Ahsoka Finale Secures the Future and Demands a Second Season
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More than any other live-action Star Wars show, Ahsoka has leaned heavily into the fantasy side of George Lucas' universe. You can see it in the mythological names of new characters (i.e. Shin and Hati), the Tolkienesque-nature of Thrawn's exiled planet, or simply naming its finale "Part Eight: The Jedi, the Witch, and the Warlord" as a C.S. Lewis homage. That's certainly separated Ahsoka from Andor's tales of gritty espionage and The Mandalorian's western-infused adventures, even as its back half established Thrawn's return as one of many factors linking the New Republic years to the First Order's eventual rise. But it also came with risks. Namely, could such a finale wrap up the story of Ahsoka Tano and her Rebels compatriots, reassert Thrawn's place in the Imperial hierarchy, and satisfy all of its eight-episode run's lingering plot threads?
The answer is yes and no. "The Jedi, the Witch, and the Warlord" is a good, action-packed finale that brings its characters' arcs full circle, even if it doesn't do anything too radical. But it's also a finale clearly asking for a season 2, given how little time it devotes to Baylan Skolland Shin Hati's journeys and the unique situation it leaves Ahsoka in by the time credits roll. The Ahsoka finale is a fun, flawed, bittersweet finale that sets up new possibilities for what Star Wars might do with these characters next.
Like "Shadow Warrior," this finale is heavy on the fan service. The episode opens with the Great Mothers rewarding Morgan Elsbeth with enhanced Nightsister magick and the mystical Blade of Talzin while Ezra crafts a new lightsaber using a spare version of Kanan Jarrus' Rebels blade emitter. The new lightsaber leads to a touching conversation between him, Huyang, and Sabine about Kanan's role in Ezra's life and the nature of Jedi Master tutilage.
The conversation also sums up Ahsoka's relationships as a student and teacher quite well. Though the audience never sees any flashbacks of her training with Sabine, "The Jedi, The Witch and the Warlord" (Directed by Mandalorian mainstay Rick Famuyiwa) finally addresses the root of their Jedi Master/Padawan estrangement: fear that Sabine would fall down a Dark Side path in response to the Empire destroying Mandalore. Through her spiritual conflict with Anakin, Ahsoka has learned to move past that fear, even forgiving Sabine for bringing Thrawn his way off the planet. "Over the years, I've made my share of difficult choices," she recalls. She understands why Sabine did what she did to get Ezra back and still has her back. A choice that pays off in the episode's final moments.
But in between those choices, Ahsoka features plenty of action scenes, and they're as badass as ever. Sabine slices TIE fighters with the wings of Huyang's starship, Ahsoka, Ezra, and Sabine race to Thrawn's temple base while his Star Destroyer rains laser blasts on them from above, and the trio battles hordes of Stormtroopers. Ahsoka and Elsbeth's duels feature some of the show's best choreography to date.
If there's a downside to all this, it's that Ahsoka's finale doesn't surprise fans. Or, if it does, it surprises in a way that leaves the viewer wanting more than "The Jedi, the Witch, and the Warlord" gives them. Thrawn escapes from the planet as expected, but his long-term non-imperial goals still remain unknown. Ezra reunites with Hera -- escaping Thrawn's ship by posing as a Stormtrooper -- but the audience doesn't even see them hug each other. Shin and Baylan's fates are left ambiguous, with her joining the nomadic bandits on Peridea and him discovering the ruins of a massive Mortis Gods statue, foreshadowing even more supernatural Star Wars cameos to come -- a tease whose future remains clouded by the question of who Lucasfilm will re-cast as Baylan following Ray Stevenson's death.
The series is hardly perfect in the pacing department, and early episodes feel slower compared to its back run. But when Ahsoka gains momentum, it's excellent. From the fights to the callbacks and the sheer joy of Dave Filoni's animated shows asserting their mainstream dominance in live-action, Ahsoka is fun -- perhaps a bit incomprehensible to non-Clone Wars/Rebels fans at times, but fun all the same.
The question, of course, is where this all leads next. Either Ahsoka and Sabine's story will continue in a new season, some upcoming The Mandalorian episode, or whatever Filoni's Star Wars movie will be in a few years, all of which leave her future uncertain. But Ahsoka Tano has been here before. First, when fans dismissed her importance in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie, then when The Clone Wars season 5 ended with her leaving the Jedi Order and eventually facing off against Darth Vader in Rebels. Each time, Ahsoka survived and made the Star Wars mythos around her more interesting. Fingers crossed, fans will see her again very soon.
Ahsoka is available to stream on Disney+.