Tales of the Empire debuted over the Star Wars holiday weekend, so fans can now learn more about Barriss Offee and Morgan Elsbeth and their time spent working with or for the Empire.

Like myself, you may be surprised about which character episodes seem more cohesive and complete, and while the overall lore added isn’t as juicy and informative as what was provided in Tales of the Jedi, the six shorts still offered up some beautiful looking Star Wars animations while also adding more insights into both of the focused characters.

You can check out the full review below, as well as stills from all six shorts.

Rather than sticking with the Jedi, the Tales franchise opted for a turn with the Empire for its second season with the goal of giving fans more insights into the characters of Morgan Elsbeth and Barriss Offee.

The former being a new character created for the Mandoverse era, didn’t have a fleshed out past to help explain to fans why she was so loyal to Thrawn and the Empire, so she was a great Tales of candidate. 

Barriss on the other hand, who’s been around since Attack of the Clones, had a pretty detailed past, but her ultimate fate has been up in the air since Season 5 of The Clone Wars, so she too like Morgan, was a solid candidate for this lore and character building animated franchise. 

Overall, Tales of the Empire successfully relayed new and mostly interesting canon for both of these characters that most definitely shed more narrative light on their experiences with the Empire and how it shaped their respective destinies.

But neither of the featured character arcs rivaled the two leads in Tales of the Jedi, which showed us how Ahsoka became the hero we saw her morph into all the way through her own live action series, while the Dooku thread arguably contained some of the best prequel Jedi narratives to ever be told in any medium, and gave fans a clear understanding of why he chose to follow palpatine over yoda. 

Tales of the Empire, while very well done and extremely intoxicating to look at, like stupid great animated visuals, didn’t nearly hit as hard as the Jedi version. Maybe it was the lead characters and them not being as prominent in the core Skywalker saga as Dooku and Ahsoka, or maybe it was some of the choices the writers made for these characters, but the six shorts didn’t nearly feel as lore explosive as what we got from Tales of the Jedi. 

Oddly enough, the best and most fleshed out arc from start to finish was Morgan’s. Her three episodes told a very focused journey of her descent into hate, madness, and revenge after her people were wiped out during the clone wars. They perfectly showcased how she became the character we all first met during the second season of The Mandalorian. 

Learning about her past, her first talk with Thrawn, and then what happened directly before the events we saw in The Mandalorian really helped to explain why she’d sell out the planet she was leading and others in the same system to help Thrawn and the Empire. 

Morgan became a fully fleshed out Star Wars villain and character thanks to her Tales of the Empire run, so her episodes offered a clear and concise explanation as to why she was a Thrawn pyscophant and ultimately sacrificed herself for him. Job well done indeed. 

Barriss’s thread on the other hand felt more rushed and less nuanced. It started strong with what may be the most visually stunning looking episode of animated Star Wars ever, but then things felt rushed thanks to the very shot middle episode that also resulted in Bariss turning from the dark side a bit too soon in my humble opinion. 

In fact, Tales of the Empire ended up making Barriss feel like she had already learned her lesson and wanted to be a Jedi again towards the end of the first episode. There was no real mystery behind Barriss’s motivations in her episodes. 

By the beginning of the second episode you could already tell that she was questioning the empire, so her Jedi turn didn’t remotely feel shocking. It felt natural because Tales of the Empire opted to not dive in to her darker compulsions. 

This is a character who accused the Jedi of being traitors before Palpatine did, and she even tried to frame on of her own, but somehow, shortly after Order 66, she was already returning to the Jedi way of thinking. It just felt like a lost opportunity for the series to explore her darkness to show fans how conflicted she was internally, but what we got was essentially her being on the path to redemption the moment she was brought into the Inquisitorious. 

Now Barriss as a character definitely featured more growth in this series than Morgan, and it’s hard not to discuss how narratively beautiful the final few moments of her thread were, not to mention how old she looked thanks to becoming a healer, stay away from the Force kids, it is not good for you, especially if you’re a Jedi, just see how bad Obi-Wan aged and be thankful you can’t float rocks. 

Anyway, it was a surprise to get more solid lore and satisfaction from the Morgan thread, and while the Barriss thread felt a bit too Star Wars feel good, Tales of the Empire is still a success and offered up some lore to fill in a few gaps for fans of the prequels, while fleshing out an important character for fans of the Mandoverse era and beyond. 

And now for the most important part of this review and breakdown, how the episodes should be ranked from last to first, because you know, lists. 

At six I’m going with The Path of Fear, which was the first Morgan episode. It did a good job at showing off Morgan’s combat skills and her inability to let go of her hate, which cursed her moving forward as foreshadowed by the Mountain Clan Mother. But it just wasn’t that informative overall. 

At five is Realization, which is the second Barriss short. While the episode did a great job at showing the effects of the empire on the galaxy and how much different Barriss and Lyn were in terms of how they enforced Imperial rule, but it was very short and felt rushed because of the lack of runtime. Having Barriss turn back to the light also felt too soon and kind of cheap in terms of plot convenience. 

Nothing felt surprising about it because she was already iffy by the end of her first episode, and then the whole second episode she’s doing nothing but talk like a Jedi, so the turn just felt hollow overall. 

At four is The Way Out, which really did do the best it could thanks to Bariss becoming a Jedi again 10 seconds after joining the Inquisitorious, but it was a solid end point on her redemption arc. It did a great job at portraying how much Barriss has grown with the Force and her role in the galaxy wielding it for good. I do think her death was a bit silly considering she was in control of the situation and should have been quite capable of avoiding Lyn’s uncontrolled saber swings, but I guess lessons need to be learned by everyone, and Barriss gave Lyn a final sobering one thanks to her inability to not get hit by someone blindly waving a lightsaber around in a dark cave. 

At three is The Path of Hate. This is the third Morgan episode and the sole reason it comes in at three is because it is the perfect prequel to The Mandalorian episode from Season 2 in which Din goes to Corvus to find Ahsoka Tano. 

It setup how demented Morgan had become as a ruler, how she was able to keep her people in line even though the empire was gone, and more importantly how Bo-Katan had information about the planet and the distress its people were having. The events of this short directly lead to Ahsoka being sent there to investigate and arrest Morgan, which then resulted in her meeting Grogu and Din and then getting her own live action series to follow up on the events of that episode that also teased the return of Thrawn and his live action debut. 

At two is Devoted and it gets this spot mainly for its visual excellence, but also for some cool lore it provided about the beginnings of the Inquisitorious and how they recruited members to their ranks and base on Nur. I was hoping more of Bariss’s episode featured this order and their dark inner workings and politics, but that mostly stopped in Devoted. Oh, the big guy shows up too and he looked marvelous with the Tales animation style, so his appearance alone almost got this short to the top spot in my rankings. 

Finally, at number one is The Path of Anger, which I’m sure isn’t near the top for most everyone else. This to me was the most lore rich and key world building short of the season. It provided all the insights fans needed to understand why someone like Thrawn would ever team up with someone like Morgan, which always felt odd, even when they were reunited in Ahsoka, their past and loyalties to each other never made much narrative sense, but now they do perfectly. 

Learning that Morgan was the true creator of the TIE Defender and how the Empire was going to use her and her planet for it before Thrawn took interest was very enlightening and informative lore. Seeing how Thrawn first used Palleon, then Rukh to test her was as Thrawn as it gets. Dare I say that he felt like 4D Chess Thrawn again too? You had to love him crapping on the Empire’s greed and how he could forsee it becoming its undoing. 

It was the perfect conversation between these two to explain to fans why she is the way she is and why Thrawn is almost like a God to her in Ahsoka, and to me that is a lore win. 

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Nick and I will talk more about Tales of the Empire on this week’s episode of the SWTS, so don’t forget to tune into the Star Wars Time Show on a weekly basis via our podcast platforms or via YouTube if you prefer the livestream angle. 

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Author

Matt is literally from a galaxy that is far, far away. Star Wars has consumed his life, and made him the geek that he is. He's no fan of the Prequels, but still loves the Maker. When he's not recording his unstable takes for the Star Wars Time podcast, he's either working on EntertainmentBuddha.com, taking pictures of Star Wars toys, or trying to legitimately wield the Force.