After a lot of anticipation, the full Star Wars series has been released.
Written and produced by Dave Feloni, Ahsoka is a spinoff of The Mandalorian and takes place after the Return of the Jedi. It stars Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson), Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) Sabrine Ren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) and premiered in August 2023. As it stands, the show has now finished and is currently out on Disney+, so you may be wondering if it’s worth diving into.
First off, the visual effects of this show are incredible, there will be a few moments where you will be genuinely impressed by the space-craft and visual sets. It is incredible to think that special effects could ever look as good as it does on the small screen but it does!
Another stand out of the show goes to the late (Ray Stevenson) who tragically passed away earlier this year. The North Irish actor plays Baylan Skoll, a Dark Jedi who is working as a mercenary for the bad guys. His performance is stoic, visually powerful, and his character feels as if he’d be right at home conversing with the late (Sir Christopher Lee’s) Count Dooku from Attack of the Clones. Skoll’s apprentice, Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno), comes across as unsettling but reserved, and both characters serve as excellent antagonists and are the best part of the show.
Something you should be aware of when jumping into Ahsoka is that it is a continuation of Star Wars Rebels, an animated series that ran for 4 seasons. In the lead up to the show’s premier, showrunner Dave Feloni has stressed that audiences do not need to have seen Rebels in order to enjoy Ahsoka. Having seen the whole show, I think this is entirely untrue. If the show had been better written Ahsoka could act as a great jumping on point for new audiences but sadly the shows witting leaves a lot to be desired.
Dialogue throughout the eight episodes has proven to be generic and fairly weak. It could easily have been written by an AI and the internal logic of the show does little to stand up well to scrutiny, especially when it comes to Lightsabers. The writing also does little to ease new viewers to the obviously already established characters. The show gives you a general idea of character personalities but lacks the reason why you should care.
The shows big bad guy, Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelson) is well cast and the actor does his best to carry off an inspired take on the character. Yet, this is where the show’s poor writing really begins to become evident. The show tells us that he is The Empire’s best, a tactical genius and yet every action he takes or order he gives, is poorly thought out and diminishes him as threat to the protagonists. The worst part is that each time he fails to stop the heroes, he acts like it was all part of the plan, something that has already become a running joke online:
With all that being said, the biggest issue with the whole show is that it doesn’t feel as if the show is about anything. Yes, Ahsoka and the other characters want to stop the return of Thrawn but the show doesn’t really invest you in the ‘Why?” Ahsoka, like most Disney Star Wars stories has come to be about itself. In the films; Episodes 1-3 was about the fall of the tragic hero and death of democracy. While 4-6 was an amalgamation of the hero’s journey and a Shakesperian/Ancient Greek familial epic. Even the first two seasons of The Mandalorian was about an adoptive familiar bond between father and son and bridging the gap between tribal groups.
Ahsoka on the other hand isn’t about anything. Within the first five minutes of the first episode; the show has already mirrored two scenes from previous films. There is even a scene in Episode 3 involving Ahsoka out in space that mirrors a scene from The Clone Wars. The Star Wars franchise has always heavily borrowed and has been inspired by other stories outside of Star Wars, but it has always visualized it with so much imagination and inspiration on display that it has captured the minds of millions. Ahsoka, like most Disney Star Wars offerings; feels as if it is lacking the Lucas imagination spark and from the numbers, it appears to be capturing few.
If you are a fan of Disney’s previous Star Wars efforts then you at least owe it to yourself to check this show out. Some audience reactions online do seem to be genuinely enjoying the show and you may find yourself among them. There are some good scenes, most of which involve Ray Stevenson whose performance carries much of the show and the casting of (Lars Mikkelson) as Thrawn was an inspired choice. Yet the bizarre display of plot armor, the mostly wooden acting, the lack of narrative or action thrills and an unsatisfying finale make Ahsoka into a bit of an overall drag.
I’d give Ahsoka 2 Lightsabers out of 5.
Parental advisory: Ahsoka is fairly tame overall until the shows final episode, which showcases some zombies and dark sorcery which may not be suitable for some young audiences. Even then, this depiction is done in the most watered down way possible, so parental advisory may be on a case-by-case basis.
All images: Publicity stills