Friday, September 15, 2023

Recap — Ahsoka Episode 5: Shadow Warrior

Episode 5 will of Ahsoka will go down as one of the all-time great pieces of Star Wars content. 

Here we are — Ahsoka and Anakin, meeting in the World Between Worlds. Master and Padawan, separated by decades and a legacy of shame. What is there to say?

Turns out, a lot — though it will take the form of (imaginary?) time travel to enable Anakin teach Ahsoka her final lesson (since she left the Order before becoming a Jedi Knight). 

Also, Hayden Christiansen is KILLING it as Clone Wars Anakin! He didn't voice the animated character, but damn if doesn't replicate nearly perfectly.

But first, is the World Between Worlds real? Who can say! Is Anakin a mirage? We don't know! But he serves to help heal Ahsoka in this episode, and that's all that really matters. 

These Two Were Children

Anakin presents Ahsoka with a choice: to live, or to die. To help illustrate this, the two time travel back to the start of the Clone Wars, when Ahsoka was 14 and Anakin was 19. They were thrust into a galactic civil war, both teens trying to make sense of everything. 

Seeing Anakin de-aged and Ahsoka portrayed by a literal child really drives home the severity (and absurdity!) of their situation. It was easy while watching the Clone Wars to forget about this — cartoons by their nature are generally more light-hearted than their live-action counterparts.

But watching a young Ahsoka deal with the ravages of war and death was heartbreaking. (Thank God Filoni didn't put this young actress in a skimpy tube top, too). 

What Was Wrong With The Jedi?!

Lots of people talk shit about the Jedi, but I've seen myself as a Jedi Order apologist for a while. I respect their position, their way of life. But this episode really drives home how messed up the Jedi became towards the end of the prequels. Anakin himself states that they're no longer peacekeepers — they're now warriors.

But who appoints teenagers as generals in an army, no matter how skilled in the force they may be?
Watching Ahsoka as a teen really shows how unfair this was to everyone involved. — to the clones, to the Jedi, to all of the innocent bystanders across the galaxy. Palpatine really orchestrated a number on the entire galaxy. 

I know lots of people get tired of the Skywalker saga, but seeing it through Ahsoka's eyes invigorates it, and shows just how multifaceted Anakin's downfall truly was. Yes, the clunky dialogue and silly CGI give the prequels a bad name, but the story is truly Shakespearean. There's a reason these stories are still being made 50 years later.

Hera Still Searches

Hera, Jacen, and Carson's X-wing squad arrive too late, and they find no trace of where Ahsoka or Sabine went — or even if they're together, as a despondent Huyang remarks. Hera spends the episode convincing Carson to not give up quite yet as they make endless patrols and sweeps of the sea. 

But! Her son is the offspring of a Jedi (they finally mention Kanan!), and he eventually starts hearing lightsaber hums intermixed with the sound of the sea. This gives them the heart to continue searching, and with good reason — Ahsoka is out there and still alive. 

Unfortunately, the New Republic fleet enters the system, and it's time to distract them.

Choosing Not to Give In

Ahsoka has been struggling for years because of her connection to Anakin — as his only Padawan, she feels responsible for (or at the very least, adjacent to) his fall to the dark side. 

As they duel, he gives her the choice to give in to her anger and revenge — this, it seems, is her ultimate test. Briefly, her eyes turn red and Sith...

But she chooses not to give in to hate, fear, and anger. She succeeds where he failed, and will live to see another day.

She chooses life. 

It's no surprise that when she is fished out of the inky black drink on Seatos by the X-Wing marine rescue squad, she will eventually return as... Ahsoka the White.

We're Going A-Whaling!

With the map destroyed, the only way for Ahsoka to get to the next galaxy over to find Thrawn and Ezra is to hitch a ride with the Purgills. You read that right. Ahsoka steps outside her ship (she's gettting really good at this) and approaches the largest creature — then flies straight into its mouth.

(As an aside, I've been an avid Moby Dick lover for years, and I'm not going to lie, I found myself fantasizing about a space book of roving Purgill hunters. 10/10 would read!)

We can only assume that she's reaching out with the force to the creature and confirming the coordinates, but when Huyang asks her if she's sure, she says hell no!

But she's trying — and is ready to go find her friend.


The Math

Baseline score: 9

Bonuses: +3 De-aged Anakin! Young Padawan Ahsoka! Purgill pod!

Penalties: -1 Non-Clone Wars fans won't be as moved, but they'll still understand why this episode is a big deal.

Nerd coefficient: +1 million This was literally our glimpse into a live-action Clone Wars.

Gonk droid count: Nary a one. That's okay, though.

POSTED BY: Haley Zapal, NoaF contributor and lawyer-turned-copywriter living in Atlanta, Georgia. A co-host of Hugo-nominated podcast Hugo, Girl!, she posts on Instagram as @cestlahaley. She loves nautical fiction, Vidalia onions, and growing corn and giving them pun names like Anacorn Skywalker.