Episode six of Ahsoka shifts focus from the eponymous heroine to focus on Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) and the villains she’s accompanied to the planet Peridea. That planet, as previously noted multiple times with much gravity, is not in the classic galaxy far, far away. Peridea is an entirely new world for these characters and Star Wars fans, and the episode beautifully introduces this strange new planet.
While Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson) is missed throughout the episode, the performances from Bordizzo and the actors playing the villains are the best they have been all season, and they’ve been quite good thus far.
An Exciting New World
Peridea, Sith Baylan Skoll (Ray Stevenson) informs his comrades, and the audience is a graveyard. It is where the intergalactic traveling Purrgil star whales come to die. Those deaths have left behind millennia worth of bones, which have created rings around the planet. As our characters travel through those rings, we see their ship pass through the massive bones floating in space, creating a feeling of ominous magic before we even touch down on the planet.
That foreboding splendor only grows when the ship flies through a thick layer of fog to enter the planet’s atmosphere and is greeted by a barren gray-green world that looks part marshland, part desert. Scattered throughout the wasteland are tall, slender statues reminiscent of the Argonath in The Lord of the Rings that go unexplained, adding a greater sense of mystery to the planet.
The parallels to The Lord of the Rings don’t end with the statues, though, the destination of Sabine’s captors is a large tower built into the side of a cliff that’s more than a little similar to the city of Minas Tirith in Middle Earth. But far from feeling like Ahsoka is copying another fantasy series’ aesthetic, this imagery differentiates Peridea from other Star Wars planets. Peridea feels ancient, more like something out of a fantasy story than a science fiction one, the line between which Star Wars has always straddled in narrative but rarely in appearance.
It’s not just how the world looks that lends the episode a sense of grandeur; it’s also how it’s shot. Director Jennifer Getzinger and cinematographer Eric Steelberg’s compositions are truly marvelous. The extremely wide shots of the ship entering the planet’s atmosphere and the aerial shots of the tower where the characters land don’t just look great because of the production design; there’s an emphasis on scale that makes the unknown world feel almost infinite.
Beyond this astounding visual presentation, Baylan Skoll tells his young apprentice Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno) that Peridea is a key place in old Jedi folktales; he says walking on the planet is like experiencing “children’s stories come to life.” He doesn’t tell her any of the stories. Still, he says that the planet may guide them to breaking the seemingly endless cycle of alternating power between authoritarian and libertarian forces in their home galaxy, hinting at exciting revelations in store from the planet.
Performances Continue to Shine
Stevenson’s performance as Baylan in that conversation lends the old Sith and former Jedi a wistfulness that makes him a fascinating character. The writing sets him up, as he speaks of missing the idea of the Jedi Order but not the reality of it, but Stevenson can channel sadness, instead of anger, into a motivator that makes his performance remarkable.
Also remarkable is Lars Mikkelsen, whose Thrawn is the severe but soft-spoken villain who could order the deaths of millions with a calm, single word. It’s a difficult task to embody a villain who delivers the proper menace that’s been alluded to for five episodes now, and Mikkelsen succeeds brilliantly by playing Thrawn as so sure of his success and ability that he cannot be bothered to worry about things, raise his voice, or alter his demeanor.
On the other end of emoting this episode is Sabine, who is paired with a Peridean creature called a Howler to search for Ezra (Eman Esfandi). The interactions between Sabine and her wolf-like steed offer some of Bordizzo’s best moments in the show. She grows frustrated, is stern, warms up, pets, and generally goes through the stages of a relationship with an animal any pet owner is familiar with, and it’s delightful to watch.
Looking Forward Looks Good
While Peridea seems to hold ancient secrets, the sixth episode of Ahsoka uses the planet to look into Star Wars’s future as a franchise capable of telling different kinds of stories in a vast, now intergalactic, universe. The episode evokes the feeling of wonder of Star Wars at its best precisely because it’s looking forward to unraveling a new and fantastically developed mystery in a world we’ve never seen before.