Ahsoka’s Return in ‘Forces of Destiny’ Highlights the Role of Women in Star Wars

James Akinaka
Star Wars
Star Wars

“The choices we make, the actions we take, moments both big and small, shape us into forces of destiny.” So begins each episode of Star Wars: Forces of Destiny, the newest Star Wars animated series, with that iconic opening narration from Lupita Nyong’o’s Maz Kanata. It’s an inspiring message for Star Wars fans of all ages and genders, especially since the show is the first to focus on the saga’s heroines. That’s no small feat for a franchise that was once stereotyped as being meant only for male fans — and still is, unfortunately, to a degree.

The impact of Forces of Destiny cannot be overstated, for it is truly the first Star Wars series of its kind. Each animated installment offers a short yet meaningful addition to the saga. Moreover, each protagonist — whether she’s an Alderaanian rebel leader, a scavenger from Jakku, or a Togruta Jedi Padawan — has a role to play in the series. Let’s delve into the success behind the first eight episodes of Forces of Destiny, and see where the series might take us when it returns in October.

Crafting Stories That Matter

When the original trilogy began its run in 1977, Princess Leia Organa was the only female character who could be identified as a protagonist. To go from that to an entirely female-led TV show 40 years later has been a long journey. And that journey is far from over.

Each episode of Forces of Destiny might be standalone, but that doesn’t mean that they’re one-off stories. These stories matter. The show’s brief, three-minute length allows each episode to focus on everyday acts of heroism. Leia helps Wicket and other Ewoks evade stormtroopers on Endor. Rey saves BB-8 from scavengers on their way to Niima Outpost on Jakku. Even Rogue One‘s Jyn Erso joins the fray, protecting a little girl from stormtroopers on Garel. All of the women find the courage to stand up for others and do what’s right.

Even more importantly, having live-action stars like Leia, Rey, and Jyn exist in the same animated medium as characters like Sabine Wren and Ahsoka Tano shows that all of them matter. In fact, the episodes about Ahsoka and Sabine stand out even more, because instead of taking place during the saga films like Rey’s and Leia’s episodes, they use the saga’s animated shows as jumping off points. This additional source of screen time has garnered praise among fans — particularly for those looking for more of Ahsoka.

The Return of a Fan-Favorite Character

According to a poll on StarWars.com, Ahsoka Tano was the character that fans were most looking forward to seeing in Forces of Destiny. The main reason why the former Jedi Padawan won a whopping 33% of the vote was due to her captivating — and often tumultuous — character history. It began in 2013 with her exit from the Jedi Order on Star Wars: The Clone Wars, then continued with her triumphant return on Star Wars Rebels in 2015, and recently culminated with her climatic showdown with Darth Vader last year. Thankfully, Forces of Destiny shows that Ahsoka’s story is far from over.

Ahsoka is another example of Star Wars’ lasting resonance with female fans. Following in the footsteps of Princess Leia, Ahsoka has paved the way for female protagonists like Rey and Jyn Erso to become the stars of their own films. And in the real world, visionary storytellers like Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and VP of animation Carrie Beck, who co-produced Forces of Destiny with Dave Filoni, have been the driving force behind bringing such projects to light.

As is tradition in Star Wars, Forces of Destiny adds stories across the saga’s timeline, and it’s that retroactive approach that allows Ahsoka to return to the screen. Because animated leads like Ahsoka and Sabine Wren have resonated so strongly with fans, hopefully, Lucasfilm’s next animated series will also star a female character. Star Wars Rebels only has its fourth season left, but Lucasfilm Animation still has more projects on the horizon. Here’s hoping that Lucasfilm will continue to prove that everyone has a place in the saga. (Now, if Lucasfilm would just let a woman direct one of its films…)

Looking Forward to October

The first half of Forces of Destiny is out now, with all eight episodes available to watch for free on Disney’s YouTube channel. Fans can also catch the episodes on TV by tuning into Disney Channel on Sunday nights, now through July 30. It’s a smart marketing move for Lucasfilm since Star Wars Rebels is currently on its inter-season hiatus from Disney XD. And thankfully, Forces of Destiny still has more in store for Star Wars fans.

Forces of Destiny will return with eight more episodes in October, and Entertainment Weekly has left us with some open threads for those final episodes. In “Newest Recruit,” Sabine Wren will visit the Rebel Alliance’s headquarters on Yavin 4 for the first time on-screen, as she goes on a supply mission with her old friend and former bounty hunting partner, Ketsu Onyo. Another episode, “Tracker Trouble,” will star Rey during The Forces Awakens, as she aids Finn, Chewbacca, and Han Solo aboard the Millennium Falcon.

The most tantalizing tease focuses on an episode starring Hera Syndulla — set not during her native Star Wars Rebels, but instead years later. As part of a story during Return of the Jedi, the fan-favorite Twi’lek pilot will join forces with Leia and Han during the Battle of Endor. We already knew that Hera survived Rebels thanks to her shout-out in Rogue One, but this will be our first look at Hera’s contributions to the Rebel Alliance during the original trilogy.

Whatever happens, one thing is clear; once Forces of Destiny returns this October, we’ll have much to look forward to.

James Akinaka
James Akinaka arrives at Fandom by way of Wookieepedia. He covers Star Wars, superheroes, and animation and has mastered the art of nitpicking. Since he works in publishing, he reads far too many books.
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