AHSOKA | Disney+ | August 22, 2023
Starring: Rosario Dawson, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ray Stevenson, Ivanna Sakhno, Diana Lee Inosanto, David Tennant, Lars Mikkelsen
Executive Producers: Jon Favreau, Dave Filoni, Kathleen Kennedy, Carrie Beck, Colin Wilson
Set after the fall of the Empire, “Star Wars: Ahsoka” follows the former Jedi Knight Ahsoka Tano as she investigates an emerging threat to a vulnerable galaxy.
In addition to Rosario Dawson in the title role, “Ahsoka” stars Natasha Liu Bordizzo as Sabine Wren, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Hera Syndulla, Ray Stevenson as Baylan Skoll, Ivanna Sakhno as Shin Hati, Diana Lee Inosanto as Morgan Elsbeth, David Tennant as Huyang, Lars Mikkelsen as Grand Admiral Thrawn and Eman Esfandi appearing as Ezra Bridger.
The series is written by Dave Filoni, who executive produces alongside Jon Favreau, Kathleen Kennedy, Colin Wilson, and Carrie Beck. Karen Gilchrist is co-executive producer.
FIRST LOOK REVIEW - EPISODES 1 & 2 By: Darren Zakus
Ahsoka delivers all the excitement that Star Wars fans expect with exciting lightsaber duels and high stakes action, but the screenplay spins a deeper character study and mystery anchored by the sublime Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka, which creates a promising start for this new series.
Ahsoka Tano quickly became a fan favourite Star Wars character with the animated series The Clone Wars and Rebels. After making her live action debut in the second season of The Mandalorian, it was only a matter of time before she got her starring role to continue her Jedi’s journey. While it is a continuation of her story from her appearances in the animated series, Ahsoka does not require full knowledge of those series for viewers to enjoy the thrilling story that is being set up in the first two episodes of the latest Star Wars Disney+ series.
The Empire has fallen, and while there seems to be peace in the Galaxy, there are still those who are loyal to it. Trying to maintain the peace, Jedi knight Ahsoka Tano investigates rumours of the return of Grand Admiral Thrawn, who was believed to be killed along with Ahsoka’s friend Ezra Bridger years earlier. Ahsoka finds herself in a race against a former Jedi who turned at the fall of the Republic and his padawan who are set on seeing Grand Admiral Thrawn returned to his former glory.
After not loving The Book of Boba Fett and falling off halfway through the third season of The Mandalorian, Ahsoka feels like a return to form for the Star Wars universe. In only two episodes, the writing captures the grand science fiction opera feel that helped make the original film a runaway success back in the 1970s. There is intrigue, mystery, danger and wonder sprinkled throughout the first two episodes of the series, as the series sets the stage for one of the most notable villains in the Star Wars universe to make his long awaited live action debut. The story is easy enough to follow for those viewers like myself who have not seen The Clone Wars or Rebels to understand the trajectory of Ahsoka’s character arc and her relationships with the other main characters, but there is a richness to the writing that fans who have seen those two series will appreciate. While the first two episodes are light on action, there is a great emphasis on Ahsoka’s character development that guides the series as the stakes begin to slowly build, teasing an exciting back half to the series.
Without question the best part of the first two episodes is Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka. Dawson has a dazzling screen presence with her stoic portrayal of this legendary Jedi. In every scene, Dawson finds the perfect balance of wisdom, grit and empathy as she continues the story of this Jedi trying to ensure peace to the galaxy during a tumultuous time as a dangerous enemy from her past re-emerges. During the action sequences, Dawson demands your attention as her excellent execution of the fight choreography creates the most exciting moments of the first two episodes. But, there is also a quiet heartbreak to Dawson’s performance as Ahsoka grapples with her past with Thrawn, realizing that her friend’s sacrifice may have been in vain or that there is hope that he survived too. It truly is the performance that fans of the character deserve, and I hope that Dawson continues to play Ahsoka for years to come.
While Dawson is the highlight, the supporting cast is equally as impressive. The late Ray Stevenson is exquisite as Baylan Skoll, the former Jedi turned Sith on a mission to see Thrawn return. As with all of his performances, there is a chilling calmness with a masked aggression to Stevenson that creates a formidable villain, only reminding audiences of a great talent gone far too soon. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a welcomed addition as Hera, bringing a nurturing and calming presence to the series as a New Republic general trying to bridge peace between Ahsoka and Ahsoka’s former apprentice Sabine. Natasha Liu Bordizzo as Sabine is a worthy co-star for Dawson, finding a younger, more emotionally conflicted character who is rash, impulsive yet caring. As a duo, the dynamic between Dawson and Bordizzo helps to create the emotional core of the series as both of these women struggle with their past with Thrawn and the threat of his re-emergence, creating true stakes and making this more than just a action series but an insightful character study of these two main characters.
Star Wars has always been a visually exciting series, and Ahsoka is no exception to that legacy. The CGI is outstanding, though the series has an emphasis on practical effects that creates an exciting world for the series to play out in. The cinematography is full of grand sweeping shots, giving a truly cinematic feel to the series, while the camera work during the lightsaber duels captures the intensity and excitement of the danger, especially the duel between Sabine and Shin Hati. The action sequences themselves feature energetic and thrilling fight choreography, bringing back the epic lightsaber duels that helped create so many iconic Star Wars moments that have been missing in the Disney+ series so far.
Even though there are only two episodes so far, there is no denying that Ahsoka is an exciting entry to the Star Wars universe that is good to please long time fans while still entertaining the more casual viewers. Largely thanks to the incredible lead performance of Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano, bringing the fan favourite character to life with grace and tenacity, combined with an insightful screenplay that places emphasis on character development, Ahoska has all the building blocks in place to become one of the best Disney+ Star Wars series to date.