AHSOKA: SEASON ONE
Starring: Rosario Dawson, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ray Stevenson, Ivanna Sakhno, Diana Lee Inosanto, David Tennant, Eman Esfandi, Genevieve O’Reilly, Lars Mikkelsen, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, and Hayden Christensen
Creator: Dave Filoni
While some might say it’s too stoic for their liking, I found that Ahsoka’s combination of Western aesthetics and Star Wars mysticism created an entertaining balance of weight and wonder. Alongside lively chase sequences, tense lightsaber duels, and Kevin Kiner’s exceptional score, the show also finds time to sit with its characters and breathe in the compelling performances, especially from David Tennant, Ray Stevenson, and Rosario Dawson, with the latter’s character arc exemplifying both her and the show’s gradual rebirth from Ahsoka’s (Dawson) dark Original Trilogy connections to what is looking to be wondrously adventurous future seasons.
With all due respect to The Mandalorian, Ahsoka is the most Star Wars-like a live-action series has felt. Yes, it often feels like fan service, and as someone who hasn't seen Rebels, a better job could've been done investing me in certain characters. That said, there are lightsabers a plenty, the cast is solid (especially the late Ray Stevenson in a grounded role for the franchise), and the series never stalls. Where the sequel trilogy did a disservice to Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Obi-Wan Kenobi and Ahsoka seem set to redeem the once poorly written character of Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), which is a welcome direction.
Although I can’t point to any one thing as terrible, Ahsoka, a mostly lifeless and hollow affair built on the back of total fan service, might be the thing that has officially turned me off Star Wars for good. Maybe it’s because I never watched Rebels, but I can’t be bothered with any of these wooden characters or their storylines. I admit there are a few energetic lightsaber battles, but I just. don’t. care…like, at all…about any of it…lightsabers, The Force, Jedis…I’m just done. Once Andor ends, that’s it for me on Disney+’s Star Wars shows, most of which have been very blah, anyway.
As a Rebels watcher, I can say that I felt rewarded after watching Ahsoka. Show creator Dave Filoni seemed to understand the assignment, as he did a fantastic job of delivering a more fantasy-like element to the Star Wars universe, as well as successfully transitioning these characters to live-action. With that said, the show does have its flaws. There are muddled storylines and an over-reliance on the Volume Stage, but mainly, it’s the structure that Disney+ has in place for these shows. This series lacked emotional weight and stakes due to the streaming platform’s limited episode model.
After watching Ahsoka, it seems to me as though series creator Dave Filoni has learned all the wrong lessons from past Star Wars projects. Ahsoka lacks the creativity of the original trilogy, but it excels at capturing the stiff performances and wooden dialogue that made the prequels so unbearable. The series also adopts the worst Disney-era hallmarks, including annoying fake-out deaths, flavorless cinematography, and obnoxious fan-service. Worse still, Ahsoka is practically inaccessible for audiences unfamiliar with Rebels (2014). Lucasfilm has taken a gamble by using one relatively obscure cartoon as the foundation for their expanding universe, and so far, it isn't paying off.
Ahsoka pays tribute to the vast Star Wars canon, tipping its hat to its loyal devotees with extraordinary visuals, as usual. The dialogue and script are, unfortunately, less successful. The series is plagued by long and boring monologues followed by stilted fight scenes featuring watered down and confusing uses of “The Force.” Plus, there is little in the way of humor or charisma to offset the ever-present use of stoicism to portray the supremely confident Jedi. Although the first half of the series comes across very flat, we are otherwise placated with a satisfactory second half and conclusion. R.I.P. Ray Stevenson.
Following her live-action appearances in The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) returns in her own self-titled series, but if you haven’t seen the animated series Rebels, you may find yourself feeling like you’re missing important context. That said, Ahsoka stands well enough on its own that Rebels is not compulsory viewing. However, although filled with fun cameos and well-executed fan service, Ahsoka occasionally falls a little flat with some questionable plot decisions and uninspired action sequences whilst doing a lot of heavy lifting for future Star Wars shows and sequel series.