Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Star Wars Subjectivities: Ahsoka

My hot take — you don't need to to be a hardcore Star Wars animated series fan to love this show.

I have dabbled in The Clone Wars and Rebels animated series, but by and large they're not for me. Not through any fault of theirs, though, just that I have a hard time getting invested in any animated show post-Simpsons. I'm also part of the older generations that weren't young and impressionable when they were released.

Now that the first season of Ahsoka is out and finished, there are many who say that it was merely a live-action, fifth Rebels season — to which I say, okay! For die-hard Rebels fan, you will 120% be rewarded for your loyalty and patience with one million Easter eggs, inside jokes, and character reunions.

But for those of us who have merely dabbled in Rebels — or gasp! seen none of it — Ahsoka is still a great show worth watching. I have assembled in support of my argument the top 5 reasons I think everyone can enjoy it. Let's dive in. 

1. Ahsoka Tano is an incredibly interesting — and downright cool — character

Rosario Dawson has done an amazing thing with her portrayal of grownup Ahsoka — she's just so damn cool. The closest thing I can compare her to is David Carradine in the 70's TV show Kung Fu. She, too, is an itenerant practitioner of a powerful monastic form of self-defense, roaming the galaxy to go "where she's needed."

Ahsoka is all knowing glances, deep eye contact, slight smirks, and boundless patience. She has a complicated past — she was Darth Vader née Skywalker's one and only apprentice — and willingly left the Jedi Order, yet still is a Force user who practices what she learned among them. 

There's one scene in which Ahsoka and Sabine sit down and have a heart-to-heart, and Ahsoka is cupping a mug of some beverage, maybe hot, maybe alcoholic. But man, I've never wanted to sit down and have a chat with a fictional character more in my life. 

When she's not being wise or searching out the truth, she's a bad-ass lightsaber wielder and she absolutely loves jumping outside of her spaceship for some intense battle choreography. She's the GOAT.

2. Baylan and Shin show us something new

We see a lot of Jedi and Sith in Star Wars, but we hardly ever get a peak outside of this binary. Ahsoka, of course, comes close, but it's absolutely fascinating watching Baylan and Shin (master and apprentice) practice...whatever the hell they're doing. They're using the Force, but definitely not just for good. I wouldn't exactly call them evil, but they're nt warm and fuzzy, either. Seeing them together evokes a near-medieval feeling of knighthood, right down to the rigid way they use their lightsabers more like heavy metal broadswords than buzzing pieces of technology. I could watch a whole season of just them wandering around training and talking. How did they meet? What is Baylann's end goal? How did he find Shin? Why does Shin always have a smokey eye?


It's almost a shame Thrawn made his first official canon appearance in Rebels — a lot of folks may have missed it! But seeing him in the flesh halfway through the first season of Ahsoka is positively divine. I could write a whole 'nother post about the spell this blue-skinned man has cast over the Star Wars universe for the past 30 years, but suffice it to say that he's just the living embodiment of efficient and effective leadership.

That may sound boring at first take, but it's exciting to see him in action doing what he does best: strategizing and planning. He's no Imperial stooge that was a nepo-baby at an academy. No, he's a brilliant leader who has overcome a lot of discrimination in This Emperor's Navy. You want to root for Thrawn because he doesn't seem like a bad guy — he seems like a guy who knows exactly what he's doing, and why.

4. Witches.of.Mother.F'ing.Dathomir.

I've said for years that the Bene Gesserit in Dune were Star Wars-coded, and seeing Dathomiri Nightsisters in action only confirms it. They bring a fresh, new mysticism to Star Wars that's similar to yet distinct from the woo-woo Force we all know and love. Also, they're a little bit scary looking, and I dig that about them. And watching Morgan Elsbeth — looking for all the world like an evil Cheri Oteri — harness her nascent witch powers and lead her allies to Thrawn was thrilling. 

5. A different view of Anakin 

Some would say that there's maybe been too much focus on the Skywalkers throughout all of the Star Wars, and honestly, that's probably true. But seeing Anakin (briefly) in flashbacks in the Clone Wars mentor and lead Ahsoka is a fascinating look at a different version of his legacy. Not one of murder, betrayal, and galaxywide domination, but of a young man helping to train someone only a few years younger in a time of almost impossible trauma. You don't have to know all of the details of his and Ahsoka's falling out to know that they were important to one another, or that Ahsoka feels deeply shameful of her connection (and love for) a man that the entire galaxy would grow to revile. 

For a moment, you see what she saw in him — and what he could have been.

Bonus things to love

  • You can never have too much Mon Mothma, and there's some good scenes with her trying to talk sense into a very intransigent New Republic senator.
  • A C3PO cameo that will warm your heart
  • Space whales are an objectively awesome plot device
  • The peaky blinder snail inhabitants of Peridea that help our good guys

POSTED BY: Haley Zapal, NoaF contributor and lawyer-turned-copywriter living in Atlanta, Georgia. A co-host of Hugo Award-winning 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.