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Star Wars: Ahsoka Season 1 Episode #5 Review

5 min read
While I do wish this episode had come a bit earlier than this and that things were tightened up in the first three episodes, viewing all of this series as the opening act to what's going to sprawl out for the next few years has me excited.

“Shadow Warrior”

What They Say:
Ahsoka confronts her past, while Hera and her allies undertake a rescue mission.

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With this episode of Ahsoka, the ties that bind the prequel and the original trilogy is complete, allowing it to focus on what’s coming next with everything. The connections have been a work in progress for years, since The Clone Wars TV series got fully underway, and we’ve had other threads that have helped to connect things. Both Andor and Rebels do a lot of work in this area as does The Bad Batch. But one of the consistent pieces through the period between was the character of Ahsoka. While she merited no mention in Revenge of the Sith for obvious reasons, the creative teams found a way to navigate that and to push it to the side to be dealt with later, which we saw some of in Rebels and in a kind of epilogue sense in The Mandalorian with Luke and Ahsoka. For those that have been invested all along in her story and others beyond the films, there’s a lot of payoff here. But it may not resonate as well for others who are only lightly familiar with the character through either just this or the couple of Mandalorian appearances.

The main gist of things is that Ahsoka, now in the World Between Worlds, is facing her old master. Anakin – done up in his Clone Wars era outfits for a lot of this in a way that just works way too well – is essentially giving his padawan one more lesson. She’s beyond lessons but the reality is that we never are. Discussions about whether this is a fever dream or not – and I do not subscribe to the idea that she dreamed it all – is that Anakin is helping her work through her trauma so she can let go of the past and begin to move forward once again. To choose to live instead of this slow death she’s experiencing by chasing down Thrawn and everything else for the past decade, leading her in this miserable direction. Though it’s done through combat at different times between the two, it’s really a good chance to peel back the layers of Ahsoka herself and for fans to recontextualize the character by now seeing some of the events that shaped her through live-action.

And it does make a difference.

When we go back to an early Clone Wars battle – which delivers on the fanservice with things like Clone Troopers and Rex and the machines of war – we get to see teenage Ahsoka again, wonderfully played by Ariana Greenblatt. We all remember her teenage aspects when she first appeared because Lucasfilm was torn apart by such a choice by many viewers for many years – but we’ve seen older, wiser, and experience Ahsoka for much more in the later seasons of The Clone Wars and Rebels as well. So going back and in this form really making it clear that she and other padawans like Kanan were just child soldiers alters your perception. I mean, we knew it, but it takes on a whole other feeling in this form. Watching her anguish over the deaths of Clone Troopers, seeing her struggle through parts of Siege of Mandalore, and understanding more of what goes into all of this all while Anakin fights alongside her and teaches her at the same time is fantastic.

Christensen really gets to do some great stuff here but it’ll be tough at times for some fans who are much more accustomed to Matt Lanter’s voice work from the animated series for the character. The blending is still going to rub some people the wrong way as we move back and forth between animation and live-action, but Christensen appears to be thoroughly enjoying all of this and the lightsaber fights are fantastic. The sequences of him in battle during the Clone Wars period are fantastic as well and it captures so much of that era so well, especially when you draw in young Ahsoka as well. The details, the dialogue, the nods to other events such as Anakin’s fight against Luke as Vader, it comes together in the way that makes this Anakin and his arc feel very cohesive and full, properly connected.

While all of this unfolds, and will be something I rewatch a number of times in the days ahead, we also have Hera arriving on Seatos to figure out what’s going on and where Hera and Sabine are. Amid Ahsoka’s story, we see them trying to find some clues but it’s Jacen that hears Ahsoka and the lightsabers thanks to his Force sensitivity. That gives them something to key on and to try and find her, which is slow because it plays intermingled with the other storyline. Ahsoka’s rescue is pretty straightforward but we get her having a bit of a Gandalf moment as all the dark and drab colors of her clothes from the first half of the season give way to her returning to the white outfit, a lighter attitude, and almost a sense of fun and adventure about her as she utilizes her abilities and instinct to figure out what happened to Sabine. And yes, we get more time with Purgrill which combined with the World Between Worlds lets this episode get its weird shit on in a big way. Which is why I enjoy when Filoni just lets things happen like this and engages with it in a way where you’re not going to get firm explanations but rather have to take things on leaps of faith or just “science fiction.”

In Summary:
Some stuff here doesn’t work too well, the whole New Republic politics angle and Hera’s role in it is just awkward, but it’s not much different than what we’ve seen in most Star Wars TV shows outside of Andor. And this round at least as a bit simpler and minimal so it didn’t stand out in a bad way. It was good to get some time with Chopper and Jacen and to include Teva as well a bit, though some of his dialogue and actions just felt out of place in the moment and “not realistic” for how it unfolded with a superior officer and the actual situation at hand. But beyond that, there’s a lot to enjoy here depending on the vector from which you’re watching this show. The World Between Worlds material is always divisive among fans but if you’re going to do it in live-action, this is how you do it. The team went big with it in giving us not just Anakin but young Ahsoka and some time with past battles, costumes, and events that just hits a sweet spot to tie everything together properly.

Grade: A-

Streamed By: Disney+