Serial Consumer celebrates and interrogates Evan’s relationship to franchised media and his addiction to purchasing its licensed products.
I’ve had multiple people reach out to me to say they thought of me during this episode of Ahsoka due to the sheer number of potential toys on display during the episode. They’re goddamn right. I’m starting to worry about shelf space in the long run. We haven’t even scratched the surface of the third season of The Mandalorian, with its Beskar Stormtroopers, giant monsters, Mandalorian survivalists and Jack Black. At best, those are all probably a year away. If that’s the case, and we see some of today’s figures show up in 2025, well. I may need to put up a whole lot more shelves. My 4-year-old son tells me he’ll inherit my figures when I die, so there’s no reason to stop buying.
He reminds me almost daily.
Look: Far, Far Away is about as graceful a transition episode as we could ask for, having concluded Ahsoka Tano’s initial arc in Shadow Warrior. We don’t get much of her here; it’s time to set up the new players for the final act of this season and, presumably, the next season or film to follow. We finally meet Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) in grand form, complete with his badass henchman, Enoch (Wes Chatham), and a legion of Dathomirian witch-fueled zombie Night Troopers. The Chimaera, Thrawn’s flagship from Rebels, is just as much of a shambling corpse of its former self, held together by patchwork gold metal and flying with only sublight engines. One of the most magical things about Star Wars is that from the jump, it’s been a franchise that starts stories right where it needs to, leaving prologue and past to the imagination of audiences and authors contracted to write novels, comics and games. I’m sure Timothy Zahn will end up telling us all sorts of wicked tales set during Thrawn’s 10-year exile on Peridea.
Speaking of Peridea: What a great new world. “A land of dreams and madness.” An inhospitable wasteland. A planet of the dead, run by Dathomirian witches and their reanimated necro-soldiers. It’s a sci-fi staple we haven’t seen a whole lot of within the Star Wars universe, and it’s a welcome addition. The rings of Purrgil carcasses set such a lovely, sad tone. It doesn’t feel like we’ll have much time to explore Peridea given that every character we care about is trying to leave the damn place, but I’ll enjoy our time there anyway. Baylan Skoll (Ray Stevenson) sees something beneath the world as an opportunity to end the cycle of death that so scarred him as a young man; what could that be? What are the Dathomiri Witches fleeing?
I know a lot of fans have been hoping the answer to that question is the Yuuzhan Vong, a race of extragalactic invaders featured in the New Jedi Order book series published between 1999 and 2004. I have mixed feelings about the Vong: Most of those books, at least the ones I read in junior high, weren’t particularly great — suffused with early-2000s War on Terror edginess that hasn’t aged well (if it ever felt appropriate for the franchise at all). Many argue it did not, even at the time. The Vong themselves were another classic sci-fi staple: a techno-organic species who grow their weapons and armaments. What set them apart was an immunity to the Force, which was stupid and made no sense. Incidentally, Ahsoka creator Dave Filoni wanted to feature the Vong in an unproduced episode of The Clone Wars inspired by The X-Files. The draft for that story didn’t include their Force immunity.
I’m open to the idea that the Vong are hiding on Peridea and their presence is somehow related to the Dathomirian witches wanting to flee to another galaxy. Perhaps Thrawn sees his ascendancy in the main galaxy as a way of stopping the forthcoming threat and it’s something we’ll see develop in the post-sequel stories. But I’m not holding my breath for that to happen. I’d rather them move into new ideas in their new version of the Thrawn saga rather than remixing two major sagas that didn’t quite work from the Legends novels.
Then again, I’m not a huge fan of the old Legends novels, including the original Thrawn trilogy … at least as novels. The books themselves don’t hold up. The characters, though, are all golden ideas with great moments both within those stories and in later fiction. Thrawn is the major one, of course — a villain so instantly iconic he’s now going to headline multiple iterations of Disney’s version of the franchise. Other old characters, like Mara Jade, seem harder to fit into the new canon, which is fine. I honestly wonder if the Vong are like that. If we do see them, would they be anything like the oddly BDSM-inspired monstrosities who killed Chewbacca with a moon? I guess we’ll see. Feels a lot like when I was hoping to see Joruus C’baoth at the end of The Mandalorian‘s second season.
Anyway, I guess I could write more about this episode, but it’s truly a sparse affair based on setting up the pieces for whatever comes next. Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) gets some great moments as she searches for Ezra Bridger (Eman Esfandi). She finally finds him, in a moment of reunion that’s much more low-key than one would think. The choices Sabine made to find him are already weighing on her, which runs counter to Ahsoka’s worries that Sabine was making selfish decisions without considering the consequences. Estafi sounds like Ezra from the show, and his demeanor, clothing and beard give him an almost hippie-like look. I hope we learn a lot about the Force from him.
We get more of Baylan’s backstory, too, including Thrawn recognizing his name from the Clone Wars era. Baylan doesn’t want death and destruction; he sees it as a cycle he can end with whatever power he finds on Peridea. I hope Ahsoka resolves Baylan’s story this season so there is no need to recast the character after Stevenson’s death earlier this year. I can’t imagine anyone else doing it besides Stevenson. Then again, his story bounces off Ahsoka’s so well: Two Jedi raised as warriors who lost their Order trying to find their place in a galaxy at peace. Very interesting. Very good.
Alright, some bullet points:
- David Tennant deserves an Emmy for his voice role as Huyang.
- That ring of Purrgil carcasses is so foreboding. I love it.
- I love that witchcraft and its accompanying aesthetic are leaned into so heavily in this show. The Nightsisters were a Lucas invention around the time of Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones and feature heavily in The Clone Wars. It’s nice to have them back.
- The Volume work is a little rougher here. Seems like different directors know how to use it better than others, probably from experience.
- Enoch is my new most-wanted figure, for sure. I love his voice.
- Howlers are clearly going to play hard into the finale. Filoni has tried to get Ahsoka to ride a wolf into battle (a la Princess Mononoke) for years, and it will probably finally happen.
- Night Troopers are a great name.
- The little crab / turtle people are such an adorable, strange flavor of Star Wars that I’m glad to have in this show, which has been fairly grounded so far.
- Great to hear both Thrawn and Ezra’s themes reorchestrated.
- I kind of miss Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) already and hope to see her in the finale.
- Sometimes I wonder when they’ll find a story to tell about Luke Skywalker during this era that makes him seem remotely as interesting as these other characters.
Last week, I wrote about ARC Trooper Jesse. The other difficult-to-find Walmart exclusive ARC Trooper recently released is Fives. I’d given up hope on finding him for a reasonable pre-order price, but lo and behold, my brother found one about an hour south. He dropped it off on Tuesday night. The figure is great. Here are my four 501st ARC Troopers: Rex, Echo, Jesse and Fives. Don’t say they look alike. Of course they do. They’re fucking clones.
- Ezra (I don’t really want the recently released one depicting his fourth-season Rebels; my Rebels shelf is basically full already)
- Sabine w/ poncho and Howler (I’ll buy multiple Sabine Wrens from this show. Done deal.)
- Night Troopers — every single one. I’m sure they’ll release multiple variants and I’m here for all of them.