Friday, October 6, 2023

Recap — Ahsoka Episode 8: The Jedi, The Witch, and The Warlord

The season finale is a blast to watch, but where do we go from here?

We open on a special day — Morgan Elsbeth's promotion! The Great Mothers thank her, she who heard their dreams from across the stars. They give her the gift of shadows as recompense, and in a very a cool scene, physically and spiritually transform her with some witchy face markings, much like their own. The Great Mothers conjure up the Blade of Talzin, which is kinda like a witchy lightsaber., and gift it to her.

It was easy as the beginning of the season to think of Elsbeth as a generic baddie, but the more we've seen, the more we've learned that she's in this for the girls. The Nightsisters, that is, and her home planet and culture of Dathomir. She doesn't care about Thrawn, or the Empire, or whatever the hell Baylan is looking for. For the bad guys, everyone is using everyone else in this show. Perhaps that's the banal, transactional nature of evil. It contrasts mightily with the themes of love, devotion, and friendship found with the good guys.

Rebels Back Together 

Ezra is on Ahsoka's ship with Huyang in the workshop, constructing a new lightsaber. They're playfully squabbling, and then Ezra tells him that his master was none other than Kanan Jarrus. Huyang, being the ancient robot that he is, tells Ezra that he knew him back at the Jedi Temple decades before. In fact, Huyang has been holding on to a lightsaber bit that Kanan also used. Cute!!!

Ahsoka is back up top on her ship, her favorite place these days, and Sabine joins her for a heart to heart. She apologizes to her master for not destroying the map, expecting the worst. But our new Ahsoka the White is gracious, and explains how Anakin always stood by her, no matter what. Ahsoka reaffirms her commitment to Sabine for the long haul. It's a touching scene, this unconditional love. 

Their peaceful chat is interrupted by a duo of Thrawn's TIE fighters, who strafe the ship and force it to crash clunkily on Peridia, their plans now definitely delayed. 

Thrawn Is NOT Playing

Because he knows that Anakin was Ahsoka's master, and because he knows how dangerous Ezra is from ahem, personal experience, Thrawn prepares for a ground assault, willing to take no chances with these errant Jedi. Enoch reports that the two TIE fighters accomplished their mission, but lost contact with them. Thrawn recognizes the sacrifice the pilots made, and what could be seen as a throwaway line, says "Mark their captain for a citation." 

This. This is why his troops love him. Hell, this is why I love Thrawn. He's a fair and just leader, and it's no wonder people follow him to the ends of the galaxy. Sure, he's cold, calculating, and stoic. But he knows how to treat people, something you can't ever say about any other member of the Empire. He's humble, too. When Elsbeth says that the volunteer Night Troopers are doing it for him, he says nope, it's for the Empire. 

Storming the Castle

Our Jedi hop on some of the native horse-wolves and make their way to Thrawn. He rains hellfire down upon them with the Star Destroyer's turbolasers, but to no use. They make their way through the gate and start climbing the tower to be met with a sea of storm troopers. 

And here we learn finally Thrawn's great plan. These are no ordinary troops — they're night troopers. Once they fall on the battlefield, the Great Mothers' dark magic reanimates them. They shamble. They groan. And they definitely don't stop.  

That's right. Dave Filoni has blessed us with zombie storm troopers. And in the scene of them being raised from the dead, we get treated with creepy Beetlejuice-sounding atonal string music. It's perfect. 

Witch vs Jedi

Thrawn dispatches Elsbeth to delay the Jedi, and she follows orders. She meets Ahsoka and they engage in maybe the coolest duel of the season. The Sword of Talzin has a satisfying metallic echo-thunk when it makes contact with a light saber. 

Also, I don't know about y'all, but I had no idea Elsbeth could ball so hard. I don't know if it's the new witchy powers or what, but the fight choreo was so incredibly entertaining. Also hell yeah to this episode for showing us another duel between two 40+ year old women!

Sabine and Ezra separate to go after Thrawn's ship, but they get separated as only Ezra can make the 100 foot jump to the destroyer. Sabine stays behind, and goes to help Ahsoka. 

After a few more moments of fantastic dueling, Ahsoka manages to wrest Elsbeth's sword from her and kills her with it. Such a shame to see her go! 

Thrawn Yeets Himself Out of the Galaxy

Despite our heroes' best efforts, Thrawn uses the Eye of Sion to escape back to the galaxy he belongs in. Ezra is a stowaway, however, and manages to disguise himself as a storm trooper. 

Before jumping to hyperspace, Thrawn reaches Ahsoka on comms and congratulates on her a good try. Then, in an incredibly bitchy move, says 'one wonders how similar" she may grow to Anakin, implying she may turn evil. How does he do it?!!? Thrawn knows exactly how to twist the knife. Fortunately, our girl has done force ghost therapy, so she knows that he's just being spiteful. 

Ahsoka and Sabine return to the surface of Peridia after a space chase in vain, and reunite with the Noti. They're going to be here a while, and it looks like this may a perfect time for them to just train. Could be worse, I suppose. 

Master and Apprentice, Separated 

In the last bit, we finally see Shin, briefly. She's been wandering Peridia, unsure of where to go or what to do. She approaches a bandit camp and raises her lightsaber, though it's unclear whether in attack or as a gesture of wanting to join. That's all we get, though, so we'll have to find out next season!

Next we see Baylan, standing on a huge cliff shape not unlike the Argonath from Lord of the Rings. I had to do some research, but what's he standing on is a statue of the Father, a character from Star Wars: The Clone Wars season 3. The father dwelled in the realm of Mortis along with his kids the Son and the Daughter. 

According to this post by Screen Rant, "the Mortis gods were essentially tied to the Force itself, which is likely why Baylan still hears them calling to him. In any case, it could be that they wish for Baylan to find Mortis itself and act as the new keeper of the balance."

Note: I don't know a ton about the Father & Daughter & Son stuff. 

This makes sense, as all season long Baylan has been talking about how the Jedi and the Sith were doomed to keep going back and forth forever. 

Sadly, however, the actor who played Baylan, Ray Stevenson, passed away this year. It's unclear whether he'll be recast or the story will be scrapped. 

Chopper, We're Home

Thrawn and company make it to the proper galaxy, this time approaching the planet Dathomir. We see the cargo hold still full of what appears to be coffins, but I'm not sure what they're full of. Rumors have it that its fallen Nightsisters. 

Ezra manages to escape the star destroyer, and he meets up with the fleet. He has a touching reunion with Chopper and Hera, who basically was like his mom. It's good to see them reunited. 

Back on Peridia, we see the force ghost of Anakin looking down on Ahsoka and Sabine. 

What Now?

Ezra has switched places with Ahsoka and Sabine, and now how are they going to get home? My guess is something with the World Beyond Worlds? I don't think they're going to be able to get the purrgils, or the Eye of Sion. 

But what I also can't stop thinking about is that now there's precedent for Thrawn being in the canon world of Star Wars. So this is how Filoni does it! Yanking him through to the galaxy at roughly the same time as Zahn did in the Legends Universe with Heir to the Empire, around five years post-ROTJ.

Honestly it's brilliant. Ahsoka has set up a new war arc with Thrawn and I'm thrilled to see where it goes. 

The Math

Baseline score: 8

Bonuses: +2 Seeing Thrawn win is a delight, even though he's a bad guy. He's just so damn smart and calculating.

Penalties: -2 How the hell you gonna end a season like this?!

Nerd coefficient: +2 Fantastic finale and will appease hardcore Clone Wars nerds. I'm not nearly nerdy enough to have understood all of the references in this episode.

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.