Serial Consumer celebrates and interrogates Evan’s relationship to franchised media and his addiction to purchasing its licensed products.
Time to Fly, the third episode of Ahsoka, is bizarrely short in the way a lot of these streaming-era episodes tend to be — and I’m not that bothered by it. Frankly, I’d rather get 30 minutes of defined incident than 50 minutes of meandering pointlessness (looking at you, most of Justified: City Primeval). This chapter gives us some more development between Ahsoka Tano and Sabine Wren, a look at the beleaguered and doomed political ambivalence of the New Republic and a few fun action sequences that feel ripped straight from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I enjoyed it quite a lot.
That last point is probably the reason why this is going to be a dropping-off point for many folks watching it. There’s already a hate-fervor online, at least as far as I can see; I quit Twitter for the most part a while back. I guess I get it: Different generations of Star Wars fans expect different versions of the franchise, and this is squarely made for fans who stayed on board with the prequels, the cartoons and basically everything between 2005 and 2015. That doesn’t describe me at the time: I only came to understand and enjoy The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels after the fact when I had time to invest in them as completed works. But I’m a huge fan of them now, as I am most of Star Wars despite its flaws.
The fact is fans of that kind of Star Wars see it for what George Lucas always intended it to be — an action serial like the ones he grew up with, set in space and infused with his own personal inspirations, both artistic and political. The most successful Star Wars spinoffs with older audiences have borrowed heavily from Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope, whether directly (Star Wars: The Force Awakens being a outright riff) or indirectly (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Andor both buying heavily into the aesthetics and political undertones). One of the reasons the prequels fundamentally fail — and they do fail, I won’t deny that — is that they’re entirely different animals. They aren’t the Star Wars with which so many people grew up.
But 20 years later, they’ve become that and we’ve gotten so many good stories for that not-insignificant portion of the fanbase — who, to be clear, hate most of the sequel stuff and a lot of the stories told for generations younger than them, too. It’s cyclical.
I think about this too often.
The long and short of it: Ahsoka is a product built for a particular Star Wars fanbase, thematically and structurally, and I’m not surprised it’s garnering mixed–to–vitriolic reactions online. That’s going to continue happening as Lucasfilm tries to figure out which generation of fans is actually interested in new stories that build out what the franchise has become … and whether they can attract the general audience back into the fold without just retreading A New Hope over and over again. Personally, I’m not optimistic. All of these franchises — including the Marvel Cinematic Universe now — had their day in the sun and are on their way to becoming niche. They’ll experience resurgences now and again, but it may well be that Obi-Wan Kenobi is the peak of Disney+ viewership for one of these things.
As for the fans? I think all of that peaked with the idiotic Luke sequence at the end of the second season of The Mandalorian. They got what they wanted. Nothing else is really going to compare to that.
I, on the other hand, delight in the idiotic sequence in Time to Fly where Ahsoka dons a space suit to fight against an enemy fighter with her lightsabers. I call it “idiotic” mostly because it doesn’t work nearly as well in live-action as it would have in animation; I can even imagine exactly how beautiful it would’ve been in the Siege of Mandalore or The Bad Batch style of animation, with her lightsabers leaving trails of light behind them as she knocked blaster bolts back and slashed them through the air. Some things just don’t work as well visually in live action.
But I appreciate Dave Filoni’s efforts to make a sequence like that happen — one that shows the prowess and ingenuity of a Jedi Master capable of feats of badass combat that don’t involve slowly wandering down a hallway slashing droids.
The other things I liked in this episode: I loved seeing the Purrgil in live action and that it was played as a moment of our two heroines witnessing natural majesty. I’m glad the nature of the Eye of Sion and its relationship to the Purrgil was properly set up in the last few episodes, and it was nice of them to show Purrgil in the first episode of The Mandalorian‘s third season just to make it feel a little less out of nowhere.
I’m enjoying the follow-up to Huyang telling Sabine she sucks at the Force. So much of Star Wars is about heroes destined to be Jedi because of their innate talent, and I’m really enjoying a story where someone is learning to use the Force simply because they want to and that such potential Force users exist within the Star Wars galaxy. It’s a take on the Force that, unfortunately, Lucas didn’t follow up on nearly as much as he should’ve in the prequels, but it’s an idea he introduced and it feels very akin to Chirrut in Rogue One. The Force as a metaphysical concept is beautiful and deserves to be used this way, especially after J.J. Abrams fucked up Rey’s origins in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (a twist I actually don’t hate but don’t especially prefer).
I’m ambivalent about the gunning sequence. Every Star Wars game, comic and cartoon has one, and none has ever measured up to that scene in A New Hope. It was nice to see it emphasize Ahsoka and Sabine’s teamwork, even if their maneuver is basically what Rey and Finn used in The Force Awakens.
Seeing Genevieve O’Reilly as a post-war Mon Mothma was really great, and I hope we get more of her; I hope she helps and encourages Hera to go after Ahsoka and company. Did I hear a little reference to Andor in the score, too, from composer Kevin Kiner? I hope so … even if I was just imagining it.
My favorite bit in the episode was seeing Jacen Syndulla, hanging out with Chopper, asking his mother to be a Jedi. Look, you probably don’t need to know this, but Jacen’s father was a Jedi: Kanan Jarrus, a Padawan who survived Order 66 and later became part of the Ghost crew during Star Wars: Rebels. He became Ezra Bridger’s Jedi Master and died to protect his family in the buildup to their final conflict with Grand Admiral Thrawn. Star Wars: Rebels delves into a lot of the same thematic ideas about the Force as Ahsoka promises to, and Kanan was a huge part of that. I don’t know how much Jacen we’ll see in the rest of the show, or if he’ll become a Jedi in the future, but I really hope he stays away from Ben Solo. That kid is no good.
I’m pretty much not buying anything for full price these days, aside from when I get a bonus or something and can really treat myself. Even then, things go on discount really quickly these days. I’d like to maybe get Clone Commander Jesse if he goes up at Walmart, but $40 is steep for one Black Series figure. I did notice some of the Andor figures starting to tick down on Amazon; my expectation and hope is to grab a few for $10 to $13 around Black Friday, when the flash sales occur. I don’t have a whole lot of space for them on my shelf, but the little Andor area I have set up feels empty without Luthen Rael and Mon Mothma.
I’d like a space-suit Ahsoka figure; I’m sure it’ll end up an exclusive at Target or something in a year or two. I will buy the dogfight LEGO set on clearance someday, but the toy I want most now is the Ghost LEGO set, which retails for a pricey $120 but includes Chopper and Jacen, the sweetest boys in the galaxy.