Everyone chases a map to the end of the galaxy, but it is the actor’s performance that proves the real prize.
This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the works being covered here wouldn’t exist.
Hello friends and welcome to Episode 4 of Ahsoka, the enticingly titled “Fallen Jedi.” Does this mean Baylan? Ahsoka? A certain cameo at the very end? All of them?
Directed by Peter Ramsey, doing an excellent job with many moving parts, “Fallen Jedi” is perhaps the most Dave Filoni-written of the episodes yet. This is peak Filoni, and I must finally concede that, for this installment at least, the audience may want to brush up on some Clone Wars and Rebels to get the most out of this. There’s just so much.
Things aren’t looking good. Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) and Huyang (David Tennant) try to fix their ship, still stranded on Seatos, and contact Hera. Sabine updates Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), who quickly reveals a more pressing issue. Namely, they cannot, under any circumstances, allow Morgan Elsbeth and her gang to use the star map to fetch Thrawn. If Ahsoka and Sabine can’t use the map to find Ezra, they must destroy it. Sabine refuses to let it come to that. Meanwhile, an assassin droid watches them undetected from the trees.
During their conversation, Ahsoka calls Thrawn the “Heir to the Empire,” which, while well, good, and name-droppy, is no longer canon. Thrawn’s Rebels characterization is a tricky thing, given that Expanded Universe (now known as Legends), Thrawn was a pretty straightforward, though complex, villain. On the other hand, the six books that now comprise the canon material on Thrawn make him more of an…? Anti-hero isn’t the right word. Anti-villain, maybe?
It’s more and more likely that we will see a very Legends-esque Thrawn. We have the hints here, for one. Then, there’s the appearance of Gilad Pellaeon (number one Thrawn superfan) on The Mandalorian and the introduction of Mount Tantiss on The Bad Batch. Of course, a lot of this depends on someone, anyone, going out and finally getting Thrawn.
With that in mind, Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) and Baylan Skoll (Ray Stevenson) stand dramatically in the ruins looking over the ocean, when Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno) arrives. She’s there to let them know they’ve received word of Ahsoka and company’s location. Baylan dispatches Shin, Marrok (Paul Darnell), and some guards, warning Morgan that they need to get a move on with the whole “heading to another galaxy” thing.
A droid moves in on an unsuspecting Huyang outside the ship while Ahsoka and Sabine talk inside. Our titular protagonist tells her protege about the importance of doing what’s right regardless of personal feelings. Oof…pushing that “we may never get Ezra home” narrative hard there, Ahsoka. Huyang gets the power back on before immediately tussling with the assassin droid. This fight goes unnoticed by Ahsoka and Sabine until the power cuts out again. The pair join the skirmish, easily taking out the guards and droids. Then they head into the woods towards the ring of ruins while a concerned Huyang begs them to stay together.
This is peak Filoni, and I must finally concede that, for this installment at least, the audience may want to brush up on some Clone Wars and Rebels to get the most out of this.
Over at the New Republic fleet, Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) leaves to help Ahsoka, accompanied by her son Jacen and droid Chopper. She doesn’t have New Republic authorization, but she does have a cadre of X-wings led by our old pal Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee). So, once more, into hyperspace, they go.
Back on Seatos, Morgan activates the map, setting a droid to calculate their path through hyperspace to the other galaxy. Please remember that while they know Thrawn is somewhere out there, they don’t know his exact location. Let’s hope this galaxy isn’t too big.
Ahsoka and Sabine get within sight of the ruins and the activated map, but Shin and Marrok halt them. Shin and Sabine, armed with Mandalorian weapons, face off again as Ahsoka and Marrok duel. Though an intense fight, Ahsoka makes relatively quick work of Marrok. One slice to the chest and he dissolves into a cloud of screaming green mist. Sorry, Ezra theorists, Starkiller theorists, and everyone else. Turns out he was just a guy. And possibly a zombie guy, given the green mist and the overwhelming green tint of most Nightsister magic?
Shin is as startled as the audience by Marrok’s death. That distracts her long enough for Sabine to yell for Ahsoka to go and get the map. Ahsoka takes off for the ruins. But wait! Didn’t Huyang tell you two to stay together?!
As the calculations are nearly complete, Morgan heads up to the ring ship to start travel preparations. That leaves only Baylan to guard the map and go toe to toe with Ahsoka. He attempts to rile her up by mentioning Anakin Skywalker and “what he became.” Then, uh oh, the cloaks come off.
Baylan keeps jawing, denying he’s trying to start a new war. After all, that’s Thrawn’s job. All Baylan knows is they must destroy the old to create something new. His justifications and vague proclamations fail to persuade Ahsoka, so the two square up. In the midst of their duel, Ahsoka successfully powers down the map but burns her hand in the process.
Back in the forest, Sabine can’t use the Force against Shin. Still, she does have some handy Mando gadgets in her gauntlets. Rather than face those, Shin throws a smoke bomb at Sabine and flees toward the ruins. When she arrives, Ahsoka assumes it means Shin killed Sabine. In retaliation, the Jedi Force-lifts the padawan and knocks her out against a rock. The distraction briefly gives Baylan the upper hand, but Sabine arrives in time to grab the map. She threatens to destroy it if Baylan doesn’t release Ahsoka. Attempting to call her bluff, Baylan pushes Ahsoka over the cliff into the sea far below.
He slowly approaches Sabine and the map, reading her thoughts. He reveals that her Mandalorian family died during the Purge because Ahsoka “didn’t trust” Sabine. Presumably, Sabine wanted to help her family, and Ahsoka didn’t allow her to, likely causing their rift. He continues, pointing out he now knows Sabine considers Ezra to be her only remaining family. As a result, he suggests that she and he want the same journey. If she hands over the map, Baylan gives his word he’ll see her reunited with Ezra. Tormented, she succumbs to his promises and gives it to him. Oh, Sabine.
Shin wakes and starts to Force-choke Sabine, but her master stops her. Baylan opens the map and lets Morgan’s droid complete the calculations before destroying it. Together, he, Shin, and a handcuffed Sabine return to Morgan’s ring ship.
Huyang finally gets a comm from Hera announcing her arrival with the team of X-wings. Morgan, unimpressed by the tiny showing of the New Republic, launches the ring into hyperspace right in front of them, killing at least three X-wing pilots. Jacen tells his mother that he has a bad feeling about this. Down on the ground, Huyang tries, in vain, to contact Sabine or Ahsoka.
A gorgeous overhead shot of the trees, ruins, and sea becomes a sparkling blue surface upon which the audience and Ahsoka Tano find herself. She stands up and looks around at the many shining blue pathways. She’s in the World Between Worlds. A plane of existence created by the Force, the World Between Worlds connects all of time and space. Previously, on Rebels, Ezra saved Ahsoka by using them. That might explain why she looks none too pleased when she realizes where she is.
With everything happening this week, one thing is quite clear. This was Ray Stevenson’s episode.
As she considers her situation, she hears a voice greet her with a “Hello, Snips.” Knowing only one person called her that, an emotional Ahsoka turns to see Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) smiling at her. And, because Dave Filoni must always tease us with pain, the episode ends as “The Imperial March” plays. That’s to remind us of what Anakin becomes, right? Not to imply that it’s a trick? It’s really Anakin, right, Dave? Dave?
Things are moving now! The bad guys (plus Sabine, who made some very understandable but very poor choices this week) head at last to the other galaxy. Ahsoka is dead? Maybe? On another plane of existence regardless. And Hera? Well, Hera has no idea what’s going on yet.
With everything happening this week, one thing is quite clear. This was Ray Stevenson’s episode. He stole scenes just by standing in them. His presence and force in his scenes with Ahsoka were tremendous. His manipulation of Sabine managed to play as soothing and understanding rather than with the lurking creepiness it would’ve possessed in the hands of a lesser actor. I said at the beginning that Baylan would likely become an iconic character. “Fallen Jedi” solidified it.
- Hera appears to have a picture of Kanan in the cockpit of the Ghost. While this might be internet wishful thinking, I’ve certainly convinced myself that I see it.
- A lovely drawing of the World Between Worlds was in one of the Jedi Texts held on Ahch-To. You know, the “SACRED JEDI TEXTS!”
- Hera went to the Din Djarin “I’ll just bring my son to the firefight” school of parenting.
- I missed a Thrawn fact last week, so here are two:
- His birth name was Kivu’raw’nuru, called Vurawn.
- He angrily hisses at a subordinate on Rebels, so fingers crossed they carry that piece of characterization over, and we all see Lars Mikkelsen hiss at someone.