That the Jedi are the good guys in a Galaxy Far, Far Away is Star Wars‘ biggest lie. George Lucas dispelled that in his prequel trilogy. Dave Filoni examined the cracks of the Order in Clone Wars through the eyes of Anakin Skywalker. Rian Johnson brought it full circle in The Last Jedi when a disillusioned Luke Skywalker denounced the Order’s teaching. The streak to paint the Jedi as the galaxy’s most fallible figures continues as Tales of the Jedi puts the spotlight on one of the most underserved characters in the franchise, Count Dooku.
The series, a precisely crafted six-episode anthology from Filoni, is split into two arcs. One explores Dooku’s fall from Jedi Master to Sith apprentice while the other chronicles various points of Ahsoka Tano’s life. Tales of the Jedi, in essence, is a masterclass on storytelling as Filoni compacts much depth and weight in a compact fifteen-minute format. In such a short amount of time, the stories explored evoke a sense of scale that eclipses some of the most important Jedi moments in Star Wars cinema.
Much of that can be credited to the sheer scope of the storytelling. Both Dooku and Ahsoka’s journey span decades, exploring incidents in the far reaches of the galaxy that general audiences have yet to see. Like Lucas before him, Filoni brilliantly draws inspiration from other genres, giving certain episodes a distinct tonal feel. One episode that has Dooku investigating a kidnapping is inspired by mystery thrillers. Another episode that explores Ahsoka’s life in hiding after Order 66 taps into iconic Western tropes.
The centerpiece of Tales of the Jedi is Dooku’s arc. Dooku’s fall from grace has long been a point of interest among fans and the show does a tremendous job of examining his disillusionment with the order. His episodes serve as one of the most straightforward indictments for the Jedi Order, delineating a clear line to where it all went wrong and why it went wrong. Dooku’s arc is tragic, regretful, and most of all, complex as it paints a portrait of a broken man on the brink of defeat. What used to be a character that was stunt-cased for the prequels is now one of the most compelling characters in the franchise.
Ahsoka’s episodes, on the other hand, lack the intrigue of Dooku’s but make up for its familiarity. As one of the best characters in all of Star Wars, it’s always welcome to see Ahsoka’s story expanded, even through narrative minutiae. The opening of the season is her birth and how her tribe discovers her powers while the second is a vignette of her training under Anakin Skywalker. Both offer slice-of-life looks at the Jedi’s formative years. The kicker is her final episode which chronicles her life after Order 66. Without spoiling much, she ends up fighting the most badass Inquisitor ever created.
Tales of the Jedi stands out as the best Star Wars animated series since Rebels. Even as its pacing and episode sequencing feel contrived, it showcases some of the best storytelling this side of the galaxy.