Spoilers for the Tales of the Jedi short “Practice Makes Perfect”
The Tales of the Jedi short “Practice Makes Perfect” focuses on Ahsoka Tano learning the lightsaber combat from Anakin Skywalker that will end up saving her life during Order 66. It’s a grueling sequence watching Ahsoka get knocked down over and over again. The people shooting her are clones from the 501st and Captain Rex who are assisting. After the first try, Ahsoka wakes up from being stunned.
Rex flashes his best smirk and says, “Jesse really tagged ya.”
And I immediately got emotional and almost broke down. I swear if there is one clone in Star Wars outside of Rex and Fives that always stabs me in the gut with feelings, it’s Jesse.
Jesse is one of the longest-running clones of Clone Wars, first debuting in the season two episode “The Deserter.” He became a vital member of Rex’s squad rising to the rank of ARC Trooper. During the Battle of Umbara, his dissent with Fives almost leads him to be executed. Rex stepped in to stop their deaths as Jesse helped uncover that the Jedi General Pong Krell had fallen to the Dark Side. He assisted with capturing Krell. Present at the Battle of Ringo Vinda, he witnessed the inhibitor chip go off in another clone, Tup, where Tup went on to kill a Jedi as an early look at Order 66.
Being a bit of a joker, Jesse was always fun and had some of the best one-liners. He rolled well with Fives’ out-of-the-box thinking which often challenged Rex to grow as a person. Even if it was treason, he was willing to lay down his life to stop Pong Krell. He also didn’t like getting pushed around. After meeting the Bad Batch, Crosshair picked a fight with the “regs” or regular clones like Jesse. This made him squabble with Wrecker and the other Batch until Cody, Rex, and Hunter calmed them.
Also, Jesse wore a prominent face tattoo of the Republic symbol. It was also painted on his helmet to showcase his loyalty to the Republic he fought for.
If you were like me and watched Clone Wars as it aired, then you’ll know there was a long hiatus between the show’s cancellation on Cartoon Network and season seven airing on Disney+. During this time, a lot of extra source material had been released to fill in the gaps for other clones. For example, we found out that the 501st medic, Kix, had followed Fives’ investigation and discovered the Order 66 plot. The very simple explanation was he was caught by Separatists, put into stasis on an enemy cruiser, and went around in hyperspace for a bit before the ship crashed. He remained in stasis until he was freed by the Crimson Corsair himself, Sidon Ithano, and his pirate crew. Stuck in the Sequel Trilogy era with everyone he knew and loved dead, Kix joins their crew.
But the one clone of the 501st we didn’t have the end of the story for was Jesse. Prior to season seven, Clone Wars writer and director Henry Gilroy attended Dragon Con. I had come up to his table and specifically asked about Jesse’s fate. And boy did Henry Gilroy give me a sly smile for the ages. He vaguely said that I would have to wait and see.
The end of Jesse’s story happened in season seven of Clone Wars. During the Siege of Mandalore, he is captured by Maul and tortured. I was terrified of what would happen to my boy! Luckily, Maul let Jesse go as a sign of good faith to Ahsoka. I breathed a sigh of relief. He was going to be okay, right? RIGHT!?
It’s after Maul’s capture and traveling on a Jedi cruiser that the worst happens. Jesse befalls the same fate as most clones when Order 66 switched his inhibitor chip. He pursued Ahsoka Tano trying to kill her. Rex, thanks to Ahsoka, was broken free of the spell. He begged Ahsoka to try and spare the clones. They had no control and it wasn’t their fault. As Rex sided with Ahsoka to try and get her to safety, the one clone that took up leadership was Jesse.
Jesse, one of Rex’s longest friends and his brother, was now trying to murder them. Jesse died as their ship crashed into a planet as Rex and Ahsoka escaped with their lives. As the two buried all the clones’ bodies, it’s Jesse’s helmet we see on the post with the Republic symbol to highlight the death of the Republic.
Tales of the Jedi hurts watching Ahsoka train. Knowing it was Jesse that tagged her first, his goofy apology of waving his hand high over his head and shouting, “Sorry, Commander!” stabbed me in the gut. It’s all foreshadowing for Order 66. The final moments of “Practice Makes Perfect” is the last stand Rex and Ahsoka take during the final episode of Clone Wars. They march out together in a ruse to try and trick the other clones to let Ahsoka go.
And they march out to face Jesse now their enemy. He’s not that snarky, joking man anymore. He’s lost his autonomy and freedom in the final moments of his life.
The clones are always such tragic characters in the universe. I love when Star Wars hurts me in this way.
Keep up with all of our Tales of the Jedi coverage on Dork Side of the Force.