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Defining Moments: “Quite a Pair”

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Ahsoka Tano and Anakin Skywalker’s first meeting was both hopeful and foreboding.

“Defining Moments” is a continuing series exploring key scenes or sequences from Lucasfilm’s many productions. It examines storytelling craft, behind-the-scenes insights, and cultural legacies from each selection. Revisit an old favorite or discover something brand new…

Production: Star Wars: The Clone Wars

First impressions in the Star Wars galaxy can often leave a little to be desired. Luke Skywalker and Han Solo don’t see eye to eye when they meet at the Mos Eisley Cantina. Princess Leia certainly doesn’t seem impressed when they attempt to rescue her aboard the Death Star. Even Obi-Wan Kenobi was skeptical of the young Anakin Skywalker and his potential to become a Jedi. In all of these cases, early tensions grew into close bonds of friendship and even love.

Anakin Skywalker’s introduction to Ahsoka Tano – which first appeared on cinema screens 15 years ago in Star Wars: The Clone Wars – was no different. At first, Skywalker is unaware just why Tano has been sent to the planet where he and Obi-Wan Kenobi are fighting an all-out battle against Separatist forces. It’s Kenobi who expects to receive a new Padawan learner, and when the elder Jedi tries to encourage Skywalker to do the same, the young commander will hear nothing of it. “A Padawan would just slow me down,” Anakin says.

After one skirmish, a lone shuttle delivers Tano, who informs them that Master Yoda wishes to get in contact. Though she quickly demonstrates her problem-solving abilities by offering her ship to help circumvent their communication problems, Skywalker takes little notice. It’s only after Kenobi wrongfully assumes that Tano is his new Padawan that the young Togrutan informs them of Master Yoda’s explicit instructions: she is to be Skywalker’s new apprentice.

“But that doesn’t make any sense,” Skywalker’s responds. Orders are orders. Tano is more than eager to go along, and Kenobi encourages it, much to Skywalker’s chagrin; “You’re stuck with me, Skyguy,” Tano quips. “Don’t get snippy with me, little one,” Skywalker retorts (forming the origins of Tano’s early nickname, Snips).

The new Padawan’s master takes no time in throwing his pupil into the deep end. “You’re not with Master Yoda now,” he says, “so if you’re ready, you better start proving it.” As another droid army approaches, the pair are tasked with eliminating its protective shield. Tano proposes a daring raid to destroy the shield’s generator well behind enemy lines, just the kind of plan that Skywalker prefers.

In some ways, Tano isn’t unlike Skywalker in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones, eager and curious, full of ideas and a little headstrong. Skywalker shows his new apprentice how to outthink rather than outfight their opponent, the kind of improvised approach he learned from Kenobi, who in turn learned it from the independent-minded Jedi, Qui-Gon Jinn. Tano is also as stubborn as her new master. Her initial reluctance to follow Skywalker’s plan causes them more difficulty. Navigating a dangerous booby trap around the shield generator, they manage to complete their mission while simultaneously having the first of what will be many arguments.

“They make quite a pair,” Captain Rex says of them. Although Skywalker had been adamant that he wouldn’t take a Padawan, by the end of their mission, he’s come round. “You’re reckless, little one,” he says to Tano. “You never would’ve made it as Obi-Wan’s Padawan, but you might make it as mine.” When they return to meet with Kenobi and Yoda, Skywalker agrees to take her on. “I admit Ahsoka is a little rough around the edges,” he explains, “but with a great deal of training and patience, she might amount to something.”

Perhaps Skywalker sees a bit of himself in Tano, something Yoda had likely anticipated. In the end, Yoda’s words remain especially poignant: “Ready he is, to teach an apprentice. To let go of his pupil, a greater challenge it will be. Master this, Skywalker must.” It’s almost as if Yoda senses the much deeper conflict within Skywalker, and as we shall see, it’s his inability to let go of his emotional attachments that will define much of his fate.

Skywalker receiving a Padawan learner came as a surprise not only to the character, but also to fans, and even the show’s creators. Supervising director Dave Filoni would explain how George Lucas introduced the concept during their earliest months developing the series. As a character original to The Clone Wars, Ahsoka Tano would define its central narrative. It’s a testament to the enduring strength of George Lucas’ vision that Tano’s story continues to be told, most recently in the series that bears her name on Disney+.

Picking things up many years after her training with Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka continues the story of the title character as she investigates a mysterious new threat to the galaxy. Creator Dave Filoni has come full circle with the character he helped create more than 15 years ago, even writing a fateful reunion between the former master and apprentice that has left Star Wars fans eager to see what happens next.

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