Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Ahsoka - Master and Apprentice

A live-action adaptation of Star Wars Rebels in all but name, the first episode of Ahsoka continues the path we saw Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson) on during her appearance in The Mandalorian: a search for Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen). I do love me some Star Wars Rebels, and seeing the characters and locales of the show lovingly recreated is certainly a feather in Ahsoka's cap. A fully realized live-action Lothal, complete with Loth-Cats, is a joy to behold. With the lone exception of The Last Jedi, for me Rebels is the best property Star Wars has produced in the last 40 years. That's not to say I didn't have some problems with this first episode (such as bringing back the hidden map idea used to mixed results in The Force Awakens).

While taking no time to explain how an ancient map hidden millennia ago in a temple could somehow provide the location of a character last seen only a few years ago, the episode stars with Ahsoka Tano retrieving just such a map from a hidden temple with more than a few similarities to that of the Jedi Temple on Lothal. Unable to unlock it (despite it apparently just being the Star Wars equivalent of a Rubik's Cube), Ahsoka will seek the counsel of some familiar faces in Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo).

I've had a crush on Mary Elizabeth Winstead since being introduced to the actress in 2006's Bobby, but I'll have to admit I find her casting here baffling as the more ethnic Twi'lek aspects of the character appear to have been removed completely. Also, for a show that is playing up the fan service of Star Wars Rebels to the hilt, not giving us either the Ghost or a single mention of the character's son feels odd. Given what she's asked of, Winstead is a strong enough actress to step into, and carry, the role, but, for me, it's and example where the series went a little too far towards stunt casting rather than finding the right embodiment of the character.

The most confusing aspect of the opening episode is setting up the non-Force sensitive Sabine as a former apprentice to Ahsoka. While, thankfully, it appears the show didn't just completely ignore Rebels' history and decide to give Sabine Force abilities, it's a choice that's certainly unexpected. Two episodes in to the series, I'm still on the fence as to Bordizzo's depiction of Sabine, more so for the writing of the character than her performance. Using an entire quarter of the show's run as a preamble to get us caught back up to the ending of Star Wars Rebels and the search for Ezra Bridger (Eman Esfandi) and Thrawn is certainly one choice the creators could have made, although it wouldn't have been mine. 

As for our villains, the opening episode gives us the return of Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto, reprising her role from The Mandalorian) and the introduction of two Force wielders in Baylan Skoll (Ray Stevenson) and Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno) who the show has yet to nail down as simply former jedi turned mercenary or actual Sith, seemingly hedging its bets for a later reveal (although the presence of an Inquisitor does point strongly in one direction). The trio's plan to bring back Thrawn appears, at least, to play on ideas introduced in the final season of Star Wars Rebels about the idea to travel across galaxies (and time, but that doesn't seem to apply here) using ancient pathways left by a race long gone. I'm curious to see how those ideas will be further explored in Ahsoka.

  • Title: Ahsoka - Part One: Master and Apprentice
  • wiki: link

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