In its fifth episode, Ahsoka flashes back to the Clone Wars. By doing so, the episode gives Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) the chance to revisit the darkness and carnage of the very galactic conflict that paved the way for the Jedi Order’s downfall. The cavalier manner in which Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) discusses the violent ramifications of the Clone Wars, meanwhile, shines just a greater light on the arrogance that tore the Jedi down from within.
Altogether, these moments highlight the divide that grew between Ahsoka’s eponymous hero and her powerful teacher, but they don’t ultimately say anything new about the Jedi, Anakin, or Ahsoka herself. Instead, Ahsoka Episode 5, titled “Shadow Warrior,” seems content to simply reiterate ideas about the complicated legacy of the Jedi that have already been explored more effectively in both the Prequel Trilogy and 2017’s Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi.
Ahsoka has, consequently, made a frustratingly common Star Wars mistake.
In “Shadow Warrior,” Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) confronts her past... sort of.
For fans of The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels (i.e., Ahsoka’s target audience), Ahsoka Tano’s disappointment with the Jedi Order is well-known. The character’s break from the Jedi is not only a major part of The Clone Wars Season 5’s story, but it also paves the way for the journey she takes throughout the show’s seventh and final season. Her decision to leave the Jedi behind, in turn, informs Ahsoka’s emotional and mental state throughout Season 2 of Star Wars Rebels, which climaxes with a lightsaber duel between her and Darth Vader.
Nothing that happens in Ahsoka Episode 5’s flashbacks is, therefore, all that revelatory. Even when Ahsoka attempts to have a discussion with Anakin about his fall to the Dark Side — an aspect of their relationship that has never truly been discussed between them — he tells her that she’s focusing on the wrong thing. He quickly starts another lightsaber duel with her, but Ahsoka comes out of it unscathed. For all intents and purposes, the episode stops itself short of venturing into any genuinely new territory — opting to instead show fans some live-action versions of moments that they’ve essentially already seen.
To be clear, this problem isn’t unique to Ahsoka. On the contrary, in the years since the Prequel Trilogy came to an end, the Star Wars franchise has frequently failed to introduce any new, genuinely fresh ideas. Instead, the series has repeatedly retread themes about the Jedi Order, the Sith, and Anakin Skywalker that George Lucas already explored in the 1970s, 1980s, and 2000s. Every time the franchise has come close to creating a clean slate for itself, it’s eventually backtracked and relied on characters and events from the first six Star Wars movies.
Ahsoka Episode 5 delivers not just one, but two duels between Anakin and his former Jedi Padawan, but they ultimately amount to nothing.
What makes Ahsoka Episode 5 so disappointing is that it opens several doors for itself, all of which could lead to moments unlike any that fans have seen before, only to abandon them in favor of dramatic beats that are frustratingly familiar. The fact that the episode doesn’t even explore the rift between Anakin and Ahsoka as effectively as The Clone Wars and Rebels only makes it feel all the more redundant.
Like the Star Wars franchise itself, Ahsoka feels chained to the films and TV shows that have come before it; which is ironic, given that it’s on the verge of venturing into an entirely new galaxy.
New episodes of Ahsoka premiere Tuesday nights on Disney+.
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