Dave Filoni Reveals More about the Fate of Ahsoka at Star Wars Celebration Europe
Not long ago in a country far, far away from Star Wars Celebration Europe…
Like many fans around the world, I booted up my computer this morning to watch Star Wars Celebration Europe LIVE via YouTube, anxious to watch “Ahsoka’s Untold Tales” panel with Dave Filoni, Ashley Eckstein, and Pablo Hidalgo as hosted by David W. Collins. As expected, more insight into story arcs featuring Ahsoka were presented during the panel, including a scoundrelous love interest from the depths of Coruscant on Level 1313, an Ahsoka/Rex team-up on Mandalore against Maul during the events of Revenge of the Sith, and discussion about the Ahsoka Lives (?) movement.
What was not expected, however, was Dave Filoni’s closing statements to the audience present in the panel as well as to the world watching at home. In fact, it seems that the gifted storyteller surprised even himself when he chose to reveal something most, if not all, of us thought would never happen. Ahsoka may (and likely will) reappear in Rebels. Bidding Ashley adieu at the close of the panel, Dave left her with something that might make her “long flight home” more bearable:
The only ‘spoilerific’ thing I will say…and I’m rarely, rarely, rarely, rarely, rarely ever affected by fan opinion. I just can’t allow myself to be — you get the wrong story. But I was very adamant after the Season Two finale that that was it for Ahsoka on Rebels. I’m not going to say what form any story would take place, but after the reaction…
Then he pauses. As the moment hangs in the air, the crowd hushes. A few nervous giggles can be heard in the auditorium. David Collins covers his mouth and looks at the ground, processing the news that is most certainly coming his way. Ashley Eckstein moves in closer, teetering on the edge of her seat, tilting her head to better hear the next words. Pablo Hidalgo — well, Pablo does what he always does — he grins like the Cheshire Cat. He knows. He always knows.
But the moment hangs in the air as the silence pervades. The moment has transformed into eternity, and yet, Filoni says nothing. We wait. We imagine. Hearts beat even as no one dares to take a breath… Then time begins again as the audience present in London begins to erupt in excited applause and we can all breathe again. And Dave continues:
…I don’t know. I don’t know, I might — it just might be possible…
It doesn’t necessarily mean what some of us would want it to mean, maybe.
It might be possible to see her again. She might have something to do, maybe.
What?! We will see Ahsoka again in Rebels?
Those who know me know that I am a huge fan of The Clone Wars. In fact, the part of Star Wars Celebrations I always want to see are the Dave Filoni panels. He is (in my opinion) the greatest Star Wars storyteller since George Lucas introduced us to that galaxy far, far away nearly four decades ago. To be honest, I mourned the cancellation of The Clone Wars more than I rejoiced in the news that new Star Wars movies were coming several years ago when Disney purchased Lucasfilm. The characters created and stories told by The Clone Wars team were the perfect blend of myth, legend, and reality encapsulated in twenty-two minute segments on our TV screens at home enjoyed with family and friends.
To continue Ahsoka’s story on Rebels would undoubtedly take this current animated series to a higher level approaching the depth and significance of the best episodes of The Clone Wars. However, accompanying the gleeful reactions of myriads of Ahsoka fans is the somber revelation that Filoni’s words seem to convey: “It doesn’t necessarily mean what some of us would want it to mean…maybe.”
Please indulge me as I analyze some of the things Dave said during this panel that has nearly cemented (in my mind) what happened to Ahsoka in the Season Two finale of Star Wars Rebels.
Ashley has tentatively named an unannounced (and arguably unlikely) upcoming book containing Dave Filoni’s concept artwork, designs, and preliminary storyboard sketches as “Dave’s Doodles”, revealing that she has a folder devoted to Filoni’s artwork that she has collected over the past decade. Some of these drawings fill the screen of the auditorium during the panel and are seen on our computer screens at home. While Pablo Hidalgo clicks through artwork from Dave’s sketchbook, Filoni reveals some pertinent information about Ahsoka.
When commenting on these images of Ahsoka’s costume designs, Dave said:
I started to develop different costumes again, I always like to change that up. I was actually trying to do something that was in some ways reminiscent of Ventress, also reminiscent of the Sister on Mortis. There were certain elements that she was playing with in her costume so… these are just doodles, and I would do these when George and I were talking about the stories — I would sit and be drawing these the whole time as he and I were talking about it. So these are really early… You can see that on the kind of like skirt element she’s got a three panel thing going on and I actually kept that with that type of the belt pretty much in Rebels. But that was done years ago before we even thought of Star Wars Rebels.
Fans of The Clone Wars remember the impact of the Mortis arc in Season Three. Ahsoka is struck down by Son during the battle and resurrected by the Father through Anakin by the power of Daughter as she is dying. This transfer of life from Daughter to Ahsoka continues to be a source of mystery and intrigue about her potential future. In his comments, Filoni emphasizes the significance of Ahsoka’s experiences on her continuing story. Her interaction with Asajj Ventress in Season Five affected her perspective about the Jedi, the Sith, and the possibility of being somewhere in-between. Former associations with bounty hunters and pirates revealed that the lines between good and evil are not as clearly discernible as she had formerly believed. But what effect did Daughter have on Ahsoka? Was it merely a brief encounter with the Ones on some mystical planet separated from time and space or was some part of Daughter’s spirit stitched to Ahsoka’s essence? Furthermore, what impact would that have on Ahsoka’s future? This concept, it seems, is entrenched in Filoni’s mind. Even his statement that the three panels of her “kind of like skirt element” reflect this imagery. Perhaps it influenced the fate of Ahsoka, as well.
As the panel continued, Filoni revealed his work on a Topps “Artist Series” that was released today. Of the ten images he created for the series, six were shown on screen. He intends for these cards to continue to tell the story where the season finale of Rebels ended as Ahsoka takes her classic journey into the underworld:
These are images that I made just for Topps that start to explain visually, metaphorically what the end is about…And they’re all just red and black and white…So you can just stare at them for hours and try to figure out ‘What does it mean?’
These first two images hearken back to the final scene of the Star Wars Rebels Season Two finale. Darth Vader, emerges from the Sith temple scathed and scarred while Ahsoka descends below. The battle is over. The Master departs while the Apprentice remains. Filoni explicitly states that these images (as well as what was seen on television) are visual metaphors for what transpired after the Phantom left the planet. One warrior rises; the other descends. These images seem to imply that Ahsoka did, indeed, fall in the battle.
These next two images focus on the warriors themselves. Developed from an early concept in Filoni’s mind where Vader appears over Ahsoka’s shoulder (as opposed to the final rendition where Ahsoka appears behind Darth Vader), the image on the left lingers on the image of Master and Apprentice. The formerly inseparable friends are pitted against each other. One is in the light, the other is a dark shadow. In fact, it seems as if the shadow of Vader is just that, a shadow. Perhaps she is looking up at the looming presence of her former Master, forever entombed in his black coffin of his life-supporting armor as he stands before her — the specter of her imminent death. In the image on the right, we see things from the Master’s perspective. Ahsoka’s fierce attack on Vader had earlier cut through his armor, and in this image we see through “his own eye”. As Filoni responded when discussing Matt Lanter’s voice imposed under and then over James Earl Jones’s voice, Anakin evidently had a momentary breakthrough when he saw her “with his own eye”. This image represents what happens at the end of the battle we never saw. Through Anakin’s eye, he sees his Padawan leave him (again) — and this time it is forever. Ahsoka descends.
Then, in these final two images, Dave directly addresses the fate of Ahsoka:
These are the most revealing here. The most interesting, I think, because this starts to get into, really, this kind of psychological subconsciousness. ‘What is the journey into the underworld mean?’ Because it obviously is Ahsoka in that doorway. What does that mean? I know, and so this is going to tell you a little bit if you stare at these…it’s not like if you stare at them the image becomes something else…it’s not like one of those things at the mall — it’s not a magic trick. It’s just to try to understand the metaphors and the symbolism and the meaning of this journey which is a very classic journey. Hmmm.
In the image on the left, Ahsoka is standing at a doorway — evidently at the bottom of the staircase she descended at the close of the episode — looking towards the journey before her. The convor perched ahead of her beckons her to continue ahead on the trail before her. But is the winding white course a trail or a river? The image on the right shows Ahsoka half-submerged in water, perhaps the other cards not revealed during this panel will show that she is wading into a stream as she fords ahead into this “classic journey”. Filoni specifically chose his words to convey his point. The classic journey he implies is the journey into death.
What does all this mean for Ahsoka?
What might she need to do in Rebels?
What further implications will this have for the saga?
We will have to wait to find out.
However, for those who would be devastated by the death of Ahsoka, Filoni left one window of possibility open in his discussion of this image…
Addressing Ashley Eckstein/Ahsoka Tana directly, Filoni commented:
This was a confrontation I told you about. This was a moment when Ahsoka was actually protecting the Holocron vault by impaling her lightsaber into this doorway to melt it shut, and Sidious was actually on the other side of this big door sending Force lightning up her lightsaber blade and out the other side to attack her. So there was this… That was as close to a confrontation between the two of them that we got…there was a barrier between them. That would have been a cool effect. You don’t want to fight that. You’d probably lose that one, so the door is good. The door is good for you.
David Collins tried to clarify Filoni’s meaning by emphasizing the word “that” before moving on, saying, “You would lose that one.” In hoping to corner Dave Filoni, or at least highlight his choice of words, Collins insinuated that perhaps, just maybe, she did not lose her battle with Darth Vader. If you are inclined to believe that Ahsoka survived her epic battle with her former Master who had become even more powerful and ruthless since turning to the Dark Side, you may find some hope in this turn of phrase. However, the longer I think about all the evidence presented to us throughout the two animated series, the movies, and Dave Filoni’s comments in interviews and panels, I’m convinced that Ahsoka no longer resides in “this crude matter”, but she has “become one with the Force”. This is not to say that Ahsoka does not live, nor to imply that she will not interact with the story any longer, but that she lives in another plane of existence — the final and satisfactory answer to the question she asked Yoda in his vision at the end of Season Six of The Clone Wars, “Will I still become one with the Force when I die, Master?”
For more from shazbazzar about Ahsoka’s Untold Tales from SWCE, check out the first “Not at Celebration” report from Geek Out Loud with Steve Glosson.