top of page

The Media Man Reviews: Ahsoka Season 1


And here we are again. Another day, another Disney+ Star Wars show to sink my teeth into.


If you've been following this blog since last year, you'll no doubt remember that I have not been enjoying these Disney+ Star Wars shows. After the sequel trilogy already destroyed the franchise's reputation, these shows have only been dividing people even more and making the franchise an even bigger joke at this point. I've already covered The Book of Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Mandalorian Season 3 and all of them have been mediocre at best and frustratingly awful at worst. It's not been fun being a Star Wars fan lately when the fandom is getting as toxic as it is nowadays and Disney has been churning out mediocre material that's only making things worse for the franchise. It says a lot when the most enjoyment I've had with this era of Star Wars includes The Clone Wars Season 7, Star Wars: Rebels, Jedi: Fallen Order on the PS4, Tales of the Jedi and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. They're like diamonds in the rough amongst all the other Star Wars media we've had lately. I'm still yet to see The Bad Batch but I do plan to one day as I hear that's (supposedly) good.


Anyway, These Disney+ exclusive shows have been so disappointing that when it came to this series, which is all about the fan-favourite Ahsoka Tano whom was introduced in The Clone Wars back in 2008, my reaction was "please don't suck!". That's a depressing state to be in when a new media comes out for your favourite franchise and instead of being optimistic, you just pray it won't be bad. Still, Ahsoka is the last straw for me. I said that if Ahsoka ended up being bad, then I'd be quitting this franchise and I wouldn't be returning unless the franchise takes a turn for the better and starts looking up.


So did Ahsoka redeem Star Wars for me? Or is it time for me to bid farewell to this franchise for now? Here's your answer...


Section 1: The Story


Built up since The Mandalorian Season 2, Ahsoka sees Ahsoka Tano and her friends from The Ghost crew, Hera Syndulla and Sabine Wren, trying to prevent Grand Admiral Thrawn's return after some Dark Jedi rescue Morgan Elsbeth from custody and seek a map that leads to his whereabouts. It's a race against time to prevent the Grand Admiral's return and some difficult choices may get in the way of their mission...


The premise of this show is an odd choice for a series centred around Ahsoka Tano. I mean really, this is what we've got? Last I looked, Grand Admiral Thrawn isn't Ahsoka's arch-enemy and with the Rebels of Lothal also being in this story, it makes this series feel less like a show about Ahsoka and more like an unofficial continuation of Star Wars Rebels. I even dubbed this series "Star Wars Rebels Season 5" because of it. And believe me, THAT title is way more fitting than "Ahsoka" because it really does feel more like a new seasons of Rebels thanks to their presence and Thrawn's. Granted, Ahsoka herself has appeared in Rebels and knows these characters but still, if I was doing a show based on Ahsoka I wouldn't have included the Rebels of Lothal and made finding Ezra while preventing Thrawn's return the plot of the show, because this plot isn't really about Ahsoka in that sense. Rather Ahsoka feels like a spare part attached to the Rebels of Lothal who have the lion's share of plot importance and focus here. They have more of the emotional connection to the stakes and the villain of this story and the plot points are a continuation of THEIR story that we left off with after Season 4 so it feels more like it's their story than Ahsoka's, and that's just REALLY confusing writing in my eyes because a show about Ahsoka should be ABOUT Ahsoka! What is this, The Book of Boba Fett all over again?


And the whole inclusion of plot points and characters from Rebels brings up another issue this series has: it is NOT welcoming to newcomers in the slightest. If you haven't seen The Clone Wars or Rebels, you're going into this show missing a crap load of context that will have you feeling completely lost and thus you're required to watch those shows in order to have any understanding of what's going on here. Thus this show can't really stand on its own like most of the other shows can. And even if you have seen The Clone Wars and Rebels, this feels like a poor follow-up on what came before because most of the cast don't feel like their old selves from those shows. And I don't mean in the sense that "Things have changed and they've grown up since then", no I mean they literally don't feel like the characters we know and love from those shows. Ahsoka is way too emotionless, Sabine has regressed in maturity and Hera doesn't seem as warm and motherly as she once was. These characters feel they've regressed after the years of development that we got from them and it just feels alienating as a fan of this franchise who has seen and loved those shows.


Oh and because this is a Disney+ Star Wars show, it comes with the same problems that all the other ones have: a plot that only happens because of characters making dumb decisions and poor pacing. This plot relied way too much on the characters being complete morons in order for it to work with Episode 1 being the biggest offender in that regard. Like why did the New Republic let Baylan and Shin onboard despite calling their bluff on them being Jedi? Wouldn't it have been safer to just talk to them from a distance and call their bluff without them being let onboard? And why do the droids attacking Ahsoka blow themselves up during their battle with Ahsoka? They want the map and they know Ahsoka has the map, yet they were willing to risk destroying the map just to kill her? And why does Ahsoka not go after Sabine and demand the map back when she takes it against her orders? She could've easily got it back but no, she just spends the day skulking around with Huyang until Shin attacks Sabine and steals the map! And then there's the final episode where Ezra is somehow able to slip away without Thrawn noticing (seriously, you'd think he'd notice a shuttle leaving without authorization and would question Ezra about it) and when he arrives in the New Republic's vessel, he comes off the ship with his disguise still on and doesn't think to take his helmet off until AFTER he's already left the ship and has a bunch of guns pointed his way. You'd think he'd have taken the helmet off BEFORE leaving the ship as he risked getting shot down on sight sue to being dressed like a Stormtrooper!


And then you have utterly ridiculous moments like Shin stabbing Sabine with her lightsaber and somehow NOT killing her (seriously Disney, stop making this happen! You're making lightsabers look lame now!) or Sabine nonsensically learning how to use the Force in the climax despite NOT EVEN A WHISPER OF A HINT THAT SHE'S FORCE SENSITIVE IN ALL FOUR SEASONS OF REBELS! I remind you, this show was written by Dave Filoni, the man who is responsible for creating these characters and writing their stories back when The Clone Wars and Rebels were airing so how has he dropped the ball so much with this series? This man is clearly a smart and talented writer and knows his craft with Tales of the Jedi being the most recent example of his writing talents. So what went wrong with this story and why did it turn out so badly?


It's especially the case with the aforementioned bad pacing that plagues these shows. This is an eight episode show, yet it feels like I could've told this story in six episodes. Several scenes last way too long and there's a completely worthless subplot involving Hera bickering with the New Republic that amounted to nothing in the end. It felt like Dave included this subplot as a convenient excuse to keep Hera out of the story, which is a gross mishandling of a great character like her. And that subplot too is an example of the characters being complete morons as well. Like how is anybody in any position to question Hera about Thrawn's return and why does nobody take her seriously considering the events of the prequels and the original trilogy? You'd think they'd have learned their lesson after the rise of the Empire! Oh and one senator dismisses Hera's report as "a fairy tale". Yes really. In a franchise where we have giant sasquatch creatures with crossbow weapons, orange skinned people with tendrils for hair, men with horned heads and red and black tattooed faces, a four-armed cyborg that can wield lightsabers, witches that can resurrect the dead and many many more weird and fantastical things to offer, nobody is EVER in a position to say "there's no such thing as this thing or that thing". How is it you have all these things and yet star whales that can travel through lightspeed is where these idiots draw the line? It just makes no sense...


Speaking of what makes no sense, Huyang got information about the Eye of Sion, the warp ship that Morgan had built to find Grand Admiral Thrawn. He has information about the ship and may even have schematics about it, yet during the meeting with the Senate, nothing comes of this. So either two things happened: Huyang had all this information and DIDN'T give it to Hera as evidence of what she's seen and what's going on OR Huyang DID do all that and the Senate still dismissed what she said. And as you can see, BOTH these outcomes are dumb! And dumber still, the whole subplot with Ahsoka meeting Anakin in the World Between Worlds and then appearing as a Force ghost at the end digs up plot holes that only further invalidate the sequel trilogy's existence. Namely in the sense that IT NEVER ONCE OCCURS TO ANAKIN TO WARN AHSOKA THAT EMPEROR PALPATINE IS ALIVE!!! Like come on Anakin, surely you're aware of Palpatine's return! Why aren't you warning Ahsoka and friends about this? You could've prevented the sequel trilogy from ever happening and yet you don't! What's stopping you? Just why does this era of Star Wars feel so poorly thought-out and muddled with its story and continuity a lot of the time?!


So yeah, this show is another disaster, right? Sadly so. But are there any good bits about it? A few at least. I rather liked Ahsoka and Anakin's interactions in the World Between Worlds and the call backs to The Clone Wars. It was a nice little reflection on how far Ahsoka has come since those days and how she's been changed by the experience. Thrawn's return was also very welcome and I'm glad he managed to escape in the end as it would've sucked if he got defeated as quickly as he returned. And by far the most interesting thing about the story was Baylan Skoll and his motivation. I'll cover this more in the characters section but pretty much, he was the most interesting thing about this show and any time he was onscreen, that was when things got good. Huyang's return was also very welcome too so I appreciate that. Aside from that, I haven't got that much praise I can give this show.


With writing as mediocre at this, I'm forever in confusion how a show with Dave Filoni at its head turned out as badly as it did. I know no writer can create a masterpiece all the time but still, I expected a lot better from a show that's about Ahsoka Tano. How did a show as promising as this turn out with writing this full of holes and plagued by dumb decisions? I genuinely want to know...


Section 2: The Characters


Much like the other Disney+ shows, we get inferior depictions of beloved characters that only add salt to an open wound.


We have our titular heroine, Ahsoka Tano (played by Rosario Dawson). As mentioned earlier, despite the show being titled after her, this doesn't really feel like it's about Ahsoka, more like it feels like it's about the Rebels of Lothal. She doesn't have much of a personal connection to the main threat since she and Thrawn never met in Rebels and most of what's been established here is a continuation of her supporting cast's story rather than her own. So weirdly enough, Ahsoka feels like a side-character in her own story and it genuinely feels like if you took her out of it, not much would change. If they just made this entirely about the Rebels of Lothal tracking down Ezra then you'd pretty much have the same show, only it would make more sense because it's about the characters that make the most sense to tell this story with. Ahsoka really didn't need to be here when you really think about it. The worst part about this is her non-existent character arc. She ends up in the World Between Worlds and relives her past trauma...and it boils down to her needing a desire to live and she basically becomes Gandalf the White complete with white robes and everything. Why is this even a thing with her? Ahsoka has NEVER displayed no desire to live at any point before this show. She's not become nihilistic or anything like that and even after her "rebirth", she's still the same character as she was before she ended up in the World Between Worlds so nothing's changed with her except her wardrobe! Ahsoka literally has no arc in this series and that's what's so frustrating. Why does a show about Ahsoka do such a bad job actually being ABOUT her?!


Now we move onto the characters the show is ACTUALLY about, the Rebels of Lothal. Sadly, these characters feel like downgrades from their animated counterparts and that's a real shame as I was looking forward to seeing them again. We have Sabine Wren (played by Nastaha Liu Bordizzo). Sabine feels like all her character development from Rebels has just gone down the toilet and instead of the laid back, art-loving teen who became more hardened by her past, her experiences in facing the Empire and had to undergo some hard tasks including liberating Mandalore from Gar Saxon and his cronies, she's now this impulsive, reckless idiot who ends up helping the villains bring Thrawn back, thus risking dooming the entire galaxy just because she's desperate to get Ezra back. And yet in spite of this desperation, she was awfully quick to let him go in the end just to help Ahsoka so he clearly didn't matter to her THAT much! What makes this more frustrating is that she faces NO consequences for her actions. Ahsoka pretty much forgives her and Ezra never gets to find out what Sabine went through in order to get to him so what should've been a neat bit of character drama is just swept under the rug and never addressed. This show actually makes me hate Sabine because of how badly written she was here and all I want to do is re-watch Rebels so I can remind myself on what a great character she once was.


Hera Syndulla (played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead), is no better in this regard. She barely gets to contribute anything to the story because of the dumb New Republic subplot, she doesn't really feel like her animated counterpart and she's also stupid enough to bring her young son into battle despite his age. Speaking of her son, Jacen Syndulla (played by Evan Whitten) is practically pointless here. The only part he gets to play is finding Ahsoka and then that's it. He just vanishes from the rest of the story. They may as well have not bothered bringing him in.


C1-10P, aka "Chopper" (voiced by Dave Filoni) is equally as pointless too. His only contribution is literally just placing a tracker on the ship so Ahsoka can chase after Baylan and Shin and that's it. If Hera and Chopper were going to be in this show then make them do SOMETHING instead of just existing! Also why do we have the Rebels of Lothal and yet Zeb is nowhere to be seen? It seems weird not to include him given he was a big part of the show too.


Next we have Huyang (played by David Tennant). He's a droid who's very knowledgeable on lightsabers and the history of the Jedi and while I wouldn't say he was necessary to include, I appreciate his presence immensely. He gets a lot of the best lines and wisecracks here and there and hey, it's David Tennant playing a droid. That's always going to be fun. ^^ He provided much of the entertainment for me when the other characters didn't and I guess he plays a part in Ahsoka and Sabine's arcs so he wasn't completely pointless.


While we're on the subject of good characters, let's talk about the best character in the series, Baylan Skoll (played by the late Ray Stevenson). He was a fascinating villain, being not a Sith but a Dark Jedi instead and his motives are all about "breaking the cycle" that the galaxy has found itself in. Given what's been going on in Star Wars's long in-universe history, I don't blame him for wanting to do that. He has this menacing yet dignified air to his character and has a tremendous sense of honour even to his enemies. He was cool and intriguing anytime he was onscreen and Ray Stevenson's performance added a lot of charisma and weight to his character. It's a pity he had to die so suddenly before this show came out but at least we can say this was a solid character and performance for him to go out on.


His apprentice, Shin Hatti (played by Ivanna Sakhno) is less interesting compared to her master. She has no personality whatsoever and feels more like Baylan's personal attack dog than an actual character. She also sucks at her job considering she couldn't even kill Sabine despite stabbing her in the gut with a lightsaber. How am I supposed to take her seriously when she fails something as simple as KILLING SOMEONE? And yet somehow, a lot of fans seem to love her. Why? Because she looks attractive? Sorry but looking attractive doesn't equal "good character". If Dave Filoni bothered to give her a personality, I might've enjoyed her more but as is, she just bores me and I'd rather we got more of Baylan instead of any scene with her in.


And of course, I have to bring up the main villain himself, Grand Admiral Thrawn (played by Lars Mikkelsen, who also voiced him in Rebels). Sadly, Thrawn doesn't translate too well from animation to live-action as Lars doesn't physically match Thrawn's physique but he still has the chilling voice at least. Thrawn is the same cunning, calculating strategist that made him such a fan-favourite villain and proves he hasn't lost his touch by being several steps ahead of Ahsoka and friends which leads to him successfully escaping in the end and making his return to the galaxy at large. Sadly, he does end up making a few dumb decisions here and there, namely how he should've had the Nightsisters resurrect his dead troops much sooner than he did, but that's down to the writing, not the character himself. Thrawn was still great in spite of those moments and I'm glad to see he got away so he can carry on being the great villain he is in the future...


Anakin Skywalker (played by Hayden Christensen) is back too and he only serves to be part of Ahsoka's non-existent character arc where he teaches her a lesson she didn't need to learn and his presence only ends up making us ask why he isn't warning anyone about Palpatine's return. He really shouldn't have been here and his scenes are just meaningless fanservice in the end.


The rest, there's no real point covering them. Morgan Elsbeth is a boring villain, the New Republic senators are all morons who just serve to emphasize how incompetent the New Republic is, C-3PO makes a pointless cameo and Ezra Bridger (played by Eman Esfandi) is just the guy that Sabine wants to find and when she does find him, they have a very stilted and unnatural reunion that should've been way more emotional than it was. His return should've been a big deal, yet it didn't feel like it in the end.


The characters are such an odd bunch here with the focus being on the wrong ones a lot of the time and most of the cast feeling like they could be written out and nothing would change and in the case of Ahsoka and Sabine, have poorly-defined arcs or developments that go nowhere. I don't think I've seen a cast of characters THIS poorly handled in a Star Wars property outside of the sequel trilogy...


Section 3: The Cinematography


I'm starting to sound like a broken record with these Star Wars shows at this point. It's literally the same song and dance from me: the writing sucks but the visuals are great. Except now it's getting to the point that even the visuals aren't wowing me that much anymore.


I'm not saying the visuals are terrible, obviously, because that is objectively a wrong take for me to have. No, the visuals are still as great looking as you'd expect them to be from a Disney+ Star Wars show. I just wish the writing had the same level of quality. As is, the show still looks good for what's presented onscreen. I especially enjoyed seeing some of these animated characters depicted in live-action and they mostly nailed it in my eyes. Ahsoka looks improved from her appearances in The Mandalorian with a better headpiece for Rosario Dawson to wear that isn't so crinkled and the tendrils are the right length for her, and they even managed to capture her teenage appearance in the flashback scenes beautifully with the actress looking great in the make-up and costume that really makes her look like a young Ahsoka. Hera, Sabine, Chopper, Hyuang and Ezra all look like they leapt straight out of the cartoon with the actors resembling the characters quite closely and they even paid close enough attention to detail that they included Ezra's scars on his cheek he got in the show. Chopper and Huyang especially look incredible with Huyang being a visual highlight. He looks like he's actually real and I'm curious on how they did it. Is he a man in a green suit with CGI imposed over him or is he actually a real animatronic figure? I can't tell and that's what makes him look so amazing! Visual effects like this really do blur the line between fiction and reality.


Less impressive however is Thrawn himself. Lars Mikkelsen was great as the voice...not so much the physical performance. Now don't get me wrong, his acting isn't the issue here. It's just he doesn't have the physique that Thrawn has in Rebels. He looks too...portly to put it politely. He should've gotten more into shape to better match how Thrawn looks. Some might say he's let himself go after being trapped on Peridia for so long but I doubt Thrawn would've just stopped exercising after all that time. As is, Lars at least looked great in the make-up with his blue face and red eyes and the costume is spot-on to Thrawn's so he can still convincingly pass off as the character. Baylan Skoll and Shin Hatti are also cool looking characters too with Ray Stevenson always looking impressive standing around in that black costume with his large capes blowing around in the wind. He looked great onscreen in his costume and the costumes themselves further emphasize how they're NOT Sith, but Dark Jedi as their outfits look closer to traditional Jedi outfits than what you'd normally see a Sith war. The more orange than red looking lightsabers were also a nice touch to further differentiate them from Sith. And of course, the Nightsisters look very accurate to their appearances in other media with their skull-like face paint and red robes. As usual, the make-up and costume department did an outstanding job with bringing these characters into real life.


I also liked how they made Hayden Christensen look as Anakin here. Dodgy CGI aside, it was a wise decision to make him closely resemble how he looked in Revenge of the Sith in most of his scenes and during the flashbacks to The Clone Wars he wears the outfit he wore in that show, which was pretty cool to see. Yes he might look a little off and the de-aging effects might not look the best but I wouldn't say it looked terrible. I also loved the quick cuts during the flashbacks when Ahsoka would watch Anakin and he'd flicker between Anakin and Darth Vader. That was perfect.


As is, the biggest issue I have with this show is that...well, the visuals don't really have a lot to offer. Sure they look great but it's nothing we haven't already seen before. The action scenes are all pretty standard action scenes with no fight really particularly standing out for me, the chase scenes once again only feel adequate at best and not amazing, some of the lightsaber choreography doesn't feel as energetic and intense as it should do with Rosario Dawson especially failing to match Ahsoka's speedy, athletic fighting style and looking just standard in her action scenes and the planets we visit are pretty boring locations to look at. The only interesting visuals we really got was the World Between Worlds and that was it. It was at least nice to see Lothal depicted in live-action though. They really captured how it looked in the cartoon and it managed to feel a little nostalgic just looking at the place. Also I guess the giant warp ring was pretty cool to look at as we haven't seen anything like that before in Star Wars but that's about it.


The visual effects and cinematography continue to be of high quality, but as these shows carry on, they really are just kinda looking the same at this point and it feels like they could do better to truly make them look impressive. As is, we can't deny that Disney can still make Star Wars look really good...


Conclusion


Ahsoka was my last hope for this franchise...and it was squandered. I'm officially done with this era of Star Wars. No hope left for it.


The writing has the same issues as all the other shows with too many dumb decisions influencing how the story goes, poor pacing, a lack of focus on who the show is supposed to be about, the characters getting a downgrade and too many plot holes to overlook. Even the visuals aren't enough to save it anymore as these shows are all starting to look the same at this point. If you're a die-hard fan of Star Wars, I would recommend just not watching this series because all it'll do is make you wish you were watching The Clone Wars or Rebels instead. Those shows have far better pacing, superior writing, more likeable characters and they don't ruin the movies with their very existence. Dave Filoni seemed like the right guy to be in charge of Star Wars after George Lucas mentored him but even he seems to have lost the plot at this point.


So I'm sorry to say that at this point...I just don't want to continue with this franchise anymore. I'm tired of being disappointed again and again. I'm tired of Star Wars content being this mediocre and I'm tired of watching the fandom grow even worse because of how badly Disney is handling this franchise. So unless things take a miraculous turn for the better, I'm officially done with Star Wars. But not all of it of course. I'll always tune in to the Star Wars content I loved and still love now. I could never leave that behind. And you can expect blog posts about the Star Wars content I love in the future. But for this current era? This is the end. I won't be checking out or reviewing anything that comes out of Star Wars in its current form. If we get a change in management and things improve in the future, then I may come back. Until then...


(draws out a lightsaber, ignites it and salutes)


Farewell Star Wars. Thank you so much for all the joy you've given me for so many years. May you return to your former glory some day soon...


(sheathes lightsaber and puts it away)


And that's my review on Ahsoka Season 1. I hope you enjoyed it in spite of my negative opinions and I invite you all to share your thoughts down below. Do you like Ahsoka? Do you not like the show? Comment away. Tomorrow, we return to the Disney 100th Anniversary Specials with my 10 Most Memorable Disney Scenes. See you then media fans!

Recent Posts

See All

2 Comments


Guest
Oct 12, 2023

I think what we know now is Dave Filoni works better when he’s on a team, he had George Lucas helping him on Clone Wars, he had a team on Rebels, and there’s how he was co leading with Jon Faverau in The Mandalorian. Here, it just shows you he needs to be on a team, and with this show it feels like a fanfiction than a Star Wars series.


I will ask, did Huang ever say what he was doing in between Clone Wars and Ahsoka? With him being a old robot, a Jedi trainer, a series of Ahsoka finding him to help Luke train the new Jedi would have been a better series.

Like

My hopes were squandered for Star Wars long ago. Sorry you had to go through that buddy.


Shame, I heard Ahsoka was one of the most popular characters out there.

Like
bottom of page