With “Ahsoka” finishing its initial season a few weeks ago, I think it is safe to say that quality has returned to the “Star Wars” franchise. Alongside shows like “Andor” and “The Bad Batch,” “Ahsoka” proves that the decades-old franchise can be just about anything, from a spy thriller to an animated family story to a samurai-inspired adventure show. These three shows differ vastly, but they all take place in the same galaxy far, far away.This is good for fans because those who took issue with other projects lacking lightsaber fights only had to wait for “Ahsoka” to come out and blow them away with its beautiful fight choreography.
With that being said, while “Ahsoka” is not perfect, the good far outweighs the bad.
Like with my previous review, I’d like to get my issues with the show out of the way first. Most of my problems come from the finale of the season, as it felt a little rushed. A lot happened in quick succession and some characters were all but left out, leaving me disappointed. Yes, I know it was a cliffhanger, but my critique stands. Rushing a finale when some of the early episodes were slow and didn’t move the plot along much only draws attention to the pacing issues. Beyond the finale, however, there are also a few season-long problems with the show.
First and foremost, Sabine continues to be a disappointing character. The only growth she went through this season was learning how to use the Force, which she should never have been able to do in the first place. Sabine does not need the Force because she is already a strong enough character in “Rebels.” Meanwhile, her poor decisions continued, starting with her stealing the map and losing it to Shin and the assassin droids early in the season and ending with the antagonists getting to Thrawn and Ezra on Peridea before Ahsoka and Sabine.
The thing about Sabine that frustrates me the most is that she was one of my favorite characters in “Rebels.” She was funny, smart and capable of some pretty impressive things – even without the Force. She was cool enough in her first appearance; if they had just made her a more mature character in “Ahsoka,” I would be much happier.
The finale was a mixed bag for me. Sabine’s sudden aptitude for the Force left me questioning some of the showrunners’ decisions. However, the finale left most of the characters in new situations that will be interesting to explore in the future. Of all the characters featured in the show, the absence of Shin Hati and Baylan Skoll from the finale was obvious.
Only in the final moments do we see what Baylan and Shin were up to late in the season. Shin joins up with the bandits on Peridea, while Baylan is shown standing on a statue of one of the Gods of Mortis. The Gods of Mortis were first introduced in the 2008 “ Clone Wars” TV series and they represent the concepts of Light, Dark and Balance in the Force. The reason behind their presence on Peridea is unknown at this time; unfortunately, though, we won’t be able to see Ray Stevenson’s portrayal of Baylan continue to uncover the mysteries of the new galaxy.
Another nitpick I had about the show is something I brought up in my previous article: The return of Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader in “Obi-Wan Kenobi.” This decision was a monumental moment for many “Star Wars” fans who grew up watching Christensen and Ewan McGregor’s portrayals of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi. All in all, it was exhilarating to see them on-screen together again. Lucasfilm used CGI for Hayden’s return, but since Obi-Wan is older in the show, they did not use any for McGregor’s portrayal.
Either way, in “Ahsoka,” Lucasfilm decided to use computer-generated graphics for Christensen’s second return to his controversial portrayal of the character. Regardless of how Christensen looked, his performance here is stunning; he portrayed the character in a way only he can: With conflict and poise.
We see this performance halfway through the series when Ahsoka is sent to the World Between Worlds, a gap in space and time where she reunites with her former master – you guessed it – Anakin Skywalker. This makes Anakin’s return not only a cool moment on its own but a crucial character moment for Ahsoka. He presents her with flashbacks to previous battles Ahsoka partook in during the Clone Wars: The Battle of Ryloth and the Siege of Mandalore, to be specific. These flashbacks prove that Ahsoka is still holding on to her violent past and still suffers survivor’s guilt for what happened to Anakin. Moments like these show how Ahsoka is one of the deepest and most dynamic characters in “Star Wars.”
After Ahsoka’s journey through the World Between Worlds, she seems more stoic and even wiser, as she now understands what happened to Anakin was not her fault. This is huge for her character, as she now sees Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader as two separate entities, not one in the same, meaning she can recall her former master’s unorthodox teaching style in a positive light.
This leads me to the things I liked about the season – for one, Grand Admiral Thrawn’s characterization is almost perfect. He looks a bit like a blue Elon Musk – take that how you will – but other than that, Lars Mikkelsen was the perfect choice for the character. Mikkelsen voiced Thrawn in “Rebels,” and does just as good a job in live-action as he did in the animation.
Thrawn’s reintroduction to “Star Wars” is bigger than many might think. Thrawn was the main antagonist of a set of the now non-canon “Heir to The Empire” book trilogy about Luke, Leia and Han after the events of the original “Star Wars” film trilogy. It would seem that “Ahsoka” Showrunner Dave Filoni is planning on giving his own take on the events of these books, which would call for those classic characters to make their return.
This all brings me back to my previous review, where I called for a recast of these characters.
It would mean the world to me to see the original trilogy characters again, but I want it done right. These characters deserve to be recast, not projected in with computer-generated after-effects. Computer faces can only do so much when it comes to the range of emotion and general charm, so why take that away when it is inevitably cheaper to just use a real person?
While I cannot answer for Lucasfilm – and I surely will not be the one who decides how to bring back those characters – there is still much more to appreciate about “Ahsoka.” The show really was a spectacle, with some amazing exposition shots, beautiful fight scenes and stellar character designs. Looks aren’t everything though, and the characters, especially Ahsoka, really shine with some impactful and heartfelt character moments.
While it may seem like I had a lot of complaints about “Ahsoka,” I really did enjoy most of the show. It brings a lot of the more supernatural elements from the “Star Wars” canon and brings them into live action for the first time. For example, Ahsoka’s journey in the World Between Worlds and the Nightsisters of Dathomir playing a big role in the story were very interesting to see.
The whole idea of bringing more supernatural ideas from animation or books to live action is something that I have wanted to see for a long time. “Star Wars” isn’t afraid to get weird anymore (like it ever was, to be honest), and I’m definitely here for it.
With all that being said, “Ahsoka” really does provide some good “Star Wars” content for fans to enjoy, and it sets up a movie or second season beautifully. It develops old characters, brings others into live action for the first time and introduces a new threat to the galaxy that will surely take more than just one Jedi to take down.