One Ahsoka Line Completely Redefines the Way We Look At the Jedi
We finally have a term to describe warriors like Ahsoka, and it’s a surprisingly familiar one.
What do you call a Jedi who’s no longer really a Jedi? For six speculation-filled weeks, this question was just one of many plaguing Ahsoka and its heroine. From the moment Ahsoka Tano left the Jedi Order and began to forge her own path in The Clone Wars, fans have tried to give her a new label. Unfortunately, nothing seemed to fit. Ahsoka hasn’t given up her dual lightsabers, nor has she given up the fight against galactic evil. The term that could accurately describe her new role in the Star Wars saga doesn’t seem to exist, at least not in that particular universe.
The eighth episode of Ahsoka might be called “The Jedi, the Witch and the Warlord,” but Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) uses a very different word to refer to Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson). The series narrowly avoids the Ahsoka-Thrawn face-off fans were anticipating, but Ahsoka still allows them to interact... briefly. Before escaping from Peridea, Thrawn reaches out to Ahsoka via comms to gloat. Thrawn’s always been an avid student of psychology, and because he knew Ahsoka’s master, Anakin Skywalker, he was able to predict and defeat her, leaving her stranded. “Perhaps this is where a ronin such as you belongs,” Thrawn says.
Ronin is a term borrowed from feudal Japan, one of the Star Wars saga’s biggest influences. Samurai become ronin upon losing a master or clan, and typically spent the rest of their days wandering (think Yojimbo or, in a looser sense, The Mandalorian). While characters like Ahsoka are definitely inspired by ronin, it’s a little surprising to hear such a specific term used in-universe. Even for a showman like Thrawn, it’s an odd choice of words. The influence of samurai culture on Star Wars has always been subtextual, but Ahsoka makes a pointed effort to make that influence less opaque.
In a way, it works, especially after the introduction of “Bokken Jedi” in Ahsoka Episode 6. Bokken is another term borrowed from Japan, but there’s no real reason why it can’t exist within the Star Wars galaxy too. Perhaps a ronin is an established term there as well. According to showrunner Dave Filoni, Ahsoka “walks a path that basically died out a long time ago.” Maybe the galaxy was once teeming with Ronin Jedi, before the Order came around and bureaucracy reigned supreme. Ahsoka could restore a more casual approach to Force-wielding. Given all we know about Luke Skwalker’s doomed Jedi Academy, maybe working freelance is the best approach in such a dangerous galaxy.