'Clone Wars': The legacy of Ahsoka in the 'Star Wars' universe

In the end, Ahsoka Tano wasn’t the only one who walked away. The fifth season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars reached its finale last weekend, and as many suspected, the episode turned out to be a swan song for the CG-animated series. Lucasfilm announced Monday that it would go “in a new direction” with its animation pursuits: “We are exploring a whole new Star Wars series set in a time period previously untouched in Star Wars films or television programming. You can expect more details in the months to come.”

What might that mean? On both the silver and small screen, the chronicles of the Jedi universe have been fixed on the life of Anakin Skywalker, but with the announced Episode VII film, newcomer Kathy Kennedy is turning the cinematic focus for the first time beyond the fiery funeral of Darth Vader. (That’s a sharp turn from the tack of the now-retiring George Lucas, who had in recent years stated that the most relevant stories in the Star Wars universe ended with the torching of Vader’s corpse on the forest moon of Endor.)

The costly postponement of the 3-D re-release of two prequel installments only underlines Kennedy’s resolve to get this new plotted course underway with all moviemaking engines pushing in the same direction. This week also brought word that Detours, the planned series that would spoof the Jedi universe, might turn out to be a dead end. Time will tell if Lucasfilm television animation will follow the feature film saga into the post-Vader years or if it will jump into another direction to give the theatrical flagship plenty of room to manuever.

But what of Clone Wars?

The final broadcast episode was an especially evocative one as Ahsoka Tano (the character created for the series and the namesake 2008 animated film) was wrongly accused of sedition and murder. Her ultimate fate had been a topic of fan speculation for months and now it seems to dovetail with the fate of series itself. We caught up with Dave Filoni, who directed the episode and had become the Lucasfilm face of the series as supervising director for all five seasons, to talk about the young Jedi trainee nicknamed Snips.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: There must be a jumble of emotions these days on a number of fronts but talk a bit about the character of Ahsoka and how the finale and her fate resonate for you.
DAVE FILONI:
As we kept writing the character of Ahsoka we knew it would be — well, I don’t want to say an uphill struggle — but we knew it would be a challenge to place a character like her in the midst of the Anakins and Obi-Wans of the Star Wars universe. It was a spot we would definitely have to earn for her and judging by the reaction to last Saturday’s episode it seems that everybody here, and especially Ashley [Eckstein], was able to make it happen. It was a situation where at first [fans were] like “Why is this kid here?” And now, five years later, people are like, “Wait – why is she leaving?” They were sad about it. So that was kind of good for us to see in the reaction.

How far back did you see this ending coming? I know they were surprises along the way but did you know the general destination?
The question from the very beginning was “What are we going to do with this character, now that we’ve put her in play?” I was always leaning towards, “I think she should make it through.” And the great thing was that on the other side of it, George was very much, “Well, we have to leave everything open. You know, she might die.” It made me really look as we went through the series and developed her character and things kind of twisted and turned [for her]. The whole thing with Ahsoka, we’re always asked, “Why do we need to have this character? Why is she important, not just for Anakin, but for Star Wars?”

What were some of the answers?
There are the avenues that she opened up for female fans to carry a lightsaber at conventions. I watched the fanbase to see if their reaction to her would slowly [evolve] and, you know, it did. It was surprising at the end because we worked her into this position with this story arc where she walked away. And I think the initial outlined instinct was that we’d just bring her back into the Jedi Order at the end of this. But I kind of put my hand up and said, “Well, wait a minute. Let’s say that maybe we don’t do that…”

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