Three words describe the two-episode premiere of Star Wars: Ahsoka tonight.
Worth. The. wait.
We’ve been waiting as a collective fandom for this project ever since it was announced in December 2020 at the height of the pandemic. It was a welcome ray of distractive light shining in from a galaxy far, far away, brought to us by the brilliant creative mind of George Lucas’s own padawan apprentice, Dave Filoni.
Created and written by Filoni, it is a love letter to the character he originally developed for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, continuing Ahsoka Tano’s story in the movie that spawned the 7-season series from 2008 through 2020, broken up in between by a six-year hiatus — the Star Wars equivalent of what old-school Doctor Who fans called, “The Wilderness Years” when their own series suffered from a seven-year break between Old Who and the U.S. made for t.v. movie that ushered in the era of New Who.
We are nothing if not a patient fandom.
Ahsoka starts off by bringing back the famous opening scene movie “crawl” (of a sort), to catch us up on what has been happening in the galaxy at this point in time. The story picks up right as Grand Admiral Thrawn supporter Morgan Elsbeth is being transported to the New Republic to stand trial for her own crimes. She never makes it there. Her escape is facilitated by two dark Jedi: a Master (Baylan Skoll) and an Apprentice (Shin Hati).
Always two are there — and these two massacre the crew in no time flat to liberate Elsbeth. Baylan later tells Shin this will bring them closer to the person who will give them the opportunity to achieve, “more power than (she) you can possibly” imagine. This is always the appropriate goal of a Sith, but what of these new breed, these dark Jedi who wield orange (not red)- lightsabers? Only time and more episodes will tell how close they get to their goal and how much damage they inflict and how many bodies they lay low in the process.
Dave Filoni says there is a reason for the orange, not red lightsabers, but of course he’s not telling. Yet.
We have known for a long time that Ahsoka is considered the sequel to Star Wars: Rebels, the 2014-2017 TV series so loved by Star Wars animation fans. But since that little detail dropped, fandom has wondered if it would be necessary to have seen the Rebels series first to understand Ahsoka. After seeing it, I can assure you that no, Ahsoka stands well on its own, striking a balance between telling a new story based on the animated series’s characters, giving nods to the animation and not relying in needless fan service to tell a tale. We see the likes of established characters Ahsoka, Hera Syndulla, Sabine Wren et al, but their established relationships are laid out for us. We are given the already established relationships between them and how they have grown over time (or grown apart, in some cases) and can easily pick up and follow the threads of their interconnected lives, with or without having seen Rebels.
And while we’re on it, let me just say that seeing Hera’s droid Chopper is still the cranky, cantankerous astromech he’s always been, made me and my husband laugh and squee all over again, just as in the animation of old. The sets are as lovely and well-crafted as ever, from the wonderful ruins of ancient Dathomerian witch temples to Stonehenge-like temples built by races from another galaxy.
The aerial battles are impressively realistic as well, as is the level of detail in the busy post-Empire shipyards of the planet Corellia. I can’t wait to see Zev Orellius again after we got a cameo of him in the last season of The Mandalorian. It made me laugh that so many others in fandom instantly recognized the distinctive voice of his voice actor Steve Blum, with some people on Twitter even saying they were in the other room and came running to the TV when they heard his voice!
It’s a good time to be a Star Wars fan. And now I’m off to find me a Loth cat plushie. Disney, if you haven’t already made one to market to us, I’ll be very disappointed!
Thaddeus Howze is an award-winning writer, editor, podcaster and activist creating speculative fiction, scientific, political and cultural commentary from his office in Hayward, California.
Thaddeus’ speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. He has published two books, ‘Hayward’s Reach’ (2011), a collection of short stories and ‘Broken Glass’ (2013) an urban fantasy novella starring his favorite paranormal investigator, Clifford Engram.