Friday, September 22, 2023

Recap — Ahsoka Episode 6: Far, Far Away

 Episode 6 really delivers the goods as we meet Thrawn in the flesh for the very first time!

We open in purrgil hyperspace, with Ahsoka and Huyang telling old tales. Huyang's skill as a storyteller, we learn, is why our beloved franchise begins with the infamous preamble "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away." Spoken, of course, on the way to a faraway galaxy ensconced in the maw of a space whale.

We're Off to See the Witches

Sabine awakens in a holding cell, encountering Baylan and shouting that they had a deal — she'd give up the map if he'd agree to take her to Ezra. 

It's not quite that easy, though — he knows that she can still be of use when it comes to her obsession for finding Bridger. 

The Eye of Sion exits hyperspace above the planet Peridia (and not, in fact, "Druidia" from Spaceballs, which is 100% what I heard watching for episode for the first time Tuesday night without subtitles).

It's the ancient homeworld of Elsbeth's ancestors, the Dathomiri Nightsisters. Encircling the planet isn't a ring of dust or ice like Saturn, but rather of MOTHERFREAKING PURRGIL BONES. This is a VERY metal moment in Star Wars, and I'm here for it. It seems the purrgil are not unlike our salmon, and return home to pass away, crushed into bone dust around an ancient planet.

The Nightsisters harnessed the purrgil, hopping between galaxies like the badasses they are. We're only like 5 minutes in and this episode is already incredible. 

When Shall We Three Meet Again?

Our bad guys fly a brilliant gold shuttle reminiscent of yet another Spaceballs reference (Lonestar's Winnebago!) down to the surface of the planet to rendezvous with none other than Night Sisters! 

Seeing them in live-action is INCREDIBLE — so creepy, so eerily voiced. This, we find out, is how Elsbeth manufactured the map/McGuffin device so central to the show's plot. She heard their call across the galaxy and it worked! I loved loved loved this scene. The sisters are giving Bene Gesserit in the best possible way. 

Elsbeth knows there's an ulterior motive — Thrawn has summoned them. He chose well to ally with these witches. They notice the reek of Jedi — not just Baylan and Shin (who seems utterly shocked by the existence of more than one witch) but also Sabine, their prisoner. 

Insight into Our Dark(?) Jedi

As the witches leave, we're left for a scene with just Baylan and Shin. Finally, we get more insight into who these people are, and what they're all about. I've been referring to them as dark Jedi throughout these recaps, but I wasn't sure. Turns out, they're just mercenaries! 

Baylan is a former Jedi, having been raised the traditional way in the temple. We learn of his trauma, of watching Order 66 unfold before him. 

But unlike traditional Sith masters and apprentices, their relationship doesn't seem to be one of obeisance and blind subservience. He listens to Shin, and provides guidance, but doesn't demand blind obedience. He's fatherly and kind, not unlike Anakin and Ahsoka, as he listens to her questions and criticisms. 

I don't think he's a dark Jedi or a Sith, but I do believe he's trying to live outside the stark strictures of history. He mentions the rising and falling and the repeating natures of it all — he wants to break free of it. In this way, he's similar to Ahsoka's stature outside the order. Using the Force, but in pathways yet unforged. 

A Meeting 33 Years in the Making

Thrawn. THRAWN! First introduced in May 1991 by Timothy Zahn, and beloved by Star Wars fans throughout the intervening years. Once relegated to Legends status, our lord and savior Dave Filoni resurrected Thrawn into canon in Rebels — and here in this episode, we shall meet our Admiral in the flesh, played by his voice actor Lars Mikkelson. 

Ever one to make a grand entrance, Thrawn descends upon the scene in his Star Destroyer — a mightily imposing scene that had me guessing at how precise their sublight engines and repulsor lifts were. As Elsbeth, the Nighsisters, Baylan, and Shin meet step to meet him, we're presented with an awesome display of might.

Lining the floor of the hangar, we see a legion of stormtroopers, their masks cracked and repaired, their bodies lined with red stripes signifying we know not what. We get an up close and personal glimpse of Enoch, Thrawn's number one, his stormtrooper looking for all the world like a Party City Mardi Gras mask — but in a badass way, of course. 

The music is blaring, the Thrawn theme is echoing, and we're here, folks. We're here. We're meeting Grand Admiral Thrawn in the flesh, and it was so worth it. 

He's so blue. And his eyes are so menacingly red. Thrawn has been in exile for 10 years — that's an incredible amount of time! And it accounts for his slightly dirty uniform, as well as his stormtroopers' cracked visages. These soldiers are called night troopers, which is interesting. They've been living without support or reinforcement for a decade, no wonder things are in disrepair. 

What has this man been doing?!?! I have SO many questions, mainly from a supply chain point of view. The quartermaster in me really wants to know how he's been feeding these troops, keeping his Star Destroyer in fuel. 

A Kink in the Bad Guys' Plan

Our Bene Gesserit admit to Thrawn that there's a loose thread — the presence of Sabine, a familiar name to Thrawn as he knew her and Ezra back on Lothal. 

Thrawn greets Sabine, and thanks her for the part she played in freeing him from exile. Oof, that burns! Yes, it's technically her fault that Elsbeth & co could find Thrawn because she didn't destroy the Nightsister map. But it's complicated! 

Thrawn agrees to let Sabine go after Ezra, but of course she's going to be tracked. She mounts a howler (like a wolf horse) and traipses off into the brush of the planet, warned by Enoch to be wary of nomads. 

She gets ambushed within seconds (hey, she was warned!) but manages to impressively defend herself against a handful of natives. Her scanning equipment gets destroyed though, so she's in a pretty bad spot. 

Ready to Meet Your New Favorite Star Wars Creatures?

Lost and confused, Sabine stumbles across what can only be described as Peaky Blinders Hermit Crabs. They're called Noti and I'm obsessed. 

Like Leia befriending the Ewoks on Endor, she earns their trust and notices one wearing a rebel insignia — they must know where Ezra is!

I LOVED these little creatures. They really help capture that old Star Wars magic of strange and beautiful sentient beings. 

The creatures bring Sabine to their encampment, and we finally get the reunion we've been waiting for. Ezra is there, looking for all the world like Moses. He's been living among the Noti, we assume, and it's adorable.

It was a little hilarious that they didn't dive into the details of her arrival or her (lack of a) plan for getting off Peridia. But after missing each other for 10 years, sometimes you just want to have a moment of pleasure. He's NOT going to be happy when he learns she completely made his self-sacrifice moot in a moment of weakness. 

Bokken Promises

Tracking Sabine, Baylan and Shin find remnants of her scuffle. Shin asks after this Ezra, and we learn from Baylan about a type of Jedi called Bokken — ones trained after the fall of the temple. So Ezra, obviously, but also Luke! She asks if she's one, and Baylan replies no. He's training her to be something more than a Jedi. More clues! I remain fascinated.

Another Problem for Thrawn

Thrawn is told by the Nightsisters that the thread of fate has spoken — a Jedi is on the way via purrgil. He's understandably pissed, and immediately guesses that it's Ahsoka. He's been burned before by these space whales, so he charges his crew to eliminate it with prejudice. Little does he know that an entire pod is on the way. 


The Math

Baseline score: 9

Bonuses: +100 Thrawn's live-action debut was perfection.

Penalties: 0 I can think of none. This episode had me absolutely giddy.

Nerd coefficient: +5 This is the first piece of Star Wars content in years that really captured the old-school magic. Nerds everywhere, rejoice.

Gonk droid count: Zero!

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.