Why Ahsoka matters to my daughters’ Star Wars journey

Ahsoka Tano from "STAR WARS: TALES OF THE JEDI", season 1 exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.
Ahsoka Tano from "STAR WARS: TALES OF THE JEDI", season 1 exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved. /

The Siege of Mandalore was not written with my two-year-old daughter in mind.

But what choice did I have? I had to know how The Clone Wars ended. I had to know what role Ahsoka Tano played in those final battles, how Maul escaped, and how Captain Rex resisted Order 66.

And there are only so many hours in a day.

I woke up early each time a new episode of the final season of The Clone Wars dropped, eager to consume the latest chapter in those dreary morning hours before starting work. I mean, it’s not like I was sleeping in. Remember that two-year-old I mentioned? She was right there on the couch with me: wide-eyed and strong with the Force.

My daughter loved Star Wars. Or, more accurately, I was determined that she would come to love Star Wars.

With the world shut down in those early days of Covid-19 and me working from home, I had plenty of time to train my youngling. I’d pull out my Star Wars LEGO—definitely an age-appropriate toy—and we’d get to work building. I invested in some Star Wars Little Golden Books—Ashley Eckstein’s “I Am A Padawan” had just dropped featuring none other than Ahsoka herself—and we were reading and playing and building and imagining new stories and old ones in that galaxy far, far away.

To my mind and my daughter’s, Ahsoka was more than able to hang with the likes of Moana and Elsa and Rapunzel and Doc McStuffins. One more feisty heroine to add to my young daughter’s imagination.

But perhaps the Siege of Mandalore was a bridge too far.

“Is Ahsoka okay?” my daughter asked, one eye poking out from behind her hands. Maul was beating up on her hero, and it was becoming a bit much.

“She’ll be okay,” I said, wondering if my wife had been right all along, that Star Wars was perhaps a little too violent for a two-year-old.

“I don’t like Darth Maul,” my daughter said.

“He’s not very nice,” I agreed.

Right, wrong, or sideways, those final four episodes had a lasting impression on my kid. The open-ended nature of the story, the way the series ended with Ahsoka’s fate necessarily undecided—I think that left a mark on my daughter, on her imagination.

A hero who could stand up to evil like Maul, who could withstand disappointment and betrayal and keep going, keep her moral compass intact.

It wasn’t a happy ending. It wasn’t an ending at all.

This was no cut-and-dry Disney princess. Ahsoka was something more, someone more, someone determined to chart her own path into the unknown—and to help as many people as she could in the process.

When Ahsoka reemerged in The Mandalorian, I let my now-three-year-old watch the scene where the once-Jedi sits with and tests Grogu. I let both of my daughters watch the scene in The Book of Boba Fett where Ahsoka converses with Luke Skywalker about the future of the Jedi and their Baby Yoda-esque charge. The older warrior counseling the next generation.

And my daughters—five and three—both have watched every trailer for the new series. The eldest insists she’ll watch it with me, though I’m still unsure. I doubt Ahsoka was written with my five-year-old in mind.

But I do know this: the character Ahsoka has been a pivotal one for my kids, an entry point into the wider galaxy. Ahsoka is no Disney princess, a happily-ever-after handed down after 97 minutes of music and mayhem.

Ahsoka represents something more: resilience in the face of unknown odds and unseen danger, a ferocious commitment to what is good and right even when the very institutions of supposed good and right crumble, and a dogged determination to pass on what she has learned to the next generation, warts and sorrow and all.

My daughters could certainly do worse. Perhaps Ahsoka was written for them after all.