Star Wars fans are no strangers to the animated medium of storytelling.
After several years of hiatus, the critically-acclaimed series The Clone Wars reached its climactic conclusion in 2020. The show was subsequently followed by a direct spin-off in The Bad Batch, which just recently ended the first season of its run and left the promise of more mysteries in the future. Before that, Star Wars Rebels went on a successful four-season rampage, culminating in a cliffhanger that's set to be explored in live-action.
Yet there's also Star Wars Resistance, the largely forgettable animated project set within the sequel trilogy era that lasted only two seasons. While the story left much to be desired and largely existed seemingly to fill a gap, there were a few moments of intrigue regarding the Force... particularly the dark side.
In one of the episodes from Resistance Season 2, First Order troops are seen acquiring Sith artifacts at the behest of Supreme Leader Kylo Ren, who fans later learned was on the prowl for the truant, yet dangerous, surviving Emperor Palpatine.
Among the characters introduced in the series was a woman named Mika Grey, an archeologist seeking out the same artifacts as Ren in the interest of keeping them out of First Order hands. While the character ultimately proved largely inconsequential, it's been revealed that she was nearly someone very familiar to Star Wars, and would have gone toe to toe with the Supreme Leader in combat...
KYLO REN VS ASAJJ VENTRESS
In an interview on the Friends of the Force podcast, Star Wars Resistance head writer and executive producer Brandon Auman revealed that Mika Grey's character was originally intended to be Asajj Ventress, an idea that came from Dave Filoni himself:
"We had Mika Grey who, originally, early on, was actually Asajj Ventress in the storyline. An older version of Asajj Ventress. And that was Filoni's idea."
It doesn't end there. Ventress was also set to have a lightsaber battle with Kylo Ren:
"And we were even gonna have a scene where Asajj Ventress takes on Kylo Ren. That was something we had discussed very early on."
Filoni concluded that the return of Ventress would take away from the focus on other characters in the show:
"Filoni is notorious for changing his mind, and down the line, as we were progressing and the story had Asajj - I wrote the story - [Filoni] was like, 'you know what, if Asajj comes in, that's all the fans are gonna care about. They're only gonna want Asajj, Asajj, Asajj, they're not gonna care about any of the other characters."
Auman admitted he was initially "heartbroken," but recognized that Filoni was correct in his decision:
"At first I was totally heartbroken. Because I thought it was so cool what we were doing with that character, and seeing how she had survived... so I was really bummed out [...] I totally got what he was saying, it made perfect sense. From this point on, it's going to be the Asajj show. And if the episodes didn't include Asajj Ventress, the fans were gonna be upset, or at least a percentage of the fandom who were watching it, who were suddenly seeing, 'oh my gosh, it's a Clone Wars character!', and then it would kind of just derail the show, and [Filoni] was totally right."
A MISSED OPPORTUNITY?
Learning that Asajj Ventress nearly found her way into Resistance comes as a shock.
As fans well-versed in the canon know, Ventress met her fate in the novel Dark Disciple, a story based on eight scripts from unfinished episodes of The Clone Wars. The demise of the character was somewhat abrupt, but she had a nice arc that saw her find love with Quinlan Vos, make amends with the Jedi, and eventually come home to the Nightsisters after drawing her final breath. How her surviving would have worked is a mystery.
But it can't be denied that a showdown between Ventress and Kylo Ren would have been incredible.
The way things ended up going down, the Supreme Leader barely had a role in the series, yet The Rise of Skywalker suggests he has no qualms with getting his hands dirty. In the sequel trilogy, Ren only engages in two real lightsaber duels - both involving Rey, but one with Finn, though the heroes were untrained in their first spar.
Giving Kylo an adversary well-versed in lightsaber combat like Ventress would have provided the villain with a true test of his skills, and could have been one of the most visually impressive sequences in Star Wars animation to date. The duel also could have legitimized Ren as a threat, were he to come out on top, something the films failed to do.
While Kylo did largely wipe the floor with Snoke's Praetorian Guards, a last-minute save was necessary to dodge being throttled to death. The dark sider also had his ass handed to him by Rey in The Force Awakens and was humiliated by an unpresent Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi. Though he was dominating Rey in their duel on the remains of the Death Star, even then there was an interference in the fight that led to his defeat.
It's uncertain how a matchup between a Ren in his prime and Ventress would have culminated in Resistance, but he certainly would have lived, and the former Sith assassin could have been whacked - for good, this time.
Ventress' death in Dark Disciple seemed pretty clear and indisputable, but so did Palpatine's in Return of the Jedi, and he somehow returned. To that end, there's every chance Filoni and his team could have made things work, as had been done previously with Maul in The Clone Wars.
Ultimately, the decision to go with Mika Grey was the final call, and it does make sense. As fun as it would have been to see Ventress return and give Kylo Ren more to do, her appearance would have significantly detracted from the main cast of Resistance (which is either a good or bad thing, depending on who's asked).
There was room for significant expansion of Sith lore in ways that The Rise of Skywalker didn't explain, with or without Ventress at the forefront of the archeological expeditions. However, the show at its heart is about racers and a group of misfits surviving in a chaotic galaxy, leaving little room or need for further exploration of the Force.
She didn't get her revival in Resistance, but Asajj Ventress is officially on Lucasfilm's radar for a possible return... and maybe, someday, a duel with Kylo Ren could be on the table as well.