Windu (before he is appointed the rank of Master on the Jedi Council) are sent to a planet in the Outer Rim to investigate the death of a Jedi. Pairing Dooku and Windu together was a wise narrative choice, as we understood from the events of Attack of the Clones that both Jedi knew each other well and could also explain why Dooku found the rules imposed by the Council were too corrupt and too severe. Mace Windu is the embodiment of the rigid Jedi doctrine. The pair will quarrel on how to deal with the responsible criminals…and this will lead Dooku to not be selected to sit on the Jedi Council, with Windu taking the vacant position.
The final episode about the journey of Count Dooku is undeniably the best! This happens directly during the events of The Phantom Menace (1999). At that time, Dooku was in fact still in the Jedi Order and he bumped into Qui-Gon (Liam Neeson this time), now the Master of Obi-Wan, who just came back from Tatooine with Anakin Skywalker. He told everyone about his encounter with Darth Maul, and no one seems to believe that the Sith would return…except Dooku. A few days later, Dooku learns that Qui-Gon died on Naboo and is visibly very emotionally impacted. He will discuss his feelings with Jedi Master Yaddle (the female Jedi from the same species as Yoda, voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard) before turning his back on the Jedi forever. This is where we discover that Dooku was actually contacted by Darth Sidious previously and that they were actually starting to plot a coup against the Republic together. Dooku, at this stage, is still uncertain and now he is angry against Sidious for sending Darth Maul against him. The blow is hard and brutal once Yaddle discovers Dooku and Sidious together, forcing Dooku to kill her and accept his new allegiance to the Sith.
These short stories excel at telling us who Dooku was and that, even though he was a Sith working with Palpatine, his basic intention was to do good and heal the Republic from corruption. His means were violent and sometimes involved murder, but as characters like Cassian Andor (in Rogue One and the now-streaming Andor series) showed us, true belief forces people to commit unforgivable crimes. This might be a controversial opinion, but Dooku was never as evil as Palpatine, he lost himself in the way of his idealism, as Anakin lost his way for love and the intimidation he got from the Jedi Order.
Fun fact – this episode FINALLY shows us how Dooku was able to delete the existence of planet Kamino from the Jedi Archives while he was working alongside Master Sifo-Dyas to order clone soldiers for the Republic in preparation for a future conflict. As we know, Obi-Wan will stumble upon this ten years later during the events of Attack of the Clones.
A Deeper Exploration of Ahsoka Tano’s Background
The opposite side of the coin is Ashoka Tano. Maybe I’m biased because we’ve spent so much time with Ahsoka in the final season of The Clone Wars and we were presented with a live-action of her, played by Rosario Dawson, in The Mandalorian season 2 and The Book of Boba Fett, but her arc in Tales of the Jedi is not eye-opening. This is the lesser part of the short series, but there is one good episode in the ensemble.
The very first episode shows us the birth of Ahsoka on her home planet, in her parents’ tribe. We discover that she came from a loving and deeply spiritual place. Her connection to the Force are soon discovered following a hunting trip with her mother, where baby Ahsoka was kidnapped by a wild tiger and came back to the camp on the back of the beast, having connected with it through the Force. The wise one of the village is the first to mention the word ‘Jedi’, informing the parents of Ahsoka’s destiny.
Many years later, the second episode with Ahsoka takes place during the first few months of the Clone War. She was recently appointed as Anakin’s Padawan and is learning the ways of the Jedi in combat. Anakin wants to get her out of her comfort zone and decides to include the Clones in a special training session where they will fire on Ahsoka from all directions, forcing her to anticipate where the blaster shots will come from. This training shows useful to her during a small flash of her in the Star Destroyer facing off the army of Troopers with Captain Rex two years later. Although there is action, this episode was a letdown, my least favourite of the series for the minimal character development (only training tactics and minimal dialogues).
The third and last episode covering Ahsoka’s journey is the most interesting here as well. Showing great resemblance to the opening of the Jedi: Fallen Order video game and the first episode of the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, this happens right after the events of Revenge of the Sith, where Ahsoka was able to escape Order 66. She is hiding on a farming planet with other refugee workers, but one of them suspects that she is a Jedi after a worker is miraculously saved. This person is able to contact the Empire and a sinister Inquisitor (a very cool unknown) is sent to the planet to kill Ahsoka. She will need to defend herself to stop this foe. This story is based on an early draft of the Ahsoka novel by E.K. Johnston and showcases the closest we’ve had to an adaptation of a canon novel so far. So if you’ve read that story, this tale might seem a little familiar.
For the big fans of Dave Filoni’s contribution to the Star Wars Universe, this is definitely a MUST. Although not quite perfect, this is outstanding Star Wars storytelling that allows us the fill in the blanks about a few legends of this Galaxy far far away.
As mentioned, everything revolving around the fall of Dooku to the Dark Side and his aspiration to join the Separatist movement is spot on and shows a great arc for Dooku as a conflicted idealist. However, I think I would have picked someone other than Ahsoka Tano for the second half of the series, as we have not learned much about her in three episodes apart from what we already knew about her. My pick would be either Qui-Gon Jinn or Mace Windu. The first would show how a Jedi living under the same doctrine as Dooku, as he was his apprentice, decided to stay in the good, while also defying the Jedi Order when it was necessary. Windu, on the other hand, would be the perfect opposite to Dooku, as a Jedi that only lives by the rules and is a strong believer in the Jedi’s most radical beliefs. The contrast between Dooku and Ahsoka is not deep enough, in my opinion.
Overall, a great addition to The Clone Wars chronology and perhaps even better than The Bad Batch season 1. We recommend that you watch it! It is a pretty easy and quick experience for sure, won’t take 3 hours.
Final Grade: 8.5/10