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Ahsoka Tano is gone. She's not dead, but she's gone. I knew that she wasn't going to die in the series finale of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, as she goes on to appear in Star Wars Rebels and is likely set for more Star Wars adventures. But that doesn't matter. Knowing things like that would soothe a sane person, maybe. All I keep thinking is, "Ahsoka is gone and I am sad."
Most likely what I am feeling (aside from quarantine-induced madness and an incredible need for psychiatric care, because Ahsoka Tano is a fictional character) is that Ahsoka as we knew her is gone. She was gone before she dropped her lightsaber in the Clone Wars finale. She was gone before she buried, like, a million clones. The Padawan formerly known as Snips? She's been gone for a while.
This is made insanely clear by the way things unfold in the finale, and by the way Ashley Eckstein plays the part.
Today I naturally find myself remembering the first time we met Ahsoka, in the 2008 theatrical release of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. She steps off of a Republic shuttle and gives a status report to Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker, and we have no idea who this wide-eyed kid even is. She says she's Anakin's Padawan, we all say WTF, and then the movie keeps going.
Before long, she wins you over. Her lightsaber moves, her tenacity, and the gleeful way in which Eckstein plays her bring a spark to the character that just makes her feel alive. Sure, we're in a war, a horrible war, one that we know will end badly, but all of that comes later. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith is a long way away. Look at the Clone helmets! They're still in their first phase, for crying out loud. It's gonna be fun and games with this enthusiastic kid, and she's gonna bring a zip and a zap to this downer of a war. So wizard!
She says things like, "I'm the one with enthusiasm!" and "If experience outranks everything, I guess I'd better start getting some!" She famously calls the future Darth Vader "Skyguy" and at times is one step away from fitting right into a Star Wars sitcom. That's not a criticism, it is comforting.
Flash-forward 12 years: The fun kid with enthusiasm who wanted to get some experience is standing in front of a Clone graveyard. How much experience did she get burying those Clones with her lightsaber? Or did she use the Force? Maybe her hands? Either which way, sad city, party of me.
What's worse is that we come to realize in the episode prior to the finale that Ahsoka Tano has never really had a life at all. She grew up in the temple after being found by Plo Koon, but when she was made a Padawan, the war had already begun. She was never trained as a Jedi the way they're usually trained — she was only ever trained as a soldier. She didn't really learn the ways of the Force, she learned how to efficiently kill battle droids.
We come to this realization because she comes to it herself. She says it to Rex, the only friend she has left because unbeknownst to her, the rest of her friends are either dead, about to be chopped up next to a lava river, or are named Barriss Offee. By this point, "Snips" is long gone, and perhaps she herself only realizes it in that moment. It's a loaded note of nuanced gravitas from Eckstein, something the final arc of this show is utterly packed with. The kid she used to be is no more, and Clones now salute her in the hallway when they aren't too busy trying to murder her.
What did I think was going to happen here? I watched Ahsoka walk down that ladder in Star Wars Rebels and I also watched (and screamed) when she came out dressed like Gandalf the White in the finale of that same show. Ahsoka lives! I know that she lives, she was always going to survive this episode. She lives, but she's also done something I've never done — she's grown up.
Perhaps what I am really feeling is akin to a parent dropping their child at college. I wouldn't know; I don't have kids, I don't have a Padawan, and I'm not fighting in an intergalactic war. Yoda puts it well in Star Wars: The Last Jedi when he says, "We are what they grow beyond." Excited, quippy Snips can't stay that way forever. She grows beyond.
So yes, Ahsoka is gone ... but from another point of view, Ahsoka lives.