Warning: This story contains major spoilers for The Mandalorian season 2, episode 5! Proceed at your own risk.
The Mandalorian season 2 just introduced Ahsoka Tano, but her story has roots in other Star Wars shows, and her importance cannot be overstated.
For many Star Wars fans, the debut of Ahsoka Tano in The Mandalorian was a given – we were all just waiting for it to actually happen. But if you haven't watched Star Wars: Rebels or Star Wars: The Clone Wars, this orange-hued woman remains a mystery. Well, not any longer.
Read on to find out who is Ahsoka Tano, how she is related to key characters like Anakin Skywalker, and why she's not a Jedi.
Who is Ahsoka Tano?
Ahsoka Tano is a Togruta female who was discovered at the age of three by Jedi Master Plo Koon amongst her people on the planet of Shili. The Force-sensitive child was nearly enslaved by a Jedi-imposter, but ends up joining the Jedi and is raised in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant.
At 14, Ahsoka was assigned to Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker as his Padawan during The Clone Wars. Master Yoda believed that Anakin needs a Padawan to help him overcome his fear of losing loved ones, as she will inevitably go off on her own after her training is complete.
Why isn't Ahsoka Tano a Jedi?
Ahsoka may wield dual lightsabers, but she isn't technically a Jedi. After becoming increasingly frustrated with the Jedi Order and the way it was handling things on Coruscant and beyond, Ahsoka’s wrongfully accused of bombing the Jedi Temple. She’s put on trial, acquitted, and offered the title of Jedi Knight, but walks away from the Jedi Order as her faith is irreparably shaken by the Order's actions. Despite Anakin's protestations, Ahsoka turns her back on the Order and goes off to make a life on her own.
While travelling with sisters from Level 1313 on Coruscant, Ahsoka is approached by Mandalorian Bo-Katan Kryze, who asks her to help the planet take back control from Darth Maul. She agrees, and, together with Kryze, contacts Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skyawlker for help with Maul. Anakin gives Ahsoka her dual lightsabers back, but now in a new, blue hue – these dual lightsabers are important, as Ahsoka has a pair when we last see her in Star Wars Rebels, but they certainly aren't blue.
How does Ahsoka Tano survive Order 66?
We learn how Ahsoka survives Order 66 in the final episode of the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. She's aboard a ship transporting a captive Maul when Order 66 begins, so she releases Maul to keep the murderous clones chasing her busy, all as she attempts to figure out a way to escape. Naturally, Maul starts destroying the ship's hyperdrive, sending it falling out of space. Eventually, she lands safely on the planet below, and Ahsoka erects graves for all of her former comrades-in-arms. She leaves her lightsabers behind so that it looks like she also perished in the crash.
Where does Ahsoka Tano go after Order 66?
We meet Ahsoka Tano again in Star Wars Rebels, but the canon novel titled "Ahsoka" fills in some of the gaps before her on-screen return. Ahsoka adopts a pseudonym, calling herself Ashla and hiding on the planet Thabeska working for a smuggling clan. She moves around quite a bit before she joins the rebellion, constantly fleeing imperial troops.
At some point, Ahsoka and Senator Leia Organa meet, and Ahsoka agrees to join the rebellion, but won't take a commander position due to her experience during The Clone Wars. Ahsoka is sent to a planet to take on an Imperial agent who’s hunting down Jedi – this turns out to be the Sixth Brother, an Inquisitor, and the two engage in a brutal battle. Ahsoka wins, takes the kyber crystals from his lightsaber, and uses the Force to heal them of the dark side, turning them white.
Ahsoka is first introduced to the Star Wars Rebels cast as "Fulcrum," which was her code name when working for Senator Organa and Senator Mon Mothma's rebel network. She works with them throughout Rebels, and at one point saves Ezra Bridger from Darth Vader by fighting him off herself. Ezra and the others assume Ahsoka died fighting Vader, however, a time-travelling Ezra pulls Ahsoka into a portal, where the two are eventually separated.
Ahsoka's final act in Rebels is to help bring Ezra home to his planet of Lothal, where he went missing in a sacrifice for the planet. It's this plotline that leads directly into her appearance in The Mandalorian season 2.
Come her live-action debut, and Ashoka's trying to extract information about a certain General Admiral Thrawn from his apprentice. Yes, that's another character with deep Star Wars lore behind them. But for now, let's just enjoy the fact that Ashoka has arrived, and she looks great.