Ahsoka Arrives With a New Mission

Strong villains lift up the opening episodes.

Ahsoka Tano debuted in the animated Clone Wars show on Cartoon Network, way back in 2008, where she was the Padawan of Anakin Skywalker. After some harsh initial reactions (All together now: “StOoPiD gIrLs In MuH StAr WaRs!!” Really, nothing ever changes.), she evolved into a fan favorite and was in the rest of Clone Wars and the following Rebels show. Ahsoka even had a vocal cameo at the end of Rise of Skywalker in the “Be with me” sequence, where the voices of Jedi past rally to inspire Rey. The Ahsoka series was announced in December of 2020, and it was also announced that Rosario Dawson would play her. It’s been almost three years since then, and her fans have been eagerly awaiting this moment.

Dave Filoni, who produced both Rebels and Clone Wars, has said that this show is going to essentially be Rebels: Season 5—Oops! All Live Action. Now, I have seen maybe one and a half episodes of Rebels and maybe two of Clone Wars. I refuse to do homework for a Star Wars series and watch 200 episodes of animated shows to get caught up. I strongly believe that any piece of media needs to be able to stand on its own, especially one that’s been around as long as Star Wars has. So, if you are looking for me to do a deep dive on all the Rebels Easter eggs scattered about, look somewhere else. I am going to be reviewing this show on its own merits. Will it work well enough to stand alone? Or will this be nothing but an elbow in the side, with Dave Filoni going “Hey, remember THIS?”

Well, after two episodes, I’m keeping up with everything and have a good grasp of the character relationships. And the show itself is pretty fun!

We open with a title card (Really, no crawl? C’mon Dave…) helpfully explaining where we are in the Star Wars timeline. The Galactic Empire has fallen, the New Republic has taken its place, but there are still Imperial cells across the Galaxy. (So this is roughly concurrent with the timeline of The Mandalorian) Ahsoka has just captured Morgan Elsbeth, a former imperial and a descendent of the Witches of Dathomir (Oooo, that sounds cool!) who has knowledge of the whereabouts of Grand Admiral Thrawn.

Thrawn was a blue-skinned alien with red eyes. He was a brilliant tactician and a formidable adversary, since he would study a society’s art and culture to find out what they held most dear and then use that as a weakness to be exploited. He first appeared in Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire novels way back in the early ’90s, and he rapidly became my second favorite villain, with his cool detachment and completely rational ruthlessness.

Morgan (played by Diana Lee Inosanto) is being transported to the Republic to stand trial. However, the ship is intercepted by a Lambda class shuttle with two people who claim to be Jedi and wish to see the prisoner. The Captain decides to call their bluff and lets them board.

This episode reconfirms my belief that the New Republic is staffed with the absolute dumbest people in the galaxy. Oh, a former Imperial shuttle, with people in sinister black robes who claim to be Jedi demanding to board, and you just let them in? If you think they’re bluffing, then just blast their ship! But no, the dum-dum captain lets them onboard and then he and his crew are slaughtered by the two obvious Sith. (It’s a really good thing that they had Luke Skywalker on their side during the rebellion.) Our two mysterious figures quickly free Morgan and then hurry away. These are Baylan Skoll (Ray Stevenson) and his apprentice Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno).

Image Credit: Lucasfilm

Meanwhile, Ahsoka is engaged in some tomb raider antics in the remnants of an abandoned temple on a distant planet, in search of the map to Thrawn that Morgan spoke of. Which she finds pretty quickly, only to be beset by a squad of assassin droids. This leads to some humorous Bugs Bunny antics where Ahsoka cuts holes underneath the droids and they plummet into the room below. They’re actually pretty tough customers, and it takes a bit of work to dispatch them. Unfortunately, like our old pal IG-11, these droids also have a self-destruct feature. Ahsoka dashes away and gets picked up in the nick of time by her faithful droid companion, Huyang, voiced by David Tennant. Huyang was a training droid at the Jedi Temple, and his encyclopedic knowledge of Jedi history will come in quite handy. (He identifies Baylan from a video due to the unique design of his lightsaber hilt.)

They rendezvous with New Republic General (and another Rebels character) Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a green-skinned Twi’lek and friend of Ahsoka’s. She tells her of Morgan’s escape, and Ahsoka confides they found the map, but can’t unlock it. Syndulla suggests she contact a friend of theirs who is very smart and currently on the planet of Lothal, site of their final battle with Thrawn. Ahsoka groans internally, because she knows what she’s going to suggest. Namely, go ask Sabine Wren for help.

Image Credit: Lucasfilm

Sabine (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) is a former Mandalorian and a former Padawan of Ahsoka. That’s a lot of formers. Apparently, after her close friend, young Jedi Ezra Bridger, disappeared and presumably died while fighting Thrawn, she distanced herself from her friends and colleagues. She blows off a ceremony that dedicates a memorial to the cast of Rebels, who fought so bravely to free the planet. You can see she’s a rebel because she likes to ride her speeder bike real fast and has multi-colored hair. (Funny, Mary Elizabeth Winstead played Ramona Flowers on Scott Pilgrim, but here it’s Sabine rocking the hairdo.) She doesn’t really want to help Ahsoka, but relents when she tells her that Ezra might still be alive and the map may be the key to finding him.

Image Credit: Lucasfilm

Ahsoka tells Sabine not to leave the ship, so of course she takes the map orb back to her apartment. After comparing it to patterns in the scan of the room Ahsoka found it in, she figures out how to unlock it. It shows one galaxy connecting to another through a pathway of light. She’s about to celebrate with her loth-cat, when the creature hisses a warning. Two more murder droids burst in to steal the map back. She manages to shoot one, but the other escapes to the elevator. When Sabine gets to ground level, she sees Baylar’s apprentice, Shin, waiting for her. Sabine thought to bring Ezra’s old lightsaber with her, so they start to duel. Sabine fights valiantly, but Shin is much more adept than the Jedi school dropout. Sabine gets run through by Shin’s saber just as Ahsoka arrives to help. Shin escapes with the map to end the first episode, and Sabine wakes up in the hospital to start the second.

Image Credit: Lucasfilm

This is something that has been bugging me about the recent spate of Star Wars shows. SO MANY people get gut-stabbed…and then refuse to die! Grand Inquisitor and Ninth Sister on Obi-Wan! Sabine here! This is the most powerful weapon in the galaxy, and people are just shrugging off disembowelments! Recharge your kyber crystals, Jedi! Did the emperor make you all change from conventional crystals to compact fluorescents or something?

There’s a lot of history between Sabine and Ahsoka that gets communicated in shorthand here. (I’m sure Rebel-heads will know all of the context. Please do not @ me.) Suffice to say, Ahsoka has the look of a disappointed parent, once again having to clean a mess their kid makes, and Sabine uses sarcastic humor to deflect her hurt feelings. There are a lot of complex emotions at play, and I think the actors do pretty well at getting that across, even to someone like myself who hasn’t watched the other show.

Hera and Ahsoka track the droid sent to attack Sabine back to the shipyards on Corellia, where Morgan owned several factories. That seems a tiny bit suspicious! Especially since the Republic shipyards are staffed by pretty much exactly the same crews that ran the Imperial shipyards. (Again: The New Republic is run by some of the dumbest people in the galaxy.) The supervisor tells them not to worry, the average worker just wants to get paid and they don’t give a fig about galactic politics. Sure, sounds legit. It’s even more legit that the shipyard is making the last of six super hyperdrive engines that are completely off the books. When General Hera demands to know what they’re for, Imperial sympathizers leap out from their consoles and scream “For the Empire!” Huh, guess the workers aren’t entirely wage slaves!

As Hera tries to stop the transport ship from carrying off the engine, Ahsoka has an encounter on the gantry platform. There’s another murder droid, and a strange figure in some kind of black armor. This is Barrok, and after a very cool lightsaber battle, he leaps away onto a ship piloted by Shin. Barrok has one of those whirly lightsaber thingies that the Inquisitors had in Obi-Wan. And Ahsoka has a cool as hell dodge to get out of its path as Barrok summons it back to him.

All is not lost! Hera Syndulla got a tracker on their ship, thanks to her astromech droid, Chopper. Chopper is a delight. He is an irascible little guy, who only speaks in angry beeps and boops but leaves no doubt that he’s constantly swearing at you. I finally understand the Chopper fandom I’ve seen on the web. When chasing the engine, Chopper suggests blasting the ship out of the sky. Syndulla says no, there’s a heavily populated city below. Chopper boops back, “so?”

They track the engine to the planet Seatos, where Morgan is showing Baylan and Shin how the map orb is a portal to another galaxy. This is where Thrawn has fled to, and if Ezra is still alive he may be there as well. Kudos on the production design, making a cool looking Sith Stonehenge here.

Back on Lothal, Sabine is dusting off her old Mandalorian armor and chopping off her long hair (presumably so the helmet will fit back on.) She’s decided to rejoin Ahsoka and continue her training, or at least help her find Thrawn and Ezra. They fly off to confront our Morgan and company on Seatos. (But who is going to feed that cute little loth-cat?)

Image Credit: Lucasfilm

So far, in these two episodes, I am loving the villains. The late Ray Stevenson is imbuing Baylan Skoll with the energy of one who betrayed the Jedi out of regret more than anger. He has a great exchange at the end of episode two, where he says it’ll be a shame to have to kill Ahsoka. When Morgan accuses him of being sentimental, he says no, just truthful. “There are so few Jedi left.”

His apprentice, Shin Hati is a bundle of chaotic goth energy. And Morgan Elspeth has various motives of her own, and the witch concept is most intriguing. (I am going to assume that the “witchcraft” is some sort of untrained Force abilities, or something similar and more nature-based and free of the Jedi hierarchies.) And we haven’t even met Thrawn yet!

By contrast, our heroes kind of seem like drips. Ahsoka mostly scowls her way through the two episodes. I understand that she is filled with regret over her past choices, but it wouldn’t hurt to show a little more reaction. Sabine Wren comes off as an annoying brat (I mean, she probably has her reasons, based on context clues), and so far Syndulla is just kind of there. Only our two droid friends—Huyang and Chopper—provide any kind of spark for the good guys.

Like I said, I have seen about 30 minutes total of Rebels so the performances are probably informed by a world of backstory that I know nothing about. Still, it’ll be great if you gave the viewers who didn’t watch every episode of that show a few more crumbs. And maybe some more expressions from Ahsoka.

Or else just make this the Chopper Show.

Still, the action is very good. I’m looking forward to following our team on their journey to a far distant galaxy and see what happens.


Episode 1, Master & Apprentice: 3.5 out of 5

Episode 2, Toil & Trouble: 3.5 out of 5

Victor Catano
Victor Catano
Victor Catano lives in New York City with his adorable pughuaua, Danerys. When not writing, he works in live theater as a stage manager, production manager, and chaos coordinator. His hobbies include coffee, Broadway musicals, and complaining about the NY Mets and Philadelphia Eagles. Follow him on BlueSky and Instagram at @vgcatano and find his books on Amazon

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