Since Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm in 2012, fans of the infamous “Star Wars” franchise have received a mixed bag of content. Shows like “Andor” and “The Mandalorian” (the first two seasons at least) have proven that “Star Wars” works as an episodic TV series, with fans praising both shows for their character development and cinematography.
In season two of “The Mandalorian,” beloved “The Clone Wars” animated series character Ahsoka Tano made her first ever live-action appearance. Currently, she is in the midst of her own live-action show.
Six episodes into an eight-episode season, it is safe to say that fans are enjoying this series a lot. The story follows Ahsoka as she searches for Ezra Bridger, a young Jedi who flung himself into the far reaches of the galaxy along with Grand Admiral Thrawn, an Imperial leader who planned to destroy Bridger’s home planet of Lothal after it became a base for the budding Rebel Alliance.
Joining Ahsoka is Huyang, an ancient droid who used to help young Jedi build their lightsabers before the Jedi purge. She is also accompanied by many characters from the animated series, “Star Wars Rebels,” including Mandalorian Sabine Wren and New Republic General Hera Syndulla.
Before I delve into what I like about the show, let’s talk about my problems with it.
So far, Sabine’s character has been confined to making one unwise decision after another, just to drive the plot forward. This may change by the end of the season, but as of right now, I am not a huge fan of where her character is headed. Her personality thus far could be defined as that of an angsty teenager, though she is canonically around 30 years old at this point in the “Star Wars” timeline.
Hopefully, part of Sabine’s character arc is growth in maturity; currently, though, I am a little disappointed in the estrangement of her character from her first, and much better, appearance in “Rebels.”
The inclusion of Huyang also confuses me a bit, as he hasn’t shown up or been mentioned since “The Clone Wars.” Honestly, many assumed he was destroyed or repurposed by the Empire after they took over the galaxy. That being said, there is still plenty of time for an explanation and I have high hopes that we will get one.
With those few gripes out of the way, there are plenty of things I like about the show.
The pacing so far has been great; the end of every episode leaves me wanting more. The show moves pretty fast for the most part, but a few episodes have slowed the pace down a bit for more character-focused moments.
The fight choreography is most definitely better than the recent sequel trilogy movies, but it still seems a little slow – and nowhere near the extravagant and over-the-top choreography of the prequel trilogy. This is most likely a stylistic choice though, as the show is said to be inspired by old-school samurai movies. Characters take their time, learning their opponents’ moves before striking and switching stances based on their adversaries’ movements. This idea is unique and something we have not seen much before “Ahsoka.”
Another exceptional trait of “Ahsoka” is that, unlike many recent “Star Wars” projects, it isn’t afraid to mention the prequels. As controversial as they are, the prequel era is what many “Star Wars” fans grew up watching along with the originals. The sequel trilogy largely ignored the prequels, so it is very refreshing to see and hear them be mentioned in modern “Star Wars” media again.
Along with this, Ahsoka’s character development throughout the show so far has really been faithful to her previous incarnations.
Those who watched “Rebels” know that over the course of the series, Ahsoka went from a headstrong Padawan to a mature and wise rebel leader. Even after all she has been through, there will always be more to learn.
This lesson will be made clear to Ahsoka about halfway through the season, as she has a revelation that seems to leave her questioning her own choices, but that’s for my full review once the season is over.
The antagonists of “Ahsoka” have also been really strong so far. Morgan Elsbeth, a returning character from “The Mandalorian,” is just as mysterious and reserved as ever. Elsbeth was first introduced as a Magistrate on a planet that Ahsoka was on during her search for Grand Admiral Thrawn.
Elsbeth has since been gaining resources and force-sensitive mercenaries to find Thrawn, but since Morgan is not an imperial herself, it’s a mystery as to why she is so infatuated with Thrawn. Morgan has been intriguing so far, but Baylan Skoll and Shin Hati, two mysterious Dark Jedi, have really stolen the show for me.
Their performances, unclear motivation and visionary costumes have been amazing to see this early in the show. Baylan may not talk much, but when he does, actor Ray Stevenson knocks it out of the park with his deliveries and subtle motions. Furthermore, he brings a stoic and physical presence to the screen and the mystery of his background intrigues me, even near the end of the season. Unfortunately, Stevenson passed away a few weeks before the show was released and sadly wasn’t able to see fans’ praise of his character.
Shin has also been great, with her character being somewhat of a foil to Sabine. This is engaging to watch because Shin is much more powerful with the Force than Sabine, leading to an interesting dynamic we have not seen too much in “Star Wars” before. This dynamic is one of many intriguing aspects of the show that has been developing throughout the season. My prediction is that Sabine will use some other methods to defeat Shin, or Shin will join the light side after being betrayed by her Dark Jedi master, Baylan.
In addition to the interesting character dynamics the show is developing, the era that “Ahsoka” is set in within the “Star Wars” timeline is a very interesting one.
There are quite a few books detailing events in the galaxy in the years after the Empire’s defeat, but “The Mandalorian” and “The Book of Boba Fett” have really been all we have seen on-screen bridging the gap between “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens.” This is important because the sequels don’t talk much about the aftermath of “Return of the Jedi,” but “Ahsoka” seems to finally bring in some galaxy-wide stakes that our favorite original trilogy characters may need to deal with.
Speaking of the original trilogy characters, why aren’t they around?
Obviously, many of the original trilogy actors are unable to play their younger characters, but this poses an important question: How do we bring them back now?
Instead of simply recasting these classic characters, Lucasfilm seems to think using computer-generated graphics is the way to go. In both “The Mandalorian” and “The Book of Boba Fett,” we saw a computer-generated Luke Skywalker decimate dark troopers and start rebuilding the Jedi Order. It was cool, don’t get me wrong, but these characters and the actors that portrayed them deserved better than these uncanny valley-esque imitations.
Both Disney and Lucasfilm have near-unlimited resources and money for CGI revivals, but it is so much easier to just recast them with younger actors who capture the charm of their roles. Alden Ehrenreich portrayed a young Han Solo in 2018 and he did a great job in my opinion. I really hope Lucasfilm learned from the fan backlash to the computer-generated Luke in both “The Mandalorian” and “The Book of Boba Fett” and just recast these characters with different actors, as they should have from the beginning.
Overall, “Ahsoka” has had a great first season, and I can’t wait to see where the show goes from here. With its rave reviews from “Star Wars” fans, and some of the most particular fans in pop culture, I think it’s safe to say that we will get a second season.