Fifteen years after the character was first introduced and five years after her story came to a standstill, Ahsoka Tano is back with her very own Star Wars show, Ahsoka. The first two episodes are now on Disney+; every week until the October finale, we’re going to run down what happens, what’s important, and just generally dive deep.
As we said in our review of the episodes, the first few moments of the first episode, “Master and Apprentice,” really kind of set the tone. To start, the series has an opening crawl, leading into a full-screen image of a starship flying across space. Those two things scream old-school, classic Star Wars and almost act as a promise: “This is the Star Wars you know and love.” And it seems like that for a second too. We learn a bit about the galaxy at this time. We learn a bit about the overall aim of the story and then it dives into specifics. Unfortunately, those specifics are that Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson) is looking for a map to Grand Admiral Thrawn, which has become one of the most boring cliches in modern Star Wars.
We saw everyone chase after a map to Luke Skywalker in The Force Awakens. We saw a map to Exegol at the heart of The Rise of Skywalker. And now this. Who makes these maps? What is the purpose? The implication in this episode is that Thrawn has been banished or exiled—but if that’s the case, why go through all the trouble of making a map, hiding it in this elaborate puzzle, telling an old friend where it is, etc.? Reader, I hate the map thing and hopefully it gets wrapped up sooner than later.
Anyway, Ahsoka solving a big puzzle to find the map on Arcana, followed by a big battle with five assassin droids who then destroy the whole area as Ahsoka narrowly escapes, is the second thing we see in this first episode. The first is the aforementioned starship, which is boarded by two people claiming to be Jedi. Of course, in pure Dave Filoni fashion, “They are no Jedi.” They’re Baylan Skoll (Ray Stevenson) and Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno)—an evil, Force-wielding master and apprentice hired by the prisoner Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) to break her out. Which they do with ease, slaughtering a whole shop of New Republic soldiers.
After Ahsoka finds the map with her droid pal Huyang (David Tennant) and saves the day, they get an urgent call. It’s General Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who apparently hasn’t seen Ahsoka in a while, but lets her know her prisoner, Elsbeth, has been broken out by two would-be Jedi. This worries and puzzles Ahsoka but she tells Hera there’s good news: they have the map to Thrawn. Hera’s shocked. She believed Thrawn died in the Battle of Lothal (which we saw in the series finale of Star Wars Rebels), but Ahsoka tells her it was never confirmed. At this point, we and Hera have the same thought: “If Thrawn survived, does that mean Ezra...” she says, finally confirming what most fans had long since assumed. This show will be a direct follow-up to Rebels. Ahsoka tells Hera she hopes so, but is unable to unlock the map. The both know one person who can help, but for some reason, Ahsoka seems slightly reluctant.
Things shift to Lothal, where we see Governor Ryder Azadi (Clancy Brown, reprising his voice role from Rebels) honoring the heroes who helped save Lothal with a monument—the same one fans saw at the end of Star Wars Rebels. There to talk about it, he thinks, is Sabine Wren, but Sabine is nowhere to be found. He calls to his team to find her.
What follows is, arguably, one of the coolest introductions in Star Wars history. Just a flat-out mic drop of a scene that’s writer/director Dave Filoni loudly announcing, “Get ready for a new Star Wars icon.” The icon is Sabine (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), riding a speeder bike with rock music playing as a pair of E-Wings try and track her down. But Sabine is having none of it. She plays chicken with one, sliding right under it, while shading the other one. She doesn’t want any part of the governor’s festivities. And we find out why in the next scene.
Sabine returns home, pets her adorable Lothcat, and digs through some crap to find a holodisc. As she does this, we see her Mandalorian helmet under a table, showing that she’s not quite the person we knew in Rebels. The holodisc is Ezra Bridger (Eman Esfandi), who tells Sabine he had to sacrifice himself to defeat Thrawn but is counting on her to look over Lothal. Clearly, Sabine is still beholden to this and sad about losing her friend.
Skoll, Hati, and Elsbeth are on Arcana, walking among the rubble left by Ahsoka and the assassin droids. We learn that the place was made by Elsbeth’s ancestors, the Night Sisters of Dathomir, which is a very loaded reveal for fans of Filoni’s animated shows and the subsequent video games. Morgan Elsbeth is much more than we thought she was when we met her on The Mandalorian and she knows that Ahsoka has the map. She tells Hati to go to Lothal and Skoll reveals she’s seeking Sabine, the former apprentice of Ahsoka Tano.
This is a quick scene but it’s so hugely imporant. Besides the reveal that Elsbeth is a descendent of the Night Sisters, it suggests it’s common knowledge throughout the galaxy that, at some point, Ahsoka took Sabine as a Jedi apprentice but that she’s no longer that. Fans who havent seen Rebels might assume that’s something on the show but it is not. This is brand new, frankly shocking information—made even more by the fact that these evil beings know about it.
So everything is aiming towards Lothal. Sabine’s there, Hait is on her way, and Ahsoka arrives per Hera’s suggestions. Things between the former master and apprentice are awkward so the master just cuts to the chase. “I think I know how to find Ezra,” Ahsoka tells Sabine, and that gets her attention.
Back on Ahsoka’s ship, we subtly begin to learn more about her and Sabine’s past, as Sabine looks at drawings she made in what was clearly her bunk. Apparently, she lived with Ahsoka on her ship. The two have a tense conversation about their past where Sabine seems hurt about how things turned out. Nevertheless, Sabine agrees to help unlock the map and asks if she can take it somewhere else. Ahsoka says no and leaves to have a quick chat with Huyang. He’s traced the lightsabers of the evil would-be Jedi and identified the master as Baylan Skoll, who disappeared after the Clone Wars. Ahsoka goes to pass this information to Sabine but she’s gone, and she took the map with her.
Sabine races home again and gets spotted by a probe droid, which then reports back into Shin Hati. (If the scene felt oddly familiar, it’s because it was incredibly similar to a Darth Maul scene in The Phantom Menace.) Hait has found her target and, luckily for her, she has exactly what she’s looking for: the map to Thrawn.
Sabine takes the map back to her place and starts running it through all sorts of gadgets and gizmos. Eventually, after lots of thinking and tinkering, she discovers a symbol and unlocks it. She’s incredibly proud of herself and goes outside to look at the planet she thinks her friend might be on, only to be attacked by a pair of assassin droids. She stops one of them, and chases the other down to the ground only to find herself face to face with Shin Hati.
We see that while Sabine was looking at the map, Ahsoka was talking to a hologram of Hera. She too expresses regret over how her and Sabine’s relationship went down, but admits that Sabine remains stubborn and bullish, which was always the problem. Hera asks Ahsoka if her master maybe felt the same way about her, which is how the show delivers the info to audiences who haven’t seen The Clone Wars that a) Anakin was her master, and b) she left him and didn’t complete her training.
Back to Sabine. She calls for backup, ignites her lightsaber and begins to battle Hati. She holds her own for a while but is clearly outmatched by the powerful, evil apprentice and gets stabbed in the gut just as Ahsoka and Huyang arrive.
In the episode’s powerful, final, non-diegetic moment, Filoni and team dedicate it to “Our Friend, Ray” because Stevenson, aka Baylan Skoll, passed away earlier this summer.
Normally, that’s the end of our recap but this is special. This is the premiere and we have not one, but two episodes to discuss. So let’s get to the second one, “Toil and Trouble.”
After that rock star introduction in the first episode, clearly Sabine Wren getting a lightsaber through the stomach wasn’t going to kill her. (Does that kill anyone these days? Shouldn’t Qui-Gon Jinn be alive? I digress.) She awakes in a hospital and reveals to Ahsoka that she unlocked the map, but lost it to the assassin droids. Ahsoka is clearly upset that she disobeyed her by taking the map and heads back to Sabine’s place on a hunch.
There, she finds Sabine’s Lothcat standing outside for some reason and is happy to discover one of the assassin droids waiting for her. She dispatches it quickly and brings the head back to Sabine in the hospital. Now, with Hera watching proudly via hologram, Sabine attempts to figure out where the droid came from, in what becomes a fun, tense little scene. Things almost go south but she gets her answer. The droid was created on Corellia (home planet of Han Solo, last seen in Solo) where Elsbeth apparently had some dealings. Ahsoka and Hera decide to meet there and while Sabine wants to come, they don’t let her. Before Hera signs off though, she continues her role as mediator between the former master and apprentice. Sabine tells her she regrets screwing everything up.
Meanwhile, with Skoll and Hati now in possession of the map, they go to the planet of Seatos. There, they’re reunited with Elsbeth who uses another ancient Night Sister creation to make full use of the map. It opens into a big, impressive display which reveals something called the Pathway to Peridea. Apparently, it was a myth told by younglings at the Jedi temple—but in fact, it’s real, and it’s the way to find where Thrawn was banished to. Elsbeth says Thrawn is calling to her through space and time and that they need to finish the final piece of the Eye of Sion, which is on its way. (And no, at this point, we don’t know what either of those things are.) Hati is told to go to Corellia and assist their colleague, Marrok, with the task.
As it becomes clear that they’re going to help Elsbeth find Thrawn, Hati asks Skoll what finding him means. He says to some it means war. To others it means a new beginning. But for them it means power such as they’ve never dreamed. What, exactly, that means and what, exactly, their intentions are here is probably an even more intriguing plot line than what happened to Ezra and Thrawn.
So, again, everything is heading towards one location—in this case, Corellia. Hera coming from one place, Ahsoka from another, and Shin Hati for reasons that are obviously going to cross paths with the other two. Hera arrives first and Ahsoka finds her talking to one of the ship yard leaders, Myn Weaver (Peter Jacobson). Myn plays dumb about Elsbeth’s former dealings on the planet, but Hera throws around her New Republic credentials and gets him to take them to a control center. As they do, we get our first Ahsoka glimpse of Hera’s droid Chopper, in one of the best moments yet for Rebels fans.
Along the way, we get a brief but crucial little exchange about how even though the Empire has been disbanded, many who are loyal to the Empire still remain, simply because they had to. There aren’t enough bodies. Myn explains that he’s not worried about their loyalty though because to the regular people, it’s not about politics, it’s about money, and as long as they’re behind paid, they don’t care.
The journey also gives Hera a chance to finally ask Ahsoka what she’s been getting at for an episode and a half. Will she take Sabine back as her apprentice? Ahsoka says no, though, because Sabine is not ready. That revelation leads back to Sabine who is still in the hospital and hears from Huyang that he too thinks they could once again be together. We learn more and more about how Ahsoka somehow left Sabine and the resentment and pain it caused them both. Now however, it’s as if every friend both Sabine and Ahsoka have want them to work together again. Even if, as Huyang says, Sabine has less Jedi ability than any padawan he’s ever seen in history. (Which, quick aside, is a pretty messed up thing for him to say even if it gives Sabine that much more room to grow.)
On Corellia, Hera and Ahsoka reach the control center where they can see a large hyperdrive core being completed. Hera realizes the New Republic isn’t building any ships big enough for that core and finds out that any further information on its delivery is classified. Ahsoka then asks about the assassin droid that led them here and when one of the protocol droids admits he was built there, all hell breaks loose. The workers are, in fact, still loyal to the Empire and attack Hera and Ahsoka. The pair escape though and now have to track down the hyperdrive core, which has begun to fly away.
The action scene that followed was the best moment of the premiere. Hera jumped in the Phantom with Chopper and went chasing after the hyperdrive while Ahsoka was caught fighting Marrok, the Inquisitor type working with Skoll and Hati. Apparently, that core was the piece Elsbeth was referring to. And so we have a cool lightsaber battle on the ground, and fun space chase in the air, with Hera and Chopper just barely getting a tracking device on the ship as Ahsoka fights Marrok to a stalemate and he escapes.
On Lothal, after the heart to heart with Huyang, and presumably the near death experience where she was bested by a better Force user, Sabine makes a decision. She grabs that old gear she’d been hiding under the workbench, slices her hair back down to her trademark short look, and sends a video message to Ahsoka who is back on Corella cleaning everything up with Hera. “I’m ready,” says Sabine. Yes she is.
Finally, the episode came to a close on a familiar but somewhat confusing moment. Sabine has her short hair again and Mandalorian armor, and is looking at the mural of her Rebels cohorts. Then, Ahsoka shows up and the two take off on an adventure. “Take us out, padawan,” Ahsoka says. The moment feels like the true beginning of this show—and also, the ending of Rebels, right?
While fans may have assumed Ahsoka would pick up at the end of Rebels, the way this scene—not an exact recreation but close—circles back to the iconic final scene of Rebels makes it fairly clear that these two episodes were before that moment. Now, finally, after two episodes, master and apprentice have reuinted, a moment we didn’t quite fully understand five years ago, and can begin their adventure. (We’ll have more on this tomorrow)
Surely, that could have been the end of the episode... but no. We’re back to the bad guys. The hyperdrive is placed on the Eye of Sion, which will take Elsbeth down the Pathway to Peridea towards Thrawn. But there’s one problem: Ahsoka Tano. Skoll is worried about her and says that while her presence in the Force is elusive, her determination is vivid. “She is coming,” he says. And she must be dealt with.
In terms of overall thoughts on the premiere of Ahsoka, I wrote all about it here. But getting a bit more spoilery, I think framing the show around this Ahsoka/ Sabine master and apprentice relationship is potentially very interesting and rich. Juxtaposing that with a similar, yet evil master and apprentice is also a nice touch and seeing all our favorites from Rebels is just the icing on the cake. Are some of the scenes too long? Is Rosario Dawson a bit too aloof in her performance? Yes, but it’s early days. We’ve got six more weeks of Ahsoka left.
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