The new Disney+ Star Wars show Ahsoka immediately drops you into the action. After a crawl setting up the story, we meet two evil Force users on a rescue mission before moving to the title character who is on the hunt for a map. There’s no time here for a detailed backstory. It’s full speed ahead from the very first second. But was that a mistake?
Coming into Ahsoka, most viewers fell into basically one of three categories. Maybe you were a person who knew everything there was to know (or that you needed to know) about Ahsoka Tano. You’d seen The Clone Wars, you’d seen Rebels, you were ready to go. Or maybe you were a person who just knew Ahsoka from her live-action appearances. On The Mandalorian, she’s a mysterious Jedi who helps Mando on his quest with Grogu; on The Book of Boba Fett, she’s friendly with Luke Skywalker and, apparently, also with his father. Or, possibly, you were the third person. A person whose biggest connection to Ahsoka is knowing it’s the title of the latest Star Wars Disney+ show.
By starting the series as he did, creator Dave Filoni is mostly catering to those first two categories. If you knew everything about Ahsoka, you followed the story and emotions quite easily. If you’ve only seen Ahsoka on live-action Disney+ shows, you get the gist that she’s got an important role to play in this. The question is, what about those other people? Are they lost? Why isn’t there more for them? And couldn’t everyone have used a refresher?
Usually, at the start of a new show, you begin with a clean slate. Watching the first episode provides all the information you need. Ahsoka is sort of like that but it’s handled much more subtly than one might’ve expected. How could things have been done differently? Let’s hypothesize. Instead of beginning with a crawl specific to this story, maybe the show could have started like it was the first time anyone had met Ahsoka. Some kind of quick montage or explainer on who she is and why she’s important. Imagine Hayden Christensen (or even Matt Lanter) providing a voiceover to a montage that included four or five iconic Clone Wars beats recreated in live-action. Something that would’ve set the table in a much easier way, energized superfans, and also given everyone else a chance to understand why this character is getting this show.
But, of course, the show does not do that. Instead, Filoni peppers those important beats throughout the show. A mention of Anakin as her master here. A few quick mentions of Ezra there. All of the crucial information is in the show. Filoni isn’t avoiding it. But his choice of how to deliver it is an interesting one. It makes Ahsoka less a show about “Ahsoka” and more the next chapter in a larger story. Which was obviously the aim and a very conscious decision.
Plus, info about Ahsoka’s past is obviously coming in future episodes—the best evidence of which is the rumors that Hayden Christensen will soon appear on the show. If that’s true, it almost certainly has to be in a flashback (or as a Force Ghost). There are more hints too. For now though, all we know is that Ahsoka makes a very specific choice to make the grandiose past of the would-be Jedi secondary to the story at hand.
Is one choice better than the other? It’s impossible to say without seeing them both and even then it would be subjective. Frankly, I’m not sure if I would’ve loved to see some more spoon-fed backstory beats or if this more measured approach is just right. What about you? Let us know what you think below.
Ahsoka is now streaming on Disney+.
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