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 Episode 4 of Star Wars: Ahsoka
f you’ve been on social media at all after watching episode 4 of Ahsoka, you’ve probably seen post after post absolutely praising it as some of the best Star Wars in existence. This is for good reason: bringing together some of the best parts from all areas of Star Wars, “Fallen Jedi” is an incredibly rewarding experience for fans of all mediums. It’s hard to get the fandom to agree on much of anything, let alone be virtually unanimous in the verdict that this is a near-perfect episode, so that says a lot about the quality of the writing and execution.
The episode opens with Ahsoka, Sabine, and Huyang stranded in the forests of Seatos, trying desperately to repair their ship. The comm system is the most important aspect of their repairs: they must reach Hera and get her help. One thing is certain: the map to Ezra and Thrawn is somewhere in the forest with Baylan and Morgan Elsbeth, and Ahsoka and Sabine must go find it.
As Ahsoka and Sabine prepare to go on their excursion to find the map, Huyang works on repairs outside of the ship. Suddenly, HK droids ambush Huyang, who tries to fight back. Ultimately, the HK droids overpower him until he pulls on wires to cut power to the ship. Ahsoka and Sabine immediately know something is wrong with Huyang and charge outside, destroying the HK droids before the Professor suffers irreparable damage.
The combat choreography here was straight out of Star Wars: Rebels in the best way. The success or failure of the encounter with the HK droids depended solely on Ahsoka and Sabine’s ability to work together, furthering their relationship's development — or, in this case, redevelopment. Ahsoka paired her Force abilities and agility with Sabine’s athleticism and Mandalorian weaponry.
This entire opening sequence had excellent pacing which set the tone for the rest of the episode. Ahsoka and Sabine are still clearly working through their issues. Still, they can put it all aside to save Huyang and work toward the bigger picture: finding Ezra and defeating Thrawn. They even poke a little fun at Huyang on their way out. Surely, Huyang wouldn’t have it any other way as he watches them leave together, as a team.
Back on Home One, Hera, Jacen, and Chopper head to the Ghost to go reinforce Ahsoka and Sabine. Hera's aide warns her that she’s neglecting some of her important duties as a general, but she is steadfast in her decision. Taking off in the legendary ship, Hera and crew meet up with none other than New Republic X-Wing pilot Carson Teva, who has made appearances in seasons one and two of The Mandalorian and in The Book of Boba Fett. He’s brought some X-Wings with him to help with this unofficial mission.
It was great to see Paul Sun-Hyung Lee as Carson Teva again. It’s great that he’s becoming known as the “off-the-books” pilot who helps people in need, even if there isn’t authorization to do the mission in the first place.
But the real star of this part of the episode: we finally get to see the Ghost in action in a live-action format! And boy, did it look perfect. The cockpit looked like a faithful recreation of the animated version, even down to tiny details like Sabine’s colorful design on the back right seat. The ship's exterior, both in the hangar bay and in flight, was a flawless translation into live action.
When the Stars Align…
On Seatos, Baylan and Morgan Elsbeth prepare the apparatus for the star map. Elsbeth uses some of her Nightsister magik to activate the map inside the apparatus and begin the calculations for the hyperspace coordinates, displaying the star map in three dimensions on and through statues. This particular setting gave us some of the most iconic shots in the trailer, so we knew this sequence would be incredible before the action started.
As Morgan sets up the map, Baylan sends Shin and the Inquisitor Marrok to engage Ahsoka and Sabine in the forest. What ensues next is an epic action sequence with multiple facets as Ahsoka fights Marrok and Sabine gets a rematch with Shin.
Ahsoka’s duel with Marrok was incredibly smooth and well-choreographed. She handled him with ease, even using her signature reverse grip. After killing Marrok in a very “Twin Suns”-esque fashion, Marrok turns to a cloud of green dust. It’s eerie and leaves the audience just as stunned as Shin and Sabine were. Is this another instance of Nightsister magick, or is it some Sith illusion? We may never know the true answer.
Shin and Sabine take their fight farther away from Ahsoka. Sabine has gained self-confidence, telling Ahsoka she can handle Shin alone. Clearly, she’s not entirely proficient in lightsaber combat, but she holds her own against a much more experienced opponent. It takes a lot of guts (no pun intended) to face someone in combat who nearly killed you the first time, but Sabine doesn’t flinch at the challenge, just like a Mandalorian.
These two fight sequences, while entirely separate, were also cut together in such a smooth fashion that they appeared to blend together. Ahsoka didn't take as long to win her fight, but Sabine kept Shin busy long enough to buy Ahsoka time to get to the map.
Baylan maintains a vigil at the map, seeming to sense Ahsoka's approach. He brings up Ahsoka’s master, Anakin, saying he spoke highly of her. Ahsoka quips back that she isn’t there to discuss her past. After more banter, the pair ignite their sabers and duel each other. Baylan wields his saber almost like a heavy broadsword. This style starkly contrasts Ahsoka’s light and agile approach to lightsaber combat. It was as if a Highlander faced off with a samurai.
Meanwhile, Sabine's fight continues. She loses her lightsaber and absorbs a punch to the face courtesy of Shin. Laying on the ground, she appears to try and use the Force to push Shin, and Shin flinches as if she expects something to happen, but nothing does. Shin taunts Sabine for her lack of Force ability, but with her arm still extended, Sabine fires a wrist-mounted weapon and distracts Shin. Shin then throws a smoke bomb to mask her exit. Sabine collects her saber and heads toward the henge.
These sequences feature heavy action and are not particularly heavy on plot. Still, a lot is going on at once. Between all the cutting between scenes and the countdown to the completion of the hyperspace coordinates, a continual sense of urgency makes this portion of the show some of the most enrapturing Star Wars content ever created.
After an evenly matched duel, the tide turns when Ahsoka kicks Bayaln down to the ground. This gives her enough time to snag the map from the apparatus. The map instantly burns her hand, and she drops it. Coming into contact with it appears to cause her to stumble and weaken. Baylan takes this opportunity to attack, bringing her to the edge of a cliff that leads to a roiling sea below.
Shin arrives, upsetting Ahsoka, who assumes the worst: Shin must have killed Sabine. This disruption in Ahsoka’s calm demeanor causes her to use a Force ability associated with the dark side: she chokes Shin and throws her against a large stone.
Baylan keeps striking at Ahsoka repeatedly until she is mere moments from falling off the ledge. Just as disaster is about to strike, Sabine arrives, holding the map at blasterpoint. Ahsoka, relieved to see Sabine alive, pleads with her to destroy the map. This causes another imbalance in her focus, which Baylan uses to strike her back over the ledge. She falls a great distance into the sea.
Believing Ahsoka to be dead, Sabine continues to hold the map at blasterpoint. Baylan tries to convince her not to destroy the map and to go with him to serve a greater good (perhaps causing Thrawn fans to wonder whether or not that was a deliberate easter egg or crazy coincidence). He gives his word she'll be safe and promises she'll see Ezra again, the final nail in the coffin. With a promise too good to pass up, Sabine takes the offer and hands the map back to Baylan. Shin, having recovered, uses the Force to choke Sabine before Baylan orders her to stop. She reluctantly obeys, and they put Sabine’s wrists in binders as Baylan puts the map back into the apparatus to finish the calculations of the hyperspace coordinates.
Once the calculations are finished and confirmed by Morgan Elsbeth to be loaded aboard the Eye of Scion, Baylan ignites his saber through the map, destroying it so no one else may utilize it. The hyperspace ring rises up out of Seatos’s atmosphere and into space, where it prepares to leave for Thrawn’s presumed location. Baylan and Shin bring Sabine aboard the ring via their shuttle.
Upon arrival on the hyperspace Eye of Scion, the droids aboard the ring announce that New Republic ships are entering the vicinity. Sabine immediately lights up because it can only mean the arrival of one person: Hera Syndulla.
If anyone can rescue Sabine and prevent the ring from launching, it’s Hera. But the task proves beyond even one of the greatest pilots in the galaxy's history. Morgan’s ship makes the jump, leaving several destroyed X-Wings in its wake. The Ghost spins out of control, but Hera quickly recovers. Carson Teva’s X-Wing also survives. The experience must have been harrowing for those aboard — as if sensing the implications of what just went down, Jacen Syndulla announces that he’s “got a bad feeling.”
A lot has happened, but we can’t forget about the title character.
After the Eye of Scion's dramatic departure, the framing of an overhead shot of the now-deserted henge suggests Ahsoka is in the roiling sea below. In an incredibly smooth transition, the sea morphs into a shimmering blue surface upon which Ahsoka lies. The camera zooms out and reveals a mystical place consisting of distinct lanes in an otherwise empty space. That’s right, Rebels fans: it’s the World Between Worlds, the moment we’ve all been waiting for!
But that’s not all.
A mysterious voice says, “Hello, Snips,” which makes Ahsoka turn around to see none other than Anakin Skywalker! Played by Hayden Christensen, this version of Anakin is dressed in his Revenge of the Sith robes and is de-aged. The episode ends with Anakin smiling at Ahsoka. Of note, the music here starts quite happy and uplifting, then plays out into the credits with a deep, slower version of Vader’s theme.
Episode 4, “Fallen Jedi,” doesn’t pull any punches. It’s perfectly paced, with great emotional beats mixed with superb action sequences. Every facet of the production was clicking: the visual effects looked incredible, the directing from Peter Ramsey was sublime, and the music from Kevin Kiner hit hard at all the right moments.
Perhaps most impressive, though, were the acting performances. Ray Stevenson (may he rest in peace), who portrays Baylan Skoll, steals the spotlight in every scene he’s part of. The banter he has with Rosario Dawson’s Ahsoka Tano feels so natural. His air is simultaneously menacing and soothing in a way that's difficult to describe.
Speaking of Dawson, she gives her best performance as Ahsoka in this episode by a mile. She exhibits the character's playfulness when she smirks and her thoughtfulness when she crosses her arms. It's clear that while Ahsoka has aged, she's still the character we met on Christophsis all those years ago. Her change in expression when picking up the burning map and her slow and silent realization that Anakin has joined her in the World Between Worlds culminate in a convincing portrayal that makes it clear Rosario has done her homework. She's studied the animation and Ashley Eckstein's performance enough to capture Ahsoka's essence while giving it a new dimension in this different part of her life.
Natasha Liu Bordizzo also deserves a shoutout. She put tremendous effort into her performance, given how natural it seemed and how expressive she played it. In particular, her expression changes when she thinks Ahsoka is dead; you can see and feel the pain in her face. But the best part of the acting was when Sabine contemplates Baylan’s offer: you can see the wheels turning and the mental calculations as he’s speaking. It’s a masterclass in facially expressive acting.
Additional shoutouts to Ivanna Sakhno (Shin Hati) for being incredibly menacing, to Diana Lee Inosanto (Morgan Elsbeth) for being frustratingly mysterious, and, of course, to Hayden Christensen, who made tens of thousands of fans cry simultaneously.
Overall, episode 4 was just too much to handle in the best way. Sure, its runtime without credits was less than forty minutes, but not once did the pacing feel off or that things were rushed. And we’ve now officially seen all trailer footage -- except for Thrawn's memorable appearance, of course. Everything from here on out will be brand new to us.
At the midpoint of Ahsoka, it’s safe to say that the show's galaxy-sweeping story, diverse and compelling characters, and unique settings make it a slam dunk with fans.
Ahsoka is streaming now on Disney+, with new episodes releasing every Tuesday at 9 p.m. EST.