I had the pleasure of attending Star Wars Celebration 2022 and the panels I wanted to focus on were storytelling in animation and gaming. One of the panels, Tales of the Jedi, showcased the newest anthology series from Dave Filoni and truly cemented that we are going to see the complete life story of Ahsoka. He loves that character (and rightly so as he has witness the extreme hate the character originally received to the almost universal love and peak popularity for the character due to her live-action debut).
It was perhaps too much to wish for a series that was absent of Ahsoka, but not surprising. Nevertheless, here are my thoughts on the panel overall and the promise of new things to come.
**I will not detail the episode shown, just overall thoughts of the subject matter and characters that Filoni mentioned being a part of the series**
Ahsoka Tano’s Origin…Literally
When this series was first announced to be featured at Star Wars Celebration, I had hoped for more stories of Jedi that did not get attention in The Clone Wars but who we knew were present (like Depa Billaba). But as long as Dave Filoni is at Lucasfilm, we will be getting Ahsoka stories. That is great for Ahsoka fans as they will get more content than they could have ever imagined. I am not so sure about other fans who wanted something different from this series. It is nice to see a Torgruta village and more heavily inspired Indigenous culture (and hopefully the voice talent of the villagers will reflect that).
But did we need to see baby Ahsoka in an anthology series where we will be getting two other Ahsoka shorts? Lucasfilm must strike while the iron is hot, and they have certainly done that with Grogu, but not sure Baby Ahsoka can compete. But kudos for Disney/Lucasfilm to trying.
Dooku: Jedi Lost
We do see a younger Jedi Master Dooku with his Padawan Qui-Gon Jinn, which has not been shown in a medium outside of the novels. A lot of Star Wars fans probably do not know Count Dooku was Qui-Gon’s Master.
And Filoni hinted (well, stated) that the Dooku story will not be happy. It is an important element of Star Wars stories: Sometimes there is a happy ending, sometimes there is not a happy ending. Star Wars has conflicts and not all who face challenges that the galaxy presents them emerge as heroes. Dooku’s backstory has been told in canon, most prominently in Dooku: Jedi Lost through the POV of his former apprentice Asajj Ventress. In Master and Apprentice, Dooku’s fall to the dark side is described through the POV of his second apprentice Qui-Gon Jinn and a little from his first apprentice, Rael Aveross.
In Tales of the Jedi, it appears that fans will see it play out for the first time. Similarly, we will see a younger Qui-Gon that has also only been present in the novels. Qui-Gon is a character who has been getting more attention recently with his connection to Obi-Wan. And Liam Neeson has, unlike Ewan McGregor, stuck around in Star Wars over the years with voice work in a few episodes of The Clone Wars. It was an inevitability that the character would return and animation is a perfect medium for him, too. He will return to voice Qui-Gon in Tales of the Jedi and will be joined by his son, Micheál Richardson, who will voice the younger Qui-Gon.
The Concept is More Promising than the Premise Feels
Dave Filoni described where the idea of Tales of the Jedi came from when he would fly back and forth to work on The Mandalorian, and write these little stories on the flight, just to pass the time. He should one to Carrie Beck who found the money to make these series (like she did for the rest of The Clone Wars). So, first, thank you, Carrie Beck.
Filoni also wanted a piece of the new animation pie that Star Wars was experiencing with The Bad Batch and the final season of The Clone Wars to tell more stories from the Prequel Era. The crisp animation style far improved from his early seasons of The Clone Wars. That is the premise and, since these are stories by Dave Filoni, there was no question that they would include Jedi more from the Prequel/Clone Wars era.
As more information was revealed, it became clear that Tales of the Jedi is The Clone Wars companion. Episodes will mainly focus on Ahsoka, Dooku, and Qui-Gon, which will essentially make this The Clone Wars companion. And the hope, not only of some High Republic or Sequel-era content but just new Jedi from the Clone Wars seems less likely, which is a shame. Although, both Mace Windu and Yaddle appear in the trailer (will we finally find out what happened to Yaddle between Episode I and Episode II?).
How cool would it have been to see an anthology short of Rey training Finn? Or seeing a High Republic Master/Padawan like Loden/Bell?
However, even though Dave Filoni is the Creative Director for Lucasfilm, he seems content with certain points in the Star Wars timeline. And maybe he should stick to where he feels most comfortable.
More Animation to Come
And there is other animated content coming. Young Jedi Adventures, a show that will take place during The High Republic was also announced. Star Wars has been dancing around this type of content for younger viewers back when Filoni wanted a spin-off from the Younglings arc in The Clone Wars. At least one of those Younglings, a Wookie named Gungi, is hinted at still being alive after Order 66. Then there is Obi-Wan Kenobi and Reva, who is no doubt a Youngling survivor who was tortured into becoming an Inquisitor.
So there will still be some variety, but Tales of the Jedi, which was a Legends comic series set around the Great Sith War about 5,000 BBY also focused on a set amount of characters. But it is disappointing that three of these episodes will be about Ahsoka (and I have already seen one). It was a great episode and beautifully animated, but it was about a character who is all over Star Wars.
There is still hope for surprises. And perhaps the opportunity lies in the Dooku stories and his relationship with the other Jedi on the council like Mace Windu, Yaddle, and his former Master Yoda.
Either way, this is great for Star Wars animation. Tales of the Jedi with Young Jedi Adventures and the second season of Star Wars Visions and The Bad Batch, means that Lucasfilm is committed to their animation division. And there is always the possibility for season two of Tales of the Jedi that can bring the full potential of what an anthology series about Jedi can be. Even though it Tales of the Jedi will follow familiar faces, we will still see a part of their lives not shown outside of publishing, keeping animation relevant for Lucasfilm as more characters move into live-action.