The Spool / Recap
Ahsoka mostly sticks its landing with Part 8
It's packed to bursting, but the series' cast carries it home.

It’s packed to bursting, but the series’ cast carries it home.

This piece was written during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the actors currently on strike, the works being covered here wouldn’t exist.

Hello friends, and welcome to the season (series?) finale of Ahsoka! Directed by returning Star Wars champion (and erstwhile X-wing pilot) Rick Famuyiwa and written, obviously, by Dave Filoni, “The Jedi, the Witch, and the Warlord” stumbles with the show’s numerous characters more than any episode this season but manages to sort of bring it all home. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Thrawn’s (Lars Mikkelsen) mysterious cargo has been loaded onto the Chimaera. He sends two TIE fighters after Ahsoka’s ship, telling a protesting Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) that he’s seen too many Imperials underestimate the Rebellion. He was undone by a single Jedi. He will not be again. The Great Mothers float in to grant Morgan the “Gift of Shadows.” She’s a full-fledged Nightsister now, complete with pitch-black eyes and cool facial markings. The Mothers complete the look with a pillar of green fire that becomes the “Blade of Talzin.” Thrawn watches with the polite smile of someone attending church with their friend’s family the morning after a sleepover. 

Meanwhile, Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), and Ezra Bridger (Eman Esfandi) accompany the Noti across the plains. Ezra and Huyang (David Tennant) construct a new lightsaber, during which Ezra asks Huyang what happened between Sabine and her master. After the Purge of Mandalore, Ahsoka became worried that Sabine, reeling from the Empire’s slaughter of her family and destruction of her culture, would train only to use the Force for the wrong reasons.

Ahsoka, Disney.

Sabine steps out onto the ship’s wing to find Ahsoka, who assures her that she’ll back Sabine just like Anakin always backed her. Ezra demos his new lightsaber just in time for Thrawn’s TIEs to attack. Ezra and Ahsoka hit the ground and use the Force to stop the ship from crushing the Noti while Sabine pilots. Between the two Force-users and Sabine, they’re able to propel the ship into the TIE fighters, destroying them but wrecking their ride in the process. Ahsoka, Ezra, and Sabine head towards the Chimaera on Howlers, leaving Huyang and the Noti to effect repairs. 

Captain Enoch (Wes Chatham) informs Thrawn of the ship’s crash and the TIE fighters’ losses, and Thrawn prepares for a ground assault. Morgan blesses a group of volunteer stormtroopers who leave to head off the oncoming Jedi. Morgan tells Thrawn that the volunteers were willing to sacrifice themselves for him, but he corrects her: their sacrifice is for the Empire and the security of the galaxy. Notified of the Jedi’s approach, Thrawn declines to negotiate with Anakin Skywalker’s padawan and orders the use of turbolasers. 

The group Fortress’ lower gate with the Force, though it’s unclear how much help Sabine is in that effort. Ahsoka, Ezra, and Sabine make short work of the stormtroopers, but! Upstairs, the Great Mothers do some chanting, and the stormtroopers stir with green magic. They are, indeed, zombies. The Jedi attack, but the troopers keep coming until the heroes manage to seal the zombies behind a blast door and head upstairs, where Morgan tells Thrawn that the hyperspace ring ship and the Chimaera are set to go. A rueful Thrawn needs the Jedi stopped, and Morgan realizes what that means. Yeah, Morgan isn’t going home. Thrawn tells Morgan, “For the Empire,” and takes his leave. Morgan, almost tearful, whispers, “For Dathomir.” 

The trio reaches Morgan, and Ahsoka orders the younger pair to go after Thrawn while she duels the newly anointed Nightsister. At long last, an excuse to have Diana Lee Inosanto fight again! It’s a wonder to behold. Sabine and Ezra make it to the top of the Fortress but find the way blocked by two deathtroopers. Their fight doesn’t go well, with Sabine nearly dying at the hands of one zombified trooper, but then! Sabine uses the Force to grab her lightsaber and kill the trooper. Oh. So Sabine definitely has the Force, then? While it certainly helps in this situation, it’s an almost disappointing turn of events. There was never an earlier hint that Sabine was Force-sensitive, not any more than any average being—who is part of the Force because it’s in everything. Sabine has always been a smart, accomplished, talented character who didn’t need the Force to get by. It’s handy right now, though. Ezra also dispatches his trooper, but they’re just too late to board the Star Destroyer. 

Ahsoka, Disney.

Ezra Force-jumps across to the ship with a Force boost from Sabine, but when it’s her turn, she’s distracted by the Ahsoka/Morgan duel, which has moved upstairs and been gatecrashed by the zombie troopers. Ahsoka loses one of her lightsabers to the Blade of Talzin, and Morgan tells her that she will die alone on Peridea, but they (and we) learn that Sabine stayed behind after all. She takes on the troopers while Ahsoka, renewed, attacks Morgan, ultimately taking the Blade and killing her. I’m glad she got to be a Nightsister for about an hour and a half. She really seemed to enjoy it.

Before they leave the planet’s atmosphere, Thrawn orders the Fortress leveled. Ahsoka and Sabine manage to avoid both blasts and troopers, and Huyang rescues them in the repaired ship. They go after the Chimaera, and Thrawn takes the opportunity to call them up and taunt Ahsoka that she might yet become more like Anakin. That gambit would have worked a few episodes ago, Thrawn, but she’s done a lot of healing lately. With a final “Long Live the Empire,” Thrawn and company enter hyperspace, and Ahsoka and Sabine cannot follow. 

Elsewhere on Peridea, Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno) approaches a bandit camp and raises her lightsaber to get their attention. Elsewhere still, Baylan Skoll (Ray Stevenson) stands on the edge of a giant statue of the Father (next to him, the Son, but no figure for the Daughter) and stares into the distance at a mysterious light on top of a mountain. Thanks for showing up, Shin and Baylan! Bye, Shin and Baylan!

The Chimaera approaches Dathomir as Thrawn looks down over the hundreds of caskets he’s brought back from Peridea. I maintain that it’s pottery. 

Over in the New Republic fleet, Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and a collection of guards cautiously edge up to an Imperial shuttle that’s just been brought in; the shuttle opens to emit one battered stormtrooper. Chopper is the first to realize that all is not what it seems. Sure enough, the trooper removes his helmet to reveal Ezra, who tells a stunned Hera that he’s home.

Ahsoka sees a mysteriously familiar bird at the Noti camp and tells Sabine she did well. Though Thrawn escaped, Ezra got home–he’s where he needs to be, and so are Ahsoka and Sabine. Sabine gazes into the darkness and tells Ahsoka she thought she felt something, but she brushes it aside. Sabine walks away, leaving Ahsoka to stare out in the same direction; she smiles and nods to their observer: Anakin Skywalker’s Force ghost (Hayden Christensen), watching his padawan and her padawan with bittersweet fondness. 

Ahsoka, Disney.

So concludes Ahsoka! Speaking strictly of this episode, it would have been better to have wrapped up Shin and Baylan’s storylines last week if these glimpses were all we would get. Understandably, the Hera/Ezra reunion (at least what we saw of it) had to happen this week, though it was a pity it had to be so short. Still, if we’re going to conclude with an abandoned Shin seeking new allies and Baylan seeing…whatever that was without even a speck of dialogue between them, then we could have done that last week. It was a real shame to say goodbye to Morgan Elsbeth, who fought for so long just to be voluntold that she would sacrifice herself. Thrawn can bandy “Oh, it’s for the Empire” about all that he wants to, but Morgan and those troopers died for him. 

So. Thrawn, and the season at large. Thrawn’s entry into live-action is something that fans have wanted for a very long time. Still, there’s a certain frustration to bringing him in now and having the “old” Thrawn dictate so much of his character and not the, in one recapper’s opinion, newer and more interesting one. This has been discussed in these recaps before, but perhaps learning a bit more about his motivations might have helped in his characterization. Leaving him just as he returns to “our” galaxy works as the set-up to wherever the story at large is heading next, though hopefully, we’ll get to see some reactions to his return and not jump in after it’s well-known. I want to see the Senate eat crow! 

Thrawn’s emergence as the Big Bad aside, this season was about Ahsoka coming to terms with her past, her relationship with Anakin, and his memory. These are the places where the series shined. The Ahsoka Tano that we met in The Mandalorian and the early episodes here wouldn’t have been able to bring out Sabine’s abilities, nor would she have handled the failure of their core mission with such grace. I think it’s telling that Morai (the aforementioned mysterious bird) didn’t appear until Ahsoka reached a certain level of peace with herself and her place within the Force. 

All in all, Ahsoka was a solid entry into the Star Wars timeline, even if it possibly relied the most so far on knowledge of other entries (Rebels, Clone Wars, the books, etc.). Let’s all wait and see where the franchise takes us. 

Bantha Droppings: 

  • Will someone please call Pellaeon?
  • There’s been some fandom chatter that the two death troopers who attack Ezra and Sabine might have been Pik and Waffle (I promise that’s his name), Thrawn’s guards from the 2019 novel Thrawn: Treason, but I think that’s unlikely given where they ended up in the book. Also, I’d like to believe that Thrawn would have more respect for the two than to let them become creepy magic zombies.
  • Did Bo-Katan forget to call Sabine while she was rebuilding Mandalore, or what?
  • The Great Mothers are going to get back to Dathomir, and there will be a note from Merrin saying, “Everyone died but me and I’m out of here.”