Some of the best Star Wars content in recent years has seen storytellers enhance the often-maligned prequel era by filling in gaps in characters’ stories and creating new fan-favourite heroes and villains. No film or series did that better than the seven-season long Star Wars: The Clone Wars saga, so it’s exciting that its mastermind Dave Filoni has returned to that well once more with Tales of the Jedi. A short, six-episode anthology that splits its focus between Count Dooku (Corey Burton) and Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) — two of The Clone Wars’ biggest success stories — it reminds fans why they fell in love with those animated portrayals in the first place, and answers a few lingering questions along the way.
Dooku is Tales of the Jedi’s biggest beneficiary. In the prequel movies and The Clone Wars, he was only ever presented as a formidable Sith Lord. But he was once Yoda’s padawan, before he himself became a Jedi Master, and the mentor of Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson, whose soothing vocals make a brief but welcome return). The latter is especially fertile ground that’s explored over three well-chosen time periods, as we see how Dooku slowly but surely becomes disillusioned with the Jedi’s overly rigid ways.
Combines tense, emotional story with inventive, beautifully animated action.
Filoni is smart not to take things too far, though; the added storytelling nuance – along with some typically superb voice work from Burton, who adds touches of lightness and sadness when the moment suits – makes Dooku sympathetic without completely absolving him of the bad choices that led to his fall to the dark side. It all comes to a head in the fourth and best chapter of the season, ‘The Sith Lord’, which combines a tense, emotional story with inventive, beautifully animated action.
Comparatively, Ahsoka’s tales don’t add as much to her well-trodden story, and the three snapshots don’t have a clear throughline. But each short has their own unique pleasures; the first sees us flash back to her early years (Baby Ahsoka is almost as cute as Grogu), and the second dovetails brilliantly into a critical Clone Wars ‘Order 66’ moment. It’s Ahsoka’s third story that’s a standout; set after the fall of the Jedi but before she joins up with the Rebels, it features some stunning visual storytelling and makes you curious to see what happens next.
Perhaps that’s a period that the upcoming live action Ahsoka show, starring Rosario Dawson, will explore further. But Tales of the Jedi is another reminder of why that show has come to fruition in the first place; the hero's determination, smarts, and badassery are all on display here, and Eckstein slots right back into the role like she had never stopped voicing the character for two years.
If this is the last time we get to see Ahsoka and co in animated form, then Tales of the Jedi is a fine send-off. But there are plenty of Jedi, Sith, and others who could benefit from the type of concise and impactful stories it offers in future seasons.