To slightly misquote another epic fantasy, one stage of the Star Wars journey has ended, but another will eventually begin. Star Wars: Ahsoka concluded on Tuesday with people switching places, threats remaining, and the major character arc of its presumed first season resolved. But it also left a lot on the table to carry forward in another season (perhaps) and, at least, series creator Dave Filoni’s feature film debut.
Nevertheless, there are still aspects of Ahsoka to discuss and question. The show, as part of the Disney Star Wars continuum, does not exist in a vacuum, and we wonder how many of its plot points may yet feature in the years to come. Also, how will it ultimately tie back to future seen in the sequel film trilogy and beyond? Let’s take a look at latter half of Ahsoka and see if we can’t map out some of what is to come.
Spoiler alert: The following includes plot details about the season 1 finale of Star Wars: Ahsoka, “The Jedi, the Witch, and the Warlord.” Stop reading here if you have not watched the episode and wish to avoid spoilers.
First, let’s take a moment to consider the key character who was the real objective of the show: Ezra Bridger (Eman Esfandi). Bearded and living with a group of Noti nomads, we are given precious little info on how he spent the last decade since arriving on Peridia with Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) after the Battle of Lothal. What he does offer: The Noti helped him, and so he elected to travel with them while hoping against hope that his friends would find a way to rescue him.
He also seemed to continue his training after a fashion. Short a lightsaber, he continued to hone other Jedi abilities. That discipline came in handy when a group of Night Troopers attacked the Noti caravan in part 7, “Dreams and Madness.” Ezra proved formidable with a series of well-timed Force pushes.
Beyond his prowess as a Jedi, it is also clear he’s still very much the young man fans will recall from Star Wars Rebels, Filoni’s 2016-2018 animated creation. A certain cockiness remains, and we have to give Esfandi credit for sounding like Rebels voice actor Taylor Gray. We also appreciated the way he and Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) immediately resumed their teasing banter and rapport. It’s such a boon to Ahsoka that it is something of a shame we had to wait six episodes to see him.
The swiftness with which he built a new lightsaber from Huyang’s (David Tennant) available components is a lesson the series could also learn. But as we’re fans of the Rebels characters, we also relish the time spent with them in live action so far.
Following parts 3 and 4, we openly wondered if Huyang’s assertion that Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson) and Sabine were better together was correct. And, as it turns out, that question was the emotional core of the series even as rescuing Ezra was part of its stated purpose. As seen in the finale, “The Jedi, the Witch, and the Warlord,” the pair are indeed strong when allied in purpose.
Of course, Ahsoka needed one last lesson from her master to truly get that, though.
In Part 5, “Shadow Warrior,” Ahsoka spent much of the hour in the presence of Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) — at least, we’re pretty sure that was Anakin’s spirit and not the Force or Ahsoka’s own mind using his likeness — to come to grips with something she never really confronted: being trained as a wartime Jedi. Only knowing battle for much of her life made her ill-equipped to train Sabine. And considering Huyang’s mention Ahsoka’s concerns over Sabine’s training in the finale, we imagine part of her fear was not just in terms of making another battle-hardened soldier, but opening her apprentice up to the temptation of the Dark Side.
(Photo by Lucasfilm)
That’s only one aspect of Anakin’s lesson, though. Ahsoka also needed to understand that she doesn’t need to be a weapon. Whether or not that path leads to the Dark Side, it does take its toll and it is clear the dour Ahsoka of the first half was very much a reaction to spending decades in conflict.
Returning from the World Between Worlds after part 5, Ahsoka is lighter on her (cloven) feet, quicker to smile, and more attuned to the Force than before. Visually, this comes across via the paler clothing she adopts just before reaching out to the Purrgils on Seatos. In dialogue, she is also quicker to banter with Huyang and more willing to offer Sabine some praise when they are reunited on Peridia.
Admittedly, Sabine’s journey is less nuanced, as she acted recklessly most of the time and was, almost without fail, rewarded for doing so. Even Ahsoka had to admit her gamble paid off as they ultimately found Ezra. But maybe that recklessness is necessary for their dynamic, especially going forward as they try to find a way back to their home galaxy.
In fact, the bond between master and apprentice is so emphasized in the series — see also Huyang’s comment about Ezra and his master, Kanan Jarrus (voiced by Freddie Prinze Jr. on Rebels) — that it seems to be a core aspect of the Jedi at this point and a weakness, which Thrawn exploits to outmaneuver Ahsoka. He recognized Anakin’s thought process in her actions — the two met on Batuu in the canonical novel Thrawn: Alliances written by Timothy Zahn— and acted accordingly. He also recognized Darth Vader for who he really was and used his knowledge to deliver one last barb before stranding Ahsoka and Sabine in Peridia’s distant galaxy.
But we imagine the strength of their bond will help them get home before too long.
One issue we will take with the current pace of Star Wars storytelling is the lack of intel on Thrawn’s actual plan. Back in Zahn’s debut novel, Heir to the Empire, Thrawn’s main concern was obtaining the cloning tech from Mount Tantiss. Here, though, he offers precious little to the audience. We’ll still make a few guesses, though.
Peridia is the homeworld of the Dathomiri Nightsisters, and as we know from Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the Nightsisters can animate the dead — an ability made all the more terrifying in the Ahsoka finale. Note that Thrawn also refers to his forces as “Night Troopers.” Their broken-but-mended armor may reflect as certain undeadness among the rank and file. Or, at the very least, a willingness to allow the Great Mothers of Peridia to use their corpses for the greater glory of the Empire.
All of which leads us to the last shot of Thrawn. His Star Destroyer arrives in orbit around Dathomir, and we see he has a whole cargo bay of seeming coffins. More Night Troopers? Maybe. But considering Thrawn “woke up” the Great Mothers on Peridia, it is possible the coffins hold more Nightsisters in suspended animation. Either prospect makes Thrawn a true threat to the New Republic.
Choosing Dathomir as a staging ground presents a few wrinkles going forward. The Dark Side of the Force is quite strong on the planet. That presence allowed the Nightsisters’ Force magick to flourish. It is also inhabited by Rancors, which is another way Thrawn can reinforce the dwindling resources of the Imperial Remnant. Consider how formidable just one trained Rancor proved to be in The Book of Boba Fett.
The planet has also been void of a Nightsister population since the Clone Wars, when Count Dooku razed its settlements and left only a handful of survivors, including Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto). Her quiet “For Dathomir” vow in the finale leads us to believe re-establishing the Nightsisters on Dathomir was part of Thrawn’s agreement with the Great Mothers.
Shame Elsbeth did not live to see that new Golden Age.
Although Dathomir will be an important planet going forward, Peridia still has some mysteries to discover. For one: Baylan Skoll (Ray Stevenson) stopped working for Elsbeth the moment they made planetfall. It seems the unimaginable power he told Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno) about resides somewhere on that planet in a galaxy far, far away. Unfortunately, Ahsoka leaves us no closer to understanding what he’s really seeking than we were at the series’ mid-point.
One possibility, as noted by those who recognized the statue he was standing upon, is that he seeks nothing less than access to Mortis — another netherrealm within the Force where impossibly powerful Force users embodying the Dark Side, Light Side, and Balance once lived. Anakin and Ahsoka encountered Mortis in an episode of Clone Wars and many believe they assumed the roles of Balance and Light Side afterward. Baylan may yet be seeking the Dark Side.
Baylan is a fascinating character. Working hard not to be a Jedi or a Sith, it is clear he misses some aspects of his old affiliation with the Jedi Order. He says as much at one point. His fight with Ahsoka in part 6 is shockingly half-hearted and the Great Mothers are wary of him from the jump. Then there are his parting words to his apprentice: impatience for victory will lead to defeat.
The closest we get to understanding his true ambition is a stated desire to break the cycle of the Jedi Order’s rise and fall. As Star Wars fans know, the Order’s pattern of ascendancy and decline has been going on for at least 3,000 years, so if Baylan speaks true, he has a mighty quest ahead of him. Although, our last glimpse of him includes a distant light on a far away Peridia peak. Is it just a matter of making that journey across a long-dead empire to find the power to break the cycle?
That is a question that cannot be answered completely until Rey (Daisy Ridley) establishes a new Jedi Order in a proposed film set 10 years after the events of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. But for Baylan, it is a noble pursuit. It just doesn’t square with the way he trained Shin, his desire for power, or his willingness to do questionable things.
Sadly, the next time we see Baylan, he will be markedly different. Stevenson passed away on May 21, 2023.
The true nature of Baylan’s quest isn’t the only question we have following the Ahsoka finale. Here are some puzzling notion to tease your brain with as we wait for the next journey in the ongoing Star Wars saga:
What is a Bokken Jedi? Baylan refers to Ezra and Kanan as such. Online sources suggest it is just a term to refer to Jedi trained after the fall of the Order at the end of the Clone Wars. But as Ahsoka is the only time the term has been used (in canon anyway), it is possible there is more to it.
Who is Captain Enoch (Wes Chatham)? He may be the lead trooper in Thrawn’s army, but he may also be more. Of course, the introduction and relatively quick dispatch of Marrok (Paul Darnell) in Ahsoka made us wary of masked Star Wars characters meaning much. Nevertheless, why dismiss one masked man by introducing another?
How much control does Anakin have over his Force ghost? In the World Between Worlds, it was unclear if Anakin was, in fact, the one who lived as Darth Vader and died in Return of the Jedi. But the appearance of his apparition in Ahsoka’s closing moments — and Sabine dimly sensing his presence — suggests he was there the whole time and has some say in when he can appear to people. But if that’s the case, why does he never appear to Ben Solo (Adam Driver) at any stage of his life? One would think his grandson’s idolatry of Darth Vader would call him out of the Force to offer some guidance.
Also, while we’re asking, does Anakin ever chat with Luke (Mark Hamill)?
Will the New Republic finally take Thrawn and the Remnant threat seriously? It’s clear from the politicking glimpsed in the series that there is a push to demilitarize and disband the Rebel Fleet now turned Republic Army. Ezra’s return and confirmation that Thrawn is back may change things, particularly if Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) is leading the Defense Council and backing up General Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
Up next for Star Wars is the Amblin-inspired series Skeleton Crew. We don’t expect it to follow-up on the events of Ahsoka even though it is set in the same time period. After that is The Acolyte, set 100 years before the Clone Wars. A fourth season of The Mandalorian is in the works and may continue the New Republic threads, but we expect Ahsoka’s fate will have to wait until a second season — not confirmed, but also in no way publicly denied (mostly) — or Filoni’s feature film.
Star Wars social media was caught using the language “series finale,” Gizmodo reported, but that the posts were updated or deleted.