Ahsoka Strikes Back in Episode V’s Shadow Warrior
Ahsoka Part 5, “Shadow Warrior,” appears to serve as the crux of the series as the titular Jedi faces her biggest challenge yet: facing her own fears once and for all similar to Anakin’s Master Obi-Wan Kenobi who had to face his fears and learn to reconnect with the Force in his own series.
Every important Jedi has gone through a spiritual journey at some point in their extensive training like Luke Skywalker in the dark cave on Dagobah or Rey on Anch-To and even in the Death Star ruins. Ultimately, Ahsoka’s final test takes place in the World Between Worlds, with none other than her old Master, Anakin Skywalker. He looks the same as she remembers, whereas he actually teases that it is she who looks old.
Anakin awaits to finally finish her training once and for all. After some brilliant lightsaber choreography and Anakin telling Ahsoka she must make a choice to “live or die,” Ahsoka questions whether Anakin would have anything left to offer or not. In a surprise move, Anakin shatters the glass floor beneath Ahsoka, sending her plummeting through major events from her past. When she realizes she has been sent back to relive one of her first missions from The Clone Wars, Anakin confirms that this is all part of her training.
When Luke Skywalker is training with the great Jedi Master Yoda on Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back, he senses the Dark Side and goes to it. Luke asks Yoda what he will find in the Dark Side cave, and the Master says, “Only what you take with you.” Luke proceeds to bring his lightsaber even though he was advised against it and winds up challenging and defeating a version of Darth Vader. Ignoring Yoda’s teachings that “Fear is the path to the Dark Side” and “A Jedi uses the Force only for knowledge and defense,” Luke sees a reflection of himself behind Vader’s mask. It not only foreshadows Anakin’s dark legacy but also teaches that fear and temptation will ultimately lead him down a path to the Dark Side that will forever dominate his destiny.
Ahsoka is reminded of the major impact that her time in the Clone Wars fighting alongside Anakin and training to become a fierce warrior has had on her, as she fears fighting is the only thing she will be able to pass on. Reliving a failed mission on Ryloth reveals how much she loved her clone comrades (such as Rex) and how responsible she feels for the high death toll from some of these battles she was commanding. We learn from Yoda talking to Luke in The Last Jedi that failure can be the greatest teacher, but also holding on to fear from Ahsoka’s past traumas is holding her back from becoming a true Master of the Force.
In The Empire Strikes Back, Luke fears for his friend’s lives and rushes off to fight Darth Vader prior to finishing his training. His failure leads to him discovering that Darth Vader is his father and losing his hand in battle. It is not until he chooses life over killing his own father that Luke becomes a Master of the Force and a true Jedi.
When Rey was training with Luke Skywalker on Anch-To in The Last Jedi, she felt a similar call to the dark when she was lured by temptation into a Dark Side cave where she seeks to find out the identity of her parents. Rey is also met with a reflection of herself, revealing her greatest fear is that she will be alone and have nobody to feel a sense of belonging with. Rey also has a brush with a dark vision of herself prior to her final battle with Kylo Ren in The Rise of Skywalker, but ultimately ends up choosing life over death when she uses the powers of the Force to heal Ben Solo’s fatal wound.
Ahsoka finds herself fighting in The Siege of Mandalore which was after she had already parted ways with Anakin. She tells Anakin that his legacy that she has inherited is one of death and war, but Anakin assures her that they are much more than that. When Ahsoka brings up his turn to the Dark Side by claiming Anakin is ‘more powerful and dangerous than anyone ever realized,’ Anakin says he must take her back to the beginning of the lesson and ignites his red lightsaber. The true measure of a hero is what choices they make in the face of adversity, and Anakin finishes his final lesson by showing Ahsoka the Dark Side of the Force going full Vader without his mechanical suit and yelling, “You lack conviction!”
What Ahsoka doesn’t yet understand is Anakin’s return to the light, which ultimately fulfilled the prophecy of The Chosen One and brought balance to the Force in the galaxy. It isn’t until Luke Skywalker was able to learn the ultimate Jedi lesson thereby completing his training and throwing down his lightsaber, that Anakin was able to finally complete his training and overcome his hatred and fear in order to defeat Palpatine. When Ahsoka gains the upper hand on her Master in the final lightsaber duel in the World Between Worlds, she can turn to the Dark Side and finish the fight, yet she chooses to live and throws the lightsaber away.
The completion of Ahsoka’s training by Anakin Skywalker after his redemption in Return of the Jedi allows her to ascend to her full potential as Jedi Master by casting aside her fears brought on by past traumas as well as living in the moment rather than fear what the future fight with Thrawn will bring. The spiritual journey for each Jedi teaches Padawans what it means to succumb to temptation or fear and walk the path of the Dark Side. Ahsoka has now completed her training alongside a “long line of non-traditional Jedi” to expand on the Skywalker legacy. As she and Huyang board the purrgil to travel to a brand new galaxy far, far away, the true test will be to see if she can successfully pass on her training to her Padawan Sabine Wren and bring her back from the Dark Side.
Just as Anakin’s final words were to Ahsoka in Part 5, “Shadow Warrior:”
“There’s hope for you yet.”