(A version of this article was published for Pirates & Princesses on September 20, 2023.)
(SPOILER WARNING: Plot points from the Ahsoka series are discussed below.)
We are finally traveling the space lanes to Peridea! Part One and Part Two of the Ahsoka series set the table for the events to come. Part Five brought us a remarkable reunion – and final lesson – between Ahsoka and Anakin Skywalker. Now, here in Part Six, it’s finally time to find our bad guy Thrawn, and our good guy Ezra. Right? Let’s go find out.
Part Six – adorably titled Far, Far Away – was directed by Jennifer Getzinger. The 49-minute episode length (roughly 43 minutes without credits) gave us another healthy serving of this Star Wars fantasy-fest, and finally delivered on the Macguffins Dave Filoni has been keeping under wraps for the first five episodes of the series.
In Part Five, we saw Ahsoka’s journey in the World Between Worlds and connection with Anakin for most of the episode, with a bit of Hera sprinkled in for support. Sabine had been taken away by Morgan, Baylan, and Shin, so we saw none of them. Part Six, by contrast, is almost a complete reverse.
The episode opens with Ahsoka and Huyang, in what will be their only few minutes in the episode. When we first observe the pod of Purrgils soaring through hyperspace, we do not see the fluid, blue streaks we’ve come to know as hyperspace. Instead, we get something straight out of Doctor Who, Buck Rogers, or an early 1980s video game of your choice. A very different looking rainbow laser backdrop blanketed the sky as Ahsoka and Huyang comfortably hitched a ride inside a majestic “space whale” (much like the biblical legend Jonah).
While they did have a meaningful piece of conversation, the takeaway here is that Ahsoka laments the fact that Sabine – in giving the map to Baylan – made a choice for herself that “could have ended this. No Thrawn. No War.” Ouch, that one hurts. And that’s it for Ahsoka in this episode.
Now in another galaxy, we find Sabine locked in a cell as our villains Morgan, Baylan, and Shin gaze out into 1980s electric hyperspace. At this point, we conclude that they are a couple “rotations” (days) ahead of Ahsoka, who got a late jump after being rescued from the water in Part Five. When they drop out of hyperspace, Morgan confirms their location to indeed be the planet Peridea, home of the ancient Dathomiri Nightsisters. Peridea looks oddly like Saturn, with the added creepy feature of Purrgil skeletons tucked into the planet’s rings. As Baylan said, Peridea is a graveyard where Purrgil “come to die.”
Their shuttle receives an invitation to descend to the surface, and within moments lands atop a tall tower containing a henge-like structure very similar to the one we just left on Seatos. Our villains (and Sabine) are greeted by a trio of red-cloaked witches – Great Mother Nightsisters from whom Morgan is descended. Initial greetings are soured a bit when one witch observes that the party “reeks of Jedi.” Of course, the camera helps us target Sabine, who is training under Ahsoka, and she is led away to a holding cell while the witches make the call for Grand Admiral Thrawn.
While Sabine is the obvious source of the Jedi “smell”, I can’t help but wonder if Baylan – who formerly belonged to the Jedi order – may be contributing to the scent as well. This is something to keep an eye on, as Baylan has consistently exhibited uncertain feelings and comments throughout the series. He even continues this as he confides with Shin regarding his dismay with both the Jedi Order and the Empire – lamenting the never ending cycle of shifting power. Baylan opines that the power Thrawn may wield is “fleeting”, declaring “What I seek is the beginning.” Baylan also observes an immense power on Peridea, which he can feel calling to him. He craves this power and intends to seek it out, to “bring the cycle to an end.”
But now for what we’ve all been waiting for – the long-awaited appearance of Grand Admiral Thrawn. Upon the call of Morgan, Thrawn’s Star Destroyer – the Chimaera – hovers over (and almost consumes) the tower. I should note the ship looks a bit worse for the wear – a theme which will surface moments later as it settles into position. Fans of Star Wars: Rebels will recognize Thrawn’s signature ominous organ music. A battalion of Stormtropers (identified in the subtitles as Night Troopers), looking quite tattered and displaying red ribbons on their armor, proudly chant for Thrawn’s appearance. They are led by what may be the creepiest new Star Wars character since Supreme Leader Snoke – a Night Trooper named Enoch who sports a helmet redesigned to display a golden costume mask. This is the stuff of nightmares.
Thrawn – played in live-action by Lars Mikkelsen – enters the scene, resplendent in his white Imperial uniform (though looking a bit faded from the years). His blue skin and red eyes almost seem to glow in the muted backdrop of the battle-worn troopers and their ship. Thrawn is characteristically direct, pushing through the pleasantries and introductions. Morgan introduces Baylan and Shin as “mercenaries” who assisted in the quest to reach Thrawn. I can’t help but find this title a bit insulting, though Baylan and Shin make nothing of it here. Thrawn picked up on the name, remembering “General” Baylan Skoll of the Jedi Order, to which Baylan quickly responds that he “parted with the Jedi long ago” (hmmm, file away this exchange for later).
When Morgan notifies Thrawn that Sabine is with them as well, he smiles wryly, remembering her part in his previous demise. After a brief exchange filled with thinly-veiled insults, Thrawn upholds Baylan’s promise to Sabine, wishing to search for Ezra Bridger. In what seems a gesture of goodwill, Thrawn releases Sabine, gives her a “ride” (a dog-like creature called a “howler”), returns her weapons, and lets her set out to search for Ezra. However, Thrawn is a tactical genius, and he already has Baylan and Shin queued up to follow Sabine’s path, instructing the “mercenaries” to let her find Ezra (technically honoring the deal), then kill them both. Curiously, Thrawn will only commit two squads of his troopers to assist Baylan and Shin, noting that his numbers have decreased during his exile. Thrawn and his forces have truly taken a hit during their banishment.
Shin proves she can still take care of herself, when she disposes of five raiders out in the rocky wilderness. The raiders exhibit the sensibilities, weapons, and linguistics similar to those infamous Tuskens on Tatooine – to which all Star Wars fans can relate. A short while later, Sabine comes upon what her howler reveals to be a small native creature hiding under a shell disguised as a rock. The creature, called a Noti (which I can best describe as a combination of an Ewok and Jar Jar Binks disguised as a turtle), makes friends with Sabine. The Noti takes particular note of the Rebel symbol on Sabine’s shoulder armor, and shows her a piece of his own displaying the same symbol. I think we can guess where this is going (stay tuned). Sabine follows the Noti back to a small encampment, filled with dozens more of these adorable characters, living in houses that look an awful lot like armadillos the size of minivans.
And who else do we find in this encampment, but…ta da! Ezra Bridger (played in live-action by Eman Esfandi)! After more than a decade, Sabine has finally found her old friend. What was built up by the Disney marketing to be the show’s biggest reunion felt like it landed with a bit of a thud. There was a brief exchange, some loving jibes, and a sweet hug. But overall, this reunion lacked the emotion I was expecting it to have.
But can we stop and talk about this Ezra situation for a moment? If we think about Peridea as a Star Wars version of a desert island to which Thrawn and Ezra have been marooned, then how did these foes end up in the position they are in, relative to each other? Ezra is essentially living right under Thrawn’s nose, out in the open grassy wasteland, where he has presumably existed for over a decade. On this same “desert island” live an undetermined number of Nightsister witches, who can clearly feel the Force and “smell” a Jedi. Does Ezra have some serious Force-shielding abilities, or do Thrawn and the Nightsisters have very little ability (or incentive) to sniff him out. Either way, the convenient close proximity of Ezra to Thrawn feels very lazy to me, and I hope the show’s writing explains this a bit better.
Now about Sabine. Let’s look at this from Ezra’s point-of-view. In exercising his Purrgil plan over a decade ago (which Sabine amusingly observed to not be a good plan), Ezra sacrificed himself, banishing himself in the process, to save the fledgling Rebellion from what would have been certain doom. Fast forward to the present, and Sabine has just made a “deal with the devil” with Baylan, opening the door for Thrawn’s return (and undoing Ezra’s entire sacrifice) to see him again. Oh boy – wait ‘till Ezra finds out (spoiler alert – Sabine hasn’t told him yet).
How will Ezra feel about this? Will he be A) furious that she threw his sacrifice away, B) honored by the magnitude of what she gave up just to see him, or C) creeped out by the magnitude of what she gave up just to see him? Between this decision and her previous history of (unknowingly) assisting the Empire in creating a Mandalorian Beskar-killing weapon, Sabine’s track record of making good decisions is quite poor.
The final scene in the episode begins with some news. The Great Mothers feel a “loose thread” (a common theme they also use elsewhere in the episode), advising Thrawn that a Jedi is making their way to Peridea, riding the “travelers” (Purrgil). Thrawn admits this is “unwelcome news”, immediately concluding that the Jedi must be Ahsoka. In a riveting scolding of Morgan, Thrawn acknowledges her ineptitude and questions the loyalty of Baylan. He then orders Morgan to dig up any information he can on Ahsoka and prepare to destroy any incoming Purrgil “without prejudice.” This is a chill-inducing moment. Thrawn is completely expressionless while speaking, and that is precisely what makes him so terrifying in this scene. Following his exchange with Morgan, Thrawn closes the episode by making an appeal to the Great Mothers for further assistance with their “dark majick.”
By the end of this episode, Thrawn has quickly established himself (or re-established himself, for those familiar with his work in Rebels and non-canon Star Wars books) as a master of strategy. He combines his military leadership skills with an unnerving wit and steely coolness, making him one of the most dangerous foes in the Star Wars Galaxy.
As for Baylan – Thrawn’s observations have put several chinks in his armor, with Thrawn himself declaring to Morgan that Baylan should be considered “flawed” due to his Jedi origin. If Baylan doesn’t play his hand very carefully, he could find himself on the bad side of Thrawn’s ruthlessness.
There will be a great amount of tasty conflict going down in next week’s episode – both external and internal. Let’s get it on!
We are 75% through Ahsoka, with quite a bit to resolve. How do you feel about where the show is, with only two episodes to go? Chime in, either with a comment here or on social:
The remaining episodes will air Tuesdays on Disney+. Keep following here for a continued discussion of the remainder of the series.