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Star Wars Ahsoka review: The battle against the Empire isn't quite over

Star Wars Ahsoka review: The battle against the Empire isn't quite over

Note: This feature was first published on 25 August 2023.

Ahsoka crosses blades with masked baddie Marrok. (Image Source: Disney+)

A nod to those who live and breathe Star Wars

Star Wars Ahsoka was made for the fans. The hotly-anticipated series dedicated to the beloved Clone Wars and Rebels character is shaping up to be a brand new season of Star Wars Rebels— translated thrillingly into live action.

During the early years of the New Republic, Imperial remnants are still rife throughout the galaxy. Sinister agents remain at work, and the prospect of another war is not so far off. The looming spectre of Grand Admiral Thrawn threatens to topple the fledgling Republic, and he is not without allies. Night Sister Morgan Elsbeth(Diana Lee Inosanto) and her duo of Force-wielding mercenaries— former Jedi Knight BaylanSkoll (the late Ray Stevenson) and his apprentice Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno)— are bent on bringing him back from wherever he is, following Ezra Bridger's (Eman Esfandi) sacrifice in Rebels.

Ezra used his connection with the purrgil, giant whale-like creatures that live in hyperspace, to drag Thrawn's flagship into hyperspace, stranding the both of them in regions unknown. Now, Morgan looks to bring him back, a rallying force for any Imperial holdouts.

Together with apprentice Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson) is searching for a map that holds the answer to Thrawn's last known location. While the former Jedi is motivated above all by a desire to stop another war, Sabine is driven more by the prospect of finding Ezra.

Sabine with Ezra's lightsaber. (Image Source: Disney+)

The first two episodes waste no time in introducing us to the cast of Rebels. A hard-headed Mandalorian warrior with a familiar disdain for authority, Sabine gets a grand introduction, already fobbing off her duties to give a speech as one of the heroes who helped liberate Lothal. When fighters are sent to intercept her and return her to the podium, she speeds up and daringly slides under a ship parked in her way.

Another Rebels mainstay, Hera Syndulla(Mary Elizabeth Winstead) also gets plenty of airtime. A more level-headed member of the crew, the Twi'Lek general exudes an easy charm, particularly when interrogating workers at a shipyard on Corellia.

Even the vanished Ezra Bridger gets a brief appearance in the form of a tiny hologram. Through and through, Ahsokais a nod to Rebels and several key moments in the animated series. Sabine's Spectres mural in Capital City on Lothalis shown as well, featuring herself, Hera, Ezra, Kanan Jarrus, Zeb, and droid Chopper, flanked by two loth-wolves.

Ahsoka reunites with Hera Syndulla. (Image Source: Disney+)

We even get to see Sabine wield a lightsaber, despite not being Force-sensitive. Those who watched Rebels will remember how Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger guided her in the ways of this more elegant weapon, and she manages to hold her own against Shin Hati for an impressive amount of time.

Ahsoka plays out like a resounding tribute to Rebels, and its titular hero also gets plenty of lightsaber action, handily dispatching assassin droids and going toe-to-toe with a mysterious masked assailant who goes by the name Marrok and dons armor reminiscent of a medieval knight. This all-black nemesis is pretty handy with a double-bladed saber— and may turn out to be even more pivotal to the show's plot.

Fans are already speculating that Marrok could be a fallen Ezra Bridger, now turned to the Dark side. Ezra has been tempted by the Dark side multiple times, and for him to finally fall would be a devastating turn of events. Viewers familiar with Arthurian legend may recognise Marrok as the name of the knight who languished as a werewolf for seven years— a seemingly sly reference to Ezra's connection with the loth-wolves of Lothal.

The late Ray Stevenson plays former Jedi Knight turned mercenary Baylan Skoll. (Image Source: Disney+)

But Rebels canon aside, the first two episodes of Ahsoka falls back on tried-and-tested formulas in Star Wars, chief among them the relationship between master and apprentice. The first episode is suitably titled "Master and Apprentice", playing on the relationship between Baylan and Shin, Ahsoka and Sabine, and even bittersweet references to Ahsoka's relationship with Anakin Skywalker.

Anakin's erstwhile Padawan has matured with the years, now far more measured than before and expressing exasperation at a hot-headed apprentice who never seems to listen. That dynamic is a familiar one, having played out countless times in the Star Wars universe.

At its core, Ahsoka treads along a road already traversed by previous Star Wars stories, but with a hint at even more tantalising adventure ahead. Like the other Star Wars series before it, it fills in the gaps between the movies and tells a tale whose ending we already know, but the wonderful thing about Star Wars is that there always seem to be still more lines to be sketched in between.

And if you were wanting to watch season 5 of Star Wars Rebels, this is basically it.

The first two episodes of Ahsoka are now streaming now on Disney+. New episodes drop every Wednesday.

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