Tuesday, October 3, 2023

REVIEW: 'Ahsoka' - Ahsoka Races to Prevent Thrawn From Leaving His Exile in 'Part Eight: The Jedi, the Witch, and the Warlord'

Disney+'s Ahsoka - Episode 1.08 "Part Eight: The Jedi, the Witch, and the Warlord"

The heroes race to prevent Grand Admiral Thrawn's escape.

"Part Eight: The Jedi, the Witch, and the Warlord" was written by Dave Filoni and directed by Rick Famuyiwa

Ahsoka and her allies knew it was a possibility Thrawn could resurrect the Empire by returning to their galaxy. They had to be willing to sacrifice everything to prevent that from happening. In the end, they have to make peace with knowing Ezra was saved as well. He is given the opportunity to return home. Ahsoka trusts that everyone is where they are suppose to be. The mission failed. Darkness now looms over the New Republic as a new battle is set to begin. Ahsoka and Sabine have no way to escape Peridea. And yet, a calm peacefulness lingers as well. Ahsoka is comforted by the sight of Anakin through the Force. Sabine can't see him just yet. More training is to be done. That's the priority now.

It's still a somewhat strange place to conclude the story especially if the show is only meant for a limited run. It plays into the larger Star Wars timeline instead of completing what the show set out to feature. That fate may have always been inevitable. Heading into the finale, the show needed to accomplish a lot. The ending allows plenty of things to be left open-ended for further exploration. Sure, it's heartbreaking knowing Ray Stevenson won't get to continue exploring Baylan Skoll's personal quest. Baylan sought out a great power. He wasn't afraid like so many others were on Peridea. That story was ultimately nothing more than a tease. This distant galaxy was only a wasteland or prison to those who refused to see anything else. Thrawn unearthed a great power. Baylan feels compelled to do the same. He was always memorable. Yet so much of that was due to Stevenson who unfortunately passed away before the show started airing.

Meanwhile, Sabine gains confidence in the Force. She saw training with the lightsaber as proof that she was improving. Ahsoka recognized that her apprentice needed to train her mind as well. In the heat of the moment, Sabine wields the Force with as much power as any typical Jedi. She's fighting to save the people she loves. She's fighting to stay alive herself. She refuses to leave anyone behind. She finally listens to Huyang's advice to stay together. The rebels are stronger that way. When they split up, that's when difficult decisions have to be made. Ahsoka knows that all too well. She appreciated Anakin always supporting her no matter what. She extends the same courtesy to Sabine. She knew a difficult choice had to be made. It was all in service of rescuing Ezra. She achieved that goal. He escapes. Now, Ahsoka and Sabine get to be the caretakers of the Noti tribe Ezra befriend.

Thrawn knew conflict was inevitable too. He didn't lord with superiority knowing he had an army of stormtroopers and the weapons to destroy entire landscapes. He refused to make the same mistake as so many other Imperial leaders. Many underestimated what the Jedi are capable of doing. Thrawn creates obstacles for Ahsoka, Sabine and Ezra to overcome just in the hope of preventing the Eye of Sion from making the jump to hyperspace. Part of that creates new eerie imagery. The Great Mothers bring the stormtroopers back to life after they are knocked down in their initial encounter with the Jedi. They aren't formidable opponents. They have strength in numbers. Moreover, Morgan Elsbeth is gifted with the power of her ancestors. She transforms as well. She forgoes her life before to accept this power. She wields it expertly in battle against Ahsoka. That's largely just to give Thrawn enough time to make his escape.

Thrawn didn't care if the Jedi lived or died. He didn't care if someone was stranded on Peridea. The priority for him was leaving this galaxy. He had to return to restore the glory of the Empire. He's the only leader with the capacity to do so. He formed alliances for the strict purpose of making that a reality. So much was made possible when he brought the Great Mothers back to life. They reached out through the grand expanse of the universe to inform Morgan what was possible. Those who wield the Force operate in a similar way. Their power comes from a different place. Ahsoka places her trust in the forces that connect the universe guiding her on the right path. She is at peace with that even when the fate of the universe remains uncertain. She's safe and secure because Anakin is still watching over her. His dark actions are no longer an effective way to taunt her about the tactics she employs. Thrawn believes he understands Ahsoka. He doesn't. He fails to imagine her true potential.

Ultimately, the story centered on the limitations placed on life when people fail to imagine what is possible. Ahsoka and her allies faced resistance in trying to convince others the threat from Thrawn was real. The New Republic will have to contend with that reality now. Hopefully, Mothma heeded Hera's warning. Ezra reunites with his friends. He too trusted this would happen one day. So much has changed since he made that noble sacrifice all those years ago. It still seems as if someone must be punished to keep the balance of the universe in check. Thrawn and Ezra escape. Ahsoka, Sabine, Huyang, Shin and Baylan are left behind. Their paths don't present with an immediate direction they must pursue. They don't look to the sky and see Purrgil waiting to carry them home. They failed and must deal with the consequences. That's the appropriate response. It affords Ahsoka the time to train Sabine. She was once scared of the power her apprentice could wield. That was probably a mistake. It hindered her at this moment. The trust still remains. That's true despite the peril the universe will immediately enter into.

Moff Gideon was killed during the battle to reclaim Mandalore. Morgan was killed fighting to help Thrawn escape. Yet Thrawn still exists as an Imperial leader that can unite the disparate factions of the former Empire. That quality is necessary for what inevitably happens next with the creation of the First Order. The war continues whether our heroes are capable of seeing that clearly or not. The same is true of the audience. Of course, it's more difficult for the viewer to be at peace with this story being a complete telling of what was meant to be accomplished in a season of television. It set up for the future more than living for the thrills and entertainment of the present. It still had plenty of stylish moments to support.