Jon Favreau, the creator of The Mandalorian and executive producer of Ahsoka said during Star Wars Celebration 2023 that Ahsoka is a series we have all been waiting for with bated breath.
For fans of The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels this is definitely true. The time has finally arrived that Ahsoka Tano will now appear in live-action format on the small screen. After reviewing the first two episodes of the series, I can boldly say that fans will not be disappointed and should expect to be well fed when watching the episodes.
The show begins with some connective tissue from The Mandalorian. In the episodic series, Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) had Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) arrested for being an Imperial sympathizer.
Now, in Ahsoka, Morgan is incarcerated, but not for long as she is busted out by Baylan Skoll (Ray Stevenson) along with his apprentice Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno). The two are hired mercenaries for Morgan. A new threat looms over planet Lothal with Morgan now on the loose and the ally of Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen).
Thrawn does not make an appearance in the first two episodes of Ahsoka, as I would imagine they want us to wait and savor the moment until his impending arrival. However, what these first two episodes do provide us some intense story building. We’re on a mission to find General Admiral Thrawn.
Ahsoka manages to find a Star Map that has his location. As she discloses this information to Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Hera is surprised to hear of this, believing that Thrawn died in Lothal. However, according to Ahsoka his death was never confirmed.
As the narrative takes us on a journey featuring Morgan’s hired mercenaries tracking this Star Map to find Thrawn, Ahsoka and Hera do what they can to protect its whereabouts.
Meanwhile, we meet Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo). One of the most compelling story arcs of these first two episodes is how Sabine’s character development is crafted. She’s portrayed as rebellious and someone dealing with the loss of a close friend. There’s also some friction between Sabine and Ahsoka as well, which adds more complexity and context to their relationship.
Little idiosyncratic aspects of Sabine, like her chipped nail polish, prompts interesting questions about who she is. Does she have a bit of anxiety? Or does she prefer not to look as polished as everyone else, indicating a defiant aspect to her personality?
Episode 1 focuses heavily on story building with bits and pieces of action to keep you engaged, but Episode 2 knocks it out of the park, whetting your appetite for what you would expect to see in an Ahsoka Tano story. If you’re familiar with Dave Filoni’s narrative style, this is quite common as he likes to really build the blocks to his storytelling. If you are new to the Ahsoka-verse, just be patient.
As always, the production value on these Star Wars shows is impressive and it appears they spared no expense with design, costumes and makeup. It’s at the same level as The Mandalorian, Andor, Obi-Wan Kenobi and others.
Ahsoka’s and Hera’s makeup is absolutely flawless. It was a shock to learn that the makeup process only takes one hour. From the trailer and featurette footage of the series, Thrawn’s makeup looks stunning as well.
As for the performances, the strongest so far are coming from Rosario Dawson and Natasha Liu Bordizzo. Dawson fits this role like a glove. During Star Wars Celebration, she said that playing the role felt like “visual memories” she was reflecting upon.
The scenes are so well constructed and the story is well placed, connecting perfectly to previous universes, that it’s clear that Ahsoka creator and TV showrunner Dave Filoni really put his heart and soul into the narrative. It’s pretty spectacular to think that this is his first time directing a live-action series. He was able to transition from animation as creator behind The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels so seamlessly.
The closing credits come with some pretty cool geometric designs that sync well with its beautiful score, but if I had to criticize one thing, it would be that these credits should actually be the opening credits as it’s easy to skip this beautiful sequence and move to the next episode if you are bingeing the series.
All this adds up to my conviction that Ahsoka is the best series to come out of the Disney+ Star Wars universe so far — and I can say this after only watching two episodes. Here’s why. We have visionary Dave Filoni behind the scenes constructing an incredible story that is already compelling, starting with an enthralling character arc for Sabine Wren and an entertaining adventurous quest to find the big bad that every character is looking for. The antagonists are far from being 2-dimensional and add a great deal of substance to the plot and each character’s role.
There’s also Rosario Dawson’s take on this character, which has been handled with such grace, care, respect, and dignity that she was made for this role. There’s even a moment at the end of Episode 2 between Sabine and Ahsoka that will give you goosebumps, with her uttering just one word — yes, she’s that good.
Get your popcorn ready, grab that lightsaber and prepare for Ahsoka. The series makes its debut August 22, 2023, on Disney+. It’s definitely going to be a good time.
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Jamie Broadnax is the creator of the online publication and multimedia space for Black women called Black Girl Nerds. Jamie has appeared on MSNBC's The Melissa Harris-Perry Show and The Grio's Top 100. Her Twitter personality has been recognized by Shonda Rhimes as one of her favorites to follow. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association and executive producer of the Black Girl Nerds Podcast.