What They Say:
The heroes race to prevent Grand Admiral Thrawn’s escape.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The end of what’s been billed as a limited series for Ahsoka is something that puts fans in a weird place. The upcoming slate of TV projects involves the Skeleton Crew series that may have some connections but that’s it. The Acolyte takes place in the High Republic era while the second season of Andor will have no real connections here of note. So the end of this, which ends on a note of Thrawn winning while some characters are temporarily exiled, leaves just the Heir to the Empire movie that Dave Filoni is supposed to be working on that will arrive in a few years. It’s been billed as what will help close out this period of the New Republic era as seen through shows like The Mandalorian. If there’s no second season of Ahsoka in the future, and just a film, then it’s going to be impossible to do well what needs to be done to carry the story forward because there is simply nowhere near enough time. I enjoyed this series a good deal for a lot of reasons that I’ve gone through previously, but I’ve also said that it’s wasted a lot of time along the way.
There are no real surprises here as we get the final push for Thrawn to return from this distant galaxy as it’s just a matter of the fallout from it. Thrawn’s return is a given and while I like what we got of him we only got some slim moments to make clear why he’s as dangerous as he is. There’s just not enough meat on the bone to really make it clear to people unless you’ve read the books and gotten the implied threat through the Rebels series. There are nods to it here but part of it is just a series of delaying tactics to deal with the threat at hand because there’s a fundamental understanding that the pupil of Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader is not someone to be trifled with. And unless there’s some luck involved in eliminating here, the best bet is to just delay them and get back in the meantime. And he does that fairly effectively while at the same time trying to conserve resources because there are so many unknowns once they return.
The core of this episode focuses on Ahsoka, Sabine, and Ezra trying to get to Thrawn’s ship and stopping him. They have to face a few challenges along the way but there’s rarely enough sense of urgency in the direction of the episode to make it feel like the characters are hustling to get there. The action elements are good but even those feel like they lack urgency at times. It’s an absolute delight to watch the trio fight their way up the tower even as they deal with resurrected Stormtroopers and Night Troopers that give us our zombies and undead. The lightsaber and blaster action works and the generally decent if somewhat slow thinking in how to navigate all of this helps to carry it forward. At the same time, you wish these Jedi has learned how to move quickly like we saw from Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan back in the first minutes of The Phantom Menace. Show some hustle!
There are plenty of frustrating aspects to all of it and the way the show ends without an idea of a path forward. That said, there were a lot of things that I liked and worked well for me beyond the action elements above. While I can understand the frustration that comes from seeing Sabine utilize the Force as it feels like it flies in the face of some of what has come before, we’ve had variations before and The Last Jedi was doing its best to open the door wider to what comes next. “The Force finds a way” is one way to look at it. And some natural predisposition that Kanan may have sensed when he did eventually train her in the way that worked for her during Rebels as well. And let me just say, getting some Kanan time here as well with references to his past, the way he trained Ezra, his real name, and the acknowledgment that it must have meant for Ezra when Ezra was building his own lightsaber on the quick was just beautiful. It’s the kind of thing that really hit a deep thing for Ezra considering his relationship to his master and getting that from someone that helped to teach Kanan.
I was also glad to have it said clearly as to what the break was between Sabine and Ahsoka. The problem is in the execution where it’s Huyang saying it to Ezra who just asked point blank what was going on. Having that in the final part of the season just wasn’t great, though the reasoning was seeded throughout the season. It’s that case of how much do you just want it said plainly early on or done like it was here. You can make case for either approach but I actually liked sussing it out over the course of it and nothing was a surprise with what Huyang said but rather just a confirmation. But I totally get why it frustrated people, especially since so much of Star Wars is just, well, blunt when it comes to story points like this. It didn’t need to be an infodump early on in the show but it could have been talked about more between Sabine and Ahsoka so that their cleaning of the slate that we get here feels more meaningful. Especially if you don’t have the context of Rebels.
A lot of the show felt like this in that you need to make these leaps to fill in the blanks on your own rather than have them explained to you. I can’t say it works well in some places but it does work in others. A dumb thing was Ezra making his way to Home One but keeping on his Stormtrooper uniform the whole time – even when disembarking the shuttle. I can see it being kept on as a leap of logic when he first swiped it – such as when doing transport work to the surface and then bolting with it – but once away from Dathomir and Thrawn’s reach, it’d make a lot more sense to ditch it. But I also understand this – it was done this way for dramatic effect for the viewers. It won’t work for some viewers but it’ll work for others. I’d have preferred him to come down without the uniform and to have Hera realize who it is and the two move to a rushed embrace instead. But I can understand why they did it this way thinking of the impact of it over the reality/smartness of it.
Having Ahsoka stuck on Peridea isn’t a bad thing in the short term, and having Sabine stay with her intentionally along with Huyang there as well provides the opportunity for the two of them to bond better with the new understanding they have. Yes, some of it is a bit between the lines but part of it comes from Ahsdka understanding why Sabine did what she did – Ezra is family and Mandalorians place family very high up the list – and that her time in the World Between Worlds has freed her from some of her guilt and ways of thinking. She can approach working with Sabine in a better way now and now that Sabine has managed to find her connection to the Force in a tangible way, it adds some new directions to explore. And honestly, anyone thinking this is the end of their story may just not read or watch much? It’s easy to see how Ezra, now back with the New Republic, along with Hera can work to find a way to get back to Peridea and get them. Hell, there may be a trick discovered in Skeleton Crew that will allow for this. It’s not hard and this isn’t designed to keep Ahsoka from the Sequel Trilogy era. She’ll be a key part of the Heir to the Empire project.
I was a bit disappointed that Shin got so little time here but I’m curious to see what the plans are for her. I don’t want her to be another Phasma because both the character and the actress can add a lot to the mythos here going forward if freed up a bit. She doesn’t get much here but there’s at last something that she’s putting together that will give her some control, which she may be looking for now that she’s masterless. Baylan is the biggest issue because I’m hopeful for the character’s story. His being astride a statue of the Father alongside the Son while the other has its head missing is important, especially with Ahsoka seeing her familiar bird for a moment. The problem is that they must recast to continue the story and it’s likely a key part of what’s coming in the larger picture because of how it’s presented. Ray Stevenson’s death is tragic but this isn’t a situation where you can just do some creative special effects on top of someone else. And I want more of this story.
One of the best moments is just near the end with Ahsoka catching that shadows in the starlight and seeing Anakin there. The closure of her story with him and the pain that goes back years, from her leaving the Order and him to discovering that he was Darth Vader is significant. I’m glad for the moment on top of the World Between Worlds piece and for those who worked through Clone Wars and Rebels to have these sequences – and to open up Ahsoka to new paths going forward as she is able to close that chapter. It’s a great moment for the character and for Anakin – and Christensen who is able to capture a period of the character that has become beloved because of the Clone Wars series.
For a lot of people, Ahsoka is going to feel just as problematic as the third season of The Mandalorian and the Obi-Wan series. And I won’t disagree in the slightest. I enjoyed elements of those as well while as a whole they have a lot of flaws. With so many of these projects written and corralled during the pandemic and then going into pre-viz in 2021 before filming in 2022 for this show specifically, it feels like something just changed in how they’ve been put together. I’m hopeful that Skeleton Crew can show something better than this with its structure because that’s the main issue here overall. It didn’t set the stakes well, it took too long to get to some of the points, and the character interactions missed out on a lot of opportunities. I can imagine that perhaps it read better on the page than in how it turns out in actuality but that doesn’t change the end result. I’ll take the pieces I like and work with those and hope that there’s more, done better, in the future.
Streamed By: Disney+