Meredith Salenger on Barriss' Big Moment in Tales of the Empire

Screenshot: Lucasfilm
Screenshot: Lucasfilm
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As Tales of the Empire digs its way through the story of Barriss Offee—and her quest to survive the rise of the Empire, at any cost—there comes a moment that climaxes a decade-plus wait for fans who’ve wanted to see what happened to the former Jedi Padawan after the shocking conclusion of her story in Clone Wars. It’s a moment long in the making, and one that was crucial to the actress behind her as well.

That moment comes at the climax of the second of Barriss’ three episodes in Tales of the Empire, “Realization.” Having already accepted—and survived—the offer of joining the new Imperial Inquisitorius after the Republic’s fall, while on a mission to hunt down a Jedi in hiding alongside the Fourth Sister (Rya Kihlstedt), Barriss is horrified by the Inquistors’ violence and chooses to go rogue herself, flinging the Fourth Sister off a cliff face with a push of the Force, and throwing her own helmet down with her.

In the next episode, “The Way Out,” we meet Barriss as we’ve never had the chance to see her before. An undisclosed number of years later, she has had the chance to live and grow older. She’s cut her hair, and on a distant, icy world, she has become a spiritual healer, a wise woman who cures and advises the people who seek her in need. It’s a huge moment, not just to see Barriss flourish and thrive, but to see her committed to the the ideal of the Jedi—the ideal she’d so fiercely believe the Order had fallen away from in its participation in the Clone War—and become someone who knows when to fight and when to offer an open hand. She’s a long way from being a young woman so shocked and horrified by what she saw the Order becoming, her only response to its participation in interstellar war could be violence in kind. And for Meredith Salenger—who has thought about the choices Barriss made in Clone Wars for as long as fans have—it was a powerful moment to be a part of.

Screenshot: Lucasfilm
Screenshot: Lucasfilm

“I mean, I think it’s like in life—as you go through your life, when you’re a teenager you’ve got this energy to fight, to become combative, and I think for Barriss, she was always so... methodical and conservative in her training and wanting to do the right thing, playing everything by the book,” Salenger recently told io9 about getting to see Barriss grow and become the wise woman we meet in “The Way Out.” “I think as you grow and learn, and as you get older, Barriss makes mistakes—wanting to do things the way they’re done—but all of it can only change if there is an underlying love for everyone and wanting to shift people’s perspectives to being more caring and more healing. Instead of doing this by violence, let’s do it by changing people’ hearts and minds and showing compassion. Helping.”

It’s a shift in perspective that gives Barriss an opportunity to be explored further in Star Wars’ future. In a mirror to the climax of “Realization,” when the Fourth Sister finally tracks Barriss down for her betrayal, their encounter culminates with the former accidentally managing to stab the later—and in doing so realizing that Barriss’ pleas to her to change and see a new path were possible. Tales of the Empire concludes with the Fourth Sister, reclaiming her former identity as Lyn Rakish, carrying a wounded—but seemingly still alive—Barriss to aid. It was a long time coming, but at last, Star Wars fans got to see what became of the wayward Padawan... and how she became a Jedi far beyond anything the Order she grew disillusioned with could imagine.

Star Wars: Tales of the Empire is streaming on Disney+.

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