There’s a chance, a slim chance, that maybe Ahsoka will find a way to become a better show before the finale (the first two episodes of its eight episode season are out now), but based on the first couple of episodes, I seriously doubt it.
Much like the other Disney+ Star Wars shows, instead of coming up with an interesting and original adventure for a fan favorite character that maybe explores some new aspect of that character, Lucasfilm took the road they’ve taken with all of the Star Wars properties to date: the lazy road.
Ahsoka isn’t compelling at all; it’s a bland, boring show that strips all personality these characters had in their animated versions, leans heavily on the same tired tropes every other Disney Star Wars property has used, and seems more focused on recreating a live-action version of the Dave Filoni’s Rebels show than anything.
How bad is it? In one of the YouTube video reviews I watched after watching the episodes for myself, someone had another video playing in the background that displayed one-for-one live action sequences of scenes that were already in Rebels.
But, Dave Filoni is going to save Star Wars, you say?
Yeah, no. He’s not. Whatever creative spark he may had that worked in the Clone Wars and, to a lesser extent, the Rebels animated shows has long since run out of mojo.
Star Wars is dead, but that’s not going to stop Disney and Kathleen Kennedy from picking up the body that they murdered in the first place and pulling a “Weekend at Bernie’s” to convince fans there’s still some life in that decaying body.
Sure, it looks like a Star Wars show. They at least had a decent production budget, unlike some of the other series (Obi-Wan, Boba Fett, etc). But there’s just this feeling that something’s… off.
It’s not as bad as Obi-Wan or Boba Fett – which tie for the worst shite Disney Star Wars has cranked out, but it’s not all that great, either.
Part of the problem is that Ahsoka assumes the viewer has seen both the Clone Wars and Rebels animated series. Like, I’m pretty sure that Lucasfilm actually posted a thing on social media with a complete breakdown of what you should have watched/read before starting Ahsoka.
And yet, even that’s not entirely useful because I believe this show takes place several years after the end of Rebels. You can kind of put together some aspect of the relationships (Ahsoka is a Jedi because she has lightsabers. She and Hera and Sabine all clearly have some sort of history, etc). There are hints of things that have happened between characters in between that time, but it’s barely even mentioned.
They could have done a live-action recap of the Rebels show – including showing the entire Rebels cast, what happened to Kanan and Ezra and Thrawn’s role in that show, and where the show basically ended. At least, then, there would have been some introduction to these characters and their history.
If you haven’t seen any of the animated shows, Filoni’s not going to bother to introduce these characters to you. Ahsoka just comes off as “stoic” — she’s supposed to because she’s a Jedi. You can plainly see that because she has lightsabers. But, Ahsoka is NOT a Jedi, and the show doesn’t bother to clarify any of this. Adult Ahsoka is also completely devoid of any personality that she had in the animated shows or even from the Mandalorian.
Hera is general in the New Republic, but you’d never guess that by looking at her. Or else, the New Republic is super casual about their leaders wearing uniforms because she’s wearing the same outfit, complete with the goofy head googles, from the animated show. It’s like Filoni thought the audience would be confused if the one green alien from the show changed her clothes, even though everyone addresses her by name. Okay, they do use her last name a lot “General Sindoula” — (I probably spelled that wrong and I don’t care) — but “real” fans would know her last name.
Actually dressing like a Republic general and flying around in a Republic ship instead of the Ghost (and she doesn’t even fly the Ghost — it’s the little shuttle — oh yeah, the Ghost is the ship that the cast of Rebels flew around in) might have made a difference. In the second episode, she tries to throw her weight around in a scene when the locals tell her some info is classified. When she declares she’s a general in the New Republic, you almost expect the guy she’s talking to, to roll his eyes and respond that if she’s a general, he’s a grand admiral (which actually would have been funnier than what happened next).
Then there’s Sabine. Even though the show is called ‘Ahsoka’ you could easily argue that Sabine is the star of the show. We’re introduced to Sabine in the first episode on Lothal, where most of Rebels took place. The main city is having a big ceremony to honor the end of the war and the rebel leaders who helped make it happen, including Sabine. And, she’s there, at the ceremony, up until they want her to give a speech. At that point, she bails.
The mayor? has to get the new senator to say a few words in her place, then he sends a couple of troops in ships to bring her back. That seems kind of extreme, but whatever. There probably should have been a scene where she made it clear she didn’t want to give a speech, or just not have Sabine at the ceremony at all. Anyway, the “cops” go flying after her as she cruises down the highway to nowhere on a speeder bike, order her to stop and even park a ship to block her way. She refuses, pulls a maneuver to slide under the ship and keeps going. The “cops” decide that this makes her cool, decide to give her a nod and just ignore their orders.
It’s all meant to make Sabine look cool because she doesn’t put up with “the man”, but it really just makes her look like an asshole. It also doesn’t help that Filoni decided that Sabine should look the same way she did in Rebels, so he cast a woman who could easily pass for 15-16. That would be fine if they were doing a live action version of Rebels from the start where I think Sabine was meant to be about 16, and then her behavior could be chalked up to being a teenage brat. But, Ahsoka takes place several years after the end of Rebels where Sabine was probably supposed to be 19 or 20, putting her current age somewhere in her mid to late 20s. Later, she even defies Ahsoka’s orders, because she can, and it’s just not a good look.
Another aspect of it is just this weird juxtaposition of integrating the Rebels show into the “real” Star Wars universe. Sure, it could work, but for reasons, Filoni decided that the animated elements of the show should look no different than their live-action versions. When we get to Lothal, the city looks like a cartoon city even complete with it’s weird “highway” — a single four lane road leading out of the city that’s technically a road to nowhere. There’s a “lothcat” that’s cgi but really doesn’t look any different than it’s animated version.
None of the three main leads are written particularly well, and all of them appear to be told to act with zero emotions. Lucasfilm can’t have these women getting all emotional in Star Wars for “reasons”, even when it’s clear that the topic/moment requires there to be some emotion.
Seriously, the only two characters who even show a hint of emotion are the two droids who are with the main characters, and that’s just sad.
Ray Stevenson makes a pretty imposing bad guy, but he’s only in the show for a couple of scenes. Even then, he’s not even the main baddie. The main baddie is a “Nightsister” – a witch – who wants to find a lost Imperial leader. The sisters are another batch of characters that were either introduced in a novel and/or the Clone Wars cartoon. Stevenson (I’m calling him by his real name because I don’t care enough to look up his character name), also has a female padawan, but she barely has more than a couple of lines of dialogue.
The plot is pretty straightforward up to this point. The bad guys are looking for a map to figure out where the Empire’s last Grand Admiral was banished/sent to? It’s not clear why he was sent off to the ass end of the galaxy, but now that there’s no Vader and no Emperor, the bad guys want to find him so he can rally the fragmented remnants of the Empire and usurp the New Republic before they can establish themselves.
Who’s Thrawn? Thrawn is a fan favorite villain from a series of books published in the 90s by Timothy Zahn. The Heir to the Empire series depicted the rebels trying to organize a new system of government while the fragments of the Empire tried to rebuild with Han, Leia, Luke and the others in the middle of it all. Disney dumped all of this into the “Extended Universe” with all of the other materials after their acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012.
At least, until Dave Filoni needed a villain for his animated show Star Wars: Rebels. Then, he pilfered the character for use in his own series. The rumor for Ahsoka is that they’re effectively going to “borrow” most of the plot from the Heir to the Empire books and recycle it in the show, replacing the original Star Wars characters with the Rebels cast.
Of course, whenever there’s a character that needs to be found in Disney Star Wars, there’s a map. And, of course, the map’s not just anywhere. You can’t just look it up or go ask Bob for it. The map has to be hidden in some ancient ruin in some equally ancient artifact that is also locked and can’t simply be opened. Naturally, both the good guys and the bad guys are looking for the map.
The whole map silliness echoes both of the Macguffins from the sequel trilogy (one to find Luke, and then another to find the Emperor). So far, at least it hasn’t completely devolved into the cast finding a thing that requires them to find another thing that leads to yet another thing to unlock the first thing. Not yet, anyway…
That’s basically the plot. The bad guys need to find a dude. To find the dude, they need a map. But, the good guys get the map first. Bad guys take the map from the good guys before they can decipher where the dude’s location is, and now the bad guys know the location and can go get the dude. The good guys want to stop the bad guys from finding the dude, and so off they go.
That’s it. That’s the story. The trailers have already shown glimpses of Thrawn, so he’s going to at least make an appearance.
It also doesn’t help that the episodes are painfully slow. The first episode is nearly an hour long, and it makes you feel every moment of it. Conversations between the main characters take too long. Not because they have a lot to say, but because each time someone says something, they take a long time to say it, and then there’s a long pause before the other person responds.
There are more than a couple of moments where Sabine and Ahsoka are just looking at each other, to the point that you start to wonder if the writers are trying to hint that they were a couple, which was never in any of the shows.
Not surprisingly, as much as Filoni seems obsessed with recreating every visual aspect of Rebels as he can, he doesn’t seem to give a damn about preserving the lore from his own shows.
There’s a LOT of slowly walking to a place. Even the lightsaber fights are tedious. One fight is dragged out because they’re trying to build suspense of hoping that help will arrive (and how the character even knows that the other person is in trouble in the first place makes no sense).
And don’t get me started about lightsabers. Back in my day, if you got stabbed with a lightsaber, you didn’t get back up. That’s all I’m saying.
Even with all of that, there will be plenty of scenes that will immediately remind you of something that you’ve seen before and, more than likely, was done better in other Star Wars films.
Here’s another strange thing. There are several shots that seem to linger on Sabine’s butt. At first, you think, okay, why are there gratuitous butt shots in a Star Wars show. But, then, you realize, it’s not that. They’re doing it because they’re simply too lazy to have a second camera switch to another point of view. Maybe they didn’t want to show Sabine staring off into space, only, she does plenty of that as it is.
Later, after watching some YouTube videos, I learned that at least two of the shots are like that simply because they’re recreating an animated sequence straight out of Rebels.
Another big problem with this show is what’s NOT in the show.
“He Who Must Not Be Named”
Technically, this takes place at some point after the destruction of the second Death Star, Vader and the Emperor. So, at this point in time, the original Star Wars characters are very much alive and kicking. Don’t expect there to be a single mention of them, and especially Luke, hero of the Republic and the last true remaining Jedi. I would also expect the Republic in general to be left out of this, even though technically the return of the last Imperial Grand Admiral could represent an existential threat to the New Republic. Instead, I expect the trio of main characters to go chasing the bad guys on their own.
Die hard Rebels fans and/or Dave Filoni fanboys will probably love every minute of the show. Filoni throws plenty of elements from the animated shows in here. Even so, I can’t imagine even those fans would be all that excited to see their favorite Rebels characters completely neutered from their animated counterparts.
If you never watched the animated series, though, I’m not sure you’ll find much here. There might be something in the later episodes if you’re a fan of the prequels. There are rumors that there may be a couple of flashbacks between Ahsoka and Anakin (oh yeah, spoiler — Ahsoka was Anakin’s padawan during the Clone Wars).
Filoni desperately wants the show to be taken seriously, but at the same time, it clings to its animated roots so much that you can’t take the show seriously at all. It’s certainly no “adult” Star Wars; Filoni doesn’t have the writing chops that Andor creator Tony Gilroy does.
In fact, if you want to see an original take on Star Wars, skip Ahsoka and go watch Andor (who was Andor? Remember Rogue One? Remember that guy with the cool robot sidekick? That’s him. Don’t watch it for him — the larger story is way better).
Or, if you want to learn about Thrawn, skip all of Disney Star Wars and go pick up Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire series. It’s way better than anything Lucasfilm has cranked out in the last decade since Disney took over.
But, if you simply want to watch more bland, boring shite with the Disney Star Wars name attached to it, Ahsoka can fill up a few hours of your time while you reminisce about the good old days when Star Wars was actually good.