Star Wars: Tales of the Empire – a Review

May the 4th is always a great day, especially now that it’s a day of guaranteed new content for starving Star Wars fans. This year, we were treated to Star Wars Tales of the Empire, a series of six episodes featuring two Ahsoka-adjacent fan favorites, Nightsister Morgan Elsbeth and former Jedi padawan Barriss Offee. Each character gets a three-episode arc, and each arc follows their path in those chaotic decades of Imperial rule.

Sounds great.

So… How did it play out?

Spoiler alert. I’m going to talk about the series now, so yes, there will be spoilers. Not many, but, you know…

The Descent of the Nightsister

The first three episodes of Star Wars Tales of the Empire focus on Morgan Elsbeth. Morgan is a fairly new character in Star Wars, but anyone who watched Star Wars Ahsoka and that one super-cool episode of The Mandalorian will be familiar with her. We know that she’s a nightsister of Dathomir, but also that she wasn’t fully accepted by the mother witches until the very end of Ahsoka Season 1. We know that she was a “magistrate” with absolute power on the planet Corvus, and that she had some connection to Grand Admiral Thrawn – a connection deep enough for Ahsoka to risk everything by facing Morgan to find Thrawn.

Okay, cool. Lots of connections to big Star Wars characters and events, but also lots of mystery and room to explore. And with the recent return in The Bad Batch of Asajj Ventress, the nightsisters are a hot commodity. Liking this so far.

But there was still that great big question floating out there for many Star Wars fans prior to Tales of the Empire: if all the nightsisters (except Asajj, Morgan and everyone’s favorite video game sidekick Merrin) were wiped out when General Grievous and his droid army attacked Dathomir in Star Wars The Clone Wars, how did Morgan survive and thrive to the point when we first meet her in New Republic Times?

Star Wars: Tales of the Empire' is an Intriguing Examination of the Dark Side - Review - Geeks Of Color


Did Tales of the Empire tell us what we wanted to know regarding Morgan Elsbeth?

With these questions going in, were fans ready for the Morgan story arc that Star Wars gave them? Did we have enough context to understand who she was and what she endured in these Tales? And did the Tales provide the answers we wanted?

All in all, I’d say yes.

The opening Tale drops us right into the epic battle from The Clone Wars when General Grievous laid waste to the nightsisters. This battle was already played out in full fury during the original animated series, but this Tale, by focusing on Morgan and her mother, somehow made the same battle seem both fresh and personal. It was familiar enough that any fan of The Clone Wars would know exactly where we were, but with the new focus – as well as the new tribe that rescued Morgan – it was bold and new. And it brought us all down into the depths of Morgan’s pain, making her a believable villain – the tragic figure of an innocent child cast out by the galaxy. This gives us her primary motivation and makes her sympathetic.

The middle Tale takes place quite a few years later and shows an older, confident Morgan pitching her concept of a new TIE fighter design to Imperial bureaucrats. Not only do they reject her, but they declare arrogantly that they’re going to take everything from her. This fuels the viewer’s anger as much as Morgan’s, but the twist comes when she returns home to Corvus and we see her turn against her own people. It’s gut-wrenching because we as the fans share her anger (and we already know the Empire is evil!) but Corvus is so nice, and the people are so trusting, and… there’s that dude who will be mayor one day…

Morgan is moving down a dark path very few of us would choose, but the episode cleverly keeps her sympathetic when the assassin Rook attacks her and we can’t help but fear for her. And then… Admiral Thrawn strolls in, and with his typical insight cuts right to core of Morgan’s motivations. He sees something deep inside her that he both admires and can use for his own purposes. And a believable alliance – between two characters we as fans both love and hate – is born.

The final Morgan Tale was naturally going to be a tricky one, because we already known what her fate is. The writers wisely chose a key moment to bridge between the pre-Disney and Disney timeline: the dawn of the New Republic. This was clever, because it seamlessly provided a link between the time of the Empire (which this series is about) and the time after the Empire (which is when we know Morgan from) and helped to integrate these two eras. There are huge connections to The Mandalorian in this Tale, perfectly recreating that iconic episode “The Jedi” which itself was an epic link between old and new, and between animated and live-action. Although neither Ahsoka, Mando nor Grogu are mentioned, unconsciously every Star Wars fan knew the subtext. Very clever indeed.

Am I glad Morgan Elsbeth got her own Tales of the Empire?

Not gonna lie, Morgan Elsbeth doesn’t rank in my Top Ten Favorite Star Wars Characters. She wouldn’t even make my Top Eleven Favorite Star Wars Villains (until, possibly, now). But she’s really cool. And diving into her character keeps the nightsisters alive in a dark way that Merrin seems to have walked away from and that Asajj has mostly pushed aside to focus on her Force abilities. The nightsisters are weird and their spooky, mystical magic takes the space fantasy elements of Star Wars right up to 11. I don’t see that as a bad thing.

So yeah, three Tales of the Empire featuring Morgan Elsbeth are what I totally didn’t know I wanted until I got them. Thanks, Dave Filoni!

The Fate of the Padawan

Gee, I wonder what what ever happened to Ahsoka’s bff who bombed the Jedi Temple and then framed Ahsoka for it before defeating Asajj Ventress, stealing her light sabers and going toe-to-frickin-toe with an enraged Anakin Skywalker in front of a troupe of younglings…?

The Star Wars fandom is polarized these days so I don’t want to make any sweeping statements, but I feel safe enough to say that the fate of Barriss Offee ranks pretty high on the list of questions pondered by many fans of The Clone Wars. There was a flurry of speculation when Star Wars Rebels introduced the concept of the Inquisitors, a cabal of broken Jedi who now hunted the survivors of Order 66.

From what we knew from Clone Wars canon, Barriss was a top Padawan with an exceptional intellect and a formidable combat ability who had suffered a violent philosophical break with the Jedi Order. Sounds like she and the Inquisitorius were made for each other. But she was also Ahsoka’s bff!

Star Wars: Tales of the Empire': How To Watch Star Wars Series Online


Did Tales of the Empire tell me what I wanted to know about Barriss Offee’s fate?

Okay, hmm. This is a pretty big question. When it comes to Morgan Elsbeth I’m not too invested. But when it comes to Barriss Offee, I’ve been fascinated by this character for years, both by her surprising descent into Darkness and by the mystery of what happened to her after she walked out of the Republic courts in binders toward a future we all knew contained Order 66.

And what about the relationship between Ahsoka and Barriss? Ahsoka was the victim of the betrayal, but she’s also a Force-wielder of legendary compassion, patience and forgiveness. Did they ever meet again between Clone Wars and Rebels? How would that have gone?

Do a quick Google search of “Ahsoka and Barriss” and you’ll discover pretty darn quickly that a lot of other fans have wondered these things.

And now Dave Filoni himself has given us a glimpse into the fate of Barriss. And here’s what we know:

  1. Yes, she was offered a position in the Inquisitorius.
  2. Yes, she accepted it and did some pretty dark things.
  3. But… she never really bought into it and eventually rebelled.
  4. She lived a long time, using her Force powers for good in a quiet corner of the galaxy.

Okay… cool. Barriss joining the Inquisitorius isn’t really a surprise – it’s frankly what most of us expected and maybe even wanted. But from there she certainly could have gone darker and darker like Morgan, but instead she did the opposite. Which maybe isn’t what many fans expected or wanted, but it’s also a dramatically bold decision for Filoni to make. It reminds us of the Light resting deep in all Jedi: it redeems Barriss and reminds us of the exceptional Jedi Padawan she once was.

Is this what I wanted to see in Tales of the Empire? Heck no, I wanted to see Barriss and Ahsoka face off again! I wanted to see light sabers and raw emotions fly, and watch in awe as two warriors at the absolute top of their games dueled not for honor, not for justice, but for themselves. I wanted to see Ahsoka get as close to the Dark Side as she ever did, facing her greatest betrayer. And then, in some inspirational moment, she returns to the Light and Barriss is both saved and redeemed.

That’s what I wanted! But that’s not what Dave Filoni gave me. And in this new spirit of anti-toxicity in being a Star Wars fan, I choose to accept that. No grumbling, no eye-rolling, no taking to X to wail and gnash my teeth about how Disney ruined Star Wars, and how nobody understands George’s original vision and other BS like that.

I have enough faith in Dave Filoni, and in all the talented creative folks driving Star Wars these days, to figure that Tales of the Empire isn’t the final word on Barriss Offee. I mean, there are still huge gaps in her story and we don’t actually know what her final fate is. (She was still alive the last time we glimpsed her.) Just like it was cool to see Morgan’s town again and make the connection to The Mandalorian, and just like it was cool when Ahsoka in Clone Wars Season 7 – in one of the most intimate moments in Star Wars – echoed Chirrut Imwe from Rogue One (“I am one with the Force and the Force is with me”), it could be that new Easter eggs are being planted in Tales of the Empire that will reveal themselves and make fresh connections in future Star Wars projects.

Am I glad Barriss Offee got her own Tales of the Empire?


I’m happy to accept these three Tales of Barriss as they are. They’re well-written, they’re interesting, and they focus on a character I like. Do they give me everything I hoped for? no. But do they put the focus back on this character and leave the door open for many follow-on stories? Yes.

These Barriss Tales answer some basic questions about this character that we’ve wondered for over a decade. We now know that she did not die in Order 66, that she did (briefly) become an Inquisitor and that she did find her own way back to the Light. Great stuff. Now we just need more details.

Star Wars: Tales of the Empire - Every Character & Cameo (& Who Plays Them)


Overall thoughts

My biggest moment of regret was when I first saw the length of the episodes – about 15 minutes each. I’d hoped for 30-minute episodes and the chance to really dive deep into these two fascinating characters. I knew right away that there just wasn’t enough screen time to do this, so I went into my first viewing ready for a surface treatment. As a whole, Tales of the Empire is like a highlight reel of what Morgan and Barriss were up to in the years between (more or less) The Clone Wars and The Mandalorian.

Each episode was visually gorgeous and tightly written with loads of tie-ins for uber-fans: I appreciate them for what they are. I don’t think they were quite as powerful as last year’s Tales of the Jedi, but it’s pretty hard to top Ahsoka, Dooku and the Death of Yaddle.

I guess my only complaint is that I wanted more of this.

So keep it coming, Filoni and Friends. It’s always fun to explore different corners of the Star Wars galaxy and to see old friends in different lights. And I try to speculate responsibly, but I can see how all the stories being produced these days in that galaxy far, far away (and the next galaxy over) might be pointing toward something epic. I don’t know if Morgan Elsbeth will be part of that, but Tales of the Empire enriched her as a character and made me appreciate her in live-action even more. I also don’t know if Barriss Offee is going to play a part, but something tells me yes. And that makes me happy.

Bennett R. Coles is an award-winning, best-selling author and ghostwriter of science fiction and space fantasy series. His newest novel, Light in the Abyss, is now available here.

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