Hey! Hallie here!
I wasn’t initially planning on reviewing this series of shorts. As a series made up only of six episodes that are each less than twenty minutes long, it didn’t feel like there would be much to talk about. But ‘Tales of the Jedi’ completely blew me away. Between the really intriguing characterization of Dooku sliding to the Dark Side and some surprisingly heart wrenching stories for Ahsoka, this feels like essential Star Wars content. Especially for fans of ‘The Clone Wars’. Some episodes are certainly better than others, but before I even start with this review I’ll say that this is definitely worth checking out. And, even better, it won’t take you much time to watch the whole thing! Let’s go over the ups and downs of ‘Tales of the Jedi’! SPOILERS AHEAD!
‘Life and Death’: This episode is definitely the most slow moving of the episodes. I really don’t think it should have been episode one, partly because of its pace and partly because of the feel of the episode. Instead of the serious angst we see in every other episode, this one is a wholesome story about Ahsoka as a baby. The focus of ‘Life and Death’ is very much the Togruta and not as much Ahsoka, herself. We get to see how a Togruta village would welcome a new baby. We get to see a hunting ritual that occurs during the first year of life of a Togruta baby. We even get to see the way a Togruta village might recognize a Jedi. It’s cute to see Ahsoka overcome death and tame a large beast, but the focus on Ahsoka isn’t really new ground they’ve decided to tread. Especially with all the baby Jedi content we’ve gotten from Grogu in ‘The Mandalorian’. The real draw is Ahsoka’s village, which might not be for everyone, but is at least interesting.
‘Justice’: ‘Justice’ starts off Dooku’s story with a bang. Here we get to see a fairly young Dooku and an even younger Qui-Gon Jinn enter a village that’s supposedly the location of the kidnapped child of a senator. I fully expected this short to demonstrate the first of Dooku being seduced by the Dark Side. But this episode fully establishes that Dooku has long already been suspicious of the senate and displays dark powers he shouldn’t possess. Though at first the episode feels like the two Jedi are there on behalf of the senator who’s looking for his son, the reveal that the townspeople all collectively kidnapped the senator’s son in protest of their mistreatment brings another reveal. Dooku isn’t there on behalf of the senate. They don’t even know he and Qui-Gon are there. From there we see Dooku sympathize with the townspeople and stand with them against the senator. He even goes as far as to force choke the senator nearly to death. Fortunately, Qui-Gon is able to trust the senator’s son to make peace and end the fight before the senator’s untimely death. You can’t help but agree with Dooku’s blatant mistrust of the very controlling senate, though. He takes his mistrust a step too far, but his ideals are valid. It showcases exactly what makes him such a compelling villain.
‘Choices’: This one further elaborates on Dooku’s mistrust of the senate, and by extension, the Jedi Order. But in this short it gets even more interesting simply because of the absence of Qui-Gon Jinn. Instead, Dooku gets paired off with Mace Windu, who is practically the face of Jedi corruption. Here the two hear of the death of a Jedi Master, and though Windu is reluctant to believe that the senator she died protecting might be suspicious, Dooku is convinced that something’s off. Throughout the entire short he presses Windu on his apparent lack of empathy for the Jedi Master due to his constant suggestion they abandon the investigation and report to the council. But when enough evidence is found to accuse the senator of lying, Dooku immediately plunges them into a fight that kills the senator. Even worse, it’s discovered that the senator isn’t the perpetrator. It’s his guards. Throughout the episode we see two Jedi’s of very opposite personalities at war. Mace Windu blindly follows the rules without empathy. But Dooku lets his empathy turn him away from even sensible rules and straight towards violence. At the end of the episode we see Dooku once again sympathizing with the underdog, the senator’s guards, who acted to protect their people from the corrupt senator. Their belief that the Jedi would blindly serve the senate hits Dooku hard because, clearly, it shows corruption in the Jedi Order. And that corruption is driven home when Windu gets the position on the council the fallen Jedi once occupied, making his reluctance to complete the investigation feel suspicious. Once again, Dooku’s clearly the most relatable party here.
‘The Sith Lord’: This is my least favorite Dooku short. When it started I thought it might be my favorite short overall. It starts with a really touching reunion between Dooku and a now grown-up Qui-Gon Jinn. They even mention Obi-Wan. And then it transitions straight to Dooku mourning Qui-Gon’s death. It’s really heartbreaking and feels like a breaking point for the character. But ultimately, they reveal Dooku already turned to the Dark Side before this. So instead of being the major character moment you think it’s going to be, the heart of the episode is Yaddle. Yaddle sees what Qui-Gon means to him and sympathizes with Dooku. She even relents that she knows he’s right about the corruption in the Jedi Order and wants to help him. But in trying to convince him to abandon the Dark Side, Yaddle is killed by Dooku. Dooku’s fall to the Dark Side feels less impactful than I wanted in this short, but it’s solid enough. And I love Bryce Dallas Howard as Yaddle.
‘Practice Makes Perfect’: I didn’t expect a short as simple as this one to be so sad, but damn does it catch you off guard. It starts with Ahsoka, early in her experience as Anakin’s Padawan judging by Obi-Wan’s mullet, completing a test. Anakin’s unsatisfied with the test though, and instead employs the help of Rex and the 501st to provide a more formidable test for Ahsoka to overcome. It’s cute to see how much Rex, the 501st, and Anakin care about Ahsoka’s training. It’s also fun to see how formidable Rex and his men can be when firing from all sides. But then we get to the point of all this lead-up. We flash forward to Ahsoka and Rex preparing to face the 501st during Order 66. It all leads up to one of the most tragic ‘Clone Wars’ episodes ever made. Damn Filoni. Just go ahead and make me cry.
‘Resolve’: This short feels the most like a full episode. I really liked that we began with Ahsoka mourning Padme at her funeral despite the potential danger to herself. We don’t get to see Ahsoka’s friendship with Padme a lot, but it was nice to see it paid tribute to. It’s also an excuse to get Bail Organa and Ahsoka in the same place so Bail can start to convince Ahsoka to continue fighting on behalf of the people standing against the emerging Empire. Ahsoka attempts to reject Bail’s offer by living a peaceful life, but it isn’t hard to see how that’s going to end. Ahsoka tries to hide that she’s a Jedi, saves someone using the force, is found out by an Empire sympathizer, the Empire sympathizer is shown through the cruelty of an Inquisitor that he’s not just wrong but also stupid, and Ahsoka has to save the day. In the end, of course, Ahsoka agrees to join the growing rebellion. It isn’t anything really special, but I still liked being able to see the moment where Ahsoka decided to join the rebellion.
Overall I felt the Dooku episodes were stronger than the Ahsoka episodes, but both were really fun to watch. And though I didn’t much like how the Dooku episodes ended, I still enjoyed everything that went into getting to that ending. These episodes detailed important moments we’ve never seen before in a way that was really enjoyable to watch. Each episode utilized its time so perfectly that none of them felt like shorts. Each felt like a full episode in its own right, and each earned its spot amongst the animated Star Wars content. I really hope Filoni does more of these with more characters. There’s so much that could be explored here and, regardless of the focus, I’m absolutely sure it’d be interesting to watch.
Don’t do anything fun until I get back!