Review: ‘Ahsoka’

The Force Is Strong With Rosario Dawson In Ambitious, Engaging Series That Will Be Rewarding To Die-Hard Fans

After watching the first two episodes of Ahsoka, the new Disney+ series from Dave Filoni, I told a friend of mine that this was the Star Wars show he’d been dying for. While I enjoyed the grounded politics and intrigue of Andor, sometimes you just want some good ol’ Jedi lightsaber action. Ahsoka is the Jedi action series. Of course, it’s considerably more than that, as Filoni brings Ahsoka Tano, the most popular totally new character to emerge in recent years, into live-action glory.

Fans have been going nuts at the idea of pop culture favorite Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano. They won’t be disappointed. She captures Ahsoka’s rebel spirit but also her maturity. She is a figure who has often run counter to the ways of the Jedi and the Light side of the Force. And in this series, which takes place sometime after the events of Star Wars Rebels, we see how she has grown.

The series picks up following events in The Mandalorian. The last time we saw the evil Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto), she was being arrested and locked away for working with the Imperial remnant. She also tried to have Ahsoka killed, even going so far as to try and convince Din Djarin to do it. But her incarceration is short-lived. She is busted out of prison by Baylan Skoll (the late great Ray Stevenson) and his apprentice, Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno), hired mercenaries wielding Dark Force powers. As a close ally of the long-lost Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen), Morgan and her allies set out to find the great Imperial leader and take power over the galaxy once again.

There’s more lightsaber dueling in the first two minutes than in all of the previous Star Wars show. Ahsoka find herself on the hunt for a Star Map that could lead to Thrawn’s whereabouts, and along the way she is set upon by a group of HK assassin droids. After a close call, she finds old pal and Ghost crew leader General Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who believed Thrawn had died on Lothal.

She suggests connecting with Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), the artistic Mandalorian member of the old Ghost crew, and another character from the hit Star Wars Rebels animated series. This show will be a treat for fans of those characters, picking up on their individual storylines and advancing them in interesting ways. Sabine is another who has moved to the beat of her own drum. When we reconnect with her, she’s brushing off an official ceremony celebrating the Ghost’s accomplishments, and that of her lost friend Ezra Bridger (Eman Esfandi, eventually), who sacrificed himself and was lost to the cosmos along with Thrawn. If they can find Thrawn, they might also find Ezra.

A driving narrative in the first two episodes is the tension between Sabine and Ahsoka, the latter having taken her in to be trained in the Force. The dynamic between master/apprentice is key to all of Star Wars, and Ahsoka is steeped in it. These relationships are always compelling because in they tend to go in unpredictable ways. Oftentimes, there is friction between the master and student, with one going off and doing their own thing, maybe even joining the Dark side. We have multiple iterations to contend with. Not only Ahsoka/Sabine, but also Skoll/Hati, and in flashback we are sure to see more of the complex relationship between Ahsoka and her master, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), who would break from the Jedi and become the ruthless Darth Vader. Taking on an apprentice can be a dangerous proposition, to say the least.

Filoni does an incredible job building out this corner of the Star Wars universe, to the point where it feels vital and electrifying. There are lightsaber battles around every corner, but also some cool aerial stuff in starships with Hera showing off her keen piloting skills. However, Filoni is as much a geek about this stuff as we are, connecting the threads that bind these characters and the past versions of themselves with the present. If you are invested in this universe you will be rewarded for it. If you are brand new, Ahsoka isn’t so complicated that you can’t jump right in and know what’s going on.

Right now, and I know it’s still early, but Ahsoka could be the best Star Wars series of them all on Disney+. It has a little bit of everything that fans of the galaxy far far away have loved for decades: swashbuckling action, sweeping drama, and epic battles between good and evil. What’s not to love?

Ahsoka‘s two-episode premiere is today, August 22nd, on Disney+.

Travis Hopson
Travis Hopson has been reviewing movies before he even knew there was such a thing. Having grown up on a combination of bad '80s movies, pro wrestling, comic books, and hip-hop, Travis is uniquely positioned to geek out on just about everything under the sun. A vampire who walks during the day and refuses to sleep, Travis is the co-creator and lead writer for Punch Drunk Critics. He is also a contributor to Good Morning Washington, WBAL Morning News, and WETA Around Town. In the five minutes a day he's not working, Travis is also a voice actor, podcaster, and Twitch gamer. Travis is a voting member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and Late Night programmer for the Lakefront Film Festival.
review-ahsokaAfter watching the first two episodes of Ahsoka, the new Disney+ series from Dave Filoni, I told a friend of mine that this was the Star Wars show he'd been dying for. While I enjoyed the grounded politics and intrigue of Andor, sometimes you...