The newest TV series installment in the Star Wars saga and how it all fits in
The newest installment in the Star Wars saga is the series “Ahsoka,” conceived by the renowned Jedi Master of Lucasfilm, Dave Filoni. Recognized for his creation and writing of both the “The Clone Wars” animated series and “Rebels,” Filoni’s creative influence continues to shape the expansive Star Wars universe.
Watching Ahsoka Without Seeing Clone Wars or Rebels?
Some critics argue that “Ahsoka” essentially serves as the fifth season of the beloved “Rebels” show, albeit in a live-action format. While Disney emphasizes that prior viewing of “The Clone Wars” or “Rebels” is not essential to grasp and enjoy “Ahsoka,” I hold a differing perspective. This sentiment only became stronger after watching the initial two episodes. While it’s feasible to comprehend the plot lines without engaging with Filoni’s animated masterpieces, comprehending and genuinely connecting with our protagonists are vastly different matters.
In my view, having insight into the backgrounds of these rebels is crucial before truly rallying behind them.
Set in the Star Wars timeline, the narrative of Ahsoka unfolds shortly after the events depicted in “Return of the Jedi.” To elaborate, the looming threats of Darth Vader and the Emperor have been quelled, and a significant portion of the galaxy has been liberated. Luke Skywalker and his cohort are venturing into their own journeys, with Luke actively establishing a new Jedi School and Han Solo and Leia Organa grappling with the challenges of raising their future Supreme Leader, baby Ren.
Before delving into the specifics of Ahsoka’s story, let’s take a swift overview of “Clone Wars” and “Rebels”:
Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” is an animated series that unfolds during the tumultuous Clone Wars period, positioned between “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones” and “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.” The show plunges deeper into the happenings and personas of the Star Wars prequel era. It chronicles the Jedi Order’s endeavours, with figures like Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Yoda, as they engage in conflict against the Separatist Alliance and their formidable droid armies.
The series introduces fresh characters, including Ahsoka Tano, Anakin’s Padawan, while charting her evolution as a Jedi. It navigates political intricacies, the ascent of Darth Sidious, and the internal struggles of characters like Anakin Skywalker as he becomes increasingly entwined with the dark side of the Force. The show contributes depth to the broader Star Wars narrative and underscores the intricacies of the Clone Wars conflict.
Star Wars Rebels:
“Star Wars Rebels” constitutes an animated television series set in the expansive Star Wars universe. The storyline unfolds between “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” and “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.” It follows a determined group of rebels who unite against the oppressive Galactic Empire. The central cast encompasses Ezra Bridger, a young orphan endowed with Force sensitivity; Kanan Jarrus, a Jedi survivor of Order 66; Hera Syndulla, a skilled Twi’lek pilot and the group’s leader; Sabine Wren, a Mandalorian adept in explosives and graffiti artistry; Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios, a formidable Lasat warrior; and Chopper, a cantankerous astromech droid. The series traverses their struggles against the Empire and their endeavors to restore liberty to the galaxy. It delves into themes of camaraderie, allegiance, and the burgeoning Rebel Alliance.
In the final season of “The Clone Wars,” Ahsoka is expelled from the Jedi order for allegedly bombing the Jedi Temple, the place where young Jedi learn their craft. After thorough investigation, Anakin clears Ahsoka’s name, and she is exonerated. When Anakin invites her to return to the Jedi order, she declines. In her mind, she cannot forgive the Jedi for their actions and struggles with their principles. Departing from her master Anakin proves to be the most challenging decision she has ever made. Unbeknownst to her, Anakin has transformed into Darth Vader by the time the Empire takes control of the Republic. Once Ahsoka learns of this, she goes into hiding during the original film series, fearing that Vader will discover her and somehow that will ruin everything the rebels have fought for.
Timothy Zhan’s Thrawn
Our new narrative begins shortly after the events of Return of The Jedi. Recently, Asoka has been attuned to unsettling murmurs, likely through the Force, hinting at the resurgence of one of the most nefarious villains, Thrawn. This formidable antagonist, who currently resides in an entirely different galaxy known as the “world beyond worlds” (a term that holds significance for those who have read Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars books), is endeavoring to return to the galaxy we are familiar with. For reasons yet unknown, he requires a cohort of persistent Imperials to fetch him from his distant abode and transport him back to our realm, with the intent of reconstructing the empire. This time, however, he will be the one at the helm. As Ahsoka commences a cadre of his loyalists are actively scouring the landscape for a Jedi holocron, a device that, when unlocked, unveils a map detailing the means to locate Thrawn and his whereabouts.
As the narrative unfolds, Ahsoka embarks on a personal mission to locate the holocron, driven by an unwavering determination to find Thrawn and eliminate the threat he poses. Her resolute goal is to prevent the outbreak of another catastrophic conflict. As the series commences, leveraging her finely honed Jedi skills, Ahsoka successfully pinpoints the enigmatic holocron’s whereabouts. However, her attempts to unlock its secrets end in frustration, prompting her to seek aid from a familiar comrade.
Her quest leads her to General Sykullah, a pivotal figure who directs her attention to the one individual with the expertise to decipher the holocron: Sabine Wren. As Wren steps aboard Ahsoka’s spaceship, an air of tension fills the space, revealing the complex history between them. It’s revealed that Wren was once Ahsoka’s Padawan, undergoing training until enigmatic circumstances abruptly brought an end to their mentor apprentice relationship.
Unbeknownst to Ahsoka, Wren seizes the opportunity to abscond with the holocron, unlocking its hidden contents and uncovering the key to locating Ezra. Tragically, her endeavor takes a dire turn when she encounters a Jedi Padawan who swiftly strikes her down with a lightsaber, inflicting a severe wound to her abdomen then steals the holocron. Employing the power of the Force, Ahsoka intuits Sabine’s whereabouts and arrives on the scene mere moments after the attack.
As medical droids work to nurse Wren back to health, Ahsoka herself nearly falls victim to a droid while inspecting Sabine’s living quarters. Reacting swiftly, Ahsoka neutralizes the potential threat and retrieves the droid’s helmet. When Sabine receives the helmet, she concocts a plan to modify it, allowing her to access the droid’s memories and thus enabling Ahsoka to uncover the location of the enigmatic galaxy.
In a surprising twist, it becomes evident that the Padawan is not a Jedi at all; instead, she and her master are revealed to be what’s known as Dark Jedi, a term coined by Timothy Zahn in his novel series “The Thrawn Trilogy” (1991–1993). These characters are unveiled as former Jedi, Baylan Skoll portrayed by Ray Stevenson and his padawan learner, Shin Hati played by Ivana Sakhno. Alongside them is Diana Lee’s character, Morgan Elsbeth, a member of the witches of Dathomir. Together, they collaborate to decipher the holocron’s intricate code, successfully determining Thrawn’s elusive whereabouts.
As the episodes reach their climactic conclusion, a race ensues between the forces of good and the adversaries, each striving to locate Thrawn and Ezra.
Dave Filoni is Star-Wars
Filoni’s creative journey from the inception of “Clone Wars” and “Rebels” to his current role as Executive Creative Director of Lucasfilm has been marked by unexpected turns and the invaluable mentorship of George Lucas himself.
As the creator of “Clone Wars” and “Rebels,” it was only fitting that Dave Filoni wrote and directed the first episode of “Ahsoka.” His close connection to these characters and the universe he helped shape allowed him to bring his vision to the live-action realm. Filoni’s journey with Ahsoka took an unexpected turn from animation to live action, and it’s a testament to his dedication and creativity.
Filoni’s Initial Encounter with George Lucas:
Filoni’s journey with Lucasfilm began in an almost surreal manner. When he received the call to work on “Clone Wars,” he initially thought it was a prank. Little did he know that this would mark the beginning of his deep involvement in the Star Wars universe. Meeting George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, was a profound experience for Filoni. He absorbed every word of wisdom from Lucas like a sponge and recognized the privilege of collaborating with the visionary behind the franchise.
Filoni’s time with George Lucas was a masterclass in storytelling and understanding the essence of Star Wars. He absorbed Lucas’s unique perspective and learned why Star Wars stands apart from other fantasy series. Filoni considers this knowledge to be a vital responsibility, passing on the essence of what makes Star Wars special to future generations of creators.
Career Advancements and Achievements
Filoni’s collaboration with Lucas and his deep understanding of the Star Wars universe have propelled him into an influential role within Lucasfilm. As the Executive Creative Director, he oversees various projects, including “The Mandalorian,” “The Book of Boba Fett,” “Ahsoka,” “Skeleton Crew,” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi.” His work has garnered recognition, including two Creative Arts Daytime Emmy awards for “The Clone Wars” and nominations for “The Mandalorian.”
George Lucas’s Enduring Influence
Even after George Lucas’s departure from Star Wars following Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, his influence remains palpable. The foundations he laid with the original six films continue to shape the Star Wars universe. The new stories and characters introduced in Disney’s era pay homage to Lucas’s vision, utilizing the rich backdrop he established. Lucas’s continued input and visits to sets, such as those of “The Mandalorian,” reflect his enduring commitment to the franchise’s creative direction.
The Opening Crawl
The latest installment in the Star Wars universe, “Ahsoka,” kicks off with the signature screen crawl and an expansive spacecraft panorama, evoking the franchise’s familiar tone. Remarkably, the series feels akin to the fifth season of “Rebels.” Its standout quality lies in crafting an aura of mythology and intrigue, a cornerstone of Star Wars. As the two opposing factions contend for a significant map contained within the holocron, they journey to forgotten temples and crypts steeped in the history of the Force and the Jedi. Initially, Ahsoka’s path leads her to an ancient shrine, where she unravels complicated puzzles akin to a scenario from “Jedi Survivor,” ultimately uncovering the map.
Riveting Lightsabre Clashes
The series features riveting lightsaber clashes, particularly when Ahsoka employs her dual blades against warrior droids. Dynamic chase sequences with Sabine on her speeder add to the excitement. As expected in modern Star Wars, a captivating new creature—a space cat—elicits oohs and ahhs. Ahsoka adheres to the Star Wars streaming formula while carving out its distinctive essence.
Kevin Kiner’s Score
The resonant score by Kevin Kiner, punctuated by piano melodies, contributes an appropriately grand ambiance. While some Star Wars shows can be taxing, Ahsoka’s inception rejuvenates the understanding that Star Wars can be both entertaining and an expansive realm with uncharted territories.
Ahsoka’s production design evokes the spirit of the original trilogy from the very start. However, the series doesn’t solely tread familiar ground. The initial two episodes of Ahsoka embrace an enigmatic eccentricity that harkens back to the old Expanded Universe stories, imbuing a sense of uniqueness. Glimpses of ancient civilizations, unconventional Force practices, and a pivotal role played by an arcane artifact contribute to this aura.
Ahsoka’s central performances hold their ground. The emotional core revolves around the fractured relationship between Sabine and Ahsoka, portrayed with authenticity by Rosario Dawson and Natasha Liu Bordizzo (Wren). They effectively convey the distance that has grown between the characters since “Rebels.”
In the second episode, Ahsoka introduces a fresh element of political intrigue, exploring the deconstruction of the Empire’s infrastructure. While it might not reach the density of “Andor,” it offers food for thought, particularly for fans who enjoyed the Coruscant episode in “The Mandalorian” Season Three.
Episode two also reunites us with the sassy astromech Chopper, the Ghost’s snarky co-pilot. His presence adds a familiar touch attitude, though some might wish for more of his involvement.
The question of whether “Ahsoka” is accessible to those unfamiliar with “Rebels” is a subjective one. While the series provides a distinct flavour, particularly compared to the Skywalker Saga, the show struggles to engender empathy in viewers who haven’t embarked on Ezra Bridger’s journey throughout the past installments. For some, the exploration of entirely new characters might prove more captivating than exclusionary.
by Myles Shane