Ahsoka, the latest chapter in the Star Wars media monolith, is set to debut August 22 on Disney Plus, and unsurprisingly, it has a ton of buzz around it. Starring Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Hera Syndulla, Natasha Liu Bordizzo as Sabine Wren, and Hayden Christensen reprising his role as Anakin Skywalker as a little treat, the highly anticipated show marks the live-action debut of several iconic characters from the Star Wars: Rebels animated series, as well as the return of Dawson as the beloved Ahsoka Tano.
But if you’ve only seen the Star Wars films, or even just the live-action TV series like The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, you may not know much about Ahsoka and her crew of rebels. You might be confused about the show’s timeline in the larger Star Wars lore, or how Christensen is coming back as Anakin (hell, even if you watched Rebels and The Clone Wars, you might still be confused).
So here’s a handy refresher ahead of the Ahsoka TV series debut, which, by the way, will kick off with two episodes starting at 9 p.m. ET on August 22.
Who is Ahsoka Tano?
We’ll start with an easy one here. Ahsoka Tano is a Togrutan female who trained as a Jedi under the tutelage of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi during the Clone Wars. She was discovered by Jedi Master Plo Koon on her home planet Shili after demonstrating Force sensitivity at just three years old. He took her to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, where she was raised as a child of the order. She became Anakin Skywalker’s apprentice at the age of 14.
Ahsoka was first introduced in the 2008 animated Clone Wars movie, and was a central character in the series of the same name as well as Star Wars: Rebels (in all animated media, she’s voiced by Ashley Johnson). Ahsoka appears in both The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, played by Dawson.
Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano’s relationship
Much to his chagrin, Ahsoka was assigned to apprentice for Anakin Skywalker not long after the start of the Clone Wars. Anakin, frustrated that he’d spent years trying to officially become a Jedi Master, wasn’t all that interested in having a mouthy brat for an apprentice (how do you think Obi-Wan felt, Anakin?), but he grew fond of her.
The two soon forged a special bond—both Ahsoka and Anakin were incredibly powerful, a little cocky, and often questioned the Order’s motivations and decisions. They called each other nicknames (“Skyguy” and “Snips”) and were essentially brother and sister. But that’s when things got complicated.
Is Ahsoka Tano a Jedi?
Technically, no. In season five of The Clone Wars, Ahsoka became disillusioned with the Jedi Order after being framed for bombing the Temple on Coruscant. Prior to that, she noticed Yoda seemed to be growing weary of the Order’s involvement in the war, and questioned it herself. But after being framed, imprisoned, put on military tribunal, and nearly executed (Anakin sweeps in with the real bombing culprit at the last second), Ahsoka lost almost all faith in the Jedi. She refused to continue her training, refused to rejoin the Order, and told Anakin that her confidence in herself was shaken because the Jedi did not believe in her.
She left, but continued tapping into the Force and utilizing it, and was even referred to as “the Jedi” by Din Djarin in The Mandalorian. She also, clearly, was working with Luke Skywalker at some point, so her relationship with the Jedi is far more complicated than just a simple “is she” or “isn’t she.”
Ahsoka showrunner Dave Filoni has attempted to clear up this question in the past, telling Vanity Fair:
[Fans] all focus very hard on the line, “I am no Jedi,” from Star Wars: Rebels, but it’s undeniable that she’s trained by the Jedi. I think to most observers she is very Jedi to them. I would argue in some ways—by being so selfless and rejecting a lot of paths that would have given her power—she’s more Jedi-like than even some characters who claim to be Jedi.
Why does Ahsoka have white lightsabers?
This is a cool one. Ahsoka, who dual-wields lightsabers, had blue lightsabers during her time as a Jedi padawan. But after she left the Jedi Order, she stole Kyber crystals (which power the sabers) from the Sith, and used her Force powers to drain them of their characteristically red hue, turning them white. The color of her sabers represents her unique status—she is a Force user, and perhaps more a true Jedi than others, but she does not belong to the Order and exists in a sort of limbo. I could get started on Gray Jedi, but that’s a conversation for another day.
When does the Ahsoka series take place in the Star Wars timeline?
First, it’s important to know how the Star Wars canon timeline works. Star Wars years follow a similar logic that our real-world years do: We have BC and AC, Star Wars has BBY and ABY (before and after the Battle of Yavin, when Luke blows up the Death Star in A New Hope).
Ahsoka takes place in 9 ABY, five years after the events of Return of the Jedi and during the same year as The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett. There are some rumors that the series will have a time jump, not unlike the ending of Rebels, and there’s also the likelihood that it will attempt to clarify a very heady Star Wars concept called The World Between Worlds.
Who is Grand Admiral Thrawn?
Grand Admiral Thrawn is that blue guy everyone was freaking out about back in July when he made his live-action debut in the official Ahsoka trailer. In Rebels, Thrawn was voiced by Lars Mikkelsen (yes, he’s Mads’ brother, and he also plays Stregobor in The Witcher Netflix series), and he’s reprising the role for the Ahsoka series, much to fans’ delight. Thrawn is an interesting guy—he’s a non-human who reaches an impressively high rank within the Empire, thanks in large part to his tactical prowess and ability to be one step ahead of the Rebels. He also, weirdly, loves art from other cultures (how very colonizer of him), and he’s considered the “Heir to the Empire.” In fact, he first appeared in a 1991 novel of that name by Timothy Zahn, and though that book is no longer canon, Thrawn quickly became a fan favorite, and he was re-introduced into canon continuity via Star Wars Rebels and a new set of books by Zahn in the mid-2010s.
In Rebels, he’s pulled into hyperspace by Jedi Ezra Bridger and disappears, the foundation of the Empire going with him. But, it’s clear from the Ahsoka trailer that those who believed in Thrawn are trying desperately to bring him back to fill the vacuum left by the Empire’s demise.
Who are Hera and Sabine?
Hera Syndulla and Sabine Wren are long-time Rebel allies. Hera is a Twi’lek female pilot and revolutionary, the daughter of rebels who inherited their fight against the Empire. She owns the astromech droid and known menace, Chopper. She also had a lengthy and beautiful love affair with Jedi Kanan Jarrus, who died protecting her from a massive explosion in the final season of Rebels.
Sabine Wren has very close ties to Bo-Katan Kryze, a central character in The Mandalorian. Sabine was once a cadet at the Empire’s academy on Mandalore, where she worked to build weapons that were then used against her own people. She fled the planet and was branded a traitor by the Empire, working as a bounty hunter until being discovered by Hera and Kanan Jarrus. She joined their fight and eventually found the Darksaber, an ancient Mandalorian weapon which purportedly had the power to unite the Mandalorian people. She wielded it for a time before bestowing it to Bo-Katan Kryze, whose struggle with the Darksaber continues in The Mandalorian TV series.
The Ahsoka series is, essentially, a Rebels sequel
The Ahsoka series’s trailers are jam-packed with characters from Rebels, and the general conceit (Thrawn is trying to return to power, and Ahsoka, Hera, and Sabine need to stop it) feels like it picks up right where Rebels left off. The final scene in Rebels (which finished airing back in 2018), took place after a time jump—Ezra had been missing for years (him and Thrawn disappeared at the same time), Sabine was living on his home planet Lothal, and Ahsoka arrived to pick Sabine up so they could go search for Ezra together.
With Ezra and Thrawn both trying to return to their respective fights, we’re in a natural narrative place for Ahsoka to pick up and continue those threads.
Why is Hayden reprising his role as Anakin?
This is purely speculation, but I believe that we’ll get a lovely flashback between Ahsoka and Anakin, not unlike the one in 2022’s Kenobi limited series. The Anakin Skywalker Renaissance is upon us, after all, with fans rallying behind Hayden (who was lambasted for his performance in the prequels back in the aughts) and his portrayal of the doomed Jedi. Ahsoka’s departure from the Jedi Order is, I’d argue, the true start of Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side, and seeing their dynamic play out in live-action would be a lovely touch.
Ahsoka debuts with two episodes on August 22 on Disney Plus.
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