‘Ahsoka’ season 1 episode 4 review: Fateful encounters and a return (Image Credit: Space.com)
The Force is strong with Ahsoka Tano so far.
After a notable albeit unevenly paced double-episode series premiere, the Dave Filoni-created show truly found its footing last week with an adventurous third chapter that often felt big-screen-worthy. Unsurprisingly, its biggest strength is that the characters arcs are being laid in front of us, and part 4 makes good use of all the set-ups done so far. It’s fast becoming one of the best Star Wars T.V. shows we’ve seen so far.
In ‘Fallen Jedi,’ urgency takes over the plot and the two protagonists are forced to make some tough decisions. Moreover, Peter Ramsey’s (who also helmed Chapter 21 of The Mandalorian) direction – clean but stylish – perfectly understands what peak Star Wars feels and looks like. Filoni wrote most of this script like a good, old-fashioned samurai movie, and the right tempo and framing are there.
Need a quick refresher on all things Star Wars? Then you’ll want to head on over to our list of all the Star Wars movies in order. And if you’re enjoying the live-action debut of Ahsoka Tano so far and want to learn more about our heroine, then check out 10 episodes of Star Wars to watch before Ahsoka (well, you can watch them during and after too).
Spoilers ahead for Ahsoka episode 4: ‘Fallen Jedi’
The episode starts right where we left off last week, with Sabine Wren and Ahsoka preparing to defend themselves from Morgan Elsbeth’s lackeys and collaborators before trying to get to the star map the villains are close to deciphering. Making the major players in a story search for and try to obtain the same thing has always been a good narrative trick to propel the action and inject urgency into the script. Things come to a boiling point in episode 4, and we’ll be flying blind past this chapter.
Ahsoka and Sabine’s relationship remains shaky at best, but Lady Tano made some progress last episode, when she decided to listen to her apprentice and trusted her to make the right decisions in life-or-death situations. Sabine might be far from being a perfect Jedi candidate, but no one should forget she’s a remarkable Mandalorian.
Indeed, we get to see her embracing her roots when Elsbeth’s goons attack Huyang and their ship. While Ahsoka fights them off with her two lightsabers and the Force, Sabine goes all Mando on them, skillfully dodging and blocking their shots as she lands her own hits. A team-up with Din Djarin at some point would be awesome to see.
Meanwhile, Hera Syndulla has decided to disobey New Republic command after communications with Ahsoka and Sabine were cut off as they jumped into the Denab system. She might be a more mature leader now that she’s a general, but she still puts her friends and allies above politics. Along for the ride are Chopper and Jacen, thankfully confirming Hera’s son will be more than a simple throwaway cameo in this show. She’s also joined by the always reliable and battle-ready Carson Teva and other X-Wing aces. As much as we love the mystical core of the series, getting to see more of the New Republic and how they react to this new menace helps expand this barely explored era of the Star Wars timeline.
We’d also like to give another special shoutout to Kevin Kiner here. It took surprisingly long to have him write an original score for live-action Star Wars, but he’s finally doing it and consistently knocking it out of the park. He gets the soul of John Williams’ sounds, but refuses to imitate his work unless the situation really asks for it, and even then, there’s always new notes and arrangements to chew on. As amazingly unique as Ludwig Göransson and Joseph Shirley’s work on “The Mandalorian” and “The Book of Boba Fett” has been, it’s Kiner who should get to score Dave Filoni’s upcoming event movie in our humble opinion.
At the center of this episode, we have three freakin’ duels! Three! And they’re definitely great contenders for our best lightsaber fights list. The forest scenery alone is reminiscent of Ahsoka’s first live-action appearance in The Mandalorian, but it also facilitates some crystal-clear callbacks to The Force Awakens, with Sabine going all Finn – her courage is there, but her technique isn’t – and struggling to keep up with a well-trained Force user. Meanwhile, Ahsoka quickly takes care of Marrok, who’s far from being a pushover Inquisitor, but isn’t too different from the many that the titular Jedi has felled in the past. His fatal wound and what emerges from it seem to suggest Morgan had simply reanimated a dead Inquisitor with her Dathomirian magick, but it’s not quite clear.
Shin fares much better with Sabine, who appears to briefly harness the Force and give her enemy a small push before getting out of danger with a good ol’ Mandalorian trick. Again, the Kurosawa and other Eastern influences are the heaviest Star Wars has had so far in this show, and each duel in this episode mostly plays out like a clash of samurais and Ronins, with Kiner using the right instruments and pulse in the background. Utterly fantastic stuff.
We’ve already commented on how urgent this episode feels versus the more relaxed (though still bumpy) earlier episodes, and the back-and-forth cutting between all these duels and the map’s coordinates slowly coming through the Eye of Sion’s computers works wonderfully to add some tension to the whole ordeal. Yes, this is really basic stuff that action and adventure stories are supposed to do to generate excitement in crucial moments, yet many shows and movies often forget to use the most essential tools. Thankfully, Filoni traditionally excels at writing and guiding mid-season and season finales, and this episode is no different.
Ahsoka being bested by Baylan Skoll and then falling into the sea of Seatos after losing control seemed like a perfect note to end on, but Filoni and Ramsey had more goodies to deliver. Natasha Liu Bordizzo gets to shine under a different light here, when Sabine tries (and fails) to get over Ezra’s disappearance and lets the bad guys finish their job instead of destroying the map. Baylan manipulates her after by apparently mind-reading her thoughts about the death of her family on Mandalore, which seems to be linked to her past quarrel with Ahsoka. This didn’t happen in Rebels, so we’re guessing it’s yet another major event which took place during the Great Purge of Mandalore.
Anyhow, the pathway to Grand Admiral Thrawn is opened, and Baylan, like the honorable Jedi he seems to be despite his dark deeds, pardons and takes her on the biggest hyperspace jump the galaxy has seen since Ezra and Thrawn’s disappearance.
We may never know if Ahsoka would’ve actually destroyed the map and their only chance at finding Ezra, but that doesn’t matter anymore, as the villains are well on their way to recover the lost Imperial Grand Admiral stranded in another galaxy. Again, most of the promotional footage we’ve seen belonged to episode 1 through 4, so we’re in the dark from now on.
Given the gravity of the situation and last episode’s chat with Mon Mothma and some senators, we highly doubt the New Republic has the solution to help get Ahsoka to the other galaxy (who knows how long it took Morgan and his servants to assemble the Eye). Purrgils could be the answer, since Ezra already connected with them despite his less-than-desirable experience as a Padawan. Regardless, General Syndulla and the pilots closest to her will no doubt keep helping Ahsoka. But, before that, a wilder trip awaits…
Is this all just a hallucination created by her past experiences in the World Between Worlds as she sinks unconscious in the cold waters, or has she actually been pulled into the Force’s mystical plane by someone? Episode 5, written and directed by Dave Filoni, promises to be a memorable ride that will make viewers unfamiliar with the animated shows even more confused. Yet there is a familiar face there: Anakin Skywalker himself, in the flesh (sort of). It’s surely time for some much-needed closure and master-apprentice reflection.
We don’t think the entirety of episode 5 will be spent inside the World Between Worlds (a tricky concept to navigate, especially when bringing in casual viewers), but the music suggests Darth Vader is coming too. Past, present, and future are about to be intertwined in a way previously unseen in live-action Star Wars, and this next chapter in Ahsoka’s journey will either make-or-break the whole tale. Buckle up and open your mind.