Ahsoka – Season 1
I should start by noting that Star Wars is not my favourite TV/movie franchise. I’ve given up on The Mandalorian. I bailed on Boba Fett about half way through. I bailed on Andor in the first episode, apparently before it got good. I did not expect to find Ahsoka quite enjoyable, but I did.
I can think of two good reasons for this. The first is Grand Admiral Thrawn. He’s the first Imperial commander I can think of who is not a complete idiot. Indeed, he seems quite smart. This is a very welcome change.
Of course he is still burdened with the endless well of incompetence that is the Imperial armed forces. I swear at one point in the series I saw an Imperial Stormtrooper hit Sabine Wren in the head with a shot from his pistol. She wasn’t wearing her Mandalorian helmet at the time, but she still shrugged off the hit. I have come to the conclusion that Imperial Stormtroopers load their guns with marshmallows.
The other main reason is that several of the main characters are quite interesting. Sabine Wren is not a super-powered Jedi, at least to begin with, and isn’t even sure she wants to be one. Hera Syndulla isn’t a Jedi at all, she’s a rebel soldier who became a general in the wars, but is also a mother with a young kid. And of course you can’t go wrong with a droid played by David Tennant. These characters were all interesting enough that I want to go back and watch the Rebels cartoon series to find out more about them.
I’m less enamoured with the lead character, though I gather she is something of a fan favourite, which why she’s got a series of her own. Rosario Dawson’s performance reminds me a lot of Hugo Weaving playing Elrond: that is, we have a very competent actor who, as Weaving said in his case, has no idea who the character is, or what their motivations are. Dawson spends a lot of time staring mysteriously into the distance.
What worries me about the series, and bear in mind that I have not watched the Prequels, is that is seems like it might be intended as a vehicle to somehow rehabilitate Anakin Skywalker.
Reaction to the series online hasn’t been great. I’ve seen complaints that it is slow, and fair enough. Most of it was. The season finale wrapped things up much too quickly, which also wasn’t great after all that build-up. But at least it did leave some threads unresolved.
The main complaint about the series, however, seems to have been that it makes Star Wars look like fantasy. It is entirely true that the alien world on which much of the action is set is rather reminiscent of parts of Middle Earth. Characters get to ride creatures that are very reminiscent of wargs. And just to rub it in, the season finale is titled, “The Jedi, the Witch and the Warlord”. Well guess what?, this is a franchise about Space Wizards, who fight with swords made of light. There are witches in this series, three of them, of course, but if they are inspired by anything it is as much the Bene Gesserit as Macbeth. I’m happy to see the folks at Disney embracing the story for what it is.