This Star Wars: Ahsoka review contains spoilers.
Ahsoka Episode 3
Ahsoka’s third episode largely focuses on its climactic multi-stage starfighter battle, which is eye-poppingly entertaining and worth watching the episode for alone. But there are actually several notable interpersonal moments that dovetail nicely with the two-episode premiere and set up what’s yet to come.
Rosario Dawson and Natasha Liu Bordizzo continue to click as Ahsoka and once-again Padawan Sabine, playing naturally off of one another and conveying that their characters are on good terms but still very much readjusting to the master-apprentice dynamic. Huyang adds a bit of humorously toxic pragmatism to the dynamic (“She is not an acceptable candidate,”), which sets Sabine up as a compelling underdog and makes Ahsoka’s belief in her friend and student mean that much more.
The sparring session between the three of them is a cool throwback to Luke and Obi-Wan, and it’s nice to see practical-effects Huyang filmed so…conventionally? In other words, seeing Huyang presented with such tactility helps tremendously in grounding him in the scene and connecting him to David Tennant’s voice. His master proficiency with lightsabers makes him such a unique droid character, and he’s quickly become an essential element of the show despite being a supporting role.
Sabine’s journey toward connecting with the Force is only as interesting as it is because of her unique background as a Mandalorian and the astronomical odds standing against her becoming a Jedi. Ahsoka’s assertion to Huyang that she doesn’t need Sabine to become a Jedi but rather the best version of herself is as sweet as it is wise, and Huyang’s concession that Ahsoka does in fact come from a long line of unlikely Jedi Masters is an unexpectedly poignant observation.
Meanwhile, Hera’s plea to the skeptical Senate for help investigating the potential return of Grand Admiral Thrawn is mostly standard stuff. The point here is to make us feel Hera’s frustration at the Senators (save Mon Mothma) refusing her request and going so far as to accuse her of being emotionally compromised due to her lost comrade Ezra Bridger. Bureaucracy is infuriating in so many ways, but these types of scenes are mostly super predictable. Hera’s line to Senator Xiono (another Star Wars animated series cameo!) about sitting out of the war was a nice touch, though.
The big moment of Hera’s portion of the episode comes right at the end when we meet her green-haired son. Folks wondering how long Ahsoka might drag out the debut of live-action Jacen Syndulla get to spend a few seconds with him in “Time to Fly.” Introduced only in the final seconds of Rebels as the son of Hera and the late Jedi Knight Kanan Jarrus, we get to see Evan Whitten’s Jacen (green hair and all) say that he wants to become a Jedi, which is a neat little morsel of foreshadowing. Perhaps we’ll get to see his journey down the line?
The main event of the episode is the incredible dogfight around the Eye of Sion. The absolutely sadistic looking Shin and the low-key coolest character on the show, Marrok, are in pursuit, and the ensuing space battle is a feast for the eyes. Sabine manning the cockpit while Ahsoka pulls out some crazy space acrobatics with a lightsaber is showrunner Dave Filoni at his most creative. The sequence also feeds into their story, with the two struggling to get on the same page at first but pulling it together when they start communicating openly. Great stuff.
The ship interior exploding a split second after Huyang squeals, “Scan complete!” is way funnier than it has any right to be, and him essentially sleeping through the insanity that ensues is a solid gag. Ahsoka’s showdown with the Imperial starfighters on the outside of her ship is as stunning visual that is unlike anything we’ve seen in live-action Star Wars. The harsh lighting and physics-focused presentation of the zero-gravity environment evokes the feel of astronaut movies like Gravity and 2001: A Space Odyssey, which is super impressive and out of left field for the franchise.
And just when you think the scene can’t get any cooler, the chase descends into Seatos’ atmosphere where the ships weave battle from within a herd(?) of purrgil. The imagery on display here is majestic and elevates the chase to mindboggling levels of nerdiness. The visual effects on the Purrgils are fantastic, and even the little details—like the windswept rain droplets we see from inside the cockpit windows—add a lot to the integrity of the set piece. Visual effects-driven action scenes don’t always feel visceral and gritty, but this one sure did.
The purrgil remind Sabine of Ezra, which is heartbreaking. It can’t be understated how much of Ahsoka’s success so far is owed to the wonderful work Filoni and the folks at Lucasfilm Animation did with The Clone Wars and Rebels. The entire show revolves around the implications of Ezra and Thrawn’s returns, and the alley-oop pass from Rebels’ terrific cliffhanger finale continues to pay dividends here.