From the moment Ahsoka brought Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) and Ezra Bridger (Eman Esfandi) into live-action, there was one question on everyone’s minds. Were Sabine and Ezra ever romantically involved? Whether you worship at the church of Rebels or consider yourself a true novice of the animated series, it seemed like there was something going on between the star-crossed characters — even if Ahsoka itself was quick to make their relationship platonic. Why else would Sabine be so reluctant to let go of Ezra, and so determined to find her missing friend?
Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a strong platonic bond, especially for two characters who’ve survived the throes of war together. The Star Wars fandom has become much too eager for romance anyway, whether it serves the story or not. Ahsoka’s choice to reenforce Sabine and Ezra’s sibling bond, rather than lean on one of the saga’s most taxing tropes, seemed like a smart move in the beginning. But as Sabine renews her quest to rescue Ezra from his exile in a distant galaxy — and jeopardizes the fate of her own in the process — you have to wonder whether she is actually just a little bit in love with her fellow rebel.
Spoilers ahead for Ahsoka Episode 6.
Ezra has been Sabine’s main driving force in Ahsoka.
No, Ezra and Sabine are not a couple, but a little chemistry would have gone a long way in selling their reunion in Ahsoka’s latest episode, “Far, Far Away.” After allying herself with the bad guys in Episode 5, Sabine finally finds herself on the planet Peridea, where Ezra and his archnemesis, Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) have been hanging out for nearly 10 years. Thrawn himself is bemused to see Sabine risking so much. She’s essentially made it possible for him to return to their native galaxy, and incite another war with the New Republic, just to see Ezra again. That’s a lot of pressure for a character most audiences neither recognize nor care about, and it’s the main thing that dooms Ezra’s long-awaited introduction.
Once Sabine does locate her long-lost friend, their reunion has all the warmth of a clammy handshake. The hype that fueled Ezra’s return — and drew Rebels fans to Ahsoka in the first place — hardly registers in Episode 6. Ezra’s importance isn’t much clearer for the uninitiated, either. From the outside looking in, it seems like Sabine threw the world away just to hang out with her platonic war buddy. It’s cool to see Ezra in live-action, but once the thrill of Esfandi’s uncanny blue eyes burns off, their reunion lacks any sense of urgency.
Sabine and Ezra’s reunion has been a long time coming, but it’s lacking the urgency or warmth that audiences were hoping for.
Ahsoka showrunner Dave Filoni has been careful in adapting his beloved animated characters for live-action. He may want to skirt past any idea of romance in the series, but by emphasizing Sabine and Ezra’s sibling bond, their dynamic is zapped of the intimacy it needed to get audiences on board. Perhaps a star-crossed romance could have better conveyed the strength of their relationship. It may have undermined the themes of found family that made Rebels such a great story, but Ahsoka needs something to keep the momentum going. Its present strategy just isn’t cutting it.
Across its six episodes, Ahsoka has hidden behind cameos rather than give its characters the depth they deserve. It’d rather talk about angst — and resurrect animated favorites in flashbacks — than actually show how that affects heroes like Ahsoka and Sabine. So much of the series hinges on Ezra and Thrawn, two characters with a daunting off-screen reputation. That was the series’ biggest gamble, and it’s not one that’s paid off so far. Ahsoka needs to find the heart that drives its heroes forward: it doesn’t have to be romantic love, but it does need to give fans something to care about.
Ahsoka is currently streaming on Disney+.
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