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Star Wars Ahsoka Season 1

Note: This ended up way longer than I expected it to.

Despite efforts to convince me to do otherwise, I can’t handle watching shows in weekly episode instances anymore. Sorry, I just can’t. So the method these days is to simply, wait for them all to be available, then binge them all in a few sittings. I can barely spread these sittings out. For Ahsoka, I watched 4 episodes one night, then a few nights later, I watched two more. It was getting close to my normal time to go to bed, because that’s how old people work. I said to my wife, “I don’t know if I want to watch the last two or wait to watch them later. Then after like a minute, I started the last two. I say the last two because I definitely wasn’t going to watch just one more and leave ONE hanging out there.

This sort of dilemma comes up pretty regularly, though usually it’s already late so waiting wins out.

I want to throw out that this will mostly be a sort of free flow of thoughts with occasional bad jokes and probably quite a few spoilers. My overall spoiler-free thought is that I liked it, though it feels very different from the core Star Wars. There were a lot of new interesting angles. But sticking those angles into the larger picture of the movies feels weird a bit. It’s easy to do this with like, Mando, because he is just some bounty hunter in one corner of the galaxy. This…. Is way more involved, with fleet commanders and the senate and Mon Mothma and Leia-ish, etc.

I should preface also, for the sake of the show, I have not watched Star Wars Rebels. I have seen maybe, half to three-quarters of Clone Wars. I am generally familiar with the characters of Rebels through osmosis of other discussions. I’ve also seen all of the other live-action Star Wars. So, I am familiar with Ahsoka, everyone else is pretty hazy. For my part, Rebels had a Jedi dude, a younger dude who is apparently also a Jedi, a girl Mandalorian (also a Jedi apparently), and a green Twi’lek chick who is somehow not in the profession of “sexy space dancer”. Because every Twi’lek seems to have that job.

I also have plenty of familiarity with Thrawn, mostly from Heir to the Empire, but also I’ve read some of the books in the “current canon”.

Also, FWIW, after watching Ahsoka, it seems Ahsoka is not in Rebels nearly as much as I had assumed. Aside from Rebels, there were a few nods to Mandalorian with mentions of Moff Gideon and nods to the Original Trilogy and Clone Wars with Anakin, including possibly the best episode of the series.

In case you’re reading along and don’t care about spoilers, a general run of the plot is probably in order. Ahsoka is searching for Thrawn, the last of the Empire’s Grand Admirals, suspected dead, due to an event in Rebels, where one of the main heroes there, Ezra Bridger, traps Thrawn and they are basically abducted by space whales to parts unknown. I have not watched the show, I did find this clip on Youtube. I was surprised about the Whales, which also show up in Ahsoka later. Anyway, rumors are flying that Thrawn is alive and has been communicating with a local loyalist named Morgan something, or something Morgan. Ahsoka discovers a special map Macguffin, and meets up with her old friends from Rebels to get help deciphering it. Basically bringing them in with the promise of “Ezra is probably there too.” She goes to Hera, who suggests she go to Sabine.

Ahsoka doesn’t really want to see Sabine, because apparently, Sabine was briefly a padawan of Ahsoka. Sabine doesn’t really want to help Ahsoka, but she’s got a plucky rebellious attitude and wants to find Ezra, whom she sees as a brother. They crack the code, the bad guys get the code after Ahsoka is defeated and Sabine joins them as a prisoner, and the bad guys head off to a distant Galaxy, one that is Far Far FARTHER away.

Ahsoka uses some sort of hyperspace traveling Space whales to follow along, Thrawn honors the bargain made and lets Sabine go onto the distant planet to find Ezra, which she does, Ahsoka finds Sabine, and they all fight Thrawn and Morgan and some sort of Force Witches, though mostly they just fight Morgan. Thrawn escapes stranding Ahsoka and Sabine on the planet with noway back to the proper Star Wars Galaxy.

That’s the gist, there is also a sassy droid, because it’s Star Wars, of course there is. Actually, there are TWO sassy droids but one only hangs around with Hera. Someone invented helpful droids and programmed them for all these specific tasks. Then they decided that was boring and droids should all be sassy and kind of rude and gave them personalities to match this need.

Ahsoka herself is…. Kind of boring honestly. I didn’t watch Rebels but did watch Clone Wars. And she seems a lot more energetic there. I suppose having your former Master become the galaxy’s biggest asshole kind of fucks a person over though. I found her kind of dull in Clone Wars as well. I’m not sure if this is an issue with Rosario Dawson or not either. I think she was just written to be too unemotional, which feels weird because what I remember of her is, that she is pretty impulsive and fairly excitable and she trained under Anakin, who is, well, basically the same. There is a sort of, sub plot where she seems to worry that she will end up like her Master, and become evil, but it really doesn’t shine through as well as it could.

The show’s secondary main character is Sabine Wren. My wife asked if she was related to “the other guy”, which I assumed she meant Mando, because she asked when Sabine finally dug out her armor. She meany the other Wren, Kylo Ren. She may have actually meant Mando, but got the names mixed up a bit. Anyway, no, she isn’t. I don’t know anything about Sabine before, but I assumed with he Mandalorian armor, she was kind of a bad ass warrior type. Turns out, Sabine is kind of a massive fuck up, like all the time.

Like seriously, I kind of want to like her but god does she constantly screw things up. Also, I get that they wanted to show the actress, but she could really take a page from Mando and keep her helmet on more, at least during combat. You have armor that is essentially indestructible, including against Lightsabers. Maybe use it? Anyway, the actress does fine, and the character is fine, I just didn’t think the character was so bad at everything. The main issue I have with this is it makes her age, really unclear. She was in Rebels, which was before A New Hope, not by much, but A New Hope to Jedi is like 4 or 5 years and I think this show is 5 or 10 years after Jedi, so basically, we’re looking at 15 years, probably. Even if the Rebels characters skew younger, I would guess she is like 15 or so minimum in that show, so this Sabine is 30 something, and she is hailed as a hero in battle (literally during Ahsoka her introduction is a ceremony in her honor), and she has had plenty of time to sort of, hone up her abilities.

She should be better. She doesn’t need to be perfect, or super amazing, but even during basic combat she feels weak.

Hera seemed cool and I generally like Mary Elizabeth Winstead. It seems a bit irresponsible to drag her kid out on a secret mission though. He seemed to mostly exist for fanservice. She actually added some unexpected change of pace dynamic to the story that I liked though. Unlike Sabine, she is competent, and in charge of a New Republic Security force. She helps the heroes and shows up frequently, but she also is often doing it, from afar, because she does have a job to do. She does run off at one point to provide assistance against orders, but it, reasonably, doesn’t go so far that she heads off on the whole “special trip to another galaxy” after Thrawn and Ezra.

I mentioned above trying to decide if I wanted to watch the last few episodes, and when deciding, my wife harassed me that I, “Just want to watch the hot chicks some more,” while also making a comment about Hera’s tentacles, and wondering if she uses them for “other things”. Considering every other Twi’lek seems to have the job of “sexy dancer”, then I would have to assume, the answer is yes.

The last of the hero characters we care about is Ezra Bridger. But I’d like to side not about how weird it was that they kept using everyone’s full names. “Ezra Bridger” and “Sabine Wren” being the most repetitious. Anyway, he only shows up for the last few episodes. I liked him overall, it was fun watching him fight along side Sabine without a saber like a Jedi Monk. I do wonder why he so adamantly refused to take the saber from Sabine, given it’s apparently his old saber. I’m sure there is some backstory there from Rebels. I sort of thought maybe he was just, maybe beyond the need of a saber in his Force use, but later he slaps together a saber aboard Ahsoka’s ship so he can have a weapon.

Something also worth mentioning that I really liked, after Ezra was introduced, it really gave a lot of interesting Dynamics to these different levels of Jedi. You have Ahsoka, who is effectively a fully trained Jedi Knight, I know at some point she got excommunicated from he order during Clone Wars, but she’s basically, fully, officially trained. Then you have Ezra, who seems to be pretty well trained, but trained after Order 66. They used a term for this in the show but I forget what it was, but Ezra (and Sabine) are Jedi trained outside the official structure. Luke would actually be one of these as well. Anyway, Ezra has had a lot of training, in an unofficial capacity. Then you have Sabine, and what I gather from Ahsoka, is that Sabine has, some really light training, and is force-sensitive, but she is basically a newbie. This shows up in a few ways in character actions. For one, despite that he is not nearly as close to him as the other characters are, Ahsoka immediately trusts Ezra in combat. She knows he is capable and competent, despite that he has been stranded on this planet a galaxy away. He’s probably a little rusty, but he knows what he is doing and Ahsoka recognizes this. It’s also interesting to contrast these three with say, Anakin and Obi-wan. Fully trained Jedi Masters. or even Luke, who was trained by two of the best Jedi and comes from a family who is strongly aligned with the force. Ahsoka, Ezra and Sabine fight, they use sabers, but they aren’t nearly as elegant about it as the trained Jedi Masters. There isn’t lots of other stuff flying around, they aren’t really whipping through enemies and slashing them up. Granted it’s all likely a side effect of “show budget vs movie budget”. During the climax, there are these Zombie Stormtroopers, and all I could think was, Anakin and Obi-wan would have hacked right through this group, especially since they are no longer living. Like, literally hacked, limbs, legs, and heads, to disable the undead threat.

On a side note, I hated the zombie Stormtroopers. They were not zombie-like at all, except I think maybe one point, but I just, don’t care for the zombie gimmick at all, and I don’t care for bringing the concept into Star Wars.

This seems like as good of a time as any to bring up the villains. The evil lady, Morgan, was pretty meh. The Witches stuff felt a little too much in the realm of, “You needed to watch Rebels” in terms of needing back story. They could have fixed this by, I dunno, implying they were basically force users of a different style. Which is what I assume at this point. Anyway, she definitely fell into the realm of an unknowing pawn in the grand scheme of things. She acted as if she was important but she never was. At one point these other witches give her some sort of magic sword, and I turned to my wife and commented, “Oh look, now she has something to fight Jedi with”. She never really does anything very witchy though, maybe some Force Lightning would have been nice. The zombie troopers were the product of the three other witches who were hanging around with Thrawn.

Oh right, Thrawn. They needed a better actor. Thrawn is known for being a strategic mastermind, and not so much a combatant, but he also himself looks menacing. This Thrawn looks… not so menacing. His face is way too soft. Every Thrawn depiction in comics, books, toys, etc, he has very structured cheeks and a long tall face. Here’s something that makes this more annoying. So, they picked this guy, because he does the voice of Thrawn on Rebels. Which is a questionable choice given that visuals matter. But I went off to IMDB to check this, and based don’t he actor’s headshot there, he actually DOES have the look to make an alright live-action Thrawn. So basically, it’s a makeup issue. It’s a dumb thing to be hung up on, but all they needed to do was highlight his cheeks a bit more so his head didn’t come off so flat and round.

I also found the way they discussed Thrawn really weird. And I say this, as someone who is familiar with who he is. It’s always been a bit of a weird thing I suppose, it almost applies to all of these characters, but everyone else at least gets little side nods to who they are and how they relate to each other. Thrawn is mentioned in probably every episode, he doesn’t appear until, I think episode 5, out of 8. He spends all of his time hanging out on his Star Destroyer. He is mentioned, repeatedly, as this great threat that could bring about the return of the empire. He does not appear in any of the movies. In his original incarnation, he was primary a post OT character, in the new canon, he is a pre OT character. This series sort of sets up a potential to sort of, re-adapt the “Legacy” books of Heir to the Empire. Basically, his original incarnation.

Anyway, even knowing who is was/is, it’s hard to really feel the weight of his supposed menace, because he just, isn’t very menacing. Maybe part of the problem is that his primarily skill, is just, boring for TV versus a book. He also is very limited in resources here, which he actually brings up a few times. He’s been stranded on this planet for like 10-15 years or something, and his group counts and resources are low, he just has one ship and some witches. He also kind of pushes a few times that his primary goal is to return home, to regain resources, above all else. This is probably the closest we really get to seeing how ruthlessly single focused he can be. There are a few other parts, like how he releases Sabine, making it seem like a nice gesture, but in reality, it’s just more strategy. He can kill her and inflict the wrath of her allies, or he can send her off on a fruitless quest in the wasteland and at worst she serves as a distraction to any other potential problems that may come to find her.

Anyway, the show ends on a cliffhanger where Thrawn returns (along with a hiding Ezra) back to the main galaxy, leaving Ahsoka and Sabine stranded. There is no indication of his plans once he returns, it would be kind of interesting if they had him start setting up the First Order and the grounds for the return of Palpatine and maybe some of this universe can be fleshed out a bit to help maybe redeem the garbage ball that was the Sequel Trilogy movies.

I also have not mentioned Baylan and Shin, at all yet. Which is kind of a tragedy because Baylan is by far the best character in this show. And a bigger tragedy is his actor has passed away so they will have to replace him for the follow up season. Maybe they could CGI something then give him a “Sith Mask”. Sith seem to like masks. Baylan and Shin are not sith though, not explicitly anyway. Baylan is a sort of, disenfranchised survivor of Order 66, and Shin is his apprentice. She is definitely more sith like, having been trained entirely under Baylan after his fall from faith. Baylan has selfish motives, but he also has a lot of decorum about him. He reminds me a LOT of Count Dooku, whom is probably my favorite Star Wars character,. I kind of jokingly referred to Baylan initially as “Fat Dooku”, between his personality and his cape he had early on, and his beard, he really felt like Dooku, except not as slim. He isn’t even particularly “fat,” it just felt like a bad joke. Shin is pretty cool as well, I expected her to fully betray Baylan but it didn’t happen. She seems reasonably skilled, but also is heavily driven by anger and hate. She would definitely be a full sith if there was a sith to join.

He and Shin serve as enforcer mercenaries working for Morgan. Both weild red light sabers, neither uses the Force itself that much. Baylin has some ulterior motive plans for going to the distant planet, which aren’t ever explained, it’s more of a set up for the second season. The pair also have a bit of a split, as Baylin kind of abandons Shin to work on his plans while she faces off against our three hero Jedi. At one point he says to her a line that was something like, “I was around your age when I lost everything” may come back around and bite him in the end. She has kind of been extra screwed over by everyone at this point.

The last thing worth mentioning is probably the little rock crab men. Ok, also maybe a quick nod toward the shogun warrior looking Tusken Raiders. Technically they aren’t Tusken Raiders, but they really come off as just being, “Tusken Raiders in Samurai-ish armor”. The little crab men were basically Ezra’s friends for the last many years of his life. He seems to care about them a lot, though he does sort of abandon them to leave for home as well. This is actually something that comes up sometimes in movies that annoys men, and there is probably a trope name for it. I get that Ezra wants to go home, and I am not sure of his age, I suspect it’s similar to Sabine at “30 something”. At this point, he has been potentially living with these guys for close to half his life. Any real person, will have attachment to these little alien guys. It’s also more recent, so it’s arguably likely he would have MORE attachment to them than his previous life. But then his previous life shows up and it’s like, “See ya later rock crab men!”

Well, sort of.

When the last episode started, I was sure there would be a cliffhanger ending, because there wasn’t enough time to resolve all the plot threads. When they spend half the episode basically, slowly flying their ship along protecting these slow moving crab dudes walking below, it cemented this thought. For some context, they pretty much knew that Thrawn was prepping to leave as soon as possible. Morgan arrived with a Star Destroyer sized Hyperspace ring for long range travel, and Thrawn was all over loading up to leave. I am pretty sure Sabine was around when they discussed this and should know they had 3 days tops to accomplish their mission of Stopping Thrawn. We’re on the last moments of the last day, and they could fly right on over, very rapidly, but instead, they are creeping along protecting this little colony of crab men.

The ship crashes after a battle protecting them, and Ezra says something like, “that’s probably going to slow us now.” Ironically, it actually speeds them up, because at that point they abandon the crab men and head out on the wolf dog mounts that are native to the planet and arrive very rapidly.

Before wrapping up, I want to mention one of my main actual complaints with the plot. It has a lot of “too convenient timing” moments. Ahsoka goes to investigate a shipyard, JUST as the enemies happen to be collecting their illegal large hyperdrive engine. Sabine runs into the crab men, and just HAPPENS to meet the one wearing Ezra’s rebellion insignia necklace. This sort of thing happens, several times throughout the series.

Anyway, overall, I enjoyed the series. It does a good job of feeling a lot like “Old Star Wars” which has a very distinct sort of, Sci-Fi Fantasy feel. It’s not a perfect world Star Trek future, or a near future Earthlike future. It’s basically, a fantasy story, with some technology. There is a bit where they are searching for Ahsoka by basically flying ships around looking for her body.

Oh, which reminds me of the last thing I wanted to discuss that I completely forgot. Anakin Skywalker. They had Hayden Christian back as Anakin, and it was such a good little series of moments. Ahsoka gets defeated by Baylan and has a sort of, “standard movie moment of reflection” vision quest. Where Anakin shows up. He isn’t quite a “Force Ghost” because some of the things he says implies that he has no control or idea what’s happening with the vision quest, which involves flashbacks to some of Ahsoka’s past. He also doesn’t seem to really know that he falls to the dark side, he’s more just a hallucination guiding her. Part of her fear, and why she gave up teaching Sabine, is that she (Ahsoka) might become like her master. Anakin of course, becomes Darth Vader, the most menacing Sith in the galaxy. Ahsoka knows they share a lot of similar personality traits. To some extent, this also kind of shows WHY she is so sober in her later years depicted in the show. That history is pretty traumatic. But the whole sequence is great especially these moments where Anakin flashes to Vader briefly, and later when he sort of turns on her and suddenly has a red saber. It’s all just some great symbolism of Ahsoka’s fears.