Ahsoka: Enthusiasts of the animated series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars: Rebels” will undoubtedly find satisfaction in the debut of Disney+’s latest addition to the “Star Wars” saga, titled “Ahsoka.” Positioned within the same time frame as the third installment of “The Mandalorian,” this fresh eight-episode series tracks the journey of ex-Jedi Knight Ahsoka Tano (brought to life by Rosario Dawson).
Following her survival of the Jedi purge and liberation from the clutches of her former mentor, Darth Vader (also known as Anakin Skywalker), Ahsoka embarks on a mission to safeguard the fledgling New Republic. LucasFilm, bolstered by their accomplishments with “The Mandalorian,” “The Book of Boba Fett,” and the captivatingly somber “Andor,” has undeniably hit their stride with live-action “Star Wars” offerings. This achievement is further elevated by Dave Filoni, co-creator of the Ahsoka character alongside George Lucas, who has penned all eight episodes of “Ahsoka,” while also directing two of them.
For those deeply entrenched in the expansive “Star Wars” universe, “Ahsoka” presents a warm reconnection with familiar lore. And for newcomers, the series adeptly offers succinct insights to swiftly acquaint them with this distinct narrative strand. The tale of “Ahsoka” commences amidst conflict. Though once apprehended and sentenced to trial by Ahsoka herself, Morgan Elsbeth (played by Diana Lee Inosanto), the former Magistrate of Calodan and an advocate for the Empire, refuses to yield to the New Republic. Instead, she employs a long-term strategy that includes the power of the Nightsisters’ magic.
With mercenaries Baylan Skoll (the late Ray Stevenson) and Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno) at her side, Morgan envisions liberating her master Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) from exile, igniting a fresh conflict. On her part, Ahsoka’s motivation stems more from duty than from a thirst for power.
After Thrawn’s exile into hyperspace, Ezra Bridger (Eman Esfandi), a trainee Jedi, sacrificed himself and was hurled across the galaxy as well. Owing to Ezra’s past act of saving her life, Ahsoka feels indebted to him. Like Morgan, Ahsoka’s sights are set on unearthing the star map that leads to the location of Ezra and Thrawn.
While the initial two episodes, provided to reviewers, deliver a plethora of lightsabers, battles, and starships, the core of “Ahsoka” is undeniably its characters. Dawson embodies a commanding yet haunted demeanor as the meticulous and reflective humanoid. Devotees of the Togrutan warrior will undoubtedly celebrate Dawson’s meticulous portrayal of Ahsoka, capturing her phrasing, pacing, and precision in battle maneuvers.
This series delves into the intricacies of Ahsoka’s multifaceted history, including her ties to Anakin and her former apprentice Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), who shares a history with Ezra. While “Ahsoka” may not be as dark as “The Mandalorian,” its emotional depth is profound. Given its setting in the early years of the New Republic, the perils of war and loss serve as a foundational element of the narrative. Characters are driven by what has been wrested from them.
Despite Ahsoka’s inclination to keep her emotions guarded, Sabine’s persistence and bold determination often clash with her previous mentor. The divergent approaches of Ahsoka and Sabine to their shared endeavor, alongside the steadfast and nurturing presence of General Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), form a harmonious triad. The company also includes the millennia-old droid, Professor Huyang (David Tennant), and Syndulla’s astromech, Chopper.
Although the core essence of “Ahsoka” aligns with past “Star Wars” content, distinct elements set the series apart. It’s the first show to focus on non-human characters, and its female-led cast adds a visually striking dimension born from a relatively niche sector of the universe. With Filoni at the helm, alongside exquisite cinematography and Kevin Kiner’s exceptional score, the series seamlessly integrates into the extensive IP.
Like “The Mandalorian,” “Ahsoka” soars because it confidently hones in on a singular serialized adventure while permitting the audience to savor its intricate details. Hayden Christensen’s reprisal of his role as Anakin Skywalker and Mikkelsen’s inclusion as the once high-ranking officer of the Galactic Empire, Thrawn, tantalize dedicated “Star Wars” enthusiasts. Mikkelsen previously voiced the character in “Rebels.” These subtle nods serve as an enticement for long-standing fans, even in the episodes seen by critics, without alienating those less versed in galaxies, empires, Jedi, or Padawans.
For individuals previously unengaged by “Star Wars,” the central theme of master and apprentice that underpins “Ahsoka” might not suffice to beckon them into this intricate universe. However, for lifelong aficionados who grasp the significance of “Rebels” and have developed an attachment to one of the franchise’s most iconic female figures, delving deeper into her story and the fates of Thrawn and Ezra is likely to be a transformative experience.