Every Star Wars live-action TV show has tried (with varying degrees of success) to push the franchise into a new territory, whether it is a space western, gripping political drama, or criminal underworld romp. But Ahsoka feels like the first time live-action Star Wars TV is trying to just … be Star Wars, encompassing everything we’ve seen in the franchise, from the politics to the lightsaber duels and a threat to the entire galaxy, while bringing back the childlike humor of the movies.
Nowhere is this more evident than in Chopper making the jump to live-action. Introduced in Rebels, Chopper is the best droid in the entire franchise (sorry, R2). He is an annoying, chaotic, Danny DeVito–like droid who loves to prank people and also to maim and murder. It’s the kind of comic-relief character that works best in cartoon form, so it is surprising that — unlike most of the other animated Star Wars characters that made the jump to live-action — Chopper acts and looks just like his animated counterpart. He has more mobility and expression than every other droid we’ve seen, as Chopper waves his little arms around like he was flipping off every sentient being in the galaxy. And unlike R2, he speaks! Kind of — he mostly just sarcastically talks back at Hera.
Despite the goofy humor of a chaotic droid gremlin, the episode has a big sense of urgency and scale. Ahsoka is not only picking up the threads from Rebels, but also the threads from all the Mando-Verse shows and taking them in a thrilling direction. Just like The Clone Wars and Rebels helped make a better bridge connecting the prequels and the original trilogy, so is Ahsoka building up into a fascinating connecting point between the fall of the Empire in the original trilogy and the rise of the First Order in the sequels.
After a still-living Sabine (it helps that lightsabers instantly cauterize wounds) tracks the last of the assassin droids to the New Republic shipyard in Corellia, Hera and Ahsoka head there to find out if Morgan’s businesses are still active there, and we get what feels essentially like a continuation of the rather odd episode of The Mandalorian, “The Convert,” and its portrayal of New Republican politics in Coruscant. Turns out the Imperials didn’t exactly disappear after the fall of the Empire; they are still involved in every level of the New Republic government and all its industries. It’s the only way to be operational, the director says, and he promises that the average worker doesn’t care about politics but simply wants to get paid. And yet, things aren’t exactly right. It is not the New Republic, but private investors who get first pickings of every piece of tech they find in dismantled Imperial ships — quite suspicious, if you ask me.
Things get even worse when Hera notices a hyperdrive core being loaded onto a transport, one so big it can’t fit any ship the New Republic is building. Somehow, any information on the core is classified, even from a general like Hera. When Ahsoka asks about the HK assassin droids, the director denies everything, but with tensions running high, a protocol droid immediately cuts the tension by snitching and saying an assassin droid was walking around the facilities recently — one with a high-level security clearance. Unsurprisingly, most of the employees at the control center are loyal Imperialists.
The rise of the First Order, at least as presented in the sequel trilogy, felt sudden and vague, little more than an attempt at recapturing the simple yet alluring story of rebels versus an Empire from the original movies. This episode continues the trend started in the first season of The Mandalorian, slowly planting the seeds of a nuanced, slow decay that ruined the New Republic from within, its complacency blinding them to the knife getting stuck between its ribs. When the director and many other employees are arrested later, Ahsoka says it was not loyalty to the Empire that drove them but greed. Still, the bigger question is, will the removal of these bad apples change anything if the system itself is broken?
Hati escapes with the hyperdrive core (though Chopper managed to put a tracker on her ship), and we see that Morgan’s crew is close to completing the Eye of Sion, a massive hyperdrive docking ring that can take them to the other galaxy and find Thrawn. Baylan, who continues to be a fascinating and enigmatic villain, is troubled by Ahsoka but seems saddened by Morgan’s orders to kill her, since there are so few Jedi left.
As for Sabine, everyone seems very keen on her and Ahsoka patching things up. Hera — still very much the matriarch of the crew — pushes Ahsoka to try and make things right, while Huyang tells Sabine that she’s been making excuses and blaming Ahsoka for her indecisions. Huyang also tells Sabine she is the absolute worst Padawan he has ever seen when it comes to the Force. This puts into question absolutely everything we know about the Jedi, and it seems to indicate that being Force-sensitive may no longer be necessary to wield a lightsaber and act as a Jedi. If that’s true, though, then that would kind of undermine a lot of Luke’s story with his Jedi academy in the sequel trilogy.
With newfound resolve, Sabine puts her armor back on and ceremoniously cuts her hair short before calling Ahsoka and asking to join the mission. We also get what might be a live-action version of the final scene of Rebels, with Sabine looking at the mural of the Ghost crew before a hooded Ahsoka arrives like Gandalf the Grey. (Though she is dressed in white in Rebels, which may just be a visual difference or a signal that Ahsoka has approached Sabine while she gazes at the Ghost crew mural twice.) Ahsoka also calls Sabine her Padawan, and with master and apprentice united, the search for Ezra begins.
The Jedi Archives
• There have apparently been visitors from other galaxies in the distant past, enough of them that the so-called Pathway to Peridea became a fairy tale children at the Jedi temple told each other.
• No, but really, how is Sabine a Padawan?
• We still don’t know what happened between Ahsoka and Sabine, but knowing Ahsoka’s conversation with Din Djarin about attachment in The Book of Boba Fett, she probably thought she was getting too attached to her apprentice and decided to avoid another Anakin situation.
• If there are Sith (or at the very least, antagonistic lightsaber users) involved, shouldn’t Luke be, at the very least, informed? I don’t think I want to see him get involved in this story, but it feels weird to not even mention him considering he is both a war hero of the Rebellion and someone Ahsoka knows personally.
• Ahsoka is acting incredibly serious and cold toward everyone, uncharacteristically so. I hope this is something that is explored in later episodes; otherwise, it is a strange departure from her previous appearances.