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Tales of the Jedi Review – A Serviceable Clone Wars Supplement

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Tales of the Jedi Review – A Serviceable Clone Wars Supplement

Is Tales of the Jedi worth a watch?

Where was Ahsoka Tano born? What pushed Count Dooku to the Dark Side? What happened to Yaddle, the only Jedi Council member to share a homeworld with Yoda? Where did Ahsoka go after Order 66? The latest animated Star Wars effort, Tales of the Jedi, hinges on whether or not you’ve asked any of these questions or expressed remote interest in their answers. While these 15-minute shorts won’t quite satisfy, they do make the wait for better Star Wars content slightly more bearable.

Tales of the Jedi adopts the anthological structure of The Clone Wars, but it doesn’t touch the level of substance that made that series so good. There isn’t enough power or weight in these stories to elicit a response greater than, “Oh, cool. So that’s how that happened.” It isn’t the shortened length that works against it. It’s where and how the show expends its energy.

Tales of the Jedi may not amount to much more than a collection of truncated backstories, but there’s enough gap-filling to intrigue and satisfy more discerning fans. Characters most of us had forgotten about, such as Yaddle, reappear in brief but occasionally meaningful ways.

tales of the jedi yaddle
Image Source: Disney

The series splits its focus in two ways. The first sees Ahsoka Tano’s birth and subsequent upbringing at the Jedi Temple, culminating in a string of post-Order 66 adventures that enrich that devastating Clone Wars finale. Matt Lanter and James Arnold Taylor briefly reprise their respective voice roles as Anakin and Obi-Wan, but they do little to elevate the material. They are little more than supplements, familiar faces who function as loose tethers to superior Star Wars stories.

Surprisingly, Ahsoka herself is almost as uninteresting here. There are other, better training arcs scattered throughout The Clone Wars, so watching her pass Jedi trials isn’t nearly as entertaining or revelatory as the writers intended. Even seeing an older, wiser, and sadder Ahsoka doesn’t pack the punch it needs to. Again, whatever this series does or attempts to do, it was done better in previous shows. Showrunner Dave Filoni doesn’t walk back elements of her character, but he doesn’t reinforce them in noteworthy ways, either.

All of that is to say that these episodes as a set are fine, but they’re hardly worthy of the same praise heaped upon Star Wars Rebels and The Clone Wars. Ahsoka’s birth and early childhood have never been particularly relevant to who she grows up to be, so most of this feels like filler. The best Ahsoka content remains (and likely will remain) the final season of Clone Wars, and nothing in Tales of the Jedi changes or enriches that.

tales of the jedi count dooku mace windu
Image Source: Disney

The more compelling batch of episodes concern themselves with Count Dooku’s transition from revered Jedi to cold Sith Lord. A healthy amount of this appeal lies in Kevin Kiner’s rousing score, which is as resonant and inspiring as ever. Played against Dooku’s pivot to evil is a haunting theme swelling in tandem with his inner turmoil, pumping shades of gray into a black heart and adding dimension to a popular character.

An oft-teased –but rarely explored– dynamic gets some attention here, which should delight Mace Windu fans (and Dooku fans, of course!). The fan-favorite Jedi Master gets a fair amount of screen time with Dooku, and it’s through their experiences and interactions that we see the latter begin to turn. Honestly, developing more of this relationship would’ve gone a long way in keeping me engaged.

These bits are inherently more interesting than anything else the show delivers, primarily because we see aspects of his character that the prequels –and even The Clone Wars– didn’t show us. Dooku is one of the greatest warriors in Star Wars lore; his skills as a duelist are unmatched, and his Force abilities are equally impressive. Until now, though, he was mostly one-dimensional, a big bad around whom other characters were forced to grow. Tales of the Jedi is smart to change this.

But other than some welcome Dooku development and a handful of fun lightsaber duels, Tales of the Jedi likely won’t stick with fans for long after the credits roll on these short (and mostly sweet) Clone Wars supplements. The Ahsoka stuff is forgettable at best, and Dooku’s descent isn’t enough to warrant more than one or two watches. None of it sticks, and it’s tough to take this show as anything more than a teaser for more memorable content. But hey, if you’ve got two hours to kill and want help getting in the mood for a Clone Wars rewatch, then this may do the trick.

Our Verdict: Watchable

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