Right Where We Need To Be

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Right Where We Need To Be

The final episode of Ahsoka’s first season presents the blooming flowers from the seeds showrunner Dave Filoni has been planting and cultivating since 2008. Now, whether or not you think that’s a good thing depends entirely on how much you like your Star Wars stories to be an ouroboros of self-recognition, or if you’d rather they be something entirely different, à la Andor.

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If the winkingly referential title “The Jedi, the Witch, and the Warlord” doesn’t make you bemusedly shake an invisible fist at the sky in the name of the lovable dork running this show, then everything else in the episode will. There’s magic, there’s zombies, there’s more references to Japanese samurai films, it’s a Filoni favorite fest. Rebels stakes are raised and then paid out, in various ways. And by the time the episode fades to black, those with some Clone Wars-level knowledge will know that we have somehow ended up circling back to one of the most bizarre (and arguably one of the best) stories from the animated series.

So, how did the final episode of Ahsoka season one go? Let’s get into it.

Grand Admiral Thrawn speaks with Morgan Elsbeth.

Screenshot: Lucasfilm / Kotaku

A race to stop the heir

Ahsoka has its flaws, but even haters have to admit that by its midway point the series had abandoned any potential plodding plots and carved away at the excess fluff of the kind that had bogged down The Book of Boba Fett and the most recent season of The Mandalorian. From the moment episode eight begins, it’s clear that we are wasting no time, as it snaps like a taut rubber band between the attempts of Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) and Morgan Eslbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) to escape this far-off planet, and the efforts of Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), Sabine Wren (Natashia Liu Bordizzo), and Ezra Bridger (Eman Esfandi) to catch them before they do.

Read More: Ahsoka Episode 7 Review: Very Much A Star Wars Show

“The Jedi, the Witch, and the Warlord” begins with Thrawn and Morgan learning that the cargo transfer they’ve been organizing is complete, and we see a massive shot of rectangular containers tucked away somewhere in the ship’s cavernous hold. It’s pretty clear what these are at this point, but we’ll get into that later. The Nightsisters approach Morgan, thank her for her work bringing the Eye of Sion to them, and ask her to take the pledge of the Sisterhood. She agrees, one reaches out to touch her face, blackish-green burns etch onto Morgan’s skin, and the sisters summon a glowing green sword for her: the blade of Talzin. That’s Mother Talzin, to you, the former Clan Mother of the Nightsisters, who you see plenty of in Clone Wars (she’s also Darth Maul’s mom).

We then return to the surface of this planet far, far away, where Ahsoka’s ship is flying low and slow over the Noti caravan. Inside, Ezra is trying to build his own lightsaber with Huyang, who is flummoxed at the Jedi’s somewhat sporadic approach to the process. Huyang basically asks Ezra who the hell taught him how to build a lightsaber, and is somewhat taken aback when he learns it was the late Kanan Jarrus, yet another Jedi who once trained under the ancient droid (the same Kanan Jarrus who fathered Hera’s son). Once again, Huyang offers important wisdom about the nature of the Padawan/Master bond (and thereby the entire show’s thesis), saying that the complicated relationship is “as challenging as it is meaningful.”

If you, like me, were a fan of Jedi: Survivor’s lightsaber customization, then you’ll love this scene, as Ezra satisfyingly snaps pieces into his saber before igniting the blade. He’s mid-sentence, asking Sabine if Ahsoka taught her how to do this, but Sabine’s disappeared to go talk to her Master. “What’d I miss?” Ezra asks aloud. Huyang tells him that after Sabine’s family died when the Empire carpet-bombed Mandalore, Ahsoka grew worried she’d become dangerous during her studies.

In other Star Wars media we don’t get much—if any—time to see Ahsoka reckon with Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side, but it’s clear now why Filoni focuses on it so much in this series (and not just so that he can usher in the Anakin Skywalker Renaissance). Ahsoka’s hesitancy, and the mistakes she’s made with Sabine’s training, emerge directly from her fears that she will be involved in another person turning to the Dark Side, and only the closure she obtained in the World Between Worlds a few episodes back will allow her to move past that.

You think Ahsoka is going to chastise Sabine for making the rash decision to go with Baylan Skoll to find Ezra, but instead, she remarks that Anakin always understood her reasons, he always had her back. Naturally, I’m reminded of the Jedi Temple bombing business from the Clone Wars, how Ahsoka was framed, and how the entire Jedi Order save Anakin was ready to cut her out. Ahsoka is reminded of that too, and so reminds Sabine that from now on, she’s got her back. Girl power.

Ahsoka stands with her lightsabers crossed, a pile of downed shadow troopers behind her.

Screenshot: Lucasfilm / Kotaku

The three Jedi

The rest of the opening third of episode eight moves the chess pieces around fast enough that you won’t get bored, but with enough character development thrown in there to make it mostly interesting. Thrawn is getting info on the trio’s whereabouts, TIE fighters try (and fail) to take them out, Ahsoka gets back on a wolf. As the three approach Thrawn’s docked Star Destroyer, he instructs the crew to “rain hellfire upon them.” “There will be no negotiating with the apprentice of Anakin Skywalker,” he says.

With the power of Ezra’s abilities (and maybe Sabine’s, Ahsoka cleverly hides some of its cards yet again with Sabine’s Force-use), the three make it through the doors of the structure the ship is docked on. They take out a round of Dark Troopers, and Thrawn instructs the Great Mothers to start doing their witchy shit. They do, and it resurrects all of the Dark Troopers in a rather goofy zombie nod, with their glowing green pupils somehow shining from behind their helmet’s visors. But the three Jedi (as Thrawn calls them) continue to ascend the structure, forcing Thrawn to send Morgan down to stop them.

“For the empire,” Thrawn says to Morgan before she departs. “For Dathomir,” she says quietly, reminding us how deep her ties are to the Nightsisters (that’s her home planet). Cue her and Ahsoka fighting, with the latter instructing Sabine and Ezra to leave her and forge on after Thrawn. Thrawn’s got the Eye of Sion running like a defrosting Camry in a New York City winter, and he’s ready to skedaddle, so he sends two heavy zombie Dark Troopers down to take care of the young Jedi. Sabine and Ezra take a beating, and just when you think one of the baddies is going to choke the life out of the Mandalorian, she uses the force to summon her lightsaber into her hand, igniting it at the dark trooper’s temple. Turns out, that’s how you kill a zombie in Star Wars, too.

But despite their impressive efforts, they’re too late. The Eye of Sion is pulling out of the station, and the gap between their platform and its dock is too large. Beneath them, Ahsoka and Morgan continue to clash, with Talzin’s blade and the Nightsister magic proving a formidable foe. Morgan slashes one of Ahsoka’s saber hilts in half, but soon after Ahsoka disarms her and slices her clean across the gut with both saber and blade. It was, for lack of a better term (I’m on an overnight flight to London as I type this), very fucking sick.

Ezra jumps a huge gap between the platform and Thrawn's ship with a little push from Sabine.

Screenshot: Lucasfilm / Kotaku

Luckily, Sabine can use the Force pretty well now, and helps push Ezra across that massive chasm. He just barely grabs on, and watches as Ahsoka and Sabine combine forces to finish off the rest of the zombie troopers. He takes out a trooper of his own, and drags his body offscreen. You know he’ll be using that in a moment.

Sabine, Ahsoka, and Huyang (reunited after the droid and the Noti successfully repair the ship) pursue the fleeing Eye of Sion, and Thrawn chooses this moment to gloat. He flags their comms and tells Ahsoka he expected this situation, he expected the apprentice of Anakin Skywalker to behave in such a way because he knew him well. He calls her a Ronin, the Japanese word for a samurai without a master, furthering the connections to samurai epics (remember bokken Jedi from a few episodes back?) He boasts some more, sneers “Long live the empire,” and jumps to hyperspace, leaving them quite literally in his wake.

But Ahsoka isn’t bothered. After all, as she and Sabine settle back in with the Noti caravan, a white owl takes flight from a nearby rock. Did you feel that? That tingle of knowledge, that Leonardo DiCaprio meme briefly flashing before your eyes? Ahsoka is certainly here for a reason, as that white owl that is probably definitely Morai suggests, and Baylan Skoll is basically standing on it—we finally see where he was heading last episode: the edge of a cliff, upon which two figures are carved, The Father and The Son, from one of the weirdest (and coolest) Clone Wars arcs of all time.

The Daughter, Father, and Son, artwork seen in the final season of Rebels.

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

It’s all coming up Mortis

The Father, The Son, and The Daughter are first introduced in the third season of Clone Wars, in a three-episode arc that takes Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, and Obi-Wan Kenobi to a distant planet (or plane, depends on who you’re asking) called Mortis. There, they learn that the family represents the three aspects of the Force: light side (Daughter), dark side (Son) and balance (Father). The Father drew the trio there, as he felt himself dying, and explained to Anakin that his destiny as the Chosen One meant he would be the balance the Force needed after the Father’s death.

But of course, things aren’t that simple, as the Son tries to pull Anakin to the dark side, putting Ahsoka under a spell that gives her yellowy, evil eyes and a bloodlust that forces her to fight Anakin and Obi-Wan. Then, the son kills her, but the Daughter gives her life to resurrect Ahsoka. Do you see how our other favorite trio has slotted into these archetypes: Anakin in the dark, Ahsoka in the light, Obi-Wan as the balance?

With that in mind, and with Baylan clearly seeking answers in the godlike trio, it opens up the floor for an interesting conversation. Baylan is standing in front of the Father statue, with the Son statue to his left (our right). As the camera zooms out, we see that there’s a space where a third statue used to be—the Daughter. In the final moments of this episode, Ahsoka assures Sabine that Peridea is exactly where they’re meant to be—an odd comment to make considering Thrawn successfully left the galaxy and is presumably heading to start another war.

Ahsoka Tano looks angry.

Screenshot: Lucasfilm / Kotaku

So, is Ahsoka meant to take her place as the Daughter, and restore balance to the Force? Will Baylan, who seems to straddle the line between good and evil, step into the Father role? And will Shin, who is revealed to have joined the planet’s nomads by approaching them and igniting her lightsaber, represent the Son?

The Ahsoka series felt like a love letter to Rebels and Clone Wars fans written in what is likely an indecipherable language to other viewers, which weakens it. It’s hard to care if you don’t already, and the collection of predictable outcomes (Ezra gets back home and removes his shadow trooper armor to reveal himself to a stunned Hera, Thrawn is heading back to start some wars yet again) don’t help it much, either. But, maybe Filoni isn’t using this show to tell a great story, but to do something far more interesting with the philosophy of the Force. Anakin Skywalker’s content ghost appearing at the very end of “The Jedi, the Witch, and the Warlord” suggests that the Chosen One is happy to see his apprentice on this particular planet, perhaps because she will finally do what the prophecy said he would: cease this endless tug-of-war between ideologies.

Or maybe, Dave Filoni just really loves Ahsoka Tano and lofty allegories, and I’m a little too Force-pilled to see otherwise. We’ll have to wait until we get more Ahsoka material, whether that’s a second season or a standalone movie, to find out.

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Article source https://kotaku.com/ahsoka-tano-series-show-episode-8-review-recap-reaction-1850898559

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