This week’s episode of Ahsoka, titled “Time to Fly”, will be a treat for Star Wars Rebels fans. Overall, there’s not much to this much-shorter episode as the plot is extremely thin, but the character connections and high-flying action are such a treat that you can almost forgive this bit of filler. While it’s worrying the series seems to be coasting so early, let’s just hope it’s a momentary blip and not the start of a trend.
Things kick off shortly after the events of episode two, the story largely focuses on the continued development of Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) in her Jedi training. She had once been the padewan of Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) after the war, but the two had a falling out. But with the two reunited in the search for Grand Admiral Thrawn and their friend Ezra Bridger, Sabine has decided to resume her learning in the Force.
While Sabine’s skills with a weapon come from her Mandalorian upbringing, it’s clear from her lightsaber training with the old droid Huyang (David Tennant), who assumes a multi-pronged attack style similar to General Grievous, that it won’t be enough. He’s also pretty blunt about her prospects as a Jedi, calling her basically the least qualified student he’s ever seen. “Not bad, but not good.” Ouch! However, Ahsoka doesn’t buy that. Nor does she need Sabine to be a Jedi as they don’t exist anymore. She decides to go old school, and has Sabine put on a blinder helmet similar to the one Luke Skywalker wore early in his training with Kenobi. Now Sabine must open herself up to the Force, to sense Ahsoka’s movements without using her eyes. She starts off slow, but eventually Sabine starts to pick things up. She’s improving, in baby steps.
Meanwhile, another Star Wars Rebels favorite, Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), is facing beaurocratic red tape when she meets Chancellor Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly) and the Republic council to get resources in the search for Thrawn. Hera, who knows how dangerous Thrawn can be, is trying to get them to take this seriously and prevent a war. But all she hears from the senators, who have never been to war at all, is complacency. While Mon Mothma seems to disagree with them, it’s clear that Hera, Ahsoka, and Sabine are on their own.
Then a really cool moment setting up a major character for the future. Hera leaves her meeting and is met by a kid, Jacen, who turns out to be her son with the late Kanan Jarrus. He’s excited that “Aunt Sabine” is training to be a Jedi. Chopper is right by his side, and you can already see them being a duo in future stories.
At this point, there’s been a lot of talking and politics stuff, which slows this episode to a crawl. A lot of it is still interesting, but Star Wars sometimes gets bogged down in this stuff for too long. Director Steph Green, who was at the helm of one of the best episodes of Watchmen, keeps things visually arresting, though. During the training sequence, she beautifully captures Ahsoka’s subtle movements and Sabine’s changes in perception. Later, when the action picks up, she shows a knack for delivering intense aerial warfare that we love from this universe.
Speaking of which, the journey to Seatos to investigate a shipyard owned by Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) finds the duo attacked by a legion of starfighters, led by Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno) and Marrok, the mysterious warrior who fought Ahsoka to a standstill last episode. The actual fight plays out in a familiar fashion. Ahsoka pilots, Sabine mans the manual cannons, while Huyang investigates what appears to be a huge hyperspace ring, capable of zipping Imperial ships anywhere in the galaxy. If that thing gets completed, it could be disaster for the Republic.
Ahsok almost gets shot down in the melee, even venturing outside of the ship to fend off the attack personally (!!!!), but they manage to survive…barely. They manage to escape under cover of the Purrgill, giant space whales that suddenly arrive on the scene. In Star Wars Rebels lore, Ezra was always able to communicate and control them. Is this some kind of a sign from him that everything is okay? Is it his way of telling them that he is near?
A nice glimmer of hope to end a so-so episode of Ahsoka. A friend of mine told me that he’s already tired of the teasing, and he wishes they would just get on with finding Thrawn and Ezra. I’m not quite fed up with it yet. The journey is what will make their arrival so satisfying. However, I do want episodes that are more substantial than this. Perhaps we were spoiled by the first two episodes which were pretty long and when grouped together felt like you were watching a movie.
This very slight misstep aside, Ahsoka has one thing going for it that can’t always be said about Star Wars shows on Disney+. Just three episodes in and it has a very clear destination in mind, whether every episode focused on getting there. Ahsoka Tano still feels like the center of Star Wars universe, and everything surrounding her is where the entire franchise should remain.