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 Intro – A 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”).
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.
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.