Tuesday, August 22, 2023

REVIEW: 'Ahsoka' - Ahsoka Discovers a Map That Requires a Former Ally to Decipher in 'Part One: Master and Apprentice'

Disney+'s Ahsoka - Episode 1.01 "Part One: Master and Apprentice"

A valuable prisoner escapes New Republic custody. A search for answers reunites two old friends.

"Part One: Master and Apprentice" was written by Dave Filoni and directed by Dave Filoni

This premiere features a familiar trope within the Star Wars franchise. It features a hero desperately trying to pass along crucial information to the allies who can use it to prevent their enemies from enacting their dastardly plans. In the original film, Leia recruited her droids to deliver the plans for the Death Star to the Rebel Alliance before it became operational. In The Force Awakens, Rey needed to find the final piece of the map that would mark the return of Luke Skywalker and the Jedi. These actions were righteous even though the consequences were far-reaching and couldn't be predicted. That's an overall theme of this narrative as well. Ahsoka Tano is the former apprentice of Anakin Skywalker. He never completed her training. That wasn't because of his turn to the dark side in becoming Darth Vader. Instead, she grew disillusioned with the Jedi Order long before then. She is a master of the Force. She's surrounded by people who uphold the ideals of the Jedi. She goes where she's needed. She's attuned to the universe. She recognizes the growing threat of Imperil allies who believe the return of Grand Admiral Thrawn is imminent. A map is somehow hidden away in a temple built by the Nightsisters. Ahsoka finds it only to immediately be ambushed. She survives. However, she quickly has to rely on her former allies from her days helping with the Rebellion against the Galactic Empire. She prides herself as a neutral wanderer in this universe. Her white lightsaber symbolizes how she resides between good and evil. She rejects the binary choices that define many of the conflicts encountered by the Jedi over the years. The Jedi Order fell because the leadership was blinded by the corruption of the galaxy. The rebellion prevailed. And yet, the New Republic isn't exactly great at prison transfers. The ship carrying Morgan Elsbeth is attacked with most of the security forces being killed by former Jedi Baylan Skoll and his apprentice Shin Hati. They too abide by the ancient order. A master in the Force requires someone to teach. Ahsoka fulfilled that role with Anakin. She ultimately rejected it. She was intrigued by the idea of continuing to pass on this knowledge. However, she walked away from that too. She couldn't provide Grogu with what he needed. Meanwhile, she only seeks out Sabine Wren knowing that the possibility of Ezra Bridger being alive will motivate her into helping. Sabine and Grogu walk similar paths where they are stuck in the middle between Jedi and Mandalorian. Sabine wields a lightsaber in battle. Her training ended many years ago. She doesn't feel like joining the celebration of what she and her friends accomplished in liberating their home planet during the Rebellion. But she can't run away from the fight. This burden remains whether she likes it or not.

Ahsoka carries regrets from the past. She's motivated into action now. She sees clearly the tentative hold the New Republic has over the galaxy. It remains fragile. Mistakes are made. The Imperial threat is still real. Thrawn could unite those forces. That's what Moff Gideon was planning in the most recent season of The Mandalorian. He too commanded a vast army willing to crush this new system that rose from the success of the Rebellion. He fought against a community driven by a higher cause. The resurrection of Mandalore was crucial to the remaining remnants of its people. Every action taken in this premiere is steeped with personal history. Of course, that immediately plays better for the viewer who has seen Star Wars: Rebels. It's not completely necessary. It's beneficial though. It allows the exposition to be more easily swallowed. Instead, the pace is slow as it has to inform the viewer how Ahsoka knows these characters. That history is powerful. The former Rebel forces have to work together once more. General Hera Syndulla happens to be the officer who informs Ahsoka about Morgan's escape. Meanwhile, Huyang shares the identity of the former Jedi who carried out that mission. The world at large no longer sees the expansive reach of the Jedi Order. They are nothing but a myth. And yet, those with a mastery of the Force helped the Rebellion prevail. Those mysteries are still yet to be unlocked fully. Luke is committed to building a new temple to train the next generation of Jedi Knights. Ahsoka can't walk that path alongside him. She sees the idealism in his eyes. She can't partake in it. Her path leads her elsewhere. She deals with the same threats though. The Dark Side is strong in her foes. Shin prevails in her lightsaber duel with Sabine. Of course, recent Star Wars projects have proven repeatedly that being impaled through the chest by a lightsaber isn't necessarily fatal. That too is a well-worn trope at this point. As such, it won't be surprising when Sabine survives this encounter. That makes it more concerning that Shin has the map to the Imperial leader. Sabine cracked the code. She figured out how to read it. She was pointed to where in the universe Ezra was. They grew up together. They became a family. She yearns for that connection. She has never moved past that. He sacrificed his life to protect the galaxy from this devious threat. People assumed death was the fate Ezra and Thrawn sustained. That too is a false assumption. So much lingers in the shadows of this vast galaxy. So little of it can be controlled. Plenty try to find that balance. They are crushed by the responsibilities. Ahsoka hoped Sabine would have matured since their last interaction. And yet, so much feels the same. It's a stubborn reality where the forces of good and evil constantly go back-and-forth in who is prevailing. Ahsoka isn't defeated. Her allies are injured though. That deserves recognition and immediate attention too.