April 14, 2024

Ahsoka episode 5 is right here, one thing we—and by “we” I imply Clone Wars followers, Anakin Skywalker apologists, and Star Wars nostalgists—have been awaiting for a really very long time. Will Anakin get redemption? Will Ahsoka get closure? Will the live-action model of this factor we’ve seen earlier than crackle with new vitality, imbued by the highly effective appearing of Rosario Dawson and Hayden Christensen? The reply is—kind of.

Whereas it reveals flashes of brilliance, and a number of the most stunning visuals I’ve seen in Star Wars, interval, the most recent episode of the Ahsoka TV collection sometimes falls sufferer to the illness of Star Wars nostalgia, whereby characters and clothes and facial expressions and lightsaber twists are there simply to be there, simply so you are able to do the Captain America in The Avengers meme, simply so you may perceive that reference. It takes a second watch to actually perceive showrunner Dave Filoni’s intentions in a lot of this episode, which shouldn’t be the case.

Learn Extra: Ahsoka Episode 4 Evaluation: You’re Precisely The Means I Keep in mind You

Did I, as a fan, really feel satiated after lastly witnessing Anakin and Ahsoka collectively in reside motion? In some methods, positive, however in others the expertise left me wanting, just like the meal Filoni served was simply dessert, all fluffy meringues and candied fruit when what I actually needed was a heaping, savory plate.

Let’s get into the nitty gritty of Ahsoka episode 5, titled “Shadow Warrior.”

Looking out on Seatos

We start on, you guessed it, Seatos, the place Hera Syndulla, her son Jacen, and struggle prison Chopper have landed a bit of too late. Nobody’s there, or no less than, it appears that evidently means—poor Huyang is hiding behind one of many rocks, cradling Sabine’s Mandalorian helmet.

“I advised them to remain collectively,” he stated. “They by no means pay attention.” Cue the title card, and a reminder that the sound design on this present is stellar, earlier than we get to what all of us actually need to see: Anakin and Ahsoka within the World Between Worlds.

Although my coronary heart is aflutter the second the episode snaps to the previous grasp and apprentice dealing with one another in such a surreal, star-studded area, a nagging thought pokes behind my head. It persists all through the episode, just like the slight, aching headache I get after partaking in a couple of too many Aperol Spritzes at brunch: Why?

I stated final week that I used to be trying ahead to Ahsoka and Anakin having the dialog they wanted to have and that we wanted to listen to, however Anakin isn’t right here to speak. After telling her “you look outdated” and gently razzing her for shedding her struggle, he means that her potential to recollect what occurred provides her an opportunity at residing.

Ahsoka looks at Anakin's lightsaber.

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

However he’s additionally right here to struggle. He tells Ahsoka that he desires to complete her coaching. “One isn’t too outdated to study, Snips,” he says, and Hayden nails the Anakin perspective—a mixture of know-it-all wryness and somber statement. I agree with him right here, Ahsoka must study extra—however she doesn’t must swing lightsabers, she wants to speak to the person who was primarily her brother. No, in keeping with Filoni, her final lesson is selecting whether or not to reside or die, which appears so at odds together with her character.

The episode tries to loosely set up that Ahsoka has, one way or the other, given up, however was I watching a special present earlier than this? Ahsoka by no means felt like she had given up the struggle, however reasonably that she had closed herself off to private connections, one thing that Anakin (who was denied private connection, sought it anyway, and suffered due to it) might assist her unpack greater than anybody.

Regardless of this, Filoni appears decided to offer us a struggle, anyway, and the temporary notes of Darth Vader’s theme that performed on the finish of the final episode now really feel like they have been an ominous portent, not only a enjoyable little element. We’re getting all of the shades of Anakin Skywalker right here, whether or not we prefer it or not—this ain’t your daddy’s Drive ghost, however an precise specter, meant to symbolize Ahsoka’s sophisticated relationship together with her former grasp.

The Clone Wars

The episode constantly reveals us what’s happening again on Seatos: Jacen Syndulla is utilizing the Drive sensitivity he inherited from his father to assist find Ahsoka, and Hera is utilizing her non-sanctioned mission fleet to fly low over the ocean to search out her. However these are its weakest moments, as each scene feels needlessly dragged out. We don’t want a number of scenes on Seatos, we want one, perhaps two.

Ahsoka refuses to struggle Anakin within the World Between Worlds, however is compelled to anyway, and the 2 conflict laser swords. Did I squeal with glee watching Christensen do the now-infamous Anakin Skywalker twirl? In fact I did. Did that nagging ache behind my head pulse with confusion? You wager. They playfully spar, Ahsoka kicks Anakin within the face, and simply as she suggests he has nothing left to show her, Anakin slices the shimmering walkway out from beneath her and sends her hurtling via area.

Ahsoka lands flat on her face in sand, surrounded by smoke in a pink-hued area, a visible nod to the 1980 Akira Kurosawa movie Kagemusha, whose title interprets to Shadow Warrior (I see what you probably did there). However she’s not the Ahsoka we simply noticed—she’s the teenage model of her, performed by Barbie’s Ariana Greenblatt. She realizes she’s again within the Clone Wars simply as Anakin from that point interval strides previous her, confidently deflecting blaster bolts in his snazzy armor. “Ahead!” he screams—-this is Basic Skywalker, the struggle hero, and it’s right here that the starkness of the Clone Wars’ horrors are clearer than they’ve ever been—Ahsoka is only a little one, thrust onto the frontlines of a struggle.

A scene from Kagemusha that shows a samurai wielding a sword in a colorful, surreal setting.

A Kagemusha scene that Ahsoka references.
Picture: Criterion Assortment / twentieth Century Fox

“Hurry up, Snips!” he yells, however she’s confused as to why they’re right here, at considered one of their first-ever missions. She chases after him, deflecting bolts together with her outdated (inexperienced) saber, and asks “What about my coaching?” “That is your coaching!” he yells as they run ahead. When the smoke clears, the battle is over, and Ahsoka is looking over scores of lifeless or injured Clone Troopers. She sits down and reaches out to the touch one’s arm, and he instinctively reaches for her. It’s touching and somber, because it’s clear that she is shaken by this whole ordeal however nonetheless finds time for sympathy.

“We misplaced so many,” she says to Anakin, who’s urging her to proceed to struggle. She’s hung up on the lives misplaced, and the way their choices led to it. He reassures her: The Jedi are supposed to lead, however they make errors, and sure, these errors trouble him. Christensen is nice right here—he appears like an older brother who can also be tasked with an immense burden and flits between agency and sympathetic all through. The 2 talk about the function of the Jedi on this time interval, and the way it’s shifted. “We should regulate to the occasions. When Obi-Wan taught me we have been keepers of the peace, however now, to win this struggle, I’ve to show you to be a soldier,” he explains.

She doesn’t need to struggle, however he doesn’t care—she has to if she desires to reside, and he strides off, leaving her to stare at him in horror. These flashback scenes are the place Filoni’s struggles to adequately fill within the gaps between the tales he desires to inform and what he really places on-screen are essentially the most clear. On first view, I used to be confused at how Anakin was portrayed right here, as he appears to violently oscillate between caring, brotherly Grasp, vehement struggle chief, and Darth Vader himself. Then, on second viewing, I understand that this isn’t any model of Anakin aside from the one in Ahsoka’s head.

The admittedly stunning visible trick, the place Anakin’s physique forging onward into the smoke-filled battlefield is changed, briefly, by Darth Vader’s, is clearly meant to indicate us how Ahsoka struggles to make sense of her relationship together with her grasp. But it surely doesn’t really feel like we’ve gotten sufficient of an understanding of how badly this impacts her, the way it travels together with her in all places, up till this level. It feels, in some methods, unearned.

Anakin and Ahsoka stand back-to-back during the Clone Wars.

Picture: Lucasfilm

Shadows of the previous

We get one other too-long have a look at the Syndullas looking for Ahsoka (though I like Huyang telling Hera that folks like her as a result of she cares, and I do love Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s each facial features and line learn as her) earlier than we get again to a special, iconic level within the Clone Wars.

We’ve now jumped to the Siege of Mandalore, a battle that Ahsoka took half in on her personal, after she had left the Jedi Order. We get a quick cameo from Temuera Morrison, whose voice echoes from the helmet of a Tano Trooper (a battalion of Clone Troopers she led into battle after briefly returning to the struggle), earlier than Anakin seems at her facet. Anakin doesn’t keep in mind this battle, as a result of he was by no means there for it—that is going down in tandem with the primary half of Revenge of the Sith, the beginning of Anakin’s descent.

“You probably did effectively. You’re a warrior now, as I educated you to be,” he says. “Is that each one?” she wonders. Anakin guarantees her that she’s half of a bigger Jedi legacy, and she or he echoes the phrases that Baylan Skoll stated to her on Seatos: “However my a part of that legacy is considered one of loss of life and struggle.” Anakin’s retort is essential right here, because it’s one thing we’ve needed to listen to come from Hayden Christensen’s mouth for greater than 20 years: “However you’re greater than that, as a result of I’m greater than that.”

Ahsoka doesn’t consider this—she’s too caught up in Skoll’s phrases, within the legacy Anakin left behind, within the horrors related to Darth Vader (oddly, the specter of the Darkish Facet by no means felt like one thing Ahsoka has handled earlier than, nor does it really feel like one thing she ought to query). Her refusal to consider Anakin is “greater than that” frustrates him. “Is that what that is about?” he asks, irritated. At first watch, I assumed this was a glib response, a bizarre response to somebody suggesting that the genocide and destruction you left in your wake was dangerous, perhaps. However then I noticed, upon watching the scene once more, that Anakin is harm by her narrow-mindedness, that she, above anybody else, might and needs to be the individual to know the multifaceted nature of his character.

So, he reveals her that face she is so determined to see, that face of evil, of Vader, and he fights her but once more, this time with the purple lightsaber and outfit he wears on Mustafar. If that is the Anakin you need, that is the Anakin you’ll get. “I gave you a selection, reside or die.”

Anakin Skywalker stands in front of a window in Revenge of the Sith.

Picture: Lucasfilm

It feels, on this second, like we’re making an attempt to do a bit an excessive amount of right here—are we redeeming Anakin within the eyes of Ahsoka, or of the viewers? Are we imbuing Ahsoka with a renewed will to reside, however one which hinges on whether or not or not she will see that her grasp was greater than a monster? This confusion could possibly be due, partly, to dialogue decisions, or maybe the enhancing (which has been messy at occasions), however it’s complicated nonetheless.

Anakin kicks younger Ahsoka out of this reminiscence and again into the World Between Worlds, the place she’s her outdated self once more. The identical visible trick performs out once more, a flicker of Darth Vader, nevertheless it’s drained this time, and solely redeemed by Christensen’s unbelievable physicality, which makes his embodying of Anakin really feel like slipping on a well-worn go well with. “You lack conviction,” he says, echoing James Earl Jones’ vocal patterns. I really like an excellent lightsaber struggle, particularly one through which Anakin’s energy is on full show, however I nonetheless can’t fairly parse out why they’re combating, and what over.

She will get the higher of him, and although her eyes briefly flip the identical purple as his because of the gleam of his saber (which she’s simply disarmed of him of), she discards his weapon, throwing it into the abyss. “I select to reside,” she says, nevertheless it feels extra like she’s refusing to place Anakin within the Vader field, and herself alongside with it—not that anybody ever actually thought she can be till this very second. In a single episode, Filoni appears to have arrange and solved his personal issues. “There’s hope for you but,” Anakin says, earlier than disappearing.

It appears like everybody in Star Wars is combating over Anakin Skywalker’s charred physique just like the final rooster leg on the barbecue, every one hoping {that a} piece of this poor man will give them their very own closure. But he’s left drifting within the wind of the World Between Worlds, compelled to function a ferryman for all of your meditation retreats.

Ahsoka and Hera's ships set out to find the purrgil.

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Ahsoka reborn

After Anakin serves his goal, we get a fantastic visible of the World Between Worlds condensing till it turns into water lapping at Ahsoka’s ft. It overtakes her, and we see her physique floating in Seatos’ ocean, the place she’s rescued by considered one of Hera’s pilots. As she regains consciousness, Anakin’s identify is on her lips. Was all of it a dream? I’m unsure we’ll ever know, or if Filoni desires us to, however both means, the showrunner’s affinity for aligning Ahsoka with The Lord of the Rings’ Gandalf the Gray has now been translated to live-action—the subsequent time we see her up and about, she’s in all white, and there’s one thing ”totally different” about her.

Ahsoka faucets into the Drive to search out echoes of Sabine’s reminiscence embedded within the items of the discarded map, and discovers that she’s gone with Baylan, Shin Hati, and Morgan Elsbeth to some far nook of one other galaxy. She realizes that the one method to discover her is to enlist the purrgil (area whales), who’re conveniently again and in the course of a cross-galaxy migration. Whereas Hera and Carson Teva distract the New Republic ships which have appeared to strip Hera of her Basic standing as a consequence of her insubordination, Ahsoka convenes with the biggest whale within the pod.

Standing on high of her ship, her white frock flapping within the breeze, she reaches out with the Drive and speaks to the whale, echoing the primary time she ever confirmed her sensitivity to the universe’s life pressure, means again when she was just a bit child on Shili. It’s breathtakingly stunning, a lot in order that it practically brings tears to my eyes, however that’s in all probability as a result of I’m the identical lady who rescues injured pigeons.

Ahsoka stands wearing all white and leaning on a staff in a scene from Star Wars: Rebels.

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

This Ahsoka is lighter in each means—she feels burdenless, ballooned by no matter closure she managed to get within the World Between Worlds (it confused the hell out of me, however good for you, lady). She instructs Huyang to fly the ship straight into the mouth of the whale, who has silently agreed to take them alongside for the journey.

“You’re sure they know the place Sabine was taken?” Huyang asks as they park their ship on its tongue and its baleen enamel shut them off to the skies. “I do not know,” she says. “What?” he asks, perplexed. “No thought,” she says playfully. “We’ll simply see the place it goes…It’s higher than going nowhere.” Okay, lady Gandalf, I’m right here for it.

Ahsoka and Hera say their goodbyes because the purrgil put together their soar to hyperspace, and the latter’s voice crack on the notorious “might the Drive be with you” line sends a tear down my cheek. Then, with a satisfying whoosh, the pods disappear. To the place? Who is aware of.

Ahsoka episode 5 has moments of brilliance and of magnificence, nevertheless it will get slowed down in messy dialogue and complicated storytelling. Filoni has some nice clay at his fingertips, I simply need to see him mildew it even higher. My requirements are excessive (I’m penning this whereas carrying an Ahsoka Tano t-shirt), however I can say that other than Andor, and regardless of my reservations, that is one of the best Star Wars story we’ve gotten in a really very long time.

The subsequent episode of Ahsoka airs on September 25 at 9 p.m. ET on Disney Plus.