The end of the season finale of Star Wars Rebels clearly showed us Ahsoka Tano walking back into the Sith Temple after her battle with Darth Vader. But whether she’s alive or dead is still not clear.
Editor’s note 12/4/20: For an updated version of this story, check out: How did Ahsoka Tano survive?
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The ending of “Twilight of the Apprentice,” the season two finale of Star Wars Rebels which premiered last week, left us with many questions. Perhaps the most pressing is: did Ahsoka Tano really die? Evidence in the episode suggests she didn’t, as fans were quick to spot her figure retreating into the shadows of the Sith Temple after her former master, Darth Vader, emerges. The release of an exclusive t-shirt designed by Dave Filoni, the show’s director, featuring this vision of Ahsoka’s back seemed to confirm for a lot of fans that she wasn’t dead. Vader somehow, inexplicably, allowed her to live.
First, let’s consider the possibility that Vader did allow her to live. Did he do this on purpose, or does he not realize that he failed to kill her? He seems adamant on killing her earlier in the episode when he tells her, “…you will die.” Filoni said in an interview that at this point in Vader’s dark path, he’s trying to eradicate every memory of the man he had once been (via IGN). Being that Ahsoka is one of the people who represents a time when he wasn’t trapped by what he’s become, it’s unlikely that he has even a small inkling to be merciful towards her.
Maybe letting Ahsoka live was motivated by the selfish hope that she’ll one day become his Sith apprentice. I find that unlikely, though. No matter how deeply Vader has buried Anakin Skywalker, whatever vestige of Skywalker is left in him should know Ahsoka well enough to know that she would never serve the dark side, at least not willingly.
If it’s unlikely he was merciful toward her and spared her life purely out of caring, what then? How could she fool him into thinking she was dead?
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There’s a theory going around on Twitter that posits a compelling answer. In this theory, Ahsoka is somehow connected to The Daughter, a mythological figure introduced in The Clone Wars series. In the episode arc that featured The Daughter, Ahsoka, Anakin and Obi Wan experience a quasi-real vision where the Force is manifested in two beings: The Daughter, who represents the light side, and The Son, who represents the dark side. The Father completes a triumvirate, and represents neither side; rather, his job is to keep balance between his two children.
Basically, Ahsoka is poisoned by The Son and becomes a servant of evil. In order to save her, The Daughter sacrifices her own life. This giving over of her life to Ahsoka, some fans think, means her spirit is intertwined with Ahsoka’s, which may indicate that Ahsoka is now something more than a mere mortal.
The idea that The Daughter is still connected to Ahsoka by the events of Star Wars Rebels season two comes down to the convoree, a winged owl-like bird that shows up twice in the series: once in “The Mystery of Chopper Base” right before Ahsoka and Ezra are getting ready to depart for Malachor, and again after we see Ahsoka’s retreating back at the end of the season finale. The convoree, some have noticed, bears a slight resemblance in coloring to The Daughter. This is significant because in The Clone Wars episodes, The Daughter was able to transform from a human form into a griffin-like creature; so why not a convoree? Perhaps some of her life force is now able to detach itself from Ahsoka and manifest into an outside entity.
This all adds up to…we have no idea. Dave Filoni probably knows exactly what happened to Ahsoka, and if and how she survived, but of course he’s not going to share those details with the fans. Perhaps the upcoming young adult novel featuring Ahsoka as the main character will provide some insight, even though it will cover what happened to Ahsoka between her departure on The Clone Wars series and her debut on Star Wars Rebels, about a fourteen-year time span in-universe.
There’s one more possibility we have to consider, however, and that is that Ahsoka really did die. The figure we see reentering the shadows of the Sith Temple could be Ahsoka’s Force ghost. It may be unrealistic to assume that Ahsoka would know how to be a Force ghost when, at this time, only the spirit of Qui Gon Jinn, Yoda, and possibly Obi Wan know how to preserve their spirit after death. But who knows what Ahsoka has been learning for fourteen years.
As with all things in Star Wars, fans want the absolute canon truth. Unfortunately for us, the trend among Star Wars storytellers of late has been to keep secrets for as long as they possibly can (Rogue One trailer, where are you?). Hopefully Filoni will crack open his own little mystery box before long.