Star Wars: Tales Of The Empire Review

Star Wars: Tales Of The Empire
Six short stories explore how Nightsister Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) became drawn into the Empire, and reveal what became of Barriss Offee (Meredith Salenger) after Order 66. 

by Ben Travis |
Published on

Streaming on: Disney+

Episodes viewed: 6 of 6

“Size matters not,” Yoda once told us. And so, while Tales Of The Empire — the second anthology of canonical Star Wars animated shorts, following the 2022 collection Tales Of The Jedi — consists of just six bite-sized instalments, running between 10 and 15 minutes each, it’s not to be overlooked. This is short, powerful, punchy storytelling in the Star Wars galaxy, hooking onto under-explored characters and offering narrative morsels that thread together decades of disparate threads.

Star Wars: Tales Of The Empire

Last time, the focus was on the fall of Count Dooku and pivotal moments in the life of Ahsoka Tano. Here, the first three episodes are devoted to Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) — the Beskar-spear-swinging Magistrate first introduced in The Mandalorian Season 2, later revealed as a former Dathomir witch intent on heralding the return of Grand Admiral Thrawn in Ahsoka – as she loses everything, and finds new purpose in the embrace of the Empire. The later instalments explore the fate of Barriss Offee (Meredith Salenger) — the former Jedi Knight who, in The Clone Wars, grew disillusioned with the Order, bombed the Jedi Temple, and framed Ahsoka Tano for the whole thing.

Neatly knits the corners of this sprawling galaxy that bit closer together.

Their two paths span several eras and facets of Star Wars lore — possibly baffling to the uninitiated, but likely to thrill devotees. Brief as these flashes of story are, they are carefully chosen to not only illuminate Morgan and Barriss’ most tragic losses and greatest misdeeds, but to incorporate familiar faces like Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen), the hissing General Grievous (Matthew Wood), and even Vader himself. Throw in visits to Dathomir, Corvus, and the Fortress Inquisitorius, and the result is a series that neatly knits the corners of this sprawling galaxy that bit closer together.

Even for those less in thrall to the minutiae of Lucas’ world, there’s plenty to enjoy here. These stories are concise archetypal fables in their own right: a hellish vision of war that pulls a lost child into darkness; an attempt at galactic diplomacy that ends in disaster; a desperate attempt to claim new family in the face of total loss; a metaphysical battle for the soul between friends-turned-nemeses. And they’re presented in some of the most beautiful and mature animation Star Wars has ever displayed — dialling down the cartoonier flourishes of The Clone Wars and Rebels for something grittier and more soulful, boasting breathtaking detail in the landscapes, and offering moments of stillness even amid those brisk runtimes. A full animated Star Wars series in this style would be a gift.

The very nature of Tales Of The Empire means it leaves you wanting more — and getting the most out of what is here requires more than a passing knowledge of galactic history. But this is smart, sharp stuff, filling in narrative gaps with real, characterful purpose. Judge it by its size, you shouldn’t.

Small but perfectly formed, Tales Of The Empire is a dark, delicious treat for deep Star Wars fans. ‘Tales Of The Rebellion’ next, please!
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