Incoming transmission from a galaxy far, far away… your new favorite Star Wars show has arrived. Ahsoka brings a cinematic Star Wars experience to Disney+ while acting as a loving Star Wars Rebels reunion. This Rebels fan couldn't have asked for more.
Picking up a few years after the Star Wars Rebels Season 4 finale, Ahsoka begins with an opening crawl that reveals that while evil has been defeated, that doesn't mean it is gone for good. A new plot has arisen to find Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) and bring him back to lead them in war against The New Republic. Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), after capturing Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto), learned of a map that could lead her to Thrawn and Ezra Bridger (Eman Esfandi). When Elsbeth escapes custody, the race to find the map and Thrawn leads Ahsoka to turn to old friends for help in fighting this new threat.
Ahsoka feels like coming home for Star Wars Rebels fans, as it essentially acts like a live action continuation of the show. Although it is definitely a show that is lovingly curated for those of us that have invested our time, energy, and love into Rebels, Ahsoka itself is also accessible for those who have not. Although I will say, if you fall into that category, do yourself a favor and binge it. It is one of the best Star Wars properties out there. Director and writer Dave Filoni has delivered a cinematic experience to the small screen. Rich in Star Wars lore and packed with memorable moments both big and small, Ahsoka does justice not only to the iconic Togruta Jedi but also to Ghost Crew.
With its cinematic visuals, this show feels made for the big screen. From the opening scrolling text to the battles, Ahsoka looks and acts like a Star Wars film. Not just any Star Wars film, but one that harkens back to the days of the original trilogy in scope, humor, and heart. Adding to Eric Steelberg's cinematography is Kevin Kilner's incredible score. It elevates the onscreen moments whether they are big action set pieces or smaller, more tender moments. These elements all marry together to place the audience firmly in the galaxy, making them one with the characters on the screen.
Filoni has given fans something special. There is no one who adores these characters and their stories as much as he does and it shows. From the detailed landscapes and hand drawn elements like Sabine's drawings, everything has been meticulously recreated from the animation. It is also hard to argue that no one knows Star Wars lore more than Filoni, with the exception of George Lucas himself. Ahsoka is steeped in lore with easter eggs, callbacks, and nods to both canon and legends. This is a contrast to Andor, another incredible live action SW show. However, despite the discourse happening online, fans who enjoyed Andor can and will also enjoy Ahsoka. This doesn't have to be an either/or situation. Both shows enrich the Star Wars universe and are amazing in their own ways.
As I mentioned, this show is a love letter to Rebels fans who have long pined away for another season or a glimpse at these characters. The excitement we felt seeing them start to pop up in live-action from the barest hint of the Ghost Crew in The Rise of Skywalker to seeing Zeb in the latest season of the Mandalorian is multiplied tenfold in Ahsoka. Every time the camera panned to a familiar location or face I couldn't help but smile. Patience has finally paid off.
Dawson made waves in the force when she first debuted as the live-action Ahsoka in The Mandalorian. Once again she proves that she was made to embody this role (taking the mantle from the icon Ashley Eckstein). She has it all down, the “grey” area in which Ahsoka operates as a Jedi, her wit, smarts, and yes those killer lightsaber moves. No skill issues here. Ahsoka is the force (no pun intended) she always has been. For fans wanting to see lightsaber battles, the first two episodes give you plenty to feast on with the choreography getting increasingly crazy– in all the best ways of course.
The late Ray Stevenson's Baylan Skoll is an intriguing character, highlighting one of the things about Star Wars that has drawn us in since the beginning. He is a Sith, but like Ahsoka he doesn't commit himself fully to the ways of his order. It'll be interesting to see those two finally face off and have the discussion about the paths they chose to walk. Stevenson is great in the role, exuding both the physicality and the quiet fierceness the character is meant to give off. Ivanna Sakhno's Shin is more of a mystery but is written interestingly enough that you will want to find out where this apprentice came from.
One word. Chopper. No offense to R2-D2, but Chopper has been my favorite droid since Rebels season 1. Live-action Chopper is as rowdy and cranky as ever, so no worries there. Loth cats are everywhere and their audio-animatronic selves have gotten an upgrade since Mando. Side note: give me all the merchandise these cuties are sure to inspire. Newcomers Bordizzo and Winstead probably have the most work on their hands in terms of convincing fans they are worthy of taking on their respective characters –aside from Esfandi as Ezra whom we have only seen in a holographic message. From what we see in the premiere, Bordizzo is Sabine. She's feisty, determined, and stubborn (aren't all Mandalorians?) but will do anything to protect her found family, even if it means swallowing her pride. There is an emotional reckoning towards the end of episode 2 that Bordizzo nails. Winstead is decent as Hera, I feel like we need to see more of her with the other Ghost members before passing judgement. The show has also brought back other familiar characters that fans will do the Leo meme point at the screen for. Minor spoiler, I was delighted that a certain former resistance leader on Lothal is now running the place.
Ultimately Ahsoka is a love letter to Star Wars fans across the galaxy. It brings back the space opera tone of the franchise with Filoni finding a way to balance world building while still allowing the characters to drive the story. Star Wars Rebels fans will likely be the most thrilled as the series kicks off, spotting familiar faces and places, but there is something for everyone no matter how much lore you know. Ahsoka is a cinematic experience on a small screen that feels both grand and intimate at the same time. Based on the first two episodes, I could not be more excited to see where it all goes. Fire up the engines Chop, because we are ready for more.
Ahsoka premieres on Disney+ August 22 at 6pm PT/ 9pm ET.