Ashoka Tano finally made her live-action debut in The Mandalorian last week. Ashley Eckstein, who voiced the character for years, is just as happy as fans.
The second season of The Mandalorian premiered on Disney+ in October, and each new episode has been better than the last.
Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) has been tasked with returning Baby Yoda to the Jedi, who have historically been at odds with Mandalorians. After a run-in with Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) in “Chapter 12: The Siege,” Mando headed to the forest planet of Corvus to find Ashoka Tano, a former Jedi who might be able to teach the Child about his powers.
For those of you who never watched Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, Ashoka Tano is one of the coolest, most significant characters in the Star Wars canon. Long before Rey graced our screens, Ashoka was fighting the Separatists alongside Anakin Skywalker as his padawan. During the Clone Wars, she became a commander in the Grand Army of the Republic and was instrumental in keeping the peace across the galaxy. She eventually left the Jedi Order and continued to free innocent people from tyranny, which is what she was doing when we caught up with her on The Mandalorian.
Up until now, Ashoka Tano has only ever appeared as an animated character, voiced by Ashley Eckstein. But no more! Actress Rosario Dawson brought the character to life in The Mandalorian in “Chapter 13: The Jedi.” The episode was directed by Dave Feloni, who was an executive producer on The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels and actually created the character of Ashoka Tano in the first place. Hats off to Feloni, because the latest episode was nothing short of amazing.
I will say that, similar to the controversy surrounding Gina Carano’s return to the series as Cara Dune, not everyone is happy about Rosario Dawson getting cast in this role. As reported by ScreenRant, the actress has faced backlash due to the fact that her family is currently being sued over an alleged transphobic assault. You can read more about the incident in question and Dawson’s comments about it here.
In “Chapter 13,” Din Djarin arrives on Corvus with Baby Yoda in tow, and let me tell you, Corvus has seen better days. The planet has been taken over by a ruthless tyrant known as the Magistrate (Diana Lee Inosanto), who offers Mando a Beskar spear in exchange for killing Ashoka Tano.
Mando finds Ashoka in the forest and the pair fight briefly before Mando reveals that Bo-Katan sent him. The battles in this episode were especially well-choreographed and ably depicted Ashoka’s fighting style, which was an absolute pleasure to watch. I don’t even think that the movies had lightsaber battles so epic! The final fight between the Magistrate and Ashoka was a cinematic masterpiece and I’ve already rewatched that scene about five times.
Turns out, I’m not the only one who was happy to see Ashoka Tano in live-action. Ashley Eckstein, who voiced Ahsoka for years (including briefly in The Rise of Skywalker) shared her thoughts on her Instagram:
"Millions of people are meeting Ahsoka for the first time after watching her in The Mandalorian and I’m excited for them to hopefully go back and watch her journey in The Clone Wars and Rebels. Millions of fans already know Ahsoka and her presence has come to mean more to them than words in a script.In Star Wars The Clone Wars, Ahsoka became the eyes of the audience. Viewers experienced the show through Ahsoka, and even though these stories happened in a galaxy far, far away, her feelings and emotions are very relatable to our everyday lives. Ahsoka’s strength has inspired, changed and literally saved millions of lives all over the world.In turn, Ahsoka has become a beacon of hope, light and genuine goodness. Everyone’s relationship with Ahsoka is very different because she triggers the memory of a certain point in a person’s life where she’s inspired them. Even in the darkest of times, Ahsoka brings people joy and that’s what truly matters.Ahsoka taught us that, “You don’t need to carry a sword to be powerful…” and Dave Filoni reminded me that kindness is powerful. After 12 years (and hopefully many more to come!) of having Ahsoka in our lives, #AhsokaLivesInAllOfUs now. I am blown away by everyone’s kindness. I’ve read all of your messages, DM’s, comments, text messages and emails and to say “thank you” does not even feel adequate enough to express what your kind words mean to me.It’s my wish that Ahsoka continues to bring people joy, light and most importantly hope. This is the way of Ahsoka Tano."
Here, here! Even though Ashoka is an awesome character, Star Wars fans might have missed out on her story if they didn’t watch the animated series. I bet that her appearance in The Mandalorian will inspire people to learn more about her.
On another note, Ashoka and Baby Yoda were able to communicate using the Force, and his name was revealed to be Grogu. He was raised and trained at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant until the fall of the Republic, at which point he was hidden away. Grogu has been suppressing his powers in order to survive ever since. Ashoka tells Mando to bring Grogu to the Jedi Temple on Tython so that he may choose his own path. Hopefully, this is where the show will pick up this Friday!