One of the most interesting aspects of the character of Ahsoka is her relationship to Anakin. She was introduced in the Clone Wars series as his Padawan learner, and over the course of 200 episodes of Clone Wars and Rebels, she matured and grew into her own. Still, having your master and trusted friend turn into the very embodiment of the Dark Side casts a long shadow. If that person picked you to be his apprentice because he liked what he saw in you, and then he turned out to be evil, what does that say about you? Does that mean you could potentially become evil?
Of course, the Light Side and the Dark Side have been a constant theme since the very first Star Wars movie way back in 1977. Obi-Wan told Luke of how the Dark Side seduced Vader. Yoda warned of the temptations of the path to the Dark Side. And Vader attempting to turn Luke was a major plot point of both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
We ended last week with Ahsoka getting kicked off a cliff by Baylan Skoll and falling into… a pathway among the stars? Where she was greeted by her old master, Anakin Skywalker, looking decidedly young and not at all scarred by lava. He greets his old apprentice and tells her that he’s here to finish her training. Today’s lesson is living or dying, and then he ignites his lightsaber.
I’m unclear as to where the reunion with Anakin and Ahsoka is taking place. Is this all in her head? Is it a dream she has while dying? Is it a literal place that she reached through the Force? Unclear, although I am leaning towards “all in her head,” and the dialogue she has with Anakin seems to support this. Needing to solve a riddle or have a personal epiphany before being able to wake up is a common enough trope. Apparently they are in “Force Space,” according to the tweets I’ve seen.
After fighting with Anakin, Ahsoka finds herself as a child in the Clone Wars, on an early mission with Anakin. Young Ahsoka is traumatized by the loss of life, especially the lives lost because of the orders she gave. Anakin tells her that’s part of being a leader and a warrior. As he walks away into the mists of war, Ahsoka sees his shadow flicker into that of Darth Vader.
Ahsoka then sees Anakin again at the Siege of Mandalore, which is not a place they were at together, where Anakin comments on what a warrior she is becoming. Which is not what Ahsoka expected to be as a Jedi. Anakin is telling her that everything in him is also in her, and that she’s a part of a legacy. This scares Ahsoka. Everything in Anakin includes the darkness and the evil and the slaughter of younglings, and her legacy is one of war and death. This is something Baylan told her last week, and she obviously felt it was true. Anakin starts to turn in front of her, his eyes glowing red, telling her she’s learned nothing. They fight their way back into the star field of Force Space, where Ahsoka disarms Anakin and tells him she wants to live. Anakin smiles and tells her there’s hope for her yet, then disappears.
These scenes are very well done. They actually start to pay off some of the hints of the backstory for those unfamiliar with Rebels and Clone Wars. Why is Ahsoka so standoffish with her apprentice, Sabine? Well, possibly because she doesn’t want to fail Sabine the way Anakin failed her. But, Anakin has now made her choose to live in the present rather than dwell on the failures and tragedies of the past, so perhaps that will affect her approach going forwards.
So Ahsoka has defeated her personal demons, but still remains deep underwater in the physical world. Lucky for her, Hera’s son, Jacen, is conveniently force sensitive. His dad, Kanan, was a Jedi. And he can hear the sounds of lightsabers banging off each other beneath the rolling waves. This is enough for Hera to keep the pilots searching until they can find Ahsoka in the water. (Kinda getting mixed messages here. You’re telling Sabine that she can use the Force, even though she has no natural abilities, but the ten-year-old can hear lightsaber battles from the Phantom Zone because he inherited Midichlorians from his daddy. You know what? Fine. Let’s just roll with it.) And just in time, too, because the Republic has sent the fleet to collect their insubordinate general.
Again, I question the priorities of the New Republic. You didn’t want to send a few ships to check out Seatos, but you’ll send THREE battle cruisers to teach Hera a lesson? Seems like a colossal waste of resources.
Even though Ahsoka has been rescued, they still have the problem of how to follow Morgan and Sabine to the other galaxy. The map is destroyed, and even if they had co-ordinates, they don’t have any engines powerful enough to jump that far. But when Ahsoka looks up and notices the purgills (the flying, intergalactic space whales), she gets an idea. After communing with them through the Force, an extremely large whale opens its mouth and lets Ahsoka fly in.
This is at least the third major science fiction franchise to center a plot on whales. Star Trek went back in time to save the whales in The Voyage Home. Avatar: The Way of Water was also literally about saving the whales. And now, Ahsoka is hitching a ride in the mouth of a space whale-squid-C’thulu hybrid. I guess we ought to expect some space whales in Zach Snyder’s Rebel Moon or the new Tron movie, huh?
Once Ahsoka is safely inside, the whales, through some sort of genetic chemistry, jump away. I assume they’re also borrowing the spore network from Star Trek: Discovery? While magic space whales are far-fetched, this is Star Wars, home of the space wizards with laser swords. We have to find some way to get Ahsoka to another galaxy. And besides, they look cute.
So, after five episodes, Ahsoka is finally on her way to find Ezra and Thrawn. Which is good, but it seems to be a bit of a leisurely pace. I dislike comparisons of movie pacing to TV pacing, but these first five episodes feel like they could’ve been the first 45 minutes of a movie. Hopefully, the pace will quicken now that we’re taking the Whale Express to a new galaxy. Who knows, maybe we’ll even see our favorite member of the Chiss Ascendancy! (That’s Thrawn, by the way. Sorry, I’m falling into the trap of this show: assuming everyone has the same extensive knowledge of Star Wars that I do.)
Rating: 3 out of 5