*Spoilers* for the Star Wars Rebels season two finale, “Twilight of the Apprentice.”
Last week I began looking at how Ahsoka has grown from disillusioned padawan to experienced teacher and force user based on the season two finale of Star Wars Rebels, “Twilight of the Apprentice.” This week I pick up where I left off and exam her interactions in the episode with Ezra, Kanan and Darth Vader.
Ahsoka has a duel responsibility to Kanan and Ezra as she must mentor Kanan in his role as teacher to Ezra while at the same time imparting her own wisdom upon the young Jedi. Her conversations with Ezra in this episode show her deeper knowledge and desire to pass on what she has learned. As the three Jedi approach the Sith planet of Malachor, Ezra suggests that they need to search for “something to help us to stop the Inquisitors.” The young Jedi is thinking of a weapon most likely but Ahsoka corrects him with one word, “knowledge.” She realizes that the battle they fight isn’t against just the agents of the Empire, rather it’s against the dark side itself. Later as they approach the Sith temple, she tells Ezra that “to defeat your enemy you have to understand them.” A few moments later as they survey the gruesome Pompeii-like battle scene near the temple Ezra asks, “who won” to which Ahsoka replies, “From what I can tell nobody won.” All of these examples show Ahsoka imparting upon Ezra the idea that the struggle isn’t always about brandishing a lightsaber to take care of things. A younger Ahsoka would have thought much like Ezra does now but she has seen why it doesn’t work. She’s looking for resolution rather than mere victory on the battlefield.
Kanan also benefits from Ahsoka’s maturity. First when Maul takes Ezra to find the Inquisitors, she tries to assuage Kanan’s fear by telling him that Ezra “will be fine…you taught him.” Now, granted Ezra was far from fine by the end of the episode, her comment to Kanan is given to bolster his spirits and to remind him that he is a teacher. A good teacher. The next instance occurs after Maul attacks Kanan, robbing him of his sight. Ahsoka actually leaves Kanan to deal with Maul. Kanan, who is in shock and in pain is supposed to “take care” of Maul? No! Kanan will die for sure! But Ahsoka, knowing how much Kanan is attuned to the force knows that he will prevail if he stretches out with his feelings and not rely on his sight (a lesson she learned from Obi-Wan Kenobi to be sure). And as we have seen throughout this episode, her belief in the force yields positive results as Kanan dispatches Maul off the side of the temple.
The final act of the episode involves the arrival of Darth Vader, appearing like Death as he stands atop his TIE advanced as it lowers down to the temple. All seems lost for Ezra as Vader overcomes him during their lightsaber duel when Ahsoka suddenly appears to save Ezra and nearly decapitate Vader. This is not the Ahsoka who passed out when she touched Vader’s mind at the beginning of the season. This is a character who has come to terms with what she needs to do. She needs to protect Ezra (and the galaxy) from this specter of evil regardless of her relationship to the man inside the armour. In fact she challenges her former master repeatedly by calling him out for being wrong, “not for the first time.” Then, in the most hair-raising moment of the episode she declares, “I am no Jedi” and brings the battle to Vader with no quarter given. She is in this to the end, indeed she tells Anakin/Vader, “I won’t leave you. Not this time.” Is this guilt over walking out on him all those years before? Perhaps she feels that she’s partially to blame for Anakin’s turn to the dark side? Whatever her motivation the end result is that she will ensure that this fight against the dark side is finished once and for all. It is in this moment that we see how much Ahsoka has grown in the force. Her former master tells her, “then you will die” and she barely flinches. A quick force push to send Ezra out of harm’s way and she engages Vader again. She shows no fear, she attacks as much as he does which leaves one wondering how can she find the strength to do this against her old master? Against DARTH VADER? How do you recover from being literally surrounded by the dark side of a Sith planet, in the shadow of a temple devoted to evil, from learning that the man who was your teacher is now the scourge of the galaxy and wants to kill you and your friends? She does it with the knowledge she has gained since walking away from the Jedi Order. She does it by trusting in the force.
The last shot of Ahsoka shows her cradling one arm with the other, mysteriously walking down into the darkness of the Sith temple as Vader exits. Will she return from this abyss like Gandalf did against the Balrog in The Lord of the Rings, brandishing her pure white lightsabers as a symbol of hope for the galaxy? We know she didn’t play a direct role in bringing down the Emperor and Vader above Endor in Star Wars Episode VI Return of the Jedi but perhaps we will discover that she is doing what she told Ezra sometimes has to be done: “To defeat your enemy you have to understand them” and will return to pass on what she has learned.
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