The fifth episode of Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi, entitled “Practice Makes Perfect,” pivots the series’ focus back to Ahsoka Tano and takes place during the Clone Wars era of the larger Star Wars timeline. In fact, this episode is something of a reunion for the voice cast of Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, as it sees Ashley Eckstein, Matt Lanter, Dee Bradley Baker, and James Arnold Taylor reprising their roles as Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker, multiple Republic clone troopers, and Obi-Wan Kenobi, respectively.
“Practice Makes Perfect,” which is the shortest of all the Tales of the Jedi shorts at a running time of under ten minutes without credits, begins with Anakin showing up late for a test of Ahsoka’s lightsaber skills, with Mace Windu, Plo Koon, Yoda, and Obi-Wan all in attendance.
Master Tera Sinube runs the test for Ahsoka, and Obi-Wan comments that the Padawan is a fast learner, but Anakin seems unimpressed, even after his apprentice skillfully destroys a handful of new training remotes designed to simulate Trade Federation Battle Droids. Tano and Skywalker bow in front of the Jedi Masters, but Anakin remains dismissive of Ahsoka’s accomplishment. Outside in the hallway of the Jedi Temple, Anakin calls the demonstration “a lousy test,” and offers Ahsoka the opportunity to prove herself in “an actual test.” Obi-Wan and Yoda look on, mystified, but later Ahsoka meets Anakin in a different training arena, where Captain Rex and some of his men from the 501st Legion are waiting. Anakin has Ahsoka stand in the middle of a circle of clone troopers, with the dedicated soldiers all setting their blasters to stun. Telling his Padawan to reach out with the Force and sense the moment before a trooper pulls the trigger, Anakin gives the signal and the clones begin to fire on Ahsoka. She blocks a few stun blasts with her lightsaber but then goes down for the count. After being unconscious for an hour, Ahsoka awakens to Anakin instructing her to go again. We then see a montage of round after round of Ahsoka attempting to survive this onslaught of stun blasts, until she gets frustrated and complains that “This is ridiculous. The droids aren’t half as good as Rex’s men.”
“That’s the point,” Anakin replies. “I want it to be difficult. The best way I can protect you is to teach you how to protect yourself” he tells her, and Ahsoka prepares herself for another round. She steadily improves at the challenge, and then the episode cuts to the end of the Clone Wars and a scene familiar from the final season of that series. Rex walks Ahsoka into a hangar full of clone troopers whose inhibitor chips have been activated under Order 66, and we know that the young Jedi has the defensive skills required to make it through. I absolutely love the delicious irony of the Jedi Knight who would become Darth Vader having trained Ahsoka Tano in the very specific skill she would need to defend against an army of brainwashed clones. Obviously Dave Filoni, who created this series and wrote this episode, knows what he’s doing with these characters and the narrative surrounding them, but it feels especially appropriate that he was able to put this final button on that era. Director Saul Ruiz also does an excellent job of driving home the point with subtlety and grace. One has to wonder whether Anakin possibly knew, perhaps subconsciously, what dangers Ahsoka would face as the Republic fell, and followed through on preparing her for that scenario despite himself becoming corrupted by the dark side before that time. It feels wonderfully poetic in a George Lucas kind of way, and I think Filoni has demonstrated his talents at delivering that kind of story time and again.
All six episodes of Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi are now available to stream, exclusively via Disney+.