Somehow, Ventress Returned

Somehow, Ventress Returned

Today Lucasfilm dropped our best look yet at the third and final season of Disney+’s Star Wars: The Bad Batch. But beyond setting the stage for the crew’s attempts to save Omega from the clutches of the Empire, the trailer also brought with it a shocking reveal: Asajj Ventress, the fallen former Sith disciple turned renegade, is back. And with that reveal came a lot of questions.

Is That Really Asajj Ventress in The Bad Batch?

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Yup! Lucasfilm has confirmed that it is indeed Ventress in the trailer, although she might look a bit different from the last time we saw her in Clone Wars. Ventress’ appearance is inspired by a look already designed for what was previously her seemingly final appearance in current Star Wars continuity, for the 2015 book Dark Disciple. Which is surprising to a lot of people, because in that book, Ventress died. It’s far from the first time someone has survived a fatal encounter in Star Wars, but still! Shocking, etc.

What Happened the Last Time We Saw Ventress?

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

The last time we actually saw Ventress prior to Dark Disciple was in 2013 during the climactic episodes of Clone Wars’ fifth season. There, during the arc that saw Ahsoka Tano falsely accused of bombing the Jedi Temple on Coruscant—she eventually left the Order when the Jedi failed to support her until she was cleared of wrongdoing—Ventress had become a bounty hunter, having turned her back on Count Dooku, and survived the slaughter of her people, the Dathomiran Night Sisters, at Sidious and his disciple’s machinations.

After helping Ahsoka initially evade capture in Coruscant’s underlevels, the last time we saw Ventress in the series was when, interrogated by Anakin over Ahsoka’s recent whereabouts, she puts him on the path to discovering the true culprit behind the bombing: Ahsoka’s friend and fellow padawan, Barriss Offee—who had even stolen Ventress’ trademark dual lightsabers as part of her plans.

How Did Ventress Die in Dark Disciple?

Image: Penguin Random House

But the last time we actually encountered Ventress chronologically speaking was in the aforementioned Dark Disciple. Written as an adaptation of a storyline from unused Clone Wars scripts—after the show was canceled shortly after Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm—the book sees Jedi Master Quinlan Vos go undercover as part of a secret mission ordained by the Jedi Council to assassinate Count Dooku and bring an end to the Clone War.

Tasked at Yoda’s suggestion with partnering with Ventress given her own conflict and history with Dooku, Vos teams up with her initially as a fellow hunter, before slowly revealing more and more of his history as they get closer and closer to taking on Dooku. The two eventually develop a romantic connection—however, it’s tragically cut short when, after engaging Dooku on the planet Christophsis, Ventress seemingly sacrifices herself to save Quinlan—taking the brunt of a blast of Force lightning Dooku intended to kill Vos with—and redeem him from his increasing dark urges, having pushed himself further and further to the Dark Side in his attempts to bring Dooku and his master down. After the failed attempt to kill Dooku, Ventress’ body was taken back to her homeworld of Dathomir by Vos and Obi-Wan Kenobi, where they laid her to rest in a pool suffused with the magicks and spirits of the Nightsisters.

Is Dark Disciple Still Canon?

Image: Penguin Random House

Yes! Dark Disciple was released after Star Wars continuity was reshuffled post-Lucasfilm-acquisition, as part of the attempt to both clean up the vast Expanded Universe material at the time, as well establish a new “everything matters” approach to continuity where all officially released material is considered canonical unless otherwise specifically stated.

The team behind Bad Batch have also said that Ventress’ return in the third season will build off the events of the novel, rather than contradict them. “We don’t want to spoil anything, but want fans to know that any new storytelling with Ventress will align with the events of Star Wars: Dark Disciple,” supervising director Brad Rau told in a comment released alongside the new trailer.

This wouldn’t be the first time that recent animated Star Wars has played with novel continuity either—perhaps more controversially compared to Bad Batch’s seemingly co-operative relationship with Dark Disciple, the first season of Tales of the Jedi included an episode that utilized elements of the canon novel Ahsoka, albeit tweaking them enough to establish its own version of those events. That was seemingly more of a “from a certain point of view” situation though, compared to what we seem to expect from Bad Batch.

How Could Ventress Come Back?

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Well, it’s Star Wars, so there’s lots of options, and of course, we don’t know the full context of her return just yet. From the trailer, Ventress doesn’t look like a Nightsister spirit or a general Force Ghost—just one way of cheating death—but a physical, flesh-and-blood being, so there’s two paths Bad Batch could go down. The first could be that she simply didn’t actually succumb to her wounds in Dark Disciple, and merely faked her death for one reason or another (a remarkable commitment to the bit if it meant waiting for Vos and Kenobi to leave her “burial” site) on Dathomir.

The second is that, well, Somehow, She Returned. Dark Disciple explicitly acknowledged that the pool Ventress’ body is laid to rest in is infused with Dathomiran Force power, and we’ve repeatedly seen in their appearances across Star Wars media that the Nightsisters and their use of the Force has plenty of applications on life, death, and rejuvenation, whether it’s more for more healing purposes, or even grimmer applications like the undead Night Troopers we saw in Ahsoka. There’s also the fact that these practices are some of the most ancient Force abilities we know of—and the Nightsisters themselves even existed beyond the primary galaxy that we know of in Star Wars, so their having mystical abilities that could cheat death wouldn’t be too surprising.

There could also be an even crazier twist that isn’t as simple as her either faking her death or being reborn, too. After all, Bad Batch is dealing with the darker side of cloning that defined the story of the prequel trilogy and Clone Wars—and especially given that a lot of the action in this third and final season is going to revolve around the secret Imperial cloning facilities at Mount Tantiss, a place with a long history of similar practices and Force user nonsense in the old Expanded Universe, maybe it’s not too out there to perhaps float the idea that Asajj’s return is through some more nefarious cloning measures, either. Of all these options though, Nightsister magic seems the most likely if she didn’t fake it.

What Happened the Last Time Ventress Died?

Image: Dark Horse

Faking it is, in fact, what Ventress did in the EU, too. In Dark Horse’s old Republic comics, Ventress seemingly perishes during the battle of Boz Pity, where she is first cut down on Dooku’s orders after he abandons her to save a wounded Grievous, and then mortally wounded by Anakin when she attacked Obi-Wan in her rage at being left behind.

Although Ventress purportedly died in Obi-Wan’s arms, after her body was placed on a Republic medical ship after the battle it’s revealed that she used Sith techniques to slow her heart rate down and enter a healing trance that simply looked like death, taking over control of the ship to escape, as she says in some of her final words in the series, “far from the Jedi, from this war, from Count Dooku.” It’s like poetry, it rhymes and all that.

Why Is It a Big Deal Ventress Is Back?

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Well, aside from being another legacy character for whom death is a revolving door or something to frequently lie about for the drama of it all, Ventress’ return in the final season of The Bad Batch raises a lot of interesting questions about how she’ll fit into events, and more broadly into this era of Star Wars. After all, we thought she didn’t survive to see Sidious’ rise and his ultimate plan to form the Empire actually come to fruition—but now she has, so what will her place in all that be? Is she helping the Batch to rescue Omega from the clutches of Mount Tantiss, or do they encounter on some other mission?

Where they might find her is interesting, too. The trailer also includes what appears to be a return to the planet Teth—which was first introduced in the original 2008 Clone Wars movie, and the place Obi-Wan and Ventress first crossed blades. Bringing Ventress back and having it associated with the first battle we saw her in would be an interesting parallel, and also perhaps Bad Batch coming full circle on an animated style and story that began 16 years ago.

There’s also another important question: if Ventress survives this second chance at life and comes out of Bad Batch in once piece, where does she go from here? Suddenly, there could be a lot more stories to tell with Ventress, instead of having her, as we’d seemingly thought for nearly a decade, perish before the next chapter of her post-Sith life could really begin, to have saved and redeemed Quinlan Vos. Could Ventress survive the rise and fall of the Empire? What would she be doing in that time?

And, perhaps, given just how vital Dathomir and the Nightsisters have become to the events surrounding the return of Grand Admiral Thrawn in the events of Ashoka, the timing of Ventress’ survival is very interesting indeed. Perhaps we might be setting the stage in Bad Batch for her eventual arrival in live-action Star Wars? An Ahsoka team-up after everything they’ve both gone through would be very intriguing (and honestly very funny, given their histories).

We likely won’t get an answer to all of these questions immediately, but we should start getting answers to at least a few of them when The Bad Batch’s third and final season begins streaming on Disney+ February 21.