AHSOKA Review: "An Astonishing Addition To The Saga - THIS. IS. STAR WARS."

AHSOKA Review: "An Astonishing Addition To The Saga - THIS. IS. STAR WARS."

The review embargo for Ahsoka has lifted and we're now weighing in with our verdict on the first two episodes of Dave Filoni's long-awaited live-action Star Wars Rebels sequel. Is it essential viewing?

Review Opinion
By JoshWilding - Aug 22, 2023 12:08 PM EST
Filed Under: Star Wars

It doesn’t feel like hyperbole to say Dave Filoni is the best thing to happen to Star Wars since, well, George Lucas. As one of the driving forces behind The Clone Wars animated series, he’s since spearheaded Star Wars Rebels and Tales of the Jedi, later shifting to live-action as a key creative partner to Jon Favreau in the Mando-verse. Now, the filmmaker is returning to the character he helped create, Ahsoka Tano, for the new Disney+ series Ahsoka. The first two episodes were provided to critics before they launch on the streaming platform later today and if what we’ve seen from "Part One - Master and Apprentice" and "Part Two - Toil and Trouble" is any indication, this really does have all the makings of the best Star Wars series yet. 

That’s a phrase which often gets thrown around when it comes to these TV shows, but it’s one this Rebels follow-up already feels worthy of. Yes, for all intents and purposes, Ahsoka is pretty much Rebels season 5, though Filoni does his best to make these characters and the story being told accessible to anyone without an encyclopedic knowledge of this Galaxy Far, Far Away. The fact is, you will enjoy the series more if you’re familiar with the lead characters and their respective histories and, in the long run, that could be a detriment.

The introduction of some formidable new villains and a compelling quest to find Ezra Bridger and Grand Admiral Thrawn at least means every viewer will be in the same boat when it comes to not knowing where exactly this adventure is heading. It's oddly exciting to be in the dark in that way; after all, while Obi-Wan Kenobi remains an excellent series, it was always going to end with the Jedi Master battling Darth Vader. The end of Cassian Andor’s story, meanwhile, was told way back in 2016! With Ahsoka, we can already tell this is a series guaranteed to generate discussion and speculation on a week-to-week basis, all while it sets the stage for an exciting new era of post-Return of the Jedi storytelling. 

With an intriguing premise that hooks you from the start, Ahsoka proves to be an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride, with the glorious lightsaber duels and imagery which made us fall in love with Star Wars in the first place put front and centre. Morgan Elsbeth and her sinister agents, Baylan Skoll, Shin Hati, and Marrok are setting out to bring Thrawn back from his unwilling exile, and only Ahsoka and her allies stand in their way. However, the former Jedi has become isolated and struggles to reconnect with her friends, meaning Rosario Dawson plays an Ahsoka who is far more reserved than the version we’ve spent time with in animation. As a result, she’s not always a huge amount of fun to spend time with. Some will argue the character has become too serious and contemplative, but given what the hero has been through, it's a logical progression of her arc and Ahsoka discovering herself is bound to be a big part of the series in the weeks ahead. Then again, Rebels ended by depicting her as a Gandalf-like character, so this may well just be who she is now. Either way, Dawson is incredible. 

Countering the seriousness is Natasha Liu Bordizzo as Sabine Wren, and her portrayal of the Mandalorian is an absolute delight to watch. A scene-stealer who impresses from the moment she first races into frame, Bordizzo may prove to be Ahsoka’s highlight. Also haunted by her role in taking down the Empire, Sabine misses her old friend, Ezra, and is determined to prove herself to Ahsoka as a Padawan and the wielder of Ezra’s old lightsaber. It’s an unexpected and intriguing direction to take the character in but one which works well and suggests there are big things in store for her. Mary Elizabeth Winstead similarly impresses as Hera Syndulla, though if Chopper isn’t your favourite character - regardless of how familiar you are with the droid beforehand - after watching the second episode, consider us shocked. 

Ivanna Sakhno, Diana Lee Inosanto, and David Tennant also deliver memorable turns, but we have to single out the late Ray Stevenson. His performance as Baylan is a powerful reminder of what a great actor he was, and while there are clearly still many layers we’ve yet to peel back when it comes to what this former Jedi is up to, Stevenson’s savage, surprising approach to the villain is bound to ensure his character is one who lives on in the hearts and minds of fans long after him. 

With Filoni in charge of Ahsoka, it so far feels like everything a Star Wars fan could want from a series. Akin to a live-action version of Rebels, it’s setting the stage for an exploration of the mythos unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Longtime fans will get a kick out of visiting familiar locations like Lothal, while everyone else will just have a blast with the lightsaber fights and the sort of gripping action which will leave you punching the air in joy. Only two episodes in, it’s tricky to figure out where the series is going and whether it will deliver a satisfying ending to Rebels’ cliffhanger. After all, there's a risk it's going to be used as little more than a means of teeing up Filoni’s planned Star Wars movie, rumoured to be a new take on Heir to the Empire. Ultimately, it will be easy to win praise by throwing in big cameos and fan-pleasing moments, but Ahsoka needs to stand on its own two feet as a worthy addition to this franchise. 

Luckily, with a terrific set of leads and all the right ingredients to succeed, there’s actually no reason to think Ahsoka won’t, you guessed it, end up being "the best Star Wars TV series yet." Everything about it oozes classic Star Wars, and for those bored by Andor’s grounded tone or underwhelmed by Din Djarin and Grogu’s latest adventures, Ahsoka feels like a breath of fresh air. Despite being sandwiched between the original and sequel trilogies, it’s forging a new path and not beholden to the Skywalker Saga the same way Obi-Wan Kenobi was. The Star Wars Rebels sequel fans have dreamed of, the action on screen is bolstered by Kevin Kiner’s (The Clone Wars) wonderous score, sumptuous visuals - this franchise is still the only one capable of effectively utilising The Volume - and characters we’re ready to fall in love with all over again. 

The Star Wars TV show we've been waiting for, Ahsoka is an astonishing addition to the saga, with a phenomenal cast and pitch-perfect action that will take your breath away. THIS. IS. STAR WARS. [⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐]

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amesjazz - 8/22/2023, 12:01 PM
Im sure. Just like "sAmUeL l. JaCkSoN's MaGnUm OpUs" show.
Origame - 8/22/2023, 12:15 PM
@amesjazz - omg. Did he really say that?
Origame - 8/22/2023, 12:29 PM
@Fogs - wtf? And this is the guy who won't let Gunn live down calling the flash the greatest superhero movie.
MrDandy - 8/22/2023, 12:10 PM
Super excited for this show. Love Clone Wars and Rebels and this seems poised to be the spiritual successor to both of them.
MotherGooseUPus - 8/22/2023, 1:10 PM
@MrDandy - couldnt of said it better myself. I really loved Rebels so i hope this lives up to that quality. i have high hopes
Fogs - 8/22/2023, 12:21 PM
Good for you, boys.

I just quit SW till the next main trilogy - that is, IF it looks promising.
MrDandy - 8/22/2023, 12:26 PM
@Fogs - so you’ve decided to only watch the sh*try stuff from Kennedy? Weird choice, but okay.
Gmoney84 - 8/22/2023, 12:27 PM
While I appreciate this review, I trust JWs opinion about as far as I can throw it. It’s clear Disney is paid up here.

Looking forward to this. I’ll form my own conclusion.
BlackStar25 - 8/22/2023, 12:42 PM
We giving Kennedy credit for this one? Still confused on how we pick and chose...
JackBurton1 - 8/22/2023, 12:55 PM
@BlackStar25 - She had zero to do with the show...just input...it was all Dave Filoni.
Toonstrack - 8/22/2023, 1:46 PM
@jst5 - she had zero to do with ANY of the shows lmfao. She just gets conveniently blamed when people don't like the show.
Goldboink - 8/22/2023, 2:29 PM
@Toonstrack -
Unfortunately she did have a huge hand in the previous trilogy. Filoni pitched using the animated stuff as a springboard and she is the one who gave it to JJ Abrams. She's a good producer but, like many, shouldn't have a hand in any creative decisions. It was the failure (creatively at least) of the last batch of movies that led them to embrace Favreau/Filoni and they saved Star Wars.
JackBurton1 - 8/22/2023, 4:35 PM
@Toonstrack - That isn't correct...she had a ton to do with Kenobi...Boba...and the third season of Mando.
Toonstrack - 8/23/2023, 11:48 AM
@jst5 - then she had a ton to do with this.

She's behind them all the same amount. She's never had story input but she can approve or veto directions.

She and filoni despite what yall try to peddle are on the same side and she has internally promoted him and give him projects like this one.
JackBurton1 - 8/23/2023, 12:13 PM
@Toonstrack - She had zero to do with Ahsoka...didn't hire the director...had zero input on the story.There is no "y'all"...I just gave you the facts.
Toonstrack - 8/23/2023, 1:09 PM
@jst5 - lol she's the executive producer. This show was made under her approval. The director was hired under her approval. It was greenlit under her approval. Filoni is only here at all because of her approval. Thats a fact. She's the one who attached him to mando and set this all off. Cope
Order66 - 8/22/2023, 12:43 PM
Dave Filoni should run Star Wars. He’s the Kevin Feige of Star Wars.
MotherGooseUPus - 8/22/2023, 1:11 PM
@Order66 - bingo
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