Ahsoka Episode 5's Big Twist Steals a Classic Trope from Lord of the Rings
Hello there, Ahsoka the White.
Since it began airing, Ahsoka has been called a secret Star Wars Rebels sequel, even going so far to replicate the epilogue of the beloved animated series in its two-episode premiere. Everything except one key element: Ahsoka’s vast white cloak she wore in Rebels. At first, it didn’t seem like that big of a deal — it’s just a costume. But slowly, it was made very clear that the Ahsoka at the beginning of this show might have to undergo more hardships to earn that white cloak.
In Episode 5, we finally see this happen. In a cathartic reunion with Anakin, Ahsoka realizes the importance of living authentically, and with that scene, her transformation to Rebels epilogue Ahsoka — colloquially called Ahsoka the White — is finally complete.
However, there’s a key part of this transformation that is going largely ignored, and not only is it one of the oldest literary symbols in existence, it’s also the latest in a recent Star Wars trend that’s rippled throughout the Mando-verse.
When Ahsoka fell at the hand of Baylan Skoll, she tumbled into the waters of Seatos, where she went on this vast mind journey through the past with her former master, Anakin. But when she chooses to live, she finds herself being immersed in water, where she is quickly rescued by a New Republic pilot. It’s a surreal shot, but it actually has a greater significance in Star Wars as a whole.
When it comes to symbolism, if someone emerges from water there’s a good chance it’s meant to signal a rebirth. This baptism by water is a symbol of spiritual, and sometimes literal, rebirth that goes back to antiquity — you can see it everywhere, from the Bible to Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. But it’s become a nifty shorthand in popular movies too: For example, in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we see Bucky dive into the Potomac to save Steve, the first step on his path to a new life. In Lord of the Rings, we see a different variation of this, with Gandalf’s figurative “Baptism by Fire” that leads to him becoming Gandalf the White. The latter is the clear inspiration for Ahsoka’s own watery rebirth, as Ahsoka Episode 5 sees her emerge from the sea with a calmer, more placid attitude.
This rebirth by water is seeing a, ahem, rebirth of sorts in Star Wars TV. In fact, there were multiple symbolic baptisms earlier this year in The Mandalorian Season 3. One of Din’s main missions in that season is to bathe in the “Living Waters of Mandalore” in order to be forgiven of his sins — the literal definition of baptism.
But curiously, he’s not the one who emerges from the living waters changed. When Bo-Katan dives into the waters to save Din Djarin, she comes face to face with a creature she thought existed only in myth — the aptly named mythosaur. She doesn’t tell him, instead mulling over this knowledge as she starts living among the Children of the Watch. It’s this sighting that allows her to open her mind and eventually lead a new group of Mandalorians along with The Armorer.
Between that scene and this Ahsoka transformation, live-action Star Wars TV is fully embracing the religious symbolism that Star Wars was built on. Whether it’s through the Force or the Way, anyone can be reinvented and rebirthed, as long as there’s a body of water nearby.