The new Disney+ animated Star Wars show Tales of the Jedi has given fans a new glimpse into the life of Ahsoka Tano. Unfortunately, though, it's also retconned a classic Ahsoka story to make it much less queer.
Tales of the Jedi consists of six episodes, three about Ahsoka and three about Count Dooku. Through the series, we get to know more about their histories and motivations, and in the final episode, we see Ahsoka living a quiet life as a farmworker on a planet while in hiding from the Empire, who is sending out Inquisitors to hunt former Jedi.
The episode, entitled "Resolve," adapts a plot from the beloved 2016 novel Ahsoka, which follows her as she travels to the planet Raada using the name Ashla and meets a young farmer named Kaeden, with whom she strikes up a friendship that develops into something a little more.
In the book, the two have an exchange that is clearly and unambiguously queer when Kaeden reveals she wants to kiss Ahsoka. The passage reads:
"'I could kiss you.' Ahsoka stopped in her tracks. The look she shot Kaeden was mildly confused. 'Not now, I mean,' Kaeden said. She wanted to laugh for the first time in weeks but thought that might just be the hysteria setting in. 'My timing is terrible and you have all those Jedi hang-ups. I just wanted you to know in case we die.'"
"Since Ahsoka isn't mine to label, I tried to write her in such a way that anyone who wanted to see themselves in her, could. I know how much she means to the queer community, and because I couldn't be specific, I went as general as possible," she tweeted.
When a fan asked Johnston to clarify what she meant when she said Ahsoka "liked Kaeden a lot, but didn't know how to process those feelings," Johnston quickly said that yes, Ahsoka had romantic feelings for the farmer. "Yes," she tweeted. "(She likes Kaeden, she had terrible role models in the 'managing your feelings' department, and she's dealing with some pretty stiff PTSD in addition to the whole, you know, on the run from the Empire thing. So.)"
In Star Wars canon, the Jedi order has a rule that Jedi are not allowed to form emotional attachments to people. Ahsoka was trained as a Jedi, but was no longer a part of the Order by the time of the events of the book and episode.
Obviously, a lot of changes were made to the story because it is no longer a novel, but an 18-minute animated episode. Kaeden was changed to a more generic character named "Village Sister," for example. However, there were plenty of flirtatious smiles and furtive glances in the episode, hinting at what happened in the book.
There are also several scenes where "Village Sister" is talking one-on-one with Ahsoka, sharing secrets with her and bonding. There are even a few perfect scenes to include the almost-kiss, or any other confirmation of queerness, such as when the two are alone delivering a shipment of hay.
For Ahsoka fans who haven't read the novel, the glances she shares with "Village Sister" are enough to make you squeal with delight - it's the most queer we've seen the character in a TV appearance.
This was a perfect opportunity for Star Wars and Disney to incorporate some already existing queerness into their TV shows, and unfortunately, they wasted it.
Tales of the Jedi didn't have to adapt this particular Ahsoka story, but it still chose to. It also chose to water down the queerness that existed in the original, making it something that could be waved-off by homophobes.
In adapting a beloved story about Ahsoka, "Resolve" could've become an instant fan-favorite episode of the series, but unfortunately, it wasted the chance to explore a very important part of the character - her sexuality.
We aren't holding our breath hoping that the upcoming live-action Ahsoka show will feature any more queerness for the character.