Episode seven of Ahsoka highlights one of the issues with the show overall: the various plotlines vary in quality. The episode opens with Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) giving testimony on why she went on an unauthorized mission before a panel of senators. While Winstead is as charming as ever in the role, this narrative feels unnecessary to the show as a whole. We then spend significant time with Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) and the recently rediscovered Ezra Bridger (Eman Esfandi) as they banter like the long-lost friends they are. But the writing in these scenes is too self-consciously familiar and rings more awkwardly forced than natural and joyous.
In contrast, the seventh episode gives us far too little of Baylan Skoll (Ray Stevenson), who marked himself as the show’s most fascinating character in the last episode. Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) is underseen despite his big splash first appearance in the previous episode. But Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson) returns as one of the centers of the show after a noticeable absence with great aplomb in some excellent space-set action sequences.
And it’s in the action sequences that episode seven of Ahsoka shines, even if they overshine everything else, that makes the show interesting.
Too Many (and Some Questionable) Irons in the Fire
For a show that’s a continuation of Star Wars Rebels, Ahsoka has done an excellent job of inviting viewers unfamiliar with that show into its narrative and functioned well as a standalone show about Rebels (not so much with other pieces of Star Wars media, but more on that in a moment). But the scenes of Ahsoka that focus on Hera and her relationship with politicians, including Mon Mothma (Genevieve O’Reilly), feel like nothing more than a check in the checkbox of “fans of rebels want more Hera.”
It’s a shame because Winstead and Dawson have fantastic chemistry, and their few scenes together at the start of the show and in the fifth episode are a joy to watch. But by and large, Ahsoka leaves Hera behind. And in this seventh episode, it feels like Hera’s been left behind only to open the door for yet another piece of nostalgia bait that’s the worst the show has brought to life.
As Hera makes her case before a panel of senators, C-3PO appears and informs the committee that Hera acted at the command of Senator Leia Organa, the leader of the Senate’s Defense Council. It’s a moment that seems like an acknowledgment on Disney’s part that they cannot recreate Carrie Fisher’s likeness for these appearances but are unwilling to give up on referring to her iconic character. So, instead, the show has a still-living actor from the original trilogy (like C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels) come in and pass along messages. The scene feels bad despite the apparent attempt to minimize accusations of disrespect to Fisher’s memory.
Not in bad taste, but raising some eyebrows is Baylan Skoll’s minimal appearance in this episode after stating his goal to find a mysterious power that would allow him to end the seemingly infinite cycle of power shifting in the galaxy far, far away in the last episode. Ahsoka completed filming last October before Stevenson’s death in May, so there’s a significant possibility there’s increasingly the sense that Skoll is being set up for a show in which he seeks the power that would allow him to change the galaxy. We hope this storyline will have a satisfying conclusion in next week’s episode of Ahsoka. But with so many storylines, it isn’t easy to see that happening.
Those many narratives include Thrawn and Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) returning to their home galaxy to enact their nefarious plans and Ahsoka’s reunion with Sabine and Ezra after spending the last few episodes apart. While episode seven tracks five different plotlines, it does at least reunite Ahsoka with her former and current apprentices, ostensibly bringing the continuing storylines count down to four for the next episode.
Best Action So Far
While Ahsoka’s separation from her pupils fractures the show’s focus, it also allows the show to deliver its best action sequences thus far.
Much of the episode sees Ahsoka arrive from hyperspace near Peridea and avoid several threats before she touches down on the planet. First, while still in the mouth of the Purrgil, they’ve traveled with, she and trusted droid Huyang (David Tennant) realize that the villains have surrounded the planet with mines. The densely planted bombs go off around the whales (who remain one of the best things about the show) and Ahsoka’s T-6 ship with small orange explosions that contrast against the beauty of the shining stars and black space around them.
But the mines aren’t the only threat. Soon, enemy fighters engage the T-6, following it into the Purrgil boneyard that forms Peridea’s rings. These dogfights are thrillingly choreographed and shot like those in the show’s third and best episode. The setting in the boneyard adds to the narrative and visual excitement of the action as ships speed through the massive whale remains lit by the green hues of the lasers, and some ships collide in explosions that light up the dusty debris field. Those explosions among the bones continue when an enemy cannon fires on the T-6, offering some genuinely striking images of dark red fire tearing through the enormous bones.
Not to confine the action sequences to space, the episode also shows Ezra, Sabine, and their indigenous Noti friends chased by other locals recruited by Baylan Skoll and Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno). Those locals are humanoid bandits in dark red, samurai-inspired armor who ride the Warg-like Howlers. The steeds make the chase, which places Sabine and Ezra in an oblong and not-so-fast-moving Noti vehicle, feel like something out of a Western as Sabine does her best to gun down their pursuers. It’s a simple scene that’s more than the sum of its parts and delivers one of the most straightforwardly fun and children’s adventure-story style action sequences in the show.
Action At the Expense of Growth
Episode seven delivers some great Star Wars action, but, combined with the many plotlines, it doesn’t move the story forward. The episode takes baby steps on both a character level; the sadly more annoying than charming scenes with Ezra and Sabine don’t develop those characters meaningfully, and on a grander narrative level, the central plot point of the episode is Ahsoka’s reunion with her students.
It’s the best episode of the show regarding its action sequences, outpacing even the third episode, but it fails to combine action with storytelling in the same way that episode did. This episode’s almost overwhelming number of storylines and the choice to center action make it feel stretched thin despite the brilliance of the action.