Tales of the Jedi Episode 1 review: Ahsoka’s wholesome origin story

A still from Tales of the Jedi Episode 1Disney+

Tales of the Jedi Episode 1, titled ‘Life and Death’, is a natural start-point for the series: a vignette from the infant life of Ahsoka, illustrating not just how she became a Jedi, but the very qualities it represents.

The galaxy far, far away is bigger than ever: we’ve had three trilogies of movies, spinoffs, and several TV shows, including The Clone Wars, The Mandalorian, and currently, Andor.

Tales of the Jedi is a new Star Wars anthology series set during the prequel era, spotlighting important moments in the lives of Ahsoka Tano and Count Dooku as they embark on their respective paths toward heroism and villainy. Each episode is around 15 minutes long.

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Episode 1 is a wholesome showcase of what fans should expect: not substantive plot, but shorts that expand on characters we already love, hate, or perhaps a bit of both.

Spoilers for Tales of the Jedi Episode 1 to follow…

Tales of the Jedi Episode 1 review: Life and Death

Under the starry, purple-and-blue-rippled skies of Shili, a baby’s cries can be heard in the small village, with the locals soon bursting out of their huts into the pale glow of the hanging lanterns. A Togruta child has been born, and her name is Ahsoka.

If you’re expecting the episode to forward-wind to Rosario Dawson, don’t. This is firmly rooted in the character’s first year as a baby, carried in a sling by her mother Pav-ti (voiced by Janina Gavankar).

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Not to say there isn’t a narrative: we follow Pav-ti and Ahsoka as they head into the nearby woodland to hunt. As they leave the village, its matriarch Gantika (Toks Olagundoye) bids them good luck and feeds her horrible little cats. Whether it’s intentional or not is unknown, but they’re dead ringers for Critters.

The episode, directed by Nathaniel Villanueva and written by Star Wars veteran Dave Filoni, has several eastern stylings, from the straw-roofed design of the homes to Kevin Kiner’s bamboo flute composition weaving the scenes together. If there was nothing but music, it wouldn’t lose any impact.

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“Everywhere there is life; value it, honor it,” Pav-ti tells her, as they prepare to kill one of the animals grazing in the forest. Ahsoka tries to look away as it takes its final breaths, but her mum asks her to look. “You must face death,” she says, before delivering mercy with her blade.

All is well, and the pair giggle in the grass, before a giant tiger ambushes them. The fear of this becoming a rather harrowing parable runs rife in these moments, but the episode has much sweeter intentions: the tiger picks Ahsoka up and takes her away into his den as bait, but she pats his head and calms him down.

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When the tiger returns her to the village, her parents are stunned in disbelief, but Gantika knows the truth: Ahsoka is a Jedi.

Tales of the Jedi Episode 1 review score: 8/10

This is a small, pivotal moment in Ahsoka’s life, but the Jedi revelation isn’t the takeaway – this revelation come through compassion, even when faced with certain death in the face of a vicious beast. Some will call it saccharine, I just think it’s sweet. “Not fighting what we hate, but saving what we love.”

Tales of the Jedi is available to stream now. You can sign up for Disney+ here.