The first season of Ahsoka ends with an episode that mirrors the show’s first episode. It’s a mixed bag of alternately exciting and lackluster action sequences, quiet character moments, and promise for the future without delivering anything too satisfying now.
The episode centers on Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson), Sabine (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), and Ezra (Eman Esfandi) as they race to stop the villainous Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) and Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) from returning to their home galaxy. It’s a surprisingly small episode for a season finale. But it becomes evident that, like so many finales before it, the episode is more interested in setting up future installments than offering a conclusion.
Like episode six, one of the best episodes of the season, the final episode of season one of Ahsoka draws heavily from the fantasy side of Star Wars. In the early moments of this episode, Morgan Elsbeth receives an infusion of magical power from the mystical Great Mothers and an enchanted blade, and it’s hard to think of anything more archetypically fantasy than that.
But Elsbeth’s upgrade isn’t the only thing in the episode that feels as though it invokes fantasy stories. After a brief but successful attack from some of Thrawn’s soldiers, our heroes abandon their spacecraft and make the rest of their journey on Howlerback. Riding beasts is, of course, more fantasy than sci-fi. But the combination of the two delivers one of the episode’s most thrilling sequences.
Action Wins and Draws
As the heroes arrive on their Howlers at the tower where Thrawn and Elsbeth are preparing their Star Destroyer to return to the galaxy far, far away, Thrawn unleashes, as he calls it, “hellfire.” The massive ship fires its many cannons down upon the heroes, who must frantically avoid the blasts while attempting to force open the gate to the tower with their Force powers. It’s a beautifully choreographed scene that combines the show’s fantastical and science-fiction elements for an action sequence unlike anything else we’ve seen up to this point.
It’s followed by a much less interesting sequence, like many we’ve seen before, of the trio alternating between blocking blaster fire and attacking a squad of Stormtroopers. As with the other mid-scale action scenes throughout the show, there’s nothing exactly wrong with the sequence; it just fails to live up to the excitement of the previous set piece.
Luckily, that less attractive sequence gives way to the best duel of the season as Ahsoka and Morgan Elsbeth engage in a climactic lightsaber vs. magical blade showdown. The choreography for the fight is clear and precise; even as the two move toward, away from, and around one another, we can see each of their strikes, whether delivered by their blades, feet, or fists. The fight is also greatly helped by confident camerawork from director Rick Famuyiwa that shows the combatants in wide shots and cutting only to emphasize the impact of a strike or a shift in the dynamic of the confrontation.
Character Arcs Done Well
While the action in the season finale falters in some moments, the few quiet moments with characters are all lovely. The episode offers a scene between droid Huyang (David Tennant) and Ezra as they discuss making lightsabers that allow them to learn more about one another and grow to respect each other more.
Ahsoka and Sabine discuss Sabine’s questionable choices that led them to this point. But Ahsoka says that she will have her apprentice’s back no matter what. It’s a sweet scene that serves as a satisfying emotional conclusion to their relationship throughout the show.
Even the bad guys get some character beats as we see Thrawn force back any signs of concern when the trio enters the tower. Mikkelsen begins to contort his face into a grimace and almost twitches as he holds it back, maintaining his composure no matter how significant his concerns may be. It’s a small moment, but it furthers our understanding of Thrawn’s commitment to his goals and his unwillingness to admit defeat.
Far From a Conclusion
But there is no defeat in the finale for the villains or the heroes. Without giving things away, the final episode of the first season of Ahsoka serves as a setup for future adventures. Whether those be with Ahsoka and Sabine or the not-seen-until-the-last-minutes Sith Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno) and Baylan Skoll (Ray Stevenson) remains to be seen.
It’s disappointing that Baylan’s quest for a mysterious power is not furthered in any meaningful way in this show, but it’s not surprising either. The final images of the episode promise, in the same way that the first two Lord of the Rings films promise, that we will see his adventure continue in the future. However, whether Disney and Lucasfilm plan to recast the late Stevenson remains to be seen, so it may be a promise that goes unfulfilled.
The season offers less of an ending to its plots and more of an ending to its characters, which makes sense for a show that began as a character-focused adventure. It’s a finale that’s satisfying in some ways and frustrating in others but lands firmly on the more satisfying than frustrating end because of its rousing action scenes and care for the characters.