Friday, September 29, 2023

Recap — Ahsoka Episode 7: Dreams and Madness

As we barrel toward the season finale next week, things start to get complicated for our heroes.

This week, we open on a rare daytime scene of Coruscant, the capital city of the other galaxy. It's funny, when I picture Coruscant in my head, it's always a vast, sprawling nighttime scene. Probably because in my head, it's the same as New York City, just more sci-fi. 

Hera has been hauled before the Senate committee to atone for her sins of disobeying orders. Mon Mothma is there, and tries her best to be understanding, and Admiral Ackbar is there but remains silent. Senator Xiono, however, is on a witchhunt for Hera, and calls for her court martial. 

This scene harkens back to the EU, as Xiono basically is taking the role of Bothan council member Borsk Fey'lya, who folks loved to hate for his antagonism and political grandstanding. Even though the EU was scrapped almost wholesale, I love that Filoni is managing to sneak in some of its more important themes and characters (cough Thrawn cough).

A Protocol Surprise to Be Sure, but a Welcome One

All of a sudden, there's a disruption in the courtroom, and we hear Leia's theme begin softly playing. Accompanying this leitmotif is an appearance of none other than our boy C-3PO. It's funny, the Anakin/Hayden Christiansen appearance knocked everyone's socks off, sure, but Threepio absolutely just warmed my heart. 

He barges into the proceedings on behalf of Leia, and of course our favorite princess is here to save Hera's ass. In front of the court, Threepio presents evidence stating that Leia personally authorized Hera's trip to Seatos, and if Xiono has any more beef, to bring it personally to her. 

Afterwards, Mon Mothma lovingly sees through this ruse, but then in a moment of vulnerability asks Hera point-blank how real the Thrawn threat is. She's concerned. 

In a Space Whale's Mouth Far, Far Away

Ahsoka is training with a videotape of Anakin, and it's clear that's she saved this for a very long time. I like this idea of her still honing her Jedi skills, epecially now that's she's come to terms with him and his legacy, and where she falls alongside it. 

We learn that he made more than 20 of these lesson-recordings. With a sharp exhale, Ahsoka admits to Huyang, "He was a good master."

I saw a meme yesterday that was like "Anakin was only 23 when he became Vader. He shouldn't have been a sith! He should have been at the club!" I laughed, but there's a kernel of truth to this sentiment. He was so, so young. Wise behind his years, yes, and a formidable warrior. But he was such a baby in terms of world experiences. 

Arriving to Peridia

Ahsoka drops out of spacewhale hyperspace into an artfully laid trap above the planet — hundreds of space mines. In a very upsetting scene, our beloved purgill are getting attacked left and right. It takes just a few seconds, but the entire pod says "screw this" and jumps back into hyperspace, leaving Ahsoka and Huyang to navigate through the rest of the mines. 

As the emerge unscathed, fighters are launched to track them, and Ahsoka, impersonating her best Han in Empire, heads into the debris field to shake them. She finds a cozy spot and they hide out, buying time to figure out their next move and scan for Sabine.

Thrawn Gets the Surprise of His Life

One of the first things you learn about Thrawn in the Zahn trilogy (and later in Rebels) is that he's a cunning foe because he prides himself on learning as much about an enemy as possibly — background, culture, art, history. 

So while he knew that Ahsoka was a Jedi, when he finds out that Anakin was her master, you can almost see the exact second his jaw hits the floor. Just for a moment though, as he's a consummate tactictian and always, always has that cool blue demeanor. He also takes solace in knowing Anakin — if she's like him, she'll be unpredictable and dangerous.

Noti Caravan Life

Sabine and Ezra are in the Noti caravan, and she's catching him up on the past ten tumultuous year of galactic history. Here again we see Filoni doing the lord's work of trying to insert little plot bits that will help the sequel trilogy make even a slight bit more sense. "So Palpatine died?" Ezra asks. "That's what people say," replies Sabine.

EXCUSE ME. He was thrown down a mineshaft. The second Death Star exploded. Sigh. I guess this means that somehow, he'll return 20 years later. I have to laugh to keep from crying. 

Ezra has missed a lot, but there's so much more that she's not telling him. Good guy that he is, he doesn't press. Meanwhile, I'd be like YOU HAVE A PLAN RIGHT?!?!

The Great Mothers Help Thrawn Once Again

Thrawn's reliance on the Nightsisters and their ability to use the Force and magic is interesting. Not being a Jedi himself, dealing with them has always been his weakness. It's unclear what the Nightsisters are getting from their alliance (besides maybe a free trip back to the other galaxy), but they're definitely devoted to him. 

He asks them to find Ahsoka's location within the spacewhale bone graveyard, and they quickly set to work. I found myself really enjoying their use of magic — it compliments the magic we see with the Force (because that's all the Force really is, isn't it?). 

As Star Wars fans, we can take the Force for granted — lifting rocks, pushing enemies back, hearing voices. So seeing it in a new way underlines how truly remarkable this type of power is. They find her almost instantly, and Thrawn dispatches fighters to track her down.

The Battle Begins

Shin and Baylan have located Ezra and Sabine, overlooking their caravan from a hilltop. In a surprising move that I didn't see coming, Baylan tells Shin to kill them, and then to take her place in Thrawn's coming empire. 

She's blindsided — but Baylan merely tells hers that his path lies separate from hers. He gives her a parting lesson: Impatience for victory will guarantee defeat. 

This bummed me out! I liked their dynamic, and they seemed to care about each other. Also what does Baylan have up his sleeve? I had a feeling he wasn't entirely bad. Maybe that's why he was just using Thrawn and not eager to join the ranks of an evil empire.

A Rebels Battle If Ever There Was One

Shin and her goons race down and attack the caravan, and the battle begins in earnest. Ezra instructs the Noti to circle the hermit crab wagons and they make their stand. Shin confronts Ezra and Sabine, and in a scene straight of Rebels, he comically makes a last minute appeal to distract her before attacking. I'm not sure why this scene took me out of it, it was just a bit corny. It wouldn't have been in a cartoon, but it is in real life. 

Meanwhile, Ahsoka is skimming the planet's surface and spots Baylan. She jumps down and they begin to fight, as well. 

Both of these concurrent battles are fun to watch, but they both end in stalemates. Ahsoka escapes back onto her ship so she can go help Ezra and Sabine. Once there, they run Shin off instead of killing her, which was an interesting choice. (And one I'm glad of, as I like her character.)

This was part of Thrawn's plan. There's no need for him to keep his troops there. Their real mission is nearly complete — loading up the ship and getting ready to leave. 

Another Reunion

Ahsoka is reunited with Ezra, and it's heartwarming. Now what are they going to do?! The only way back to the other galaxy would be via the Eye of Sion. That is, unless the purgill come back, though if I were them, I'd be down with these humans. 

It's clear that the season finale next week is going to be a cliffhanger. I sure hope we get a season 2 — surely we will, right?

The Math

Baseline score: 7

Bonuses: +3 Threepio cameo! Ahsoka is back to her sly and sassy self. Some very good fighting.

Penalties: -3 There's a frustrating lack of plot progress despite how much happens in this episode. We're still no closer to knowing what Baylan is doing, or what Thrawn is loading into the ship, or how our heroes are going to get home.

Nerd coefficient: +2 I've decided my new favorite thing is how Sabine uses her beskar armor kind of like how John Wick is always pulling up his bulletproof jacket to cover his face.

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.