As the galaxy far, far away gets far, far bigger, everything is starting to feel a little bit small. Almost 50 years after Star Wars started, we’re still getting told the same story – every main character only a few steps removed from each other by family, fraternity or by guest-starring in each other’s own spin-off series. As fresh and fun as Ahsoka often is, there’s a slight staleness starting to creep in with what has to be the deepest cut of the franchise so far.
Technically an off-shoot of The Mandalorian (not to be confused with The Book Of Boba Fett), Ahsoka is also a continuation of the story left off in the 2017 animated show, Rebels – itself a sequel to The Clone Wars cartoon series that started back in 2008. It’s that far back you have to go, too, to find the origin story of alien Jedi badass Ahsoka Tano – one-time apprentice to Anakin Skywalker (soon to become Darth Vader).
If you want to skip all the backstory and jump straight in, you can’t. Casual Star Wars fans will likely be a bit lost from the outset as Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson) raids the lair of a space witch to steal an orb that’s actually a map that maybe leads to the hidden location of historical baddie Grand Admiral Thrawn. Vanished Rebels hero Ezra Bridger is also rumoured to be hiding out in the same spot, which brings Mandalorian punk Sabine (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), Twi’lek general Hera (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and beloved cartoon droid Chopper back into the fold as well.
Mandalorian rebel Sabine Wren, played by Natasha Liu Bordizzo. CREDIT: Lucasfilm/Disney
Throw in a rogue ex-Jedi (played by the late Ray Stevenson, in his last on-screen role), an evil Sith apprentice (Ivanna Sakhno) and Vader himself (Hayden Christensen) and you have a series that bridges all the widest gaps in the Star Wars canon – preparing the timeline for the upcoming Skeleton Crew show, and setting the stage for showrunner Dave Filoni’s planned feature film that’s apparently going to tie everything together in a few years.
That all sounds slightly exhausting, but it rarely is. Ahsoka might lose its cinematic edge in a tangle of plot threads and side characters, but it swaps grandeur for snappiness. More like a live-action Rebels than a small-screen movie, the show rattles along with the same low-stakes, high-energy vibes of Filoni’s cracking cartoon series, giving it a pleasant lightness that’s been missing in Star Wars recently.
All the weight the show does have comes from Ahsoka herself. Pushed slightly to the background in the first few episodes, Dawson still gives the complex, jaded, driven character all the gravitas she deserves – more than doing justice to the best under-served tentacle-headed hero in the universe. Bordizzo, too, does a great job of bringing Sabine’s spikiness to life, turning a fan-favourite character into what feels like a whole new hero.
The action cuts fast and loose (apparently you can be stabbed through the guts with a lightsaber now and hop out of bed the next morning), but it’s all slickly served up and polished to a Disney+ sheen. This isn’t the grounded grit of Andor and it isn’t the stripped-back sweep of The Mandalorian nor the multiplex ambition of Obi-Wan Kenobi, but Ahoska has more than enough of its own charm and electricity to be something greater than filler.
‘Ahsoka’ streams on Disney+ from August 23