Whatever Happened to…Katooni?

By the time the seventh and final season of The Clone Wars premiered in February 2020, Star Wars fans knew they would see a final version of an unfinished arc. The arc introduced Clone Force 99, a.k.a the Bad Batch, to Star Wars canon and was the first arc in the seventh season. In July 2020, Lucasfilm officially announced The Bad Batch series was coming to Disney Plus in 2021. 

Star Wars fans who watched the unfinished animatics released at Star Wars Celebration got to see a fully realized arc of the characters they already met. Heading into its second season, The Bad Batch was the first official spinoff of The Clone Wars series. However, it was not the first conceived spinoff series.

There was a planned spinoff series revolving around a group of Younglings introduced in the fifth season of The Clone Wars. The four-episode arc follows Younglings Petro, Katooni, Byph, Ganodi, Zatt, and Gungi as they search for their kyber crystals on Ilum, build their lightsabers, and get into some trouble along the way. The episodes were successful in giving all the Younglings an endearing personality and not painting them as one-note. Having a show with the perspective of young Jedi and their views on the Force would have filled a gap in Star Wars content that has only been in publishing. 

Hondo encourages Katooni to finish assembling her lightsaber | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

But Disney had other plans, scrapping the Lucas/Filoni produced spinoff when they acquired Lucasfilm in 2012. As it stands, this four-episode arc is all we have of development for these young Jedi. The story is one of the best of the season, and some fan favorites like the professorial droid Huyang, who taught Mace Windu and Yoda as Younglings. Ithorian (Byph) and a Wookiee (Gungi) also represented popular species in Star Wars. 

Each Youngling had their challenges to overcome, but most were resolved within the first episode, “The Gathering.” However, the Tholothian Katooni had a more substantial character arc that even involved another fan-favorite animated character. Katooni is the only youngling that cannot get her lightsaber assembled at first. Throughout the episodes, she meets and develops a bond with Hondo Onaka (a Clone Wars favorite and staple now in Galaxy’s Edge theme park). Like the other Younglings in this arc, we do not hear from Katooni post-Clone Wars, and they are all assumed dead from Order 66. But there are some threads from the Clone Wars that leave things open enough where her appearing after makes sense.

Katooni After Order 66

Disney understandably wanted to start the new canon on their terms, but because the series was in some form of preproduction brings up some questions. Because there was a plan to explore the Younglings’ time during the end of the Clone Wars, would it have led up to Order 66? If so, would some of the Younglings survive?

There are issues with Star Wars and some inconsistencies between pre-Disney and Disney Star Wars. Does it make sense for the Emperor and Vader to kill Force-sensitive Younglings but take Jedi like Trilla Suduri and torture them into becoming Inquisitors? Children who have yet taken on the more strenuous trials and temptations of a Jedi feel like an easier target for corruption. Obviously, Inquisitors in canon were not a thing when Anakin Skywalker marched into the temple and killed off Younglings in Revenge of the Sith; however, Inquisitors did exist in Legends long before the Disney acquisition. 

Katooni appeals to Hondo’s better half | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

Some canon content suggests Katooni factored more into Star Wars Clone Wars period. First is her arc and relationship with Hondo Onaka. In a rare moment, Katooni appeals to Onaka to go back and help Ahsoka and the rest of the Younglings against Grevious. In return, he gives Katooni the assurance she needs to complete the final step in the Gathering process for Younglings by completing her lightsaber construction. They share a goodbye look as the episode and arc come to an end. 

But that is not the only time Katooni is shown as a representative of the next generation of Jedi. In season six of The Clone Wars, Qui-Gon Jinn (as a Force spirit) leads Yoda to learn from Force Priestesses, five beings representing the connection between the Living and Cosmic Force. In the episode, “Destiny,” the Priestesses test Yoda by showing him a series of visions that were manifestations of his hubris, guilt, and attachments. All of these visions were deeply personal: the first battling his dark side version, the second seeing the Jedi temple massacre and a dying Ahsoka, and feeling guilt for driving her away from the Order. 

In his final vision, Yoda sees Jedi who either fell to the dark side or died (Dooku, Qui-Gon, and Adi Gallia). But he is guided to the vision by Katooni, who promises him comfort and a place free from war and pain. 

Katooni appears in Yoda’s vision from The Priestesses | credit Lucasfilm ltd.

Yoda only had interaction in these visions with Jedi who were particularly meaningful to him. In The Clone Wars and even as far back as The High Republic, Yoda enjoys working with Younglings and Padawans, so it is not surprising the force Priestesses would use one to test him. And perhaps Katooni and Yoda had a close bond as well. “Destiny” was a part of The Lost Missions, 13 episodes that compromised season six caught between Cartoon Network and the Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm. Netflix ended up winning out and airing season six in the US in 2014, but the season was supposed to be a 22-episode season. Perhaps additional episodes that explored Katooni and Yoda’s relationship were cut. It might be reaching, but it was a creative decision to have Katooni featured prominently in Yoda’s vision, which feels significant.

The anthology canon novel The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark, a retelling of select episodes from The Clone Wars, features a short story covering the last episode in the arc, “A Necessary Bond,” from Katooni’s perspective. In the last paragraph, author Sarah Beth Durst imagines Katooni’s thoughts when she said goodbye to Hondo:

“He’d believe in me, and he listened to me. He’d seen what I’d been having so much trouble seeing: that almost a Jedi doesn’t mean never. It means someday. Someday soon. Pausing at the top of the ramp, Hondo looked back, met my eyes, and nodded at me. I nodded back at him.”

– Almost a Jedi, The Clone Wars: Stories of Light and Dark 

That day never materialized for the young Tholothian, and the time to introduce that possibility has likely passed. But there is evidence that Lucasfilm had bigger plans for Katooni. The short story collection was published by Disney Press recently in 2020. Katooni dying during Order 66 never has to get confirmed for it to be impactful. Leaving her fate open makes her footprint stronger for a character like Hondo Onaka, so moved by their adventure that he named his ship after her. Either way, Katooni will live on in the Star Wars universe.