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Ahsoka Season One Review

You go, girl!

Corporate Values

Ahsoka Tano, Dave Filoni’s darling, gets her own spin-off show. Is that a good thing? It’s a safe bet that Ahsoka won’t be the show that breathes life back into Star Wars because Disney has made it clear what its values are after shows like Star Wars: The Book of Boba Fett, Star Wars: Obi-Wan and The Mandalorian: Season 3.

Season 1, Parts 1-3

When Disney dropped Parts 1-3 of this 8-part season onto its streaming platform, fans found much of the same agenda in Star Wars: Ahsoka. The story, written by Dave Filoni, failed so spectacularly it was comedic, like a cold, half-eaten pizza dropped off by an Uber driver stoned out of his mind, ruining a dinner for guests you don’t even want over in the first place.

Master & Apprentice

Part One opens with a New Republic vessel receiving unidentified guests in its hanger bay. Resembling Jedi, this master-and-apprentice duo cut down the ship captain and his security detail. The Force-sensitive warriors are there for Morgan Elsbeth, to help her escape trial under New Republic law and achieve a greater goal. She’s heading operations to make possible the return of Grand Admiral Thrawn. And that’s the excitement in this episode because next on the screen is Ahsoka Tano, searching for a map – (yawn) plot device. Of course, the only person who can open it is (yawn) Sabine. Having talked with Hera, Ahsoka clearly must go to Sabine for help. Sabine might help if the map leads to Ezra Bridger who vanished years ago with Thrawn. Bringing back one potentially means bringing back the other. So, in rescuing Bridger, the heroines must be careful not to also enable the return of Thrawn. But hey, the galaxy’s in good hands.

This episode isn’t though. Sabine is the stereotypical rebel, not in the Original Trilogy sense but in the melodramatic sense. There’s a public event going on in Lothal in honor of Exzra Bridger who helped liberate the planet from the Empire. In Bridger’s absence, Sabine is expected to be there to honor her long-lost friend, but she’s not there. No, she’s too busy looking cool, listening to music and zipping away on her speeder bike, avoiding the attention. New Republic E-Wing escort fighters come alongside, attempting to redirect her back to the event. She gets away anyways because she’s cool. Yeah, you showed them, girl. Such good writing.

Ahsoka Tano arrives on Lothal and speaks to Sabine about the map, how unlocking it could lead to Ezra. With a lot of talking, it’s made clear that Ahsoka has a difficult relationship with Sabine whom she describes as “stubborn and bullish.” As if she has any insights on the matter, Hera reminds Ahsoka how difficult she was to train under Anakin Skywalker. Oh, the talking gets better. Sabine asks Ahsoka if she can take the map home with her to study it, and then, she takes it against Ahsoka’s explicit instructions. Apparently, the map is not only a chance to save Ezra but could prevent a war or something (yawn).

And of course, by taking the map with her, Sabine becomes a target, and two assassin droids raid her home, stealing the map that leads to Ezra and Grand Admiral Thrawn. No one saw that coming. Sabine even fails so spectacularly that she gets stabbed in the gut by a lightsaber, like the hero of old, Qui-Gon Jin, except… She doesn’t die.

Dave Filoni deserves some credit for really delivering some grade-A, melodrama. It’s really up there with General Hospital and All My Children, stuffed with talking, standing around, and predictable action.

Toil and Trouble

But this riveting story doesn’t end there. Oh no. Part Two is where things really heat up with Sabine recovering from her lightsaber wound after bravely dueling Shin Hati, Skoll’s apprentice. Except for Hera who’s there as a hologram, Ahsoka and the Jedi droid are present when Sabine wakes up. There’s more talking, and then Ahsoka goes to Sabine’s home and cuts down the assassin droid, severing its head, and brings it to Sabine for her to extract important information from its memory banks. This part is reminiscent of the riveting scene from The Rise of Skywalker when Ray and co need the information stored inside C3P-O’s memory banks. Such a memorable scene…

Anyway, as predicted, Sabine gets the important information, which reveals that the assassin droid came from the shipyards on Corellia, Han Solo’s home world, but there’s no mention of Han Solo, of course, because that would mean bringing in a competent male into this story where women are empowered. We can’t have that. Of course, Tano and Hera’s next stop is Corellia where the New Republic has its shipyards. Yay! It’s good plot-driven television, not boring at all…

With the star map in their possession, Skoll and his apprentice go with Elsbeth to the planet Seatos where they find ruins crucial to finding Thrawn. Surprisingly, this part of “Toil and Trouble” is where Ahsoka Season 1 sparks genuine intrigue. These ancient stone features were not built by the Jedi, as Skoll astutely observes, and Elsbeth confirms it, further explaining that the ruins are what remains of an ancient people from another galaxy. Skoll recalls the fairy tales about Peridea shared among the younglings at the Jedi Temple, and Elsbeth hints that there was truth in such fairy tales as her loyal followers prepare a device called the Eye of Sion that by appearance is a larger-scale version of the hyper-drive ring that Obi-Wan’s Jedi starfighter used for inter-planetary travel. Skoll orders his apprentice to go with former-Inquisitor Marrok to Corellia where there’s unfinished business.

Arriving at the Corellian shipyards, Tano and Syndulla inspect the facilities and operations, assessing whether former imperial workers are liable to turn on the New Republic. After a lot of talking, they sense that there’s suspicious activity, namely the re-purposing of a Super Star Destroyer hyper-drive core that’s not the proper size for any New Republic ship. With that, imperial loyalists come out of the wood work. Syndulla gets in her Phantom II to chase after a rogue transport, while Tano takes on Marrok and an assassin droid. These experienced characters should make quick work of this trouble, but strangely enough, the trouble proves to be worthy challenges for no apparent reason. The transport gets away, but Syndulla managed to get a tracker on it before it jumps into hyperspace, and Tano takes out the HK droid but fails to stop Marrok who escapes aboard a shuttle.

Let’s get things wrapped up for this delightful trash heap. Syndulla supervises the arrest of the imperial sympathizers by the New Republic police. Tano returns to Lothal to have a short and sweet chit chat with Sabine, and together, they head to the Denab system, where Shin and Marrok took the re-purposed hyperdrive core. Coming out of hyperspace with the core, Skoll, Hati, and Marrok report to Morgan Elsbeth.

Time to Fly

Start here.

What’s Bad About It

Unfortunately, no such sign is evident in this live-action continuation of Star Wars Rebels. An amoral Jedi villain outshines the apprentice of Anakin Skywalker. He’s got presence and delivery where Ahsoka Tano conveys boredom and indifference in the arms-crossed posture she assumes in most of her scenes. She’s no master; she’s barely a character. She’s just poorly written. Or, she’s not well embodied by actress Rosario Dawson. It could be a combination of both.

Ahsoka is the tip of the iceberg of the show’s shortcomings. The pacing in these episodes feels unintentionally flat and slow, as if Filoni’s direction is misfiring on the meaning of the subtext between characters in scenes where there’s more talking to set up the action. Sabine’s motivations, carried over from Star Wars Rebels, are misaligned with the actions she takes in these opening episodes. The plot feels driven not by characters but by plot devices.

Parts Four & Five

Overall, the Ahsoka show is a dud with few redeeming aspects that barely warrant interest from viewers. The episodes Disney dropped a week later were even more dreadful. Outside Lucasfilm and Disney, no one knows how the goose is cooked, but this show seems to suggest a shift to the dark side in Filoni’s writing as soulless, girl power writing continues to spread under the watchful eyes of President Kathleen Kennedy. If not that, Filoni simply wasn’t ready to have his own show. That’s not to say that he had the best of teachers in George Lucas when Lucasfilm was an independent studio, but as it counts now, more than ever with the shelf life of Star Wars hanging in the balance, Filoni’s skills as a writer and director do not do Ahsoka any favors.

Unfortunately for fans, low ratings are not what Disney looks at anymore to decide which shows get a second season, the beauty of a subscription-based business model where gatekeepers of quality content are on the unemployment line.

Published inTelevision