The series “Tales of the Jedi”: a wise story from the creator of “The Clone Wars” | Series Reviews, Series | World of science fiction and fantasy

The Jedi Knights have been champions of peace and justice in the Galactic Republic since ancient times. But this glorious era is drawing to a close. Rulers grow fat while commoners plunge into poverty and despair, former heroes die or renounce their ideals, and an insidious dictator invisibly fans the flames of war.

Each Jedi prepares for the coming storm in their own way. Young Ahsoka Tano diligently hones her skills to protect all who need her. And the proud Master Dooku decides to bring order to the Republic himself – at any cost …

Tales of the Jedi

Genre: space opera, drama
Showrunner: Dave Filoni
The roles were voiced by: Ashley Eckstein, Corey Burton, Dee Bradley Baker, Liam Neeson, Bryce Dallas Howard, Clancy Brown
Duration: 6 episodes of 1317 minutes
Premiere show: October 26, 2022 Disney+
Similar to: Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008), Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Like the best of the Jedi, the new animated series in the Star Wars universe is full of surprises. Its very name risks confusing many fans. Once upon a time, under the brand name “Tales of the Jedi”, comics were published about the ancient history of the Republic, the forerunner of the legendary game Knights of the Old Republic. Now (at least in the first season of the series), the action takes place not in the days of Exar Kun and Darth Revan, but in the good old prequel era.

Animated Tales is a spin-off of the hit animated series The Clone Wars. The CG and character models have a familiar, slightly angular style, the main cast hasn’t changed in nearly 15 years, and the story fills in gaps in the timeline and motivations of the characters. And, of course, producer Dave Filoni remains the permanent helmsman of the project; here he acts not only as the author of the idea, but also as the main director and screenwriter of almost all episodes.

The series

However, the format of “Tales” is unusual. Instead of one linear story per 1220 episodes – an anthology of six self-contained mini-plots, each about a third shorter than a standard Clone Wars episode. Conflicts are set and immediately resolved, secondary characters replace each other, only two central characters remain unchanged. Three episodes focus on Ahsoka, Anakin Skywalker’s wayward apprentice, and three more on Dooku, a traitor Jedi and future Separatist leader in the Clone Wars.

And again, a surprise: the truncated timing only spurs the authors on. “Tales” is in no way inferior to “The Clone Wars” in the skill of the creators and entertainment, and in some respects even surpass them. The cinematographer and lighting designer Joel Eron was especially distinguished: such convincing fire and smoke are almost never found in television animation. And Kevin Kiner, a permanent composer of Star Wars cartoons, finally had enough budget for a full-fledged orchestra without electronic “substitutes”, with a choir and exotic instruments in an oriental style. Perhaps never before has an animated Star Wars sounded so similar to Filoni’s main source of inspiration – Studio Ghibli cartoons with music by Jo Hisaishi.


Beware spoilers!

In this material, we analyze the plot of the entire season in its entirety. For those who do not want to deprive themselves of surprises, we recommend that you watch the series BEFORE reading the review.

The series

No less impressive is the scope of the story. The first season of Tales spans over 15 different characters, half a dozen planets, and almost 40 years of Star Wars timeline, from the first sprouts of discontent with the Republic to the establishment of the dictatorship of the Empire. The plot jumps briskly throughout the prequel era and catches the characters at various significant stages in their lives. Episode 5 retells The Clone Wars in a particularly deft way: Ahsoka repeats the same rigorous training as the years go by, the character models change (at the beginning of the episode, the soldiers are dressed in Attack of the Clones armor, then more sinister armor from Revenge of the Sith ”), until the epilogue brings events to the Order 66 story arc.

At the same time, “Tales” try not to abuse the roll call with other works. Filoni places all the necessary exposition within the episodes themselves, and the story is easy to read without additional context. Although, of course, those who have recently rewatched the Star Wars prequels and/or the final season of The Clone Wars will have a much brighter impression of the new animated series. There’s a bonus level available for die-hard fans: Dooku’s three subplots rhyme surprisingly well with the recent audio drama Dooku: Jedi Lost, which follows a fallen knight’s youth, mentors, and apprentices.

It’s much harder for Tales to get along with another Clone Wars spin-off. In 2016 (apparently not hoping for an animated sequel to the series), Filoni handed over his work to writer E. K. Johnston, who developed it into a teen novel, Ahsoka. Now, the producer is essentially playing the same story over again: in the final episode of Tales, Ahsoka hides from the Empire on a farm planet, befriends a local girl, saves her from a brutal Inquisitor, and joins Senator Bail Organa’s budding rebellion. Such a self-remake – which, however, completely ignores the earlier version of the plot.

For Filoni, this is business as usual. He often thinks over and refines his ideas for more than one year: for example, the scene from Tales, in which the Jedi puts his lightsaber on the table and thus imposes his will on the interlocutor, the showrunner came up with at his first interview with George Lucas.

The situation with Ahsoka is indicative in that it allows us to compare two radically different approaches to the same material and to the Star Wars universe as a whole. The novel by E. K. Johnston is written in detail, full of everyday details and everyday villains of the Empire; which resembles the TV series Andor, which is currently being released. “Tales” gravitate towards mythological conventions and minimalism. And it’s not just limited timing.

The series

In recent years, Filoni has slowly moved into feature films. He interned on the set of The Last Jedi, got his hand on The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, and now he is directing a solo series about Ahsoka Tano. And it seems that this experience has helped him grow as a storyteller: his stories have become more compact, the characters more archetypal, and he now pronounces events less and relies more on visuals and music. The difference is noticeable even within the Tales. The third detective series (the only one not written by Filoni himself) is jam-packed with dialogue explaining the conflict and the political underpinnings of the plot. And in other episodes, the script fits into 1520 lines, and important characters are indicated in the credits as “son of a senator” or “country girl”.

This approach allows viewers to step away from the dry logging of the facts of a story (for God’s sake, fans, put Wookieepedia aside!) and focus on the emotional meaning of camera angles, glances, and gestures. The very way Dooku holds his sword in anticipation of the battle – lowers the blade and takes it to the side, as if taking the enemy “on the weak” – shows his arrogance better than any manifestos about the corruption of the Republic. Dooku exacerbates the conflict with his very behavior, cold stoicism and self-righteousness. His task is to identify and destroy evil, rather than protect the innocent. And the innocent do die.

The brighter the contrast: Ahsoka in Tales is almost always on the defensive and saving other people’s lives. The training episode was not invented for the sake of fanservice (why would Filoni suddenly need to “explain” how a teenage girl survived Order 66?), but to more clearly demonstrate the character of the heroine and the essence of her heroism. No matter how many times Ahsoka Tano loses, no matter what threats she faces, she always rises to her feet and fights back evil. Such is the duty of the Jedi, their role in the balance of the universe.

The series

This is where the main surprise of “Tales of the Jedi” is revealed. Six short and seemingly independent stories constantly intersect with each other visually and thematically, until they finally add up to one big one – the story of Ahsoka. And although in half the episodes the girl does not even appear, the unusual structure of the season directly indicates her leading role. The series begins with the birth of Ahsoka and her first contact with the Force – in the wilderness, full of living beings and so far from the dogma and bureaucracy of the Jedi Temple. Only after that, stating a pure example of Jediism, the series moves on to Dooku, who is needed by Filoni as a kind of distorting mirror, the embodiment of the mistakes and delusions of the order. The starting point for a whole dynasty of knights, each of which is trying to resolve the contradictions of the prequel era.

The epigraph for “Tales” could well be the words of Yoda from “The Last Jedi”: “We are those who will be surpassed by our students.” Filoni declares this continuity unobtrusively, but unequivocally. In the second series, Qui-Gon Jinn, a student of Dooku, finds a way to resolve the conflict provoked by his ambitious master. In the fourth series, Qui-Gon, who has already matured, talks about the trust with which he treats his own student Obi-Wan Kenobi. In the fifth series, Anakin Skywalker, trained by Obi-Wan (and picking up sarcastic jokes from him), brings up Ahsoka’s resilience and independence. And finally, in the finale, the legacy of four generations of knights falls on her shoulders at once – just when the old order burns to the ground and the Jedi have to look for a new path to the future.

The series

The first season of Tales of the Jedi was another pebble in the growing Philoniverse building. In 2020, the showrunner ended The Clone Wars and brought Ahsoka back into the spotlight, then she (now performed live by Rosario Dawson) peeped into The Mandalorian with The Book of Boba Fett and symbolically blessed Luke Skywalker’s new order. Now, Filoni has completed the connection of times and officially proclaimed Ahsoka the heiress of the Jedi of the past. Obviously, the culmination of this plot should be her personal series, scheduled for 2023.

Will Ahsoka Tano’s story end there? And can a student of George Lucas pass on the Star Wars universe to the next generation? That is known only to the Force.

We wish to give thanks to the author of this article for this outstanding material

The series “Tales of the Jedi”: a wise story from the creator of “The Clone Wars” | Series Reviews, Series | World of science fiction and fantasy

Discover our social media profiles as well as the other related pages