Editor’s Note: This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the series being covered here wouldn’t exist.
The following contains spoilers for Star Wars: Ahsoka episode 3
pisode 3 of Ahsoka has arrived, and it had high expectations following the stellar and well-received premiere episodes. With a runtime of 37 minutes, compared to the premiere’s episode lengths of 57 minutes and 44 minutes, respectively, fans were anxious to find out how the story would move along in such a short amount of time.
Let’s just say that we had absolutely nothing to worry about. Ahsoka doesn’t pull its punches.
This episode gives the audience a much better sense of direction about the plot's direction. Our characters have a clear goal in mind: to find Grand Admiral Thrawn and hopefully Ezra Bridger along with him. They are taking clear steps to achieve this goal starting in this episode.
The initial introductory period is over; we now dive into new material with potentially galaxy-altering consequences. Oh, and we also get some pretty awesome cameos, too.
I Am No Jedi
This episode begins with Sabine and Huyang doing lightsaber training. Sabine wields a stick reminiscent of a lightsaber, quite similar to the training saber she used in “Trials of the Darksaber” in Star Wars: Rebels season 3. Huyang, on the other hand, uses holographic targets that resemble the shape of a saber.
Huyang shouts different lightsaber forms as he changed the location of the targets while Sabine reacted. Huyang then shares her results, which show that Sabine has got the basics down, which is not surprising given her prior training with Kanan and Ezra with the Darksaber.
The best part about this sequence is that, while Huyang is relatively rude to Sabine about her lack of Force abilities, Ahsoka still believes that Sabine can open herself up to the Force with enough patience and training.
Ahsoka leads Sabine through an exercise to try to feel the Force, utilizing a mask that completely blocks her vision. This training sequence was fascinating to watch because Sabine is so stubborn that she doesn’t want to quit. Ahsoka is so persistent that she can only train at full speed as if Sabine were any other Padawan gifted in the Force.
There’s a great lesson here: anyone can be a Jedi, not necessarily in a technical sense, but they can still choose to embody their ideals and mindset. And that anything is possible with hard work, perseverance, and proper support.
This sequence ends with Ahsoka and Sabine sharing a drink around Ahsoka’s intuitive space-saving pop-up table. Ahsoka suggests that Sabine starts small, showing her how to use the Force to bring the cup to her hand. She leaves Sabine to ponder this, and with Sabine being Sabine, she immediately tries to perform the trick Ahsoka just showed. Unable to pull the cup to her hand before Ahsoka calls her to the cockpit, she hilariously declares to the cup that it “won this round.”
Natasha Liu Bordizzo delivers an incredible performance as Sabine with her mannerisms, confidence, and stubbornness. It’s a genuinely commendable portrayal, and it’s obvious she did her homework before embodying the role.
Rosario Dawson is back at it again, this time as more of a mentor than an estranged friend. She is still taking the stoic route with her performance. Still, it really does work quite well when considering the circumstances that burden the character during this time. The way Dawson portrays Ahsoka as a mentor is particularly impactful: You can feel a warmth about her that shows compassion and support, yet a sternness that perfectly exemplifies how seriously she takes her duties. Dawson’s performance is becoming more and more nuanced as the episodes go by, and it’ll be exciting to see how it evolves going further.
The Politics Of It All
Ever since the first scene of the premiere, it’s been alluded that the New Republic will play a significant role in this series. Hera Syndulla, being a New Republic General, has her responsibilities and duties to them. In episode 3, though, we finally glimpse how that dynamic works.
Hera gets on the “holo-horn” with a group of five prominent New Republic senators, a couple of whom we are familiar. For all the Star Wars: Resistance fans out there, you may have recognized Senator Hamato Xiono, father of the main character Kazuda “Kaz” Xiono, standing second from the right in the holo.
Another senator in the meeting is now a familiar face to Star Wars fans: Senator Mon Mothma herself. Perhaps it’s a side effect of Andor fever, but hype levels were off the charts when she showed up in the trailer, and the same excitement was present when she finally made her grand entrance in the show.
Actress Genevieve O’Reilly reprises the role, and as in her appearances in Revenge of the Sith deleted scenes, Rogue One, Andor, and as a voice actress in Rebels, she absolutely nails her performance. It's great to see Mothma again, and this time in the era of the New Republic. Oh, and if you were worried her fabulous fashion sense from Andor would be gone in this era, fear not! She wore a gorgeous puffy-sleeved blue cloak over a white dress, a far cry from the plain white dress she’s famous for wearing in Return of the Jedi.
Hera contacts the senators for help in gathering New Republic resources to get ahead of the threat of Grand Admiral Thrawn and defeat him before he returns to the galaxy at large. Senator Xiono accuses Hera of using Thrawn as an excuse for using government resources to attempt to find her friend Ezra Bridger. The way actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays this moment is brilliant; she gets all choked up at the mention of Ezra and the fact that he may be dead. Ultimately, the senators deny Syndulla’s request for aid.
Hera steps out of the meeting to find her son, Jacen Syndulla, and Chopper. Jacen’s father was Kanan Jarrus, a former Jedi who survived Order 66 and led the Ghost Crew alongside Syndulla. We saw Jacen in the epilogue of Rebels, with bright green hair and green-tipped ears. Fan reactions to that design were mixed, to say the very least. Luckily for everyone involved, live-action Jacen has much darker green hair. Actor Evan Whitten, who portrays Jacen Syndulla in this episode, was born in 2010, which makes him approximately 13 years old. In the episode, Jacen looks around 13 years old or possibly younger.
Interestingly enough, Jacen talks about Sabine’s Jedi training with Ahsoka. This may hint at his interest in becoming a Jedi, just like his father was. Only time will tell, though, and for now, it's nice to see this little family unit together. Hera’s love for her son is palpable, and it’s clear that he and Chopper are partners in crime. Hopefully, we’ll see more of him in future episodes.
Hera relays news of the inability to provide New Republic aid to Ahsoka and Sabine via holo, and that’s the last we see of her in this episode. While not in much of the episode, Hera still leaves quite a mark, and Winstead’s performance feels more and more authentic to the animated character as each scene passes.
Ahsoka, Sabine, and copilot Huyang fly to the planet Seatos, where they track the stolen hyperdrive from Corelia. When they reach the system, their holo with Hera disconnects due to comm jamming. They drop out of hyperspace, and a dogfight quickly ensues. Taking the lead for the antagonists are Shin Hati and the Inquisitor Marrok. They’ve got some backup in the form of mysterious helmeted pilots.
The trio comes across the Eye of Scion and has no idea what it is. Huyang needs time to scan it since he doesn’t recognize it, so Ahsoka and Sabine are left to fend off the enemies while he works. Sabine uses the rear turret (which gave major Rebels vibes). At the same time, Ahsoka does some fancy flying that even Anakin Skywalker would be proud of. Seeing the T-6 in action in a dogfight was incredible; the use of the rotating wing apparatus made the scene more dynamic and added an exciting element to an otherwise reasonably standard dogfight.
Sabine initially struggles to take out any ships. Ahsoka has an interesting moment of realization where she determines that Sabine needs to direct Ahsoka, not the other way around. This serves as an interesting metaphor for their failed training situation: perhaps Ahsoka was holding on to control too tightly.
After taking out many of the ships, Huyang finally finishes the scan of the Eye of Scion, determining that it’s a hyperspace ring built for something extremely large. He mentions that the very last hyperdrive is being installed now. As the T-6 flies close to it, Morgan Elsbeth directs the Eye of Scion to fire its turrets at the ship, causing it to lose shields and essentially be dead in the water. The explosion also shut down Huyang. At this point, the standard dogfight is over, and a desperate attempt to defend the downed ship begins.
Sabine attempts to fix the ship, all while Ahsoka dons a space suit and walks out on the ship's exterior. She uses her lightsabers to block the blasters of the remaining fighters, even cutting one of the ships in two. Sabine finally gets the ship running again and sees Ahsoka floating by, asking for a pickup.
This was perhaps one of the most fantastic space action sequences I’ve seen in quite some time. I can’t think of a time we’ve seen anything similar in live-action. It’s hard to reimagine such a classic facet of Star Wars visual media, so the fact that this show did so and did it successfully is quite a testament to their creativity.
Return of the Purrgil
Ahsoka and Sabine fly the ship down to the surface of Seatos in an attempt to land and make repairs. On the way down to the surface, they are still being chased by a couple of remaining fighters piloted by Marrok and Shin Hati. As they descend into the planet, we hear a loud moaning sound. Through the dense clouds, several purrgil fly past the ships, almost as a way to provide the T-6 with cover as they land.
For the uninitiated, purrgil were introduced in Rebels in an episode considered “filler” by some at the time. These hyperspace-faring “space whales” send Thrawn’s Star Destroyer to hyperspace and to what we can now assume is the other galaxy we’re looking for. This exodus occurs at the Battle of Lothal in the series finale of Rebels, where the purrgil complete this task at the behest of Ezra Bridger, who uses his Force abilities to connect with them and seek their help. It is unclear whether or not the purrgil in this episode are also under any kind of control.
The purrgil look utterly amazing: their sheer size alone is breathtaking. There are several purrgil in this sequence, which is also impressive given how much work it must be to bring just one to fruition. In terms of how the purrgil translated into live action, they look incredibly accurate to their animation counterpart, just without the heavy stylization. It will be interesting to see if the purrgil come up again in this series.
Ahsoka and Sabine fly the ship past the purrgil and put the ship down for repairs. They hide among a forest of red trees, which helps them blend in. The episode ends with Baylan flanked by mysterious helmeted henchmen and HK droids, saying that the Jedi are on the planet. He sends the droids and henchmen into the forest to find them.
While episode 3 was short, it was jam-packed with so many good nuggets of lore, fascinating interpersonal scenes, and intense action sequences. It didn’t feel like it was too short at only 37 minutes; the pacing was perfect, and the stakes were high enough to the point where investment in the episode was effortless to garner.
The first two episodes had so much in them and were so hectic that I neglected to discuss direction and music, but I’ll start doing so now:
Steph Green directed this episode, making this her second episode directed in a row. She continued to build off her success on The Book of Boba Fett with “The Tribes of Tatooine” by directing a coherent story with a good balance of interpersonal and action scenes. She was able to elicit absolutely incredible performances from the actors.
Last but certainly not least: the music. Kevin Kiner returns to Star Wars once again, much to fans’ delight. He’s known for his many Star Wars animation soundtracks, from The Clone Wars, Rebels, The Bad Batch, and Tales of the Jedi. Every single piece of music is just perfect, not to mention the end credits music: it somehow works on several levels - it’s epic, inspirational, melancholy, and reminiscent of previous themes and motifs throughout Star Wars. To put it simply, the music is just perfection.
Episode 4 of Ahsoka promises to deliver one of the most iconic scenes from the trailer: the duel between Ahsoka and Baylan since that also occurs on Seatos. We also expect to see Sabine have a rematch with Shin, which also appears to take place on Seatos. No matter what happens, though, it will surely be thrilling.
Ahsoka is streaming now on Disney+, with new episodes releasing every Tuesday at 9 p.m. EST.