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‘Ahsoka’ Episode 3 Is Empty ‘Star Wars’ Calories

By Mike Redmond | TV | August 31, 2023 |

By Mike Redmond | TV | August 31, 2023 |


Previously on Ahsoka: Former Jedi Knight Ahsoka Tano and recently freed Imperial sympathizer Morgan Elsbeth are in race to find the location of Grand Admiral Thrawn. For Ahsoka, it means a chance at reuniting with her lost friend Ezra Bridger. For Morgan, it means restoring the Empire to its former glory with Thrawn in command. Aided by the mysterious Jedi Baylan Skoll and his apprentice Shin Hati, Morgan has a significant lead thanks to the construction of a massive, intergalactic hyperspace ring dubbed the Eye of Sion. Meanwhile, Ahsoka is forced to reconnect with Sabine Wren whose Jedi training was seemingly abandoned in a fit of frustration by both master and pupil…

I hope Tori doesn’t mind me quoting her, but after watching last week’s premiere, she hit me with a very prescient reaction:

Finally watched Ahsoka and it was almost TOO cartoony? I respect the fact that they were like, “you’ve either seen the cartoons or you haven’t, we ain’t explaining shit,” but then why not just tell this story as another cartoon?

And that’s the whole problem right there. With its jarringly short runtime, Ahsoka Episode 3 “Time To Fly” felt way more like an episode of Rebels and/or Clone Wars than the two-part premiere, which begs Tori’s question: Why not just stick to that medium? Sure, the visual effects are top-notch, easily the best The Volume has pumped out, but the shallow story-telling is killing me here.

Obligatory sign-tap time: Yes, I know not every Star Wars show needs to be Andor, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong to expect more from them.

I really don’t want to seem like I’m looking down my nose at the cartoons because I have incredible memories of watching them with my kids that I’ll cherish until the lights go out upstairs. That being said, I’m not of the mind that anyone should have to watch the cartoons, and it’s kinda obnoxious to overstate their importance. They’re fun, little adventures for kids, and that’s OK. There is nothing wrong with that or with them not being everyone’s cup of tea.

The issue is when you make the jump to live-action there’s an expectation of dramatic heft. The first two episodes of Ahsoka were butt-loaded with drawn-out pauses in an effort to make the show seem like it’s a more serious take on an older version of the title character. Granted, I have issues with how Ahsoka is no longer the captivating protagonist from the cartoons where she was easily one of the best thing to come out of Star Wars in ages thanks to being custom-made for that medium. But at the end of the day, I get it. She’s a wisen, world-weary samurai now.

Except, nope, just kidding. She’s still like the cartoon.


In a wild pendulum swing, Episode 3 should go down as a case study in how to make a live-action version of a Saturday morning cartoon. “But, Mike, didn’t Star Wars originate as George Lucas’ spin on old Buck Rogers serials?” Yes, but that’s not a free pass to serve whatever. Imagine leaving the Burger King drive-thru and finding a tiny White Castle burger in your bag instead of a Whopper. Is that what you get for ordering fast food?

To drive my point home, let me sum up the brief events of this episode in less than a paragraph: Sabine resumes her Jedi training with Ahsoka during the hyperspace jump to find Morgan. Upon their arrival at the Eye of Sion, they’re ambushed by a squadron of fighters and a standard Star Wars dogfight ensues. After taking a severe hit from the Eye of Sion, Ahsoka and Sabine elude their attackers by flying through a swarm of Purgills and landing in the forest on the planet below. That’s it. The End. Barely thirty empty minutes of “pew pew pew,” and then it’s over.

What I’m leaving out is Ahsoka donning a spacesuit and fighting off her attackers on the wing of her ship before comedically telling Sabine to pick her up. On top of the action-over-storytelling approach, the scene drives home that this series, as of now, is nothing more than live-action Rebels. Will it elevate beyond that? I really hope so because there’s five more to go.

The Fandom Menace

Because I did a lot of bitching and complaining back there — and God knows I have more in the tank — I want to address an old saying that bounces around whenever one of these shows drops: “No one hates Star Wars more than Star Wars fans.”

In fairness, Star Wars fandom has a well-noted track record of being rabid little assholes. They were racist shitbirds to Kelly Marie Tran, John Boyega, and Moses Ingram, and misogynystic dickweeds to Daisy Ridley and Kathleen Kennedy. And those are just recent examples. On the whole, not the best fandom out there.

That said, it’s some real bullshit to equate critically grappling with Disney’s now constant hose of Star Wars projects with the god awful bullying that drove poor Ahmed Best to the brink of suicide. Unfortunately, I saw some Film Twitter people share the tweet below, which is loaded with not one, but two faulty premises: The issue I stated earlier with equating honest criticism with toxic behavior and claiming that Star Wars fans don’t like “anything since Lucas,” which makes zero sense.

Rogue One went over like gangbusters, Andor is heralded as a masterpiece, and the first season of The Mandalorian was pretty much loved across the board. Not to mention, Star Wars fans have been hungrily devouring non-Lucas-made books, video games, and comics going all the way back to the early ’90s.

More specifically, as you’ll often see in the comments, Star Wars fans will never hesitate to gush about The Clone Wars and Rebels, two cartoons made by Ahsoka showrunner Dave Filoni. There have been calls for him and Jon Favreau to replace Kathleen Kennedy and take over the franchise ever since Day 1 of The Mandalorian. I mean shit, I act like a salty hard-ass, but if you mention the final Clone Wars arc “The Siege of Mandalore,” you’ll see a sparkle in my eye as I recall the pitch-perfect Ahsoka story. I truly do love Star Wars, but that doesn’t mean I have to fawn over every attempt to milk it to death.

So to my point, what the hell is that guy even talking about, and how desperately do you want to thumb your nose at genre fans that you’d actually retweet it?

And now back to our show.

Sabine’s Training

As I mentioned last week, Sabine training to be a Jedi is a completely new development exclusive to Ahsoka. You didn’t miss anything on that front by not watching Rebels. Sure, she had to learn to wield the Darksaber, but you don’t need the Force to do that. (See: Bo-Katan whipping ass on The Mandalorian.) Anyway, I wanted to touch on some of the speculation kicking around.

Right now, there are two prevailing theories: 1. Ahoska is going to make Sabine a Jedi who doesn’t, or just barely, uses the Force. 2. Ahsoka is training Sabine to be a Gray Jedi, who walk the line between the Light and the Dark Side. I’m going to step out on the ice and say it’s neither of these things.

These shows are very “what you see is what you get.” What little bit we saw of Sabine’s training blatantly aped Luke working with Obi-Wan in A New Hope right down to fighting blind. Where Luke was tasked with moving small rocks by Yoda, Sabine was given a small cup. Granted, she didn’t manage to move the cup, but I’d wager this scene was meant to make her inevitable Force use all the more dramatic down the line. We’re not getting a reinvention of the wheel here.

Of course, the bigger question is why Ahsoka would want to train someone as a Jedi considering she left the order in The Clone Wars. They acted like pompous dicks by falsely accusing her of murder and completely missed Palpatine turning Anakin right under their noses while also taking over the whole goddamn galaxy. Ahsoka even knows that Unholy CGI Luke is already building a new Jedi school, so why would she feel the need to train more of them? It’s just a little nerd quibble I have.


The Marrok Theories

I’m going to be completely honest. Last week, I started seeing theories that Marrok is obviously Ezra Bridger, and my immediate reaction was, “Who the hell is Marrok?” In fairness, this is an issue that plagued even Andor, but I totally missed his name. Long story short, he’s the Power Ranger-looking Inquisitor guy.

As for the theory that Marrok is Ezra, I can see that happening because it would be depressingly predictable. (He also notably stole a glance at the Purrgil while pursuing Ahsoka’s ship.) It’s also a more likely scenario than the wild theories that he’s Starkiller from The Force Unleashed, Cal Kestis from Jedi: Fallen Order, Snoke, or even a young clone of The Emperor.

However, the most probable answer goes back to what I said earlier, “what you see is what you get” from these things. There’s a very high chance that Marrok is just a new character created for Ahsoka. The last time one of these shows tried a mystery — Which Jedi reached out to Baby Yoda in The Mandalorian Season 2? — the answer turned out to be super boring even as it spit in the face of God and nature.

Mike Drops

— Are Baylan Skoll and Shin Hati the most compelling characters on this show? Yes, by a country mile.

— “Mike, why didn’t you even mention Jacen Syndulla?” Because I don’t care. As soon as the first trailer made it one thousand percent clear that this show is Rebels 2.0, did anyone really think that kid wasn’t going to show up? On top of that, what did he do in his very first scene right out of the gate? Loudly proclaim “I wanna be a Jedi!” with all the subtlety of a cereal commercial. Christ on a cracker.

— Really struggling to see the lie here: