By Ben Konuch
“What was first just a dream has become a frightening reality for those who would oppose us.”
A few weeks ago when I wrote my review for the first half of “Ahsoka,” I sang its praises as one of my favorite pieces of “Star Wars” storytelling in a long time. The series did a fantastic job with its setup, giving a reintroduction of beloved characters from animation to new audiences while setting up a new and exciting story with its fresh antagonists and mystical elements. The second half of “Ahsoka” isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s frustratingly alright compared to how exciting its beginning episodes were.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot to love here in “Ahsoka.” The story does remain solid, as we finally get to visit the Unknown Regions to be reunited with longtime villain Grand Admiral Thrawn after half a season of anticipation. Ezra Bridger finally makes his return with a heartfelt reunion between him and Sabine, and plenty of action keeps the series from ever becoming boring even when it turns to more dialogue and character-driven moments. Overall, “Ahsoka” resolves its storyline in a decisively fine way. It’s not fantastic, but it resolves most of its narrative threads in a satisfying manner while teasing what’s to come.
I would also be doing “Ahsoka” a massive disservice if I didn’t address what I believe is one of the best live-action portrayals of any animated character in film history, and that is Eman Esfandi’s portrayal of Ezra Bridger. Although the Ezra that we see in “Ahsoka” is ten years older than the teenager we last saw in “Rebels,” Esfandi captures the haphazard, easy-going attitude of the young Jedi with incredible ease. The way he cracks jokes in the middle of fights, the way he carries himself and even the small nuances of his facial expressions make me feel as if this is the Ezra that I’ve been watching all along. There’s absolutely no disconnect between portrayals, and while Lars Mikkelsen is once again electric as Grand Admiral Thrawn, I’m shocked to admit that I think Esfandi’s portrayal of Ezra stands with Ray Stevenson’s Baylan Skoll as one of the best performances of the series.
However, the biggest flaw in “Ahsoka’s” second half is not so much with the storytelling or the show itself, but instead with Disney’s failure to properly structure its episodic series. Most of my nitpicks about how the series tapers in its second half would not exist if the season had dropped all at once, allowing you to binge it in one sitting. Instead, the way the first half built its mystery and then brought in the Hayden Christensen return encouraged anticipation and theorizing for how the series would continue to ramp up. While theorizing and anticipation have always been an issue with the “Star Wars” fan base, especially in the fervor that “The Force Awakens” left behind, “Ahsoka’s” weekly episodes continued to build and build towards what seemed like grand reveals that never quite culminated.
If fans were allowed to watch the series all at once, I doubt that its final half would have been nearly as disappointing. When you’re only given 40 minutes of television a week that is specifically structured to build up mystery and intrigue about overarching plot points, like what Grand Admiral Thrawn’s plan is or what the interaction with the world-between-worlds meant, then you’re naturally going to spend the next six days imagining where the series will go next. After “Ahsoka” spent its fifth episode with some of the best nostalgia and fan service this franchise has seen yet, it’s only natural for fans to fill in those gaps during the week with what they think will propel the story forward in its next episode. There’s no way any series, no matter how well written, could possibly live up to that kind of expectation.
When it comes down to it, “Ahsoka” has a good ending. The storyline resolves itself in mostly satisfying ways, but some of the plot threads that will connect into later stories admittedly could have been at least been partially explained here first. I enjoyed “Ahsoka” and the story it weaved, but a part of me envies fans who haven’t yet seen it and get to watch the full season in its entirety. “Ahsoka” deserved better than what the release schedule of Disney+ did to it.
I give “Ahsoka” a final score of 7.5/10
All episodes of “Ahsoka” are now streaming on Disney+
Ben Konuch is a junior Strategic Communication student and an A&E writer for Cedars. He enjoys getting sucked into good stories, playing video games and hanging out with crazy MuKappa friends.
Images courtesy of Lucasfilm