(A version of this article was shared with Pirates & Princesses on October 4, 2023.)
(SPOILER WARNING: Plot points from the Ahsoka series are discussed below.)
Who’s going home? It’s “now or never” time on Peridea.
Part Eight – the finale, is titled The Jedi, the Witch, and the Warlord – very clearly borrowing tone from the C.S. Lewis fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The episode was directed by Rick Famuyiwa, who also directed four episodes of The Mandalorian. The 49-minute episode length (roughly 43 minutes without credits) attempts to tie up “loose threads” (to quote the Great Mothers) sewn throughout the series, while leaving several large plot points unresolved. If you desire full closure on this eight-part series, then this finale episode will most certainly not satisfy you. But if you are a fan of the future of Star Wars, then Part Eight may just prove to be the beginning of great things to come. This is all highly up for debate, so let’s get started.
The episode opens with a pre-credit scene showing Thrawn’s Star Destroyer hovering, eerily still, over the top of the Nightsister tower fortress. When Morgan informs Thrawn that the cargo transfer is complete, he tells Captain Enoch to hail the Eye of Scion to begin the connection of the ship to the ring.
Thrawn – clearly satisfied (in his signature subtlety) – thanks the Great Mothers, who in turn thank Morgan by indoctrinating her into the Sisterhood of the Nightsisters. In return for her undying loyalty, the Great Mothers also summon Morgan a sword out of their hallmark green flame – The Blade of Talzin (a reference to Mother Talzin – deceased leader of the Nightsisters on the planet Dathomir during the Clone Wars).
Creator/writer Dave Filoni really seems to be doubling down on the Nightsister energy in this series, offering a new (to folks who haven’t watched the animated series) source of mysterious adversary to the Star Wars Galaxy.
Just as Morgan is “knighted”, Thrawn dispatches two tie fighters to engage Ahsoka’s shuttle.
(Roll title screen)
Down on the surface, we see Ahsoka’s shuttle hovering above the Noti minivan armadillo caravan. Traveling at a leisurely rate of perhaps two or three miles per hour, they certainly don’t appear in a rush. With several moments in Part Seven suggesting time is running out, this was disconcerting to see.
Inside the shuttle, Ezra and Huyang engage in some witty banter about the finer points of building a lightsaber, while Sabine looks on. A meaningful moment occurs when Huyang finds just the piece Ezra needs to complete his saber – one that exactly matches a piece once used by Kanan Jarrus – Ezra’s deceased Jedi Master. When Ezra ignites his saber, it is a brilliant blue, matching that of his former master. By the way, where did Ezra get that Kyber crystal to make this new saber? Was it part of Huyang’s overly organized collection of parts?
Sabine appears saddened by the whole exchange. She slips out of the room, leaving Ezra to learn from Huyang how Ahsoka ceased Sabine’s Jedi training. The learned droid explains that Ahsoka felt she couldn’t trust Sabine’s motivations following the Empire’s purge of her home planet of Mandalore.
This moment really hit home, demonstrating once again the strained relationship between the master and apprentice. It has been a theme all season, with just as many stops as starts. Throughout the process, Sabine’s resistance and frustration have a tendency to rub viewers the wrong way, while Ahsoka’s apprehension frustrates just as many viewers (especially in the earlier episodes).
Outside the (very slowly moving) ship, Ahsoka and Sabine clear the air about Sabine’s trade of the map to get to Ezra. Ahsoka is surprisingly ok with Sabine’s rationale, acknowledging that Sabine made a difficult choice, much like Ahsoka has in her own past. Ahsoka admits to Sabine that her former Master Anakin always stood by her. This also appears to be Ahsoka’s admission of failure in not standing by Sabine in her past. The exchange ends with what feels like an unspoken promise on the part of both to work harder at trusting and supporting each other.
While I appreciate the sentiment intended here, the decision Sabine made with the stakes so astronomically high demands a much more involved debate and conversation, and we never really got that on-screen. We still haven’t seen Sabine come clean with Ezra about how she jeopardized the entire galaxy and undid his decade-long sacrifice just to find him. But this is Star Wars, and all good Star Wars fans are expected to swallow the medicine every now and then. I’ll move along (but only because Old Ben Kenobi told me to do so)
Moments later, just as Ezra joins the pair atop the shuttle, Thrawn’s two Tie fighters screech in with a quick burst attack. Unsurprisingly, no one is hurt by the blasts, but Ahsoka’s shuttle is left limping. It nearly falls on and crushes the caravan of Noki immediately beneath, but Ahsoka and Ezra keep the shuttle off the ground using the Force. Sabine finagles the ship’s engines to give it one short burst of energy, which she uses to effectively slice apart the two returning fighters.
She succeeds in destroying them, but the shuttle’s last gasp leaves it crashing over the hillside, just out of view. Sabine and Huyang are fine, but the crash means Sabine, Ahsoka, and Ezra will need to travel to the Nightsister fortress on Howlers (I really love those things). As they take off, Huyang stays behind to work on repairing the ship, but rallies all Star Wars fans when he declares “May the Force Be With You.”
Enoch reports a successful strike to Thrawn, but admits that they lost contact with the Ties shortly thereafter. Thrawn – taking no chances – orders Enoch to prepare troops for a possible ground strike from Ahsoka and company.
(By the way, has anyone seen Baylan and Shin?)
As the trio of Jedi approach the fortress (and see the Eye of Scion now hovering with Thrawn’s Destroyer, preparing to leave), Ahsoka suggests they “Try the front door.” Enoch sees the trio approaching, and Thrawn instructs him to “reign hellfire upon them.”
Thankfully again for our heroes, none of the blasts from the Star Destroyer hit accurately. Ahsoka and Ezra use the Force to open the front gate. Curiously, Ahsoka directs Sabine to assist in this Force effort, and we are led to believe her assistance helps the move succeed. This would represent a pretty significant improvement in Sabine’s Force abilities.
Thrawn, who usually maintains a rock steady poker face, looks visibly concerned at Ahsoka’s progress. He orders Enoch to dispatch the night troopers. True to form, the night troopers are still terrible shots, and within moments the squad is completely dead. However, Halloween came early on Peridea this year. We see the Great Mothers chanting a spell, which resurrects the troopers, and they take on a new life as what I’ll just call “zombie troopers.” Classic groaning, slow, lumpy movements, and a green glow in their eyes give the zombie troopers a second (and third, and fourth) chance. Happy Halloween!
While our heroes now battle the troopers for a second time, Thrawn’s Destroyer locks in place with the ring. Noticing “the Jedi are advancing swiftly”, Thrawn needs more time to depart the tower, and asks Morgan to make the ultimate sacrifice “for the Empire.” Morgan obliges (“for Dathomir”) and waits at the top of the tower to engage Ahsoka while Thrawn’s Destroyer begins to depart. I must admit I actually felt slightly bad for Morgan here. She’s done all the hard work to retrieve Thrawn from exile. She’s rewarded with Knighthood and the Blade of Talzin, only to be asked shortly thereafter to sacrifice herself for the cause.
Ahsoka engages Morgan, sending Ezra and Sabine to reach the Star Destroyer, which is just starting to depart. Ezra and Sabine have a surprisingly difficult time dispatching two final dark troopers. They finally succeed after Sabine again taps into the Force – this time to summon her dropped lightsaber in time to cut down the trooper choking her. The two are free to board the Star Destroyer, only to see it has started to lift off. After a moment of deliberation, Sabine convinces Ezra to make a jump for it.
Here we have arrived at the third time this episode where Sabine is exhibiting exceedingly enhanced abilities in using the Force, in a remarkably short period of time. She and Ezra perform the old jump-and-push maneuver, which Ezra and his old Master Kanan successfully used on many occasions. We see Ezra’s leap get him about ⅔ the way to the Destroyer’s hangar bay. Sabine Force-pushes him the remainder of the way, allowing him to board the ship and take out the two guards stationed at the entrance.
So are we really on board with Sabine’s Force abilities advancing so swiftly? In the ever-so-increasingly impatient Star Wars Galaxy, adeptness with the Force seems to require less and less time and training. Again, we are asked to just take the medicine. I must admit, this move really took the steam out of the moment for me.
(Still looking for Baylan and Shin. Has anybody seen them???)
When Ezra beckons Sabine to jump for it, she appears poised to do so, but instead decides to join Ahsoka in fighting Morgan and the troopers. Additional fighting continues atop the tower, with Ahsoka finally getting the better of Morgan, striking her down. Thrawn’s Destroyer is now safely in ascent, with Ezra secretly aboard.
When the Great Mothers feel the death of Morgan, Thrawn looks even more nervous, and orders the tower to be destroyed from above. As the never-say-die zombie troopers continue to advance, Ahsoka and Sabine jump from the top of the tower before it falls, and emerge a moment later on the shuttle which Huyang has successfully fixed.
We cut to space, where the Eye of Scion – carrying Thrawn’s Destroyer – is getting ready to jump to hyperspace. As Ahsoka’s ship pulls close, Thrawn “opens a channel” to communicate with her. In a moment of classic Thrawn monologuing, he commends Ahsoka on a noble attempt to stop him. Thrawn boasts of how he knew her moves, because he knew her master, then insults her by wondering “just how similar you might become” to him, alluding to Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side. Lastly, Thrawn declares “Today, victory is mine. Long live the Empire.” And with that, the Eye of Scion, along with Thrawn’s ship, disappear into hyperspace.
Tasting defeat, Ahsoka and Sabine head back to the surface and rejoin their Noti friends (who seem quite happy to see them).
Elsewhere across the landscape, we finally catch a glimpse of Shin, who approaches a camp of those red raiders who wrought havoc in Part Six. She raises her orange lightsaber with what appear to be mixed emotions. Is she looking to form an alliance with them and lead them in a new pursuit, or is she about to slaughter them? We’ll have to wait to find out, because this was her only moment on-screen.
By the way, what about Baylan? We finally catch a glimpse of him as well, standing atop a mountainside rock face shaped as what appears to be a Mortis God (Clone Wars stuff). Giving one last wistful look out at the valley below, he seems to be wondering what to do next. When will we know Baylan’s next move? Not today, as his singular on-screen moment ends just as quickly as Shin’s.
If there is one single biggest tragedy of Ahsoka the series, it is what looks to be a squandered opportunity to build upon these two new (and highly interesting) characters. The two dark Jedi received a total of about a minute of screen time in the finale – relegated to epilogue-stage cameos. What was Baylan looking to achieve on Peridea? Is there some good in him? Will he and Shin reunite? Is Shin considering a turn to the Light Side, or will she continue to head down the dark path? All of these questions are begging to be explored, and yet the pair had entirely NOTHING to do with this episode. We don’t need everything to be wrapped up tidy in the finale, but these characters deserved better than the simple dismissal they received here.
In Thrawn’s last moment of the finale, we see his ship approaching the Nightsister planet of Dathomir, while he looks admirably upon his collection of casket-looking cargo (a collection which looks amusing like the giant warehouse we glimpse in the final scene of 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. Seeing what the Great Mothers did for Thrawn’s fallen troops on Peridea, we will no doubt revisit this concept on Dathomir in the future.
Remember Hera? She is an entire galaxy away from the action in this finale, but she still gets more screen time than Baylan and Shin combined. We see an Imperial Shuttle carefully land in the hangar bay of her command ship, and out walks a night trooper. Let’s cast aside all the logistics of how an unknown pilot of an enemy ship craft can be allowed to land in a New Republic vessel (because we saw how well that worked in the opening scene of this series). This moment was crafted for maximum feels. Ezra slowly removes his helmet to sheepishly announce “Hi Hera, I’m home.” It actually was a touching reunion, made more meaningful by knowing Ezra’s former master (and Hera’s former love) Kanan Jarrus.
The final moment of the finale circles back to Ahsoka and Sabine. While Sabine has regret that Thrawn escaped, Ahsoka takes solace in knowing that Ezra got home (which through the use of the Force, she convinces us that she knows). They begin the process of accepting where they are, and start to move on.
Sabine looks away up the hillside, seeming to notice something. While she claims she simply saw “shadows in the starlight”, Ahsoka gazes upon the same location and walks away satisfied. The series ends panning out to see a Force ghost of Anakin Skywalker watching the pair, as a grin creeps across his face. There’s a definite positive Force connection there, which only Ahsoka, Anakin, and Sabine (and Dave Filoni) know about.
But we’ll have to wait to find out more. How long will we have to wait? Who knows? Surprisingly, there was no mid-credit or post-credit scene, and no statement or clue as to when we can expect to see Ahsoka, Thrawn, or any of the others next. Just a whole lot of credits to go along with a whole lot of questions.
So did Ahsoka as a series achieve the impact it so gravely desired? The early episodes of the series spent a considerable amount of time getting non-Rebels-fans up to speed on the story. In between, we were introduced to several new juicy characters. And as part of the master plan, Ahsoka stitched together several “loose threads”, and finally found Thrawn and Ezra. In the end, Thrawn got away, and with a decidedly unbalanced and unsatisfying finale, so did the series.
But not all is lost. Through the developments in this season’s Ahsoka, we now have two amazing “gray” characters (Baylan and Shin), one hero returned home, a villain just chomping at the bit to run amok, and an entire new galaxy to explore. And I’ll add that placing Ahsoka and Sabine in an entirely new galaxy just may help them flourish in a galaxy of their own, where they won’t be confined to side stories that lie outside of the core Skywalker story which continues in the existing “sequel trilogy.” Would I have loved a confirmation that more related content is on the way? Sure. But in this age of writers’ strikes and uncertain streaming success, I’ll take what I can get.
That’s a wrap on Ahsoka. All episodes are currently airing on Disney+. Were you satisfied with the finale? How did you like the series as a whole? Chime in, either with a comment here or on social: