Revisiting the time Ahsoka Tano faced off against Boba Fett — and won

The Clone Wars season 2. Photo courtesy of
The Clone Wars season 2. Photo courtesy of /

If you haven’t seen all of Clone Wars, you might not be aware of their epic confrontation from when both were young; here is the full tale of the padawan vs. the bounty-hunter-to-be.

Warning! Major spoilers for Star Wars: The Clone Wars and The Mandalorian (and a minor spoiler for Star Wars Rebels) follow.

Unless you have been in a coma, living under a rock, or are at best a casual Star Wars fan (or at worst, not one), you know that a big reveal from the first episode of the second season of The Mandalorian (“Chapter 9: The Marshal”) was that, apparently, Boba Fett survived after he was swallowed by the Sarlacc on Tatooine in Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and has been living without his distinctive Mandalorian(-like) armor in the deserts of Tatooine (armor recovered by our Mando, Din Djarin).

Boba’s background

Dickey Beer and Jeremy Bulloch in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983). Photo: Lucasfilm.
Dickey Beer and Jeremy Bulloch in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983). Photo: Lucasfilm. /

In the original trilogy, Boba Fett was a top-tier bounty hunter, probably the galaxy’s best, hired both by Darth Vader and Jabba the Hutt to go after Han Solo. He clashes with Han and Luke Skywalker along with Jabba’s forces in Return of the Jedi, in which a mishap ignites his jetpack and he crashes, then falls into the mouth of the Sarlacc in its pit. For years since 1983, it was presumed this meant he had died, but many a fan held out hope that the ever-so-cool, always mysterious Boba had somehow survived.

In the prequel-era, Boba was just a little boy in Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones.  His father, Jango Fett, was a bounty hunter using Mandalorian armor (maybe also a Mandalorian himself, we may see) who was such a badass in the galaxy that Sith Lord Tyrannus (Count Dooku, former Jedi) recruited him to be the template for the clone army that makes its debut in Attack of the Clones.  The clones are virtually all watered-down, less independent versions of Jango, engineered from his DNA by the Kaminoan cloners to grow far faster than most humans and bred to be soldiers. As part of his deal to be the template for the clone army, he requested a copy of himself that was unaltered, to grow at a normal rate and whom he raised as his son: Boba.

Growing up with one of the galaxy’s most successful and notorious bounty hunters as your father is not exactly a normal childhood. And, as anyone who has seen Attack of the Clones knows, Boba has to see Jedi Master Mace Windu chop off his father’s head with his iconic purple lightsaber during the climactic final battle of the movie. The last we see of Boba, he is alone in the Geonosian arena where his father died, cradling his father’s helmet, which still encases Jango’s severed head.

The real Boba: more complex than just a gun-for-hire

The Clone Wars season 2. Photo courtesy of
The Clone Wars season 2. Photo courtesy of /

It is in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars series where we really get to see Boba and who he is, and it is from this series where we can actually get the best indication of who he will be when he graces the screen again in The Mandalorian.

The last three episodes of season 2 of Clone Wars are underappreciated gems, and they totally center around Boba, voice by Daniel Logan, the same actor who played him in Attack of the Clones. Boba has fallen in with some bounty hunters (including the lizardo Bossk, who makes a brief but notable appearance alongside adult Boba in Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back), led by Aurra Sing, apparently an associate of Jango’s. They are all working together on a serious plot to help get Boba revenge against Mace Windu in exchange for a sizable sum from Count Dooku, who is leading the Separatists in the wars against the Republic, conflicts known as the Clone War(s).

The Clone Wars season 2. Photo courtesy of
The Clone Wars season 2. Photo courtesy of /

Young Boba pretends he is a clone cadet and has been able to sneak into a unit of clone cadets going for training on a Republic Venator Jedi Cruiser (the main Republic carrier and assault ship and precursor to the even bigger Imperial Star Destroyers in the original trilogy) on which Mace Windu, as well as Anakin Skywalker, are serving. Boba impresses all the cadets by standing out during target practice training and soon sneaks off to lay a bomb in Mace’s room, which ends up killing a clone instead. Boba then sabotages the ship enough so that the ship is going down. In the process, we see that Boba is both hell-bent on avenging his father but also reluctant—and goes out of his way—to avoid harming others. He stuns instead of kills a clone trooper about to derail Boba’s revenge mission, and when his escape pod with other young cadets gets intercepted by his bounty hunter colleagues, Boba pleads with Aurra to help the cadets while she cruelly sets them on a path to death instead.

Boba is torn up inside and clearly feels awful, but the cadets, at least, are rescued by Skywalker. A second attempt to kill Windu in which Boba used his father Jango’s helmet to lure Windu and Skywalker into a trap in the Venator wreckage fails, thanks to the heroics of R2-D2, who gets Anakin’s padawan, Ahsoka Tano, and Master Plo Koon to come and rescue Skywalker and Windu just in time from the crumbling wreckage of the ship, though the two are badly injured.

Aurra is clearly something a replacement figure for Jango in the eyes of Boba, but behaves more like a cruel, abusive mother. Still, she does stick up for him when another bounty hunter threatens Boba, and even prevents young Boba from drinking alcohol — like a mother should. In the arc and season final episode (much of which is beautifully evocative of classic Westerns in much the same way The Mandalorian is), Boba is uncomfortable when Aurra tortures hostages he and the other bounty hunters took from the crashed Venator wreckage, but Aurra simply pushes further, trying to get Boba to execute one of the hostages — a clone that, of course, looks like his father — but he cannot do it, and Aurra does it instead, exploding at Boba for not killing the clone, Windu’s personal right-hand officer, Commander Ponds.

The Clone Wars season 2. Photo courtesy of
The Clone Wars season 2. Photo courtesy of /

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The fateful encounter: Ahsoka Tano vs Boba Fett 

The bounty hunters end up heading to the hideout of lovable, charismatic, but untrustworthy Hondo Ohnaka and his merry band of pirate outlaws, as Aurra is apparently Hondo’s ex-girlfriend and still on decent terms with him. Ohnaka sees Boba and asks “Not mine, I take it?,” worried (or joking?) that maybe Boba might be a son of his through relations with Aurra, but she informs him that the kid is Jango’s son.  Hondo immediately becomes very respectful towards Boba, informing him that Jango “was a friend and an honorable man.”

Since Windu and Skywalker are injured, Master Plo Koon takes Padawan Ahsoka Tano to investigate some of the seedier parts of Coruscant once frequented by Jango, hoping to find some intel on where the fugitive bounty hunters could be, and their investigation leads them to Hondo’s planet. Aurra and Boba are planning to set the Jedi up, but Hondo—who, in an earlier encounter with Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, was impressed by the honor of the Jedi—warns them of his ex-girlfriend’s plan, not wanting to be held responsible by the Jedi for her actions.

In a scene taken straight out of classic Westerns, Plo Koon strolls into Hondo’s bar inside his compound, then sits across from Aurra Sing at a table where she is sitting and enjoying a drink.

The Clone Wars season 2. Photo courtesy of
The Clone Wars season 2. Photo courtesy of /

Sing hubristically tells Master Koon that he has made a mistake and Boba immediately appears from the shadows, points a gun point-blank at the Jedi’s head, and laments that Koon is not Windu, asking why he is there.

“We can do this the difficult way or the simple way. The choice is yours,” responds the Jedi Master with calmness and authority. Sing makes it clear she has Bossk on her comms at an undisclosed location, who is ready to execute the hostages on her word.

After some banter, Ahsoka, a few years older and somewhat taller than Boba, pops out much like Boba did, knocks out Sing’s comms, and holds her lightsaber to Sing’s neck with her other arm around that same neck.

And we are in a Star Wars Mexican standoff.

Ashoka calls Boba a “murderer.”

“I’m not a murderer, but I want justice,” he angrily but righteously responds.

In one of my favorite lines in all of Star Wars, Plo Koon responds with “We are justice.”

Boba expresses anguish at the thought of losing Aurra, the closest thing to a mother he has probably ever had.  She winks, letting him know she has some tricks up her sleeve.

Everything else happens quite fast. Boba moves his pistol away from Plo’s head, aiming and firing at Ahsoka.  She moves her lightsaber to block the blast but this enables Sing to move freely and she elbows Ahsoka so hard she staggers back as Plo knocks the table down and Force-pushes Boba back behind him. Sing spins around, drawing her two rapid-fire pistols, and unleashes on Ashoka, who is barely able to block the barrage of bolts. Plo then Force-pushes the table in between Ahsoka and Sing to block Sing’s fire at Ahsoka, then uses his lightsaber in one stroke to destroy Sing’s pistols, ending with the glowing blade at her neck, demanding her surrender. But Boba throws a bomb into the middle, Sing putting distance between her and the Jedi after they run away from the bomb.  Koon grabs and holds Boba, who calls out to Sing not to leave him, but she flees anyway, leaving Boba heartbroken, feeling alone and abandoned.

The perfectly executed, thrilling sequence all happens in just a few seconds.

Aftermath and possible setup for The Mandalorian

Plo pleads with Boba to reveal the location of the hostages while Hondo allows Ashoka to pursue Aurra.  Hondo tenderly encourages Boba to tell Master Koon where the hostages are located.  An angry, hurt Boba yells out: “Why should I help anybody? I’ve got no one!” Hondo replies, “It’s the honorable thing to do, it’s what your father would have wanted.”  Persuaded, Boba comes clean with the location and Ahsoka ends up rescuing the hostages.

The Clone Wars season 2. Photo courtesy of
The Clone Wars season 2. Photo courtesy of /

In the end, Ahsoka, Plo, and some clones end up escorting Boba (and Bossk) and the hostages back to Coruscant, where Boba confronts Mace Windu, Anakin flaking him.  Throughout these episodes, Boba kept saying he did not intend for anyone else to be harmed and just wanted to avenge his father.  “I see now I’ve done terrible things,” he tells Mace.  “But you started it when you murdered my father!  I’ll never forgive you!”

At the end of the war, Anakin will kill Windu as he falls to the Dark Side and years later, as Darth Vader, will be hiring Boba to go after the eventual husband of his daughter and father of his grandchild, and Boba will be defeated in part at the hands of Anakin’s son. Pretty crazy, huh?

There are other adventures in Clone Wars with Boba Fett, including ones that show him starting a prison riot with Bossk and show him running his own bounty hunting crew, a few years older cockier, quickly establishing himself as an excellent gun-for-hire who but still displays a desire to actually try to help people and is bothered when he has to do questionable things.

It will be interesting to see how much of this internal moral conflict persists when we see more of him in The Mandalorian.  In the original trilogy, he was just a badass bounty hunter employed by Jabba and Vader. This time, we have reason to believe we will have a look at him that will be more personal than that one, as the looks at him in Clone Wars were. And if he crosses paths with Ahsoka Tano during The Mandalorian, in which she is soon expected to make a long-awaited appearance, it will be important to note that this would not be their first meeting.

An, oh, yeah, from Rebels, we know Hondo is still around, which could further make an interesting reunion indeed, and his history with Ahsoka could be a whole other article.

Whatever happens, we can expect Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau to expertly weave in Clone Wars and movie content into The Mandalorian not in the heavy-handed, forced-fan-service ways the Disney sequel trilogy did such things, but in the most impressive ways Filoni and Favreau have done throughout all their Star Wars work.

The Mandalorian Chapter 9 concept art of Temuera Morrison. Photo courtesy of Disney+.
The Mandalorian Chapter 9 concept art of Temuera Morrison. Photo courtesy of Disney+. /

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