Dave Filoni and the other people behind Ahsoka don’t have it easy. The notion of imbuing a live-action series with dozens of hours’ worth of character development and lore from other shows is daunting—and trying to do all that within the larger Star Wars lexicon, whose fans are unyielding and often bitter, is an even tougher task.
In some ways Ahsoka’s first episode falls victim to the demands of that task, but its second shows the shimmering promise of what lies ahead. I may be an unabashed Ahsoka fangirl, but I can admit when things feel like they need some breathing room—Rosario Dawson can settle into the role of Ahsoka a bit more; we could use less lingering looks exchanged between the three women; we need a better depiction of Sabine and Ahsoka’s dynamic.
But if “Master and Apprentice” felt a bit like it was slowly strolling down Filoni’s personal memory lane, “Toil and Trouble” feels like it’s starting to break out into a brisk walk—here’s hoping a full-blown sprint is down the line.
Her (Night)sister was a witch
The episode begins with a reassurance we don’t really need—Sabine, despite taking feral Shin Hati’s lightsaber through the abdomen, is alive and mostly well in a Lothal hospital bed (there’s no way she was dying). Ahsoka can hear Sabine’s dreams, which are taking her back through the fight with Shin, before she wakes her up to ask what happened. Her disappointment in her former Padawan is palpable (Sabine did directly disobey Ahsoka’s orders, after all) and the fraughtness of their relationship is a bit more clear than it was in the first episode. There’s *drama* between these two, guys.
Ahsoka heads to Ezra’s Tower, where Sabine lives like a little hermit Lothcat lady, and discovers one of the HK Assassin droids sent to retrieve the map has lingered behind. She makes quick work of it, and we get a beat where Rosario Dawson shows off how well she’s physically embodying Ahsoka, before bringing its severed head back to Sabine to try and hack it for information. The hospital scene allows us to see more of Ahsoka, Sabine, and Hera’s dynamic—even if the latter is only there via hologram, you can see the knowing glances she exchanges with Ahsoka whenever Sabine’s stubborn streak shows. It’s also a lot easier on the eyes to see Hera in holo-form, because that makeup is a certified jump scare. After Sabine almost blows up the hospital trying to reboot the droid head, they discover that it originated from Corellia—yes that Corellia, the home planet of Han Solo himself. Ahsoka and Hera decide to meet there.
After Ahsoka leaves the room, Sabine and Hera talk about the relationship between the former master and apprentice. “You’re both difficult, I always thought that’s what made it work,” Hera says, reminding us that there’s more to Ahsoka than bemused judgment and stoicism. Clone Wars fans know she was a right little shit as a teenager, and that her decision to leave the Jedi Order forever changed her.
Morgan Elsbeth and her two guard dogs (Baylan and Shin) have the map now, and they head to Seatos, a very moody new planet in the Star Wars universe. Its blood-red trees and steely, overcast skies set a creepy tone for the creepy things Elsbeth is about to do—because, surprise, she’s a Nightsister! Yes, “Toil and Trouble” is a reference to the famous Macbeth verse, because Elsbeth is a member of an ancient sect of witches that play a central role in the Clone Wars animated series. It’s a fun little detail, but one that reminds me of how badly I wish I could see former Sith apprentice and Nightsister Asajj Ventress in live-action.
I’m admittedly not a fan of the reliance of Star Wars TV series on The Volume, a massive, immersive soundstage that’s used for a lot of exterior shots, but the scene on Seatos is beautiful. Elsbeth activates the map, and thousands of glittering stars and constellations project onto the environment around them. It’s visually striking, even if Elsbeth actor Diana Lee Inosanto is a bit wooden—Ray Stevenson and Ivanna Sakhno carry the scene enough to make it work.
The girls are back in town
Ahsoka and Hera arrive at Corellia and we get our first real scare of the series—Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s makeup and costume in all its garish glory. There is so much wrong here: the too-orange pants, the gigantic General emblem on her Forever 21-ass jacket, her heavily caked-on green makeup, those god-awful contacts. I hope that they fix this in a potential second season of Ahsoka, because right now she looks like a really good Comic Con cosplay, not an official, live-action Star Wars character.
Despite how she looks, Winstead shines as Hera in the flesh. She suffers no fools, but may spare them a wry smile. There’s a shimmery, barely-there veil of sadness over her, but she remains steadfast in her beliefs—mainly, that Ahsoka and Sabine should reconcile. Despite wearing heavy prosthetic lekku, Winstead is thoroughly believable as Hera, and a joy to watch.
As the two rebels tour the Corellian shipyard with its reluctant manager, Hera asks Ahsoka if she’ll consider bringing Sabine back on as an apprentice. “She could use some structure, so could you,” she points out, but Ahsoka won’t budge. Sabine has to be ready. Only then can she fully embrace this process, and Ahsoka can fully embrace her. Considering Ahsoka’s troubled past with the Jedi Order, I appreciate how hesitant she is to bring Sabine back into the fray—remember that the Jedi used to take in and train Force-sensitive children, who were hardly capable of making life-altering decisions, and Ahsoka was one of them. Though it may seem, at first, that this hesitancy to accept Sabine back in is just a plot device, I believe it’s a crucial look into Ahsoka’s inner machinations, which are heavily influenced by her own experiences.
Now, we have to see how Sabine feels. She’s still at the hospital, inspecting a scar that was once a massive, cauterized hole through her gut from Shin’s lightsaber. Huyang finds her lightsaber (which was once Ezra’s, she points out) and asks if she’s kept up with her training. “Obviously not,” she says with a wry smile, and I wonder if Natasha Liu Bordizzo is embodying her character the best out of the three women—then I wonder if it’s because she doesn’t have to act through prosthetics, makeup, and eye contacts.
Huyang is not a bullshitter, and he tells Sabine that she doesn’t have a lot of natural talent (it’s revealed in Rebels that she’s not all that Force-sensitive), and that she’s clearly inferior to Ezra in that regard. Offended, Sabine promises not to waste Ahsoka’s time anymore, but Huyang hits her with the Uno Reverse: “The only time you are wasting is your own.”
Back on Corellia, Hera and Ahsoka soon realize the trouble with hiring former fascists for work in your new republic—some of them are still very much fascists. They’re attacked at the shipyard after they ask one too many questions about the hyperdrive core sitting on the lot and the HK Assassin droids that are working there for some unknown reason. Ahsoka slices through the window of the shipyard’s HQ, landing hundreds of feet below to try and catch the transport ship that’s taking the hyperdrive core with it. Though I was hoping we’d get a wild Ahsoka Tano-esque jump onto the fleeing ship, there’s a bad guy standing in her way.
This masked man is named Marrok, and he appears to be a former Inquisitor who is now working with Shin and Baylan. Naturally, he has an HK Assassin droid with him, so Ahsoka is in for quite the fight. Once again, Dawson shows off how physically apt she is for this role, hunkering down in a deep squat with such grace I let out a little gasp. It’s clear she did a lot of prep work to embody Ahsoka, and the lightsaber fight that ensues is snappy and exciting—so much so that Hera, who takes off in her ship to chase the transport, peers down at it from the sky.
In this moment, Rebels fans get what they’ve been waiting for: Chopper, the maniacal, murdering droid in all his live-action glory (voiced by Filoni himself). Once again, Winstead gets ample time to show off her acting chops, as she and Chopper bicker back-and-forth while she’s piloting her ship—it feels lived-in and natural, like you’re really watching Hera and Chopper arguing over whether she touched his stuff or not (she didn’t). Though the ship gets away, Chopper manages to fit it with a tracking device, so the chase is still on—but not before Ahsoka makes a stop to pick something up.
The Kanan Jarrus Effect
Sabine, inspired by Huyang’s no-nonsense speech, heads back to her home at Ezra’s Tower and decides to gear up in her Mandalorian armor to join Ahsoka and Hera. But before that, she partakes in a ritual that exactly mirrors one Jedi Kanan Jarrus does in an episode of Rebels—kneeling before her Mandalorian helmet, she takes a knife in her hands, gathers her hair together, and slices it all off. This haircut signifies her desire and readiness to shift into a new part of her life, to step back into her role as padawan and throw herself entirely into her training. When she calls Ahsoka’s ship, she appears to her master the same way she looked years ago—clad fully in Mandalorian armor, a purple pixie cut in place of her unkempt, sunset-colored locks.
“I’m ready,” she says. And Ahsoka agrees. In an exact recreation of the final scene of Rebels, Sabine lovingly taps Ezra’s face on the mural she painted years ago, then turns to see that Ahsoka is waiting on the landing platform of the building that houses the mural. It’s time for the master and the apprentice to save the galaxy, and with this moment, we officially move past anything that took place during Rebels, and forge onward into uncharted territory. I can’t wait to see what Ahsoka gives us next.