TV Review: ‘Ahsoka’ Feels Like a True Sequel to the OG Star Wars Trilogy

Kevin Taft reviews the season premiere of Ahsoka, the Disney+ series picking up where Star Wars: Rebels left off and delivering OG Star Wars feels.
User Rating: 8

The long-awaited Disney+ series Ahsoka has arrived, and fans of the popular “Clone Wars” character will be beside themselves.

Not only will fans of the character be excited to see her in a live-action environment again (she previously appeared in The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett), but even more so that her story is really just the catalyst to make this a sequel series for Dave Filoni’s animated series Star Wars: Rebels.

This might be a problem for those that don’t partake in the cartoons of the Star Wars universe because while someone can certainly get into new characters as with any new series or film, here, having an understanding of the Rebels core crew will give everything more depth and thrills.

Personally, I didn’t watch the animated series regularly, but Disney+ smartly made a list of the “essential” Ahsoka Tano episodes from all of their animated shows, so I settled in and got to watching.

And I’m glad I did.

Not only does the series give more layers to characters we already know, such as Anakin and Obi-Wan, but it explains the return of Darth Maul and showcases the Empire’s beginnings. All cool stuff if you’re a Star Wars fan. Not to mention, the last arc of the Clone Wars series was surprisingly cinematic and moving.

Cut to Rebels, and we have a new crew of rag-tag characters to fall in love with, including young Ezra Bridger who eventually becomes a padawan for former Jedi Knight Kanan Jarrus. There’s also General Hera Syndulla, a controlled and serious Twi-lek, and Zeb Orrellios, a Lasat Honor Guard that looks like a muscled-out hulk with a head similar to a bat. Rounding out the team is Sabine Wren, a female Mandalorian with a passion for art and a rebellious spirit.

Some of these characters show up in Ahsoka, which, shortly after it begins, we realize is truly an ensemble show.

Rosario Dawson effectively plays the title character cool and calm. It’s a slightly different characterization but aligns with how Luke went from passionate fighter to meditative warrior. Ahsoka is looking for a map that will lead her to Grand Admiral Thrawn, a leader of the Empire who was banished to the far-off reaches of space by Ezra when he sacrificed himself to save his friends and his planet at the end of Rebels.

And if they find Thrawn, they might find Ezra.

But she and her trusted robot companion Huyang (David Tennant) need help.

After meeting with Hera (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Ahsoka is prodded to visit Sabine (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), who is off by herself, living life as only a true rebel can. There’s some history between Ahsoka and Sabine that occurred after Rebels ended, which involved unfinished training. This puts them at emotional odds, but with the prospect of finding Ezra (Eman Esfandi) again, Sabine is curious, and the two reconnect.

Meanwhile, a former Jedi named Baylon Skoll (the late Ray Stevenson) is also after the map so he can enlist Thrawn in the fight against the Rebellion. Along with his own apprentice, Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno), they are enlisted by Empire commander Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) to find the map and bring back Thrawn.

Based on the first two episodes, creator Dave Filoni is playing in a sandbox he’s very familiar with. Like with Rebels, he makes Ahsoka feel like a true sequel to the original trilogy. It looks and feels like the Star Wars we know and love, and there is a lot to be excited about.

The cast is uniformly good here, with Bordizzo taking the lead and drawing us into her complicated character. This might be my only bone to pick as the character of Ahsoka ends up not really being the front-and-center star of the show. She sort of takes a back seat to the introduction of all the other characters. And while she certainly has some stand-out lightsaber battles and other moments, this isn’t really her show (at least so far). It’s the continuation of the Rebels story, which could cause some confusion for those that didn’t partake.

See Also: TV Review: Obi-Wan Kenobi, 1×1, “Part I”

Thrawn will be a mystery to many, and it might feel like these new characters have come out of nowhere. I’m thankful I took the time to dive into the animated shows, even if I didn’t watch them in full. I’m not totally sure how newcomers will take to this, but Star Wars fans will still enjoy the world, and I’m curious how Filoni will integrate Anakin/Vader into the show (Hayden Christensen is credited on IMDB). I’m also interested in how this series will combine with The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett when Filoni’s recently announced feature-length movie arrives, which promises to put a cap on all of the shows he has helped create.

Still, what’s most important is that Ahsoka is definitely at one with the Force and feels like old-fashioned Star Wars again. Whereas Boba Fett and Mandalorian gave nods and fan service while creating separate stories, this feels enmeshed in the Star Wars lore we know and love. As a result, it could very well be the best live-action TV series from the franchise yet.

Ahsoka will be available to stream on August 23, 2023, with new episodes dropping weekly.

Written by
Kevin is a long-time movie buff with a wide variety of tastes and fixations in the film world. He cried the moment Benji appeared onscreen in “Benji,” and it took him about four times to finally watch “The Exorcist” (at age 24) without passing out. “Star Wars: A New Hope” was the movie that changed everything and when his obsession with films and filmmaking began. A screenwriter himself (one long-ago horror script sale to New Line remains on a shelf), his first film "Two Tickets to Paradise" that he co-wrote premiered in June 2022 on Hallmark. He is currently working on another for the iconic brand.

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