Ever since the arrival of the Star Wars franchise to Disney+, the streaming platform has been churning out new TV shows almost faster than fans can request them. From the recent addition “Andor” to the fan-favorite “The Mandalorian” that brought us baby Yoda, the Star Wars universe proved itself to be — for better or worse — ever-expanding. While the abundant additions to the Star Wars world have received a bundle of mixed reviews, the latest series proved to be, without a doubt, a resounding success. “Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi” is the perfect deep dive into unseen moments from “Star Wars” history, giving viewers a glimpse into the past of beloved characters with an ideal balance of surprise character cameos and critical backstory.
A six-episode mini-series, “Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi” consists of a series of vignettes that tell the stories of two characters on opposite sides of the rebellion: fan favorite padawan Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”) and Jedi-turned-Sith Count Dooku (Corey Burton, “The Book of Boba Fett”). With three of the six episodes dedicated to each character, “Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi” fills in the blanks left by the past stories of the Clone Wars and the Star Wars series as a whole. The story follows each character from different pivotal points in their lives pre-imperial takeover, with Ahsoka’s arc ranging from infancy to her time as Anakin Skywalker’s padawan and Dooku’s following his break from the Jedi Order. Each story is told in short episodes of about 15 minutes, making the content easily digestible and thoroughly action-packed. While each installment is short, the content is impactful, serving to expand upon the nuances of the characters and institutions of the “Star Wars” universe in a way that full-fledged shows, and even movies, could not. In addition to the surprising depth of the show’s brief anecdotes, fans of the franchise are also blessed with brief yet beautiful cameos from other favorite characters such as Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson, “Memory”), Obi-Wan Kenobi (James Arnold Taylor, “Johnny Test”) and Jedi Master Yaddle (Bryce Dallas Howard, “Jurassic Park”). The introduction of these classic characters into the narrative paints a picture of the relationship dynamics between crucial characters that we didn’t get a full glimpse of in the original “Star Wars” series, making the short series feel fully developed and complete.
Perhaps “Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi’”s biggest accomplishment is its dissection of the familiar institutions and politics of the original series — a large undertaking that the show handles with grace. In chronicling the adventures of two very different characters with diverging paths, the show is able to explore two opposing sides of an ongoing conflict in a surprising amount of detail. In the episodes of Dooku’s story arc, we see a growing breach between himself and the Jedi Order caused by more than just the Empire’s evil influence. With each episode and Jedi mission, the questionable politics of the Jedi order are made apparent through Dooku’s eyes as he comes face-to-face with the destructive effects of the Order’s political neutrality on the people of the galaxy. While a deep exploration of social class and intergalactic politics isn’t something you might expect from an animated mini-series, “Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi” certainly delivers. The juxtaposition between the strictly “light” path of Ahsoka’s path to Jedi wisdom and Dooku’s supposedly “evil” one provides further depth and expansion on the classic theme of good vs evil that permeates the “Star Wars” universe. As we witness some of the Jedi Order’s critical mistakes first-hand, we begin to empathize with Dooku — one of the main series’ principal villains who played a strictly “evil” role throughout the films, allowing us to question the legitimacy of the systems we accepted as gospel in the original series.
With profound themes and plenty of twists and turns, “Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi” offers a complete perspective of some of the unexplored aspects of the Star Wars universe in an unexpected, but certainly not unwelcome, addition to the series. Rather than attempt to further expand a cinematic universe that has already been stretched to the breaking point, “Tales of the Jedi’”s decision to take the viewer into the unexplored past brings more to the table than another series of new material ever could. While there may not be any cunning new characters or another baby Yoda, “Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi” still shines as a brilliant addition to the beloved Star Wars series.
Daily Arts Writer Annabel Curran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.