(A version of this article was published for Pirates & Princesses on September 27, 2023.)
(SPOILER WARNING: Plot points from the Ahsoka series are discussed below.)
Ahsoka is rejoining the party!
Part One and Part Two of the Ahsoka series set the table for the events to come. Part Five brought us a remarkable reunion with Anakin Skywalker. In Part Six, we finally caught up with Grand Admiral Thrawn and Ezra Bridger, but Ahsoka was still a couple “rotations” behind.
Part Seven – titled Dreams and Madness – borrows a phrase previously used by Baylan Skoll to describe the tales of Peridea. The episode was directed by Geeta Vasant Patel. The 46-minute episode length (roughly 40 minutes without credits) spends a lot more time on Peridia, but not before giving us a quick visit to Coruscant – capital of the New Republic.
Last we saw Hera Syndulla, she was running interference for Ahsoka in her quest to hitch a ride with a space whale to Peridea. While Hera was successful in her mission, it came with consequences – a court martial trial in front of a Galactic Senate committee. Two notable names on the committee are Senator Mon Mothma – friend to the Rebellion trying to see her way through an increasingly inept New Republic, and Senator Xiono – that loathsome tool who loves to cut Hera down with every step she takes.
A brief but spirited debate appears to have landed Xiono’s way, as Hera is about to be sanctioned for unauthorized use of New Republic resources. However, a visit from an old friend miraculously turns the tables. C-3PO (human cyborg relations) steps in on behalf of Senator Leia Organa, who now enjoys a new role as leader of the Defense Council. Threepio produces an authorization order from Leia for Hera to lead an investigation to Seatos, which unearthed information on Morgan Ellsbeth’s nefarious doings. Much to Xiono’s chagrin, Hera is absolved of all charges. But in a private moment with Mon Mothma directly after the trial, Hera admits that Leia authorized the investigation “eventually.” Well played, Hera.
This will be all we see of Hera in this penultimate episode. With only one episode remaining, I don’t think it’s likely she’ll be further involved in the conflict with Thrawn, but I wouldn’t be surprised if series writer Dave Filoni is priming the pump for a Hera return in a future series or film.
Cut to Ahsoka’s T-6 shuttle, where she is continuing her Jedi practice…under the holographic oversight of Anakin Skywalker. Did you think he was gone? Filoni cleverly helped Anakin find his way back into the story via one of “twenty or more” holographic training videos he had made for Ahsoka. In this scene, Anakin is prepping Ahsoka for a time that may come when they are separated. His instruction is bold and blunt, but very much intended to protect his one-time Jedi Padawan. At the conclusion of her training, Ahsoka is inspired and motivated, having developed a deeper understanding of Anakin’s positive impact on her and the galaxy, before his fall to the dark side. Her feelings are cemented when she admits to herself “He was a good master.” This was a classy way to squeeze a few more moments out of Anakin, and it used Hayden Christensen perfectly yet again, in what has become a renaissance of sorts for both the actor and the character.
Huyang interrupts the end of Ahsoka’s lesson to inform her that the Purrgil appear to be preparing to drop out of hyperspace. When they do in fact drop back into real space, Ahsoka notices her protective Purrgil shuddering amid flashes of light. Some swift flying takes Ahsoka and Huyang out of the Purrgil’s belly and into a minefield embedded into the rings (aka boneyard) of the planet Peridea. After sustaining some hits, the pod of Purrgil jump back to hyperspace, leaving Ahsoka in space alone…until she is joined by several (eight, by my count) attacking ships.
Having just exited the minefield, Ahsoka jumps right back in to try to lose the fighters. Fans of the OG Star Wars trilogy will recognize her next move immediately, as she slips into the underside of a giant Purrgil bone and powers down to drop out of sight – a la Han Solo with the Millennium Falcon in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.
Down on the surface (or at least at the base of Thrawn’s Star Destroyer hovering at the top of the Nightsister tower) Morgan gives Thrawn the information he ordered on Ahsoka Tano. After only a moment of study, he realizes that her Jedi Master was General Anakin Skywalker, giving him a clear idea that he can expect the unexpected from her. Knowing Ahsoka is hiding in the bone belt, Thrawn orders his Captain Enoch to track her down and flush her out, to “Put her on a path of our own choosing, so no matter what step she takes, we’ll always be one step ahead of her.” Thrawn is always the master tactician, and his talents are on display with this maneuver.
Now on the surface for real, Sabine and Ezra spend a few minutes catching up on a decade of life while the caravan of Noti (those little crab shell guys) moves on in their nomad lifestyle. In a continuation of their roundabout conversation from last episode, Ezra asks several questions (little afterthoughts like “How did you find me?” and “Where is Ahsoka?”) while Sabine pushes her non-explanation of “It’s complicated.” I appreciate Sabine wanting to preserve the sweet moment and avoid giving Ezra the real story, but at some point Ezra really should demand to know what’s going on, and “It’s complicated” is starting to get annoying.
Back in space, Huyang is not able to get a scan on Sabine’s whereabouts. However, Ahsoka pumps the Force and makes a connection with her. This seems to both surprise Sabine and encourage her (though she says nothing of it to Ezra). Feeling Ahsoka’s Force transmission, the three Nightsisters pinpoint her whereabouts, allowing Enoch to flush her out of hiding and send her scouting down to the surface.
Morgan is nervous to see this and recommends additional protection at the tower, to which Thrawn confidently explains that Ahsoka will come nowhere near the tower because “We wisely sent Sabine far from here.” Thrawn’s strategy will prove effective, as Ahsoka does indeed plot a course to Sabine’s location.
But before Ahsoka even gets close, Baylan and Shin (and their “enemy of their enemy” raider friends) have found their prey. Baylan orders Shin to attack Ezra’s convoy, while his path will take him elsewhere (this seemed to confuse and annoy Shin a bit, so it’s a moment worth filing away for later). Thrawn dispatches two gunships full of troops to assist Shin in her assassination attempt.
The raiders attack the Noti convoy ahead of Shin, causing Ezra to take evasive maneuvers, instructing his tiny friends to circle up in their armadillo-mobiles. Shin arrives with two squads of Night Troopers, leading to perhaps the funniest moment in the episode, where Sabine describes her to Ezra as “She’s like you, but lacks your sense of humor.” Zing!
In a reprise of their maneuver from Part One, Huyang drops Ahsoka at the surface (pardon the unconvincing CGI moment here), where she immediately encounters Baylan, who appears to have been waiting for her. Unsurprisingly, he is surprised (yet also seems happy) to see Ahsoka. The two engage in a lightsaber duel, ending with Ahsoka fleeing upon Baylan’s Howler, leaving him stranded.
These Howlers are quickly climbing the ranks of my favorite Star Wars creatures. They have the loyalty and sensibility of dogs, with the size of a horse to match. Plus, they are actually quite adorable, once you get past the teeth.
Just when Shin and her Night Trooper reinforcements have Sabine and Ezra pinned, Ahsoka rams through on the Howler, evening the playing field. A quick skirmish separates Shin from her fleeing troopers. In a curious moment, Ahsoka reaches out to Shin, offering to “help her.” Shin pauses as if considering Ahsoka’s offer, then flees without comment.
Let’s examine this moment. Over the last couple episodes, I’ve been observing a bit of softening (humanizing) of Shin, which was not explored in the previous episodes. Baylan’s uncertainty seems to be rubbing off on her (and the fact that her master threw her to the wolves when ordering her to attack Sabine and Ezra without his support may have contributed to her doubts as well). At this point, both Shin and Baylan are exhibiting significant wild card attributes. With only one episode left to wrap things up, I really don’t know what to expect from either of them.
Thrawn’s last moment in this episode is one of mixed emotions. He laments the loss of some additional troopers, and worries just a bit about Baylan’s absence in the fight with the Noti convoy. But he assuages his own concerns (as well as those of Morgan) by relishing in the advantage of time he has on Ahsoka. With the loading of cargo (which look unmistakably like coffins) into his Star Destroyer almost complete, Thrawn is perilously close to leaving Peridea (and leaving Ahsoka and company behind).
The last scene of the episode is also the most enlightening. Ahsoka’s elation when she sees Ezra is real and infectious. She has not displayed anywhere near this much emotion all season, and it was truly magical to see her so excited. She gave him a huge hug, smiled, and even laughed – how about that?
At the end of the “rotation”, this episode on Peridia opened as many questions as it answered. With Ezra safely in hand, we now have much of the Rebels gang back together again. Shin and Baylan are scattered, and Thrawn is about to fly the coop. And what (or who) exactly is the cargo?
Friends – we only have one episode left, and there is too much still unsettled to gracefully wrap up within an hour. With only the finale left to go, do you think Filoni & Co. will land this ship? Chime in, either with a comment here or on social:
The finale episode will air Tuesday, October 3rd on Disney+. Keep following here for a wrapup discussion of the series.