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Month: September 2023

Ahsoka Episode 6 Review

Thrawn’s Return

After a snore-fest of episodes, the Ahsoka show finally gets to Grand Admiral Thrawn’s highly anticipated live-action entrance. The villains are stacked in this episode, and the writing is as reliably good as the Millennium Falcon’s hyperdrive motivator.

Baylan Skoll, The Real Star

Before Thrawn makes the episode less of a drag, Baylan Skoll and his apprentice (and Sabine) land on Peridia, a creepy planet in a galaxy far, far away. No joke. The Great Mothers greet them, scowls and evil intent in their painted cultish faces. This scene has real meat as almost all, except Sabine, bring weight and presence, a welcome upgrade from Sabine and Ahsoka’s scenes thus far. Rosario Dawson sinks the show further into the forgettable when she’s on screen. Meanwhile, Baylan Skoll and his apprentice snap the viewership back to attention with depth, nuance, and complexity, suggesting a well-organized absence of information. We’re drawn in. Every time they appear on screen, they pull viewership from lifeless dialogue back into a tease of what Star Wars could have been without Kathleen Kennedy’s leadership.

Peaking viewership interest, Baylan speaks of a “cycle” that he wishes to end, referring to the fallen Jedi Order and the defeated Empire. The agenda he’s concealing brings intrigue not yet seen in a Star Wars show or Star Wars movie. From the beginning, the consistency of his character suggests, if not promises, a payoff by the season’s end. This mystery behind Skoll’s meditative observations of Peridia easily steals attention from Sabine’s main objective, finding Ezra Bridger.

Ezra Bridger’s Live-Action IntroA KK Masterpiece

The live-action introduction of Ezra Bridger is laughable. Upon seeing Sabine for the first time in years, Ezra is relaxed, like smoking a pipe on the front porch. Finally, the man she’s entered an alien galaxy to find stands at the entrance of a hut, arms crossed, smiling. To express the fulfillment of her hope of seeing him again one day, it wasn’t joy at the first sight of him or a rush into his arms. No, she reacts more in keeping with feminist “strength”; she cracks a smile and leans a little. Never mind that she’s found him in another galaxy. Never mind that she traded the fate of her galaxy to see him again. Who wrote this pile of bantha fodder? It’s hard not to root for Baylan and his apprentice when the heroes are this lame. Kathleen Kennedy had a hand in this masterpiece.

Thrawn Is Live-Action, Finally

All that aside, the show wouldn’t exist without one cold, calculating, blue mastermind of war. When Grand Admiral Thrawn finally enters, the rest of the show pales in comparison. Unfortunately, that’s not saying much, if anything, given the show’s lackluster execution. Nonetheless, the actor playing him, Lars Mikkelsen, does not disappoint. His presence and performance embody the character, giving Thrawn this swift, effortless intelligence, cunning, and precision. Thrawn deserves worthy opposants, which this show severely lacks.

Next to Thrawn and allied with him are the “Great Mothers,” Dathomirian witches. Their eerie presence and Thrawn’s cold precision only enrich the show’s struggling narrative. They threaten the good guys, and it finally feels like it. The stakes are more emotional now. If only the good guys were as compelling (oops, “good girls”).

The Sin

All these improvements side, the show commits an egregious sin. Its titular character shows no emotion. Has Kathleen Kennedy been making creative decisions again? Introduced in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Ahsoka was reckless and stubborn, and she became a fan favorite in time. The way Filoni writes her in her show feels like a betrayal. She’s sidelined in this episode emotionally and structurally, and the show is named after her. No one from another show barges in on her party here, but this awkward shift in focus has hurt another show, The Book of Boba Fett. Disney characters feel a little loose, barging in and derailing established shows.

Ahsoka Is Another Nail in Star Wars’ Coffin

The writing only further condemns the franchise to death. If this pattern continues, the acquisition of Disney will go down as the most unforgettable failure in Hollywood history. That’s ironic, given how Star Wars rose to prominence so profoundly and dramatically. It was the cinematic game changer of the industry. The first fruit of its downfall was The Force Awakens. No one wanted to believe the acquisition spelled doom for the franchise. Eight years later, Disney’s blind demolition of the franchise is disgraceful and maddening. The franchise is far, far away from what it was; it’s now a bland, corporate-driven, female-centric brand, promoting emotionless, uncompelling stick-figure characters in an insulated campaign against the misogyny of its industry.

A Theory

As a final note, the writing of Ahsoka and Sabine compared to the writing of Baylan and Thrawn and the Great Mothers provides a stark contrast. It almost hints at what might be stirring behind the prison doors of Disney’s self-destructing castle. It’s as if Filoni intentionally writes certain characters poorly and gives others richer dialogue as a show of favoritism. Perhaps he’s crying for help. Filoni, seated at his million-dollar desk at Lucasfilm, can cry the fans a river and build a bridge to get over it.

What the Future Could Hold

Time will tell if the truth gets out. With enough distance from the execution of the modern myth of Star Wars, a documentary will perhaps be made about how ideology and identity politics cost Kathleen Kennedy and Disney everything. Disney’s castle isn’t closed yet, but when it does, the fans will be waiting to weld it shut, letting all the millionaires inside eat their money, delaying the inevitable.

I Have a Bad Feeling About This (I Wish It Was Over)

What’s left is to wait and see how this season wraps the story. What can go wrong between now and then? If Ahsoka sitting in the space whale’s mouth for the long journey across space is any indication, it’s a lot. One certainty looms over the Ahsoka show: no one will care after Season One. After Baylan Skoll gets his due, Disney will have as much defense for continuing the series as Padme did for staying with the one who slaughtered children. His name was Anakin Skywalker.

Ahsoka Episodes 4-5 Review

The Rise of a Pattern

It’s anyone’s guess why the Disney brand is sinking like the Titanic, slowly and tragically, for some to watch in horror, having loved the golden age of Mulan, Sleeping Beauty, The Lion King, and Aladin, and for others to celebrate after Disney subverted their favorite characters to push new, cardboard characters into the spotlight.

This far into Dave Filoni’s Ahsoka show, it’s a perplexing show of stupidity why the Disney bosses allowed such a poorly written show onto the platform. Then again, they’ve made similar choices with Marvel and Pixar, so they must have reasons. Either that, or they don’t have a clue and won’t admit it to themselves, even though everyone on the outside knows.

The Bad

The show has a pattern now. Virtually all of Ahsoka’s scene with her team of female empowerment feel lazy in their dialogue and directionless in the drama. Filoni seems to have not the foggiest clue how to show rather than tell, opting instead to have characters either state the obvious or merely re-state plot details from one moment to the next. It’s as if Filoni, the son George Lucas never had, lost control of his show when Jon Favreau removed the training wheels after The Mandalorian. Filoni has no bearing on how to gauge the interest of his Star Wars Rebels fandom, whether they’re bored to tears or clapping at what he assumes is clever dialogue.

The Ahsoka show violates a basic rule of writing: The information the audience already knows, repeat it not. Ahsoka learns of Sabine’s fate by listening through the Force, but her fate had already played out entirely in a previous scene, leaving the audience to wait for Ahsoka to catch up. There’s no better way to bring the story to a screeching halt and disengage the view with a full stop.

Sometimes, the acting rescues the audience from checking their watches in a poorly written show. Not so here with Rosario Dawson and Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s performances, which feel like they’re putting in minimal effort as they wait for roles worthy of their talent. It’s hard to tell who is more bored: the actors on screen or the viewer tuning in. If this writing keeps up, no one with a Disney+ subscription will beg for the strikes to be over. Because either way, it’ll be bad writing.

One can imagine part of the problem being Kennedy calling the Star Wars: The Clone Wars veteran into her den to shove a quota of female characters that she expects him to bake into his scripts for the show. It’s hard to imagine the same writer credited as creator for Ahsoka being credited as writer for the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Maybe it’s animation versus live-action. Whatever the case, everyone thought Filoni was ready to go solo. Ahsoka makes that abundantly incorrect.

The Good

The silver lining continues to be Baylan Skoll and the surprise cameo of Anakin Skywalker. These two heavy-weight characters bring weight and gravitas. Their performances spark that Star Wars spirit, if only briefly, before cutting back to bad, high school writing with the empowered women sporting boyish haircuts and Spirit-quality headgear. Baylan Skoll and Anakin Skywalker’s scenes tease the bruised heart of any fan who imagines what Star Wars could have been like in an alternate timeline where Kennedy drove her own company into the ground and had to flip burgers to make a living instead of smiling behind her desk at Lucasfilm. With Filoni at the helm, it’s anyone’s guess as to what could have gone wrong, whether it was Filoni writing under pressure or directing actresses who accused his direction of being patriarchal.

Whatever Filoni has up his sleeves for these male characters won’t equal the lackluster sum of the show’s parts. If five episodes in, this eight-episode show can’t prove there’s life in the scripts, Filoni’s live-action debut might as well be the scene of the crime for all to know where and when Star Wars breathed its last.


What momentum the show gains with Baylan and Skywalker gets cast to the wind when Ahsoka and her Kennedy-certified female bosses stink up the screen. Where they show up, the energy flatlines. How much she’s giving the show in her performance, Winstead might as well look directly into the camera, break the fourth wall, and say, “I got this job because Ewan McGregor is Obi-Wan, and he left his wife to be my husband when we’re not pretending.” Their feminist Hollywood propaganda makes for great national news but horrible streaming content for the trans-dressed Disney platform.

Ahsoka Episodes 1-3 Review

The Meaning of This

To fans, these opening episodes of Dave Filoni’s Disney+ show, Ahsoka, decided whether the galaxy far, far away would be raised to new life or sink further into the woes of life support as a dying modern myth. Star Wars brought life to pessimistic cinema once upon a time, redefining the cinematic landscape of its day and changing American culture for decades. Now, it’s in the hands of the creator’s protégé, Filoni, who must prove to fans that there’s still a shred of competence at the helm even with the IP in Disney’s castle where lights are going out everywhere.

What’s Bad About It

There’s no such competence with this continuation of Star Wars Rebels in live action. The story Filoni delivers is like a cold, half-eaten pizza dropped off by an Uber driver stoned out of his mind. An amoral Jedi villain has more presence than Anakin’s apprentice, whose presence is cold and mute on screen. Her arms-crossed posture communicates not a masterful reserve but boredom and indifference. The character subtext between the master (Ahsoka) and apprentice (Sabine) is paper thin and makes the deliberately slow pace of these episodes feel accidentally hollow. Sabine’s motivations are incoherent with her actions, and the plot feels like an A-to-B-to-C exercise in putting the viewers to sleep. It’s as if Filoni has surrendered to his Force-is-Female, creatively challenged boss, Kathleen Kennedy, writing to stay cozy in his desk chair at Lucasfilm, instead of preserving the IP that elevated his career in animation under Lucas’ employment.

Moving Forward

The only redeeming element to this show, thus far, appears in episode 3; it has broader implications for the franchise. This show may offer diminishing rays of hope for fans wanting to love Star Wars again if it doesn’t become character-driven soon.

My First Novel – Day 1-2 of 106

That’s right. GET OUT, novel.

I want you out of my head and onto the page!

I am writing The Eternal Moon. Day 1 was yesterday. It’s exciting to finally get inside the world of my protagonist, Jordan Rush, and explore his story.

As the title implies, this story is not contemporary. It’s science fiction. And I have had this story in my head since 2018. It’s not easy lugging around a novel idea. Those backburners can get worn out. It’s also not good to grow a story in the mind because it has no life without getting onto the page for others to read.

So, I’m kicking it out, all 90,000 words.

This stage marks the beginning of a new chapter for me. Since I was 15, I wanted to be a writer. Before that, I wanted to be a filmmaker, but that was an even more expensive pursuit than my golfing hobby, which I didn’t take seriously enough to let it burn a hole in my pocket. At that age, filmmaking felt like too much of a financial risk. And no, I was not thinking about short films at that age. My appetite was bigger than my stomach. I wanted to make big-budget films to fit my big, lofty ideas. Writing became my subsequent best pursuit, and my love for words has grown.

Becoming a good writer, though, takes hard work and years of practice. And practice I did. That’s all I did when I wasn’t playing a video game or watching a movie. I wrote.

Being a writer makes the future feel uncertain. Stability matters for any human being. Creatives, like me, take on a lot of pressure to perform well. And writing a novel makes that a thousand times harder to live with. And there’s no stability in writing. At least, it’s not given. It’s forged by the hard work of the writer after the hard work of writing the novel.

When you love something, like writing, there’s no good feeling associated with not doing it. It’s a love/hate relationship. Ironing out the hate part takes deep self-awareness and self-discipline.

The drive to write this novel hit me on a day in April, which day I don’t recall. One thing has led to another, and the progress has flashed past me like ten miles of urban life on the train to Seattle. That day – that evening, rather – my girlfriend, Brianne, was working on something behind me, while I sat down at my computer. I took a deep breath and started typing. 20 minutes later, I had over a thousand words about the backstory to my novel. The next day, I doubled my word count.

I had never felt such a blazing fire of creative momentum. The ideas poured out of me, and it felt so good I put other tasks aside to push my creativity forward.

So, looking ahead, I decided on a deadline. Giving myself a few months to write this novel, I marked December 15 as the day I would stop writing to survey the words left in my wake.

Yesterday, I wrote 450 words.

Today, I’m procrastinating. The girlfriend and I flew to Idaho for the weekend, and now, we’re at the airport, waiting to get on the next flight to Seattle. So, we’ve been busy.

My promise to myself to write, though, stands. I’m so passionate about this story, I don’t feel reluctant to press forward. I will get this novel written, no matter what.

It will see the light of day. It has been served an EVICTION notice.

GET OUT. Go live rent-free in the reader’s mind. They won’t mind.