Serial Consumer celebrates and interrogates Evan’s relationship to franchised media and his addiction to purchasing its licensed products.
This episode of Ahsoka is so good even the naysayers who weren’t feeling the first few seem to finally be onboard with series creator Dave Filoni’s magnificent vision. So, how do you think I feel? I was shaking a little bit even before the hair-raising final scene. Everything about Fallen Jedi is perfectly executed Star Wars magic, a fast-paced and exciting action story that manages to dig deeper into its characters and world while paying homage to its influences with visceral clarity. I watched it once. I watched it again. And then I kept watching certain scenes until it was time for me to go to bed, where I dreamt about it.
Have I ever expressed how much I love Star Wars?
Huyang (voiced by David Tennant) expressing that Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) and Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) are always “better together” is such a direct mirror of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi’s “we take him together” stuff between Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, and of course, Ahsoka and Sabine do not stick together, which results in their failures at the end of the episode. Taking the clear comparison further: Anakin’s most consequential moments of choice are when Obi-Wan is absent, especially in Sith, as is the case here with Sabine’s big decision.
I think it’s clear Sabine’s decision will ultimately prove to be the right one; we wouldn’t meet Ezra Bridger otherwise. But god, I’m so glad Filoni understands the fundamental nature of Star Wars is that people make choices, that nobody is inherently good or evil, and he throws all his weight into these sequences when they arise. We see that in The Mandalorian, too, and its spinoffs; we see it in the Sequel movies, particularly in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. (Kylo Ren makes a choice in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, too, that mirrors poorly in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker). Filoni had Ahsoka make a choice in the Siege of Mandalore, too, when Darth Maul asks her to join him as his new apprentice to help take down the conspiracy he has uncovered involving Order 66, and her refusal is what ignites their final duel.
For the past few episodes, it’s been unclear what broke Ahsoka and Sabine apart earlier in their lives, but this episode gives us a big clue that it was also a consequential choice: Sabine wanted to return to Mandalore to help her family, Clan Wren, during the Great Purge of Mandalore (as seen in The Mandalorian), and Ahsoka denied it. That’s a monumental moment about which I hope we learn more; not only does it tie directly into the events of the sister show, but it also mirrors the mistakes of the Jedi that caused Anakin’s descent into darkness in the first place. He was a man brought into an order of warrior monks who demanded he sever all attachment to those he loved — something he could not do, which clouded his ability to think clearly and ultimately set him on a path of selfishness and self-destruction.
Ahsoka has spoken derisively about the Jedi Order throughout this show; if you aren’t aware of it, her history with them is complicated. She was a Padawan who trained under Anakin until she was accused of a crime she didn’t commit and put on trial by the Jedi Council. Anakin cleared her name and arrested the actual culprit, but Ahsoka walked away from the order having become disillusioned with its dogmatic attitudes. She later came to gain a broader understanding of what the Jedi mean to everyday denizens of the galaxy and, after the Clone Wars, fought on the side of the Rebellion as a wandering ronin — not a Jedi but in some ways what a Jedi should ideally be, divorced from the bureaucracy that detached them from empathy and the world beneath their ivory towers of knowledge.
Even so, Ahsoka never knew Anakin had become Darth Vader until they finally fought at the end of the second season of Star Wars: Rebels, where Ezra whisked her away from certain death at the last moment. That is, canonically, the last time we saw her before the Mandoverse stuff although we do get her final goodbye to Anakin and Obi-Wan in the Siege of Mandalore’s first chapter, Old Friends Not Forgotten (perhaps my most rewatched non-film Star Wars episode of anything). We’ve never seen Ahsoka deal with the reality that her former master became Darth Vader and that there was nothing she could do to prevent or reverse it. What does it mean that the greatest hero she ever knew became the greatest monster the galaxy had ever seen? Baylan Skoll (Ray Stevenson) taunts Ahsoka with this knowledge before and during their duel in this episode. It is clear the next episode will provide some sort of closure for fans waiting for this story.
We’ve been long overdue an appearance by Anakin (Hayden Christensen) in the era after Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi. It’s not really possible to produce a good live-action version of Luke Skywalker talking to his father — hell, the de-aging in this episode looks nasty for just the few seconds we see it — but having him talk to Ahsoka is just as good. Luke Skywalker arguably has closure regarding his father at the end of Jedi and doesn’t necessarily need to speak to him anymore. Ahsoka needs this to move forward with who she is and whatever her destiny may be.
That’s the thing about Force ghosts: They appear when they’re needed, when their living friend is ready to listen to them. They can’t just show up willy-nilly. Heck, sometimes they can even show up as an entirely different person when J.J. Abrams decides a Harrison Ford cameo would make more sense than Luke Skywalker making good on his “See you around, kid” at the end of The Last Jedi. Lord.
I’ve written a lot about this episode already apparently but haven’t even scratched the surface of what makes it so goddamn great. I guess I’ll switch to bullet points again.
- I love how Baylan starts his duel with Ahsoka as a hulking, brutal fighter before becoming angry and switching into a much more acrobatic, flipperoo style to counter her mobility.
- Ahsoka fights here like an older version of the woman who fought against Darth Maul, which is one of the best choreographed duels of the Disney era.
- Why in god’s name didn’t anyone making Obi-Wan Kenobi approach their big fights with this level of care and consideration?
- I love how Baylan and Ahsoka fight like samurai while their apprentices fight with much less care and patience, the latter two ultimately resorting to tricks to end their conflict.
- Sabine pulling out her armor and fighting with cameo reminiscent of what we’ve seen in The Mandalorian was really great, too.
- Heir to the Empire name drop. I still hope it’s the name of Filoni’s movie and that we get some Joruus C’baoth. Maybe he was Baylan’s own master?
- I loved the Droid fight sequence. Huyang hasn’t survived thousands of years because he’s a pushover!
- Really love seeing the Ghost again, with General Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) leading Phoenix Squadron (with Carson from The Mandalorian). Remember when Abrams kept showing us his buddy Greg Grunberg as Snap Wexley in his sequel movies and nobody cared? So glad to have some real pilots to recognize and care about.
- I’d love more info on Baylan’s overall plans and his concept of the greater good he’s pursuing.
- Marrok is a Nightsister zombie. Not sure why anyone expected anything else.
- Great hyperspace jump sequence.
For a variety of reasons, I just do not buy as much stuff as I once did. My brother did give both my son and my nephew their own cool play-lightsabers, though, which is very neat. They love them, and more importantly, they can play with those instead of my more expensive replicas.
There isn’t a whole lot introduced in this episode that I want to buy which hasn’t already appeared in earlier episodes. Baylan and Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno) in six-inch form for sure, and I’d love to get decent replicas of their lightsabers (again only if the blood-orange color is accurate; I’m not buying them if they’re just red). I’ll definitely buy a Force-ghost Anakin figure, which we already saw included in a Return of the Jedi three-pack this past summer and will almost certainly see published as a single-box release.