This review is based on the first two episodes of Star Wars: Ahsoka
The wait for Star Wars: Ahsoka has been a long one. Physically, it has been 986 days since the streaming series, starring Rosario Dawson as the fan favourite Padawan turned Jedi turned rebel, was first announced on Disney Investor Day in 2020. However, fans have been waiting for this live-action turn since Ahsoka Tano’s animated debut in 2008’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
If you have been catching up to 15 years of animated stories, the series will chart what the former Jedi has been up to ever since the end of the Empire, and the beginnings of a newfound peace post the events of Star Wars Episode IV: Return of the Jedi.
This includes reuniting with her Padawan Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), on the search for old friend Ezra Bridger (Eman Esfadi) and stopping a war from happening after hearing of General Admiral Thrawn’s (Lars Mikkelsen) possible resurgence.
Now, the Ahsoka Disney+ series takes place at the same time as The Mandalorian season three and before the Star Wars sequels trilogy, so the Ahsoka Tano we meet here is fairly different from the one we’ve come to adore in the earlier Clone Wars and Rebels series.
For starters, Ahsoka Tano is much more mature. Gone are her days of being snippy, headstrong and impulsive. After leaving the Jedi order, the Tortuga we meet in the first two episodes of Ahsoka is collected and almost devoid of the hot-headedness we witnessed when she was still Anakin Skywalker’s Padawan. What still remains though, is that Ahsoka is a steadfast leader with unwavering strength and determination – no matter the odds. Oh, she can be a little bit sarcastic at times so we guess some things never change.
If you caught The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett before Ahsoka, Dawson’s brief portrayal of the character then and now tracks. What you see in previous short appearances is what you get now in the form of a 55-minute episode. Additionally, this post-Return tale is so much stronger than last year’s Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Star Wars series thus far has placed heavy emphasis on two-people relationships. There’s Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu in The Mandalorian, Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) in The Book of Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Baby Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair) in Obi-Wan Kenobi, so it may come to no surprise that Ahsoka centres around the titular character and her padawan, Sabine.
Don’t worry, you haven’t missed anything since the end of Star Wars: Rebels. With the live-action debut of so many animated characters, current Star Wars architect and series creator Dave Filoni is taking the time to update some of the lore around what these characters have been up to. Ahsoka isn’t an origin story but focuses on her life from when we last saw her in The Book of Boba Fett and The Mandalorian, as it also serves as an indirect sequel to Rebels.
In the latter, Ahsoka was incredibly hesitant to teach Grogu the ways of the Jedi and this stand still remains in Ahsoka. The Master-Apprentice relationship is a heavy theme in this series as it is often brought up that the titular character was once Anakin’s Padawan and that just like how she walked away from Anakin and the Jedi order, she walked away from her own padawan, Sabine. The tension between the two female characters is strong with Ahsoka struggling to confront her fears that were created within her own relationship with her master, and Sabine holding on to the hurt and feelings of abandonment.
Ahsoka and Sabine aren’t the only Master-Apprentice relationship explored in the series. Villains Baylon Skoll (the late Ray Stevenson) and Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno) also have a Master-Apprentice dynamic. Skoll is hinted to be a defected Jedi Master who is teaching Hati how to be a Dark Force user and together, they work for Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) a loyal and close follower of Thrawn. In terms of dynamics, Skoll and Hati are much better tuned with each other. Hati listens and leans on her Master for support and guidance, while Skoll meets her with patience and kindness.
Outside of two-person relationships, we also get to see the chemistry and camaraderie between The Ghost Crew – leader Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is a general who happily reunites with Ahsoka under less than desired circumstances, and her friendship with C1-10P aka Chopper, is one that brings plenty of laughs to the series. Sabine often reminisces about their missing friend, Bridger, and becomes the person Ahsoka turns to when she embarks on a journey to find him. Don’t worry, if you’ve not caught Rebels – or any previous Star Wars shows prior to Ahsoka – you’re not entirely missing much.
The impact of these characters working together once again may not be as strong as say, a fan who’s watched all 75 episodes of Rebels, but Filoni catches you up to speed by the time the first episode is over. Thus far, the first two episodes are still digestible and easy to grasp for a viewer who has only depended on the live-action shows, and not consumed any other key animated episodes across the Star Wars franchise necessary to catch this series. However, we can’t confirm if that will still be the case once more episodes get released weekly. The only elements that tie Ahsoka to previously released shows so far are the Ghost Crew and the presence of the recently introduced Inquisitors, who made their debut in Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Two episodes in, and we can say that Ahsoka has the potential to be a lot more action-packed than the new Andor series that was released last September. It’s not yet at the level in The Mandalorian, but it seems like each episode comes with an average of one to two significant action sequences and scenes. Unfortunately, the first two episodes have not shown off much of Ahsoka’s acrobatic abilities, but seeing her pull out her two glowing white lightsabers surely lights something up in our geeky hearts.
Ahsoka finally brings back lightsaber action to the screen, something we haven’t seen much of since the sequel trilogy. We love blasters, but there’s something about action scenes with lightsabers that makes one think, “Heck yeah, this is Star Wars!”. Ahsoka also features the first female vs female lightsaber duel in Star Wars live-action, so that’s pretty neat too. Frankly, we just want to witness the first live-action depiction of Anakin and Ahsoka in flashback, since Hayden Christensen is appearing in the show. We say flashback because he can’t be playing Darth Vader since Vader is already dead.
Our main gripe with the series is how slow it sometimes feels. It’s a rather odd experience given how Filoni manages to give you an insanely brief summary of whatever happened in Rebels in the first two episodes alone. Plus, the events in the Ahsoka story are actually evenly paced out. The slowness we experience is likely a result of the dialogue, and how there are some oddly long pauses between each line delivered.
From the looks of things, Ahsoka seems promising but that was the sense we also got from Obi-Wan Kenobi, which ultimately proved to be rather unsatisfying. With more complex relationships to explore, questions to be answered about Bridger and Thrawn’s existence in the galaxy, and unfair fan expectations, Ahsoka can potentially be a much-needed series that can help fill up the gap in Star Wars TV and movie storytelling.
The character itself is one of the strongest and most beloved characters in Star Wars history, and Ahsoka can either serve as the bridge between live-action and animated series in the galaxy, or make us wonder why Disney ever bought Lucasfilm. Plus, who doesn’t want to catch some cool lightsaber action? That is one of the contributing factors that made fans fall in love with Star Wars in the first place.