REVIEW: The Season Finale of ‘Ahsoka’

With a dense eighth and final episode directed by Rick Famuyiwa, the first season of Ahsoka has come and gone; however, much like seasons of its animated prequel series, Star Wars Rebels, just as much as–if not more than–was left in limbo for the next adventure as was resolved. In many ways, “The Jedi, The Witch and The Warlord” feels much like the second acts in each of the Star Wars trilogies (Attack of the Clones, The Empire Strikes Back and The Last Jedi). Tough choices are made, heroes are separated and there’s a strong sense the bad guys won though a glimmer of hope remains. And so perhaps, given creator Dave Filoni’s deep understanding of the style, structure and rhythm of Star Wars, Ahsoka will eventually be seen as the second act of the New Republic era of stories that Filoni and Jon Favreau have been crafting for Disney Plus and which will eventually culminate in an as yet undated theatrical release. However, as is true about nearly every Star Wars project, its place in the even larger narrative is incredibly relevant as well.

Taken as a complete series, Ahsoka seems to fill three roles. It serves–potentially equally but certainly simultaneously–as a sequel to Star Wars Rebels, the second act of the New Republic era of stories and a prequel to the sequel trilogy or, at the very least, the Rise of the First Order. Set around 11 ABY, Ahsoka takes place roughly 10 years after the events of Star Wars Rebels and, coincidentally, roughly 10 years before the establishment of The First Order which makes the series–and perhaps the character–the fulcrum on which the fate of the galaxy pivots. Given its equidistance (and there’s no way any of that is coincidental) between the before and the after, it was requisite that it service both the before and the after and the finale did just that. Thus the Talzin Sword, the Mortis gods, Morai and any other Rebels callbacks were just as front and center as Thrawn’s next step in becoming heir to the Empire, the open-endedness of what awaits Ahsoka, Sabine, Baylan and Shin on Peridea and any other foreshadowing of the next story in the New Republic timeline. So just as The Empire Strikes Back is the second act of the original trilogy and the original trilogy is the second act of the Skywalker Saga, Ahsoka finds itself as the second act of a second act because as begun by George Lucas and continued by Filoni, Star Wars stories will always fit a role in a familiar pattern.

(L-R): Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), Huyang (David Tennant) and Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) in Lucasfilm’s STAR WARS: AHSOKA, exclusively on Disney+. ¬©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved

Despite falling into that pattern and feeling very much like the Star Wars fans around Filoni’s age grew up with, Ahsoka also feels like something brand new and all its own. The finale continued Filoni’s career-long crusade to expand the nature of the Force. Sabine finally tapped into the Force (is it stronger there than in the “home” galaxy?), Thrawn and the Great Mothers set a course for Dathomir (what exactly is in that cargo hold?) and Baylan’s last scene teased a potentially monumental deep dive into the origins of the Force through a further exploration of The Ones (is Peridiea where they left The Mother when they went to Mortis?). It also left Sabine, Ahsoka, Baylan and Shin in a galaxy far, far away from THE galaxy far, far away allowing for the potential for stories (past, present and future) to be set there. In that way, and taken as a whole, Ahsoka feels expansive both within the framework created by Lucas and outside of that same framework where it seems Filoni is becoming more comfortable carving his own path. And just as it seems the right path for Ahsoka–as the appearance of Morai indicate–to explore Peridea and all its strange unknonws, it seems the right path for Filoni, as well.

As the finale of an eight-episode season, “The Jedi, The Witch and The Warlord” did plenty to resolve what was unquestionably the biggest question: will Ezra get home? He did and got to wear his favorite disguise in doing so; however, given Ezra’s eturn went hand-in-hand with the inevitable return of the Heir to the Empire and where the galaxy is bound to end up in a decade, his happy reunion with Hera and Chopper will certainly be short-lived. But Ahsoka’s role in the larger narrative, while still to be fully realized, is clearly greater than one season’s worth of stories but if the first season is any measure of what to expect from more, fans should be excited. If, in fact, Ahsoka is the fulcrum upon which the fate of the galaxy pivots, the finale just tipped the scales: up is headed down and down is headed up and balance will be elusive if not impossible for everyone along for the ride…including you.

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