Star Wars Rebels might turn out to be the most depressing kids show since The Dinosaurs. Similar to that old TGIF staple about a family of anthropomorphic dinosaurs, this could all end with everybody dying. We always knew that was a possibility with Dinosaurs because, well, the real dinosaurs went extinct. Now we know it’s possible with Star Wars Rebels because for as much as we’ve grown to care for the crew of the starship Ghost we’re still fully aware that none of these characters are referenced in A New Hope. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all hanging out with ghost Qui-Gon Jinn by the time Darth Vader boards Princess Leia’s ship. However, because Rebels takes place in-between Revenge of the Sith and New Hope and stars new Jedi (and non-Jedi) characters we’ve never heard of before AND is considered official canon there is a looming sense that this can’t end well.
The obvious question, then, has been exactly how far can producer Simon Kinberg, showrunner Dave Filioni and their team take this when at the end of the day this is still just an animated series which airs on DisneyXD?
SPOILERS FOR THE STAR WARS REBEL SEASON 2 FINALE
The answer presented in “Twilight of the Apprentice 1 & 2,” the show’s second season finale, is that they might be able to walk right up to the line of death without actually showing it.
At Yoda’s request, Kanan, Ezra and Ashoka traveled to Malachor to uncover knowledge about the Sith. Once there, they walked into the remains of an ancient Jedi-Sith battle which somehow turned everyone to stone. Of course, the dang Inquisitors showed up, separating the team. Kanan and Ashoka fought off multiple Inquisitors while Ezra plunged to the heart of the Sith temple with the help of a mysterious new ally who turned out to be Darth Maul, no longer a Sith but definitely not a Jedi. Instead, he wants revenge against the Emperor for tossing him aside. In the process, he tries to tempt Ezra to the dark side, and they obtain a powerful weapon together.
Yeah, yeah, yeah – that’s all fine and good. In fact, it was kind of awesome. But what about Ahsoka and Vader? That’s the showdown which has been building up all the way back to the first season of The Clone Wars when she became Anakin’s apprentice. When you buy the Disney Infinity 3.0 starter pack it actually comes with little figurines of Ashoka and Anakin, and you use them to play through Clone Wars levels on the game.
Those were the good ole days for them. Now in the period Rebels takes place Anakin has long since been Darth Vader, but very few people know those two are one in the same. Not even Ashoka knows for sure, and Rebels had been leaning super, super hard in recent episodes that she’d eventually figure it out and confront her former master.
That was a battle she would surely lose, right? Ashoka, like all the other good guys in Rebels, plays no role in the original Star Wars trilogy. Unless Rogue One: A Star Wars Story somehow links up with Rebels, these characters aren’t going to be around for the long haul in the larger Star Wars story. “Twilight of the Apprentice” was time to finally kill off Ashoka, even if her toy figurine is currently staring back at little kids from video game toy aisles around the world.
But the episode didn’t do that. Not conclusively at least. Vader showed up at the Sith temple after Maul’s treachery had been exposed and two of the Inquisitaors lay dead with the third presumably not far behind. Vader attempted to take the ultimate weapon away from Ezra, and Ashoka swooped in just in time to kick Vader’s asthmatic ass. However, as Ezra and Kanan made their escape Ashoka stayed behind to see things to their end with Vader after she punctured his mask and realized he was actually Anakin. He threatened to destroy her, and the last we saw of their battle was a far away glimpse as the temple closed down around them.
In the episode’s closing montage, Vader is seen limping away from the battle, and what appears to be Ashoka peeks out from the temple before receding into shadow. Perhaps she is removing herself from the narrative after her soul-crushing encounter with Vader. Maybe she lost and is dead, and what we saw was her ghost. We’ll just have to wait to ….
Actually, this is the part where I’d say that we have to wait until the third season to find out. However, Dave Fiolini told IGN this might be the end of Ashoka’s journey on Rebels. Where we might see her again is actually up in the air.
IGN: Let’s start with the ending. I’ll just go there… Ahsoka’s totally alive, right?! That’s her walking away in the cave?
Filoni: Is that what you saw? That’s so interesting. That’s so good. You know I think it says a lot about who you are, which is great. You’re an optimist, and I think that that’s strong, I think that that’s strong. [Laughs] It’s an interpretation. I mean, the thing for me in this moment in time with this story – and I was pretty clear about this from the beginning in that Rebels is not Ahsoka Tano’s story, nor is it Darth Vader’s story, and we worked really hard to bring those characters into the story. But ultimately, I have to service Ezra and Kanan, and the crew of the Ghost. So a lot of that episode is portrayed through their eyes, and especially Ezra’s, as he witnesses this kind of titanic thing happening.
It’s just so easy – especially in that situation – it’s so easy to have Ahsoka and Vader take over the show. And I think evidence of that is that even though they don’t encounter each other until act three, you immediately get the dynamic of what’s going on. I would say that – while I’m not a huge fan of being tremendously ambiguous as far as what happened – I would say that this is the one case where I think it’s alright with Ahsoka to leave things a bit open-ended. You wondered what happened to her before, but you knew she walked away. Now she kind of leaves in a state of conflict. I would just say that there are probably – and I’ll give you this as we go back a ways – there are probably more stories to tell with Ahsoka Tano, but I would not believe that that would happen necessarily on Star Wars Rebels. I’ve been wrong in the past, but I think that she has served the part of the story that she needed to for our characters here. Then we’ll have to see. I do like the character a lot, obviously, and I think that she’s developed her own kind of fan base within the Star Wars universe. So, you know, I think there are still more stories to be told. I think there are stories to be told prior to Rebels with her. I think there are a lot of stories that happen right at the end of Clone Wars that we’re unaware of yet.
You know, I think the thing that I’ve learned is that the character has a lot of strength to be on her own, doing things. And perhaps that means she’s still alive. I don’t know. There are clues to the actual answer in what I think throughout, I will say that. And some kids at the [finale] screening were shooting pretty close to the mark, or at least were decoding the [clues] that I have left for them. It’s one of those mysteries then where maybe, beyond hope, maybe there is a future, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Later on in the interview, he clarified that we might someday in some medium see the totality of the Vader-Ashoka fight which we only glimpsed in “Twilight of the Apprentice 2.”
What do you think? Is he right? Should Ashoka be taken off the board at this point to return the focus to Kanan and Ezra, especially since Ezra is closer and closer to the Dark Side? Do you think Ashoka is dead? Was that actually her we saw in the temple at the very end? Are you more than a little annoyed that any further adventures with Ashoka might transpire outside of Rebels, perhaps in a comic book? Do you think they’re all doomed?