“an expansive adventure worthy of the galaxy far far away universe”
Review by Jennifer AJ
Long before Mandalorian and Baby Yoda cemented their positions as Star Wars’ most beloved non-film characters, there was Ahsoka. Created by Dave Filoni for the animated series The Clone Wars, Ahsoka was Anakin Skywalker’s precocious padawan during the time between Episodes II and III. Now, the rebellious Jedi finally gets her own live-action iteration with Filoni back on the helm and Rosario Dawson inhabiting the role.
The 8-episode series finds the titular head-tailed Jedi, now mellowed with age, after the fall of the Galactic Empire. We briefly saw her traipse around with Mando and Grogu, but Ahsoka is on a new mission now. She’s out to stop a band of Empire loyalists from retrieving a powerful foe called Grand Admiral Thrawn, believed to be stranded in another galaxy. This new mission reunites her with a score of New Republic heroes and an estranged former padawan.
For The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels fans, Ahsoka is a dream come true. This is essentially a continuation of the two Filoni-created animated series, bringing back beloved figures from the two shows in live-action forms. Novices need not worry, though: the show conveniently peppers adequate expositions to help them keep up with the extensive backstories.
As a standalone, the show is chock full of terrific characters with great performances. Natasha Liu Bordizzo as Sabine Wren totally steals the show. Cynical like Han and stubborn like Luke, it’s utterly compelling to watch Ahsoka’s former apprentice stumble through her Force training as she grapples with deep-seated anger. Voiced by Doctor Who’s David Tennant, Huyang the droid provides the show with ample comic relief through his deadpan killer lines. It is also packed with charismatic villains, led by Ray Stevenson’s stoically menacing Baylan Skoll. Bonus: the return of a crucial character from the film saga (no spoiler!) shall please every Star Wars diehard.
The only puzzling decision the show has made so far is positioning the titular character Ahsoka more like a supporting mentor to Sabine rather than the star of her own show. More than halfway through the show, she remains a detached presence, played with such aloof demeanour.
This choice fills us with a great deal of confusion indeed.
Regardless of that blemish, the show offers an expansive adventure worthy of the galaxy far far away universe. The introduction of cool new planets and creatures gives the show – and the franchise – some renewed sense of wonder. It also deepens the mythology of Star Wars in really meaningful ways – as expected when franchise stalwart Filoni is in charge. The storylines open up the possibility of what Star Wars can be going forward: more philosophical and diverse, less repetitive Chosen One conceit.
Cinematically, the show’s ambience is truly epic. It has fantastic cinematography with lots of exhilarating lightsabre combats and thrilling aerial sequences. The world is well realized – with well crafted costuming, hair-makeup, and production design. The score adds another dimension of grandeur, evoking classic John Williams with some elements of ancient mysticism and Asian martial arts cinema influence.
Despite its animated origin, the series appears to be one of Lucasfilm’s most well-rounded entries in a while. It is evocative of the studio’s best outputs: part Indiana Jones, part Original Trilogy, part Prequel Trilogy (the best elements), and just a bit of Andor. Like The Mandalorian, the series proves that the franchise no longer needs to tether itself to the Skywalkers. It captures the essence of Star Wars with its respectful treatment of the mythology, wonderful cast of characters and top notch production values. The Force is strong with this one!
You can catch Ahsoka’s galaxy-hopping adventures on Disney+.
Published on September 18th, 2023. Written by Jennifer Ariesta for Television Heaven.