Ahsoka on Disney+ passed its halfway mark with a trippy fifth episode that not only moved the Rosario Dawson series forward but also brought The Clone Wars to live-action and even finally name-dropped a key Star Wars Rebels character by mentioning Kanan Jarrus. Hayden Christensen reprised his role as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader for the episode, called “Shadow Warrior,” for some scenes that have been highly anticipated ever since he was revealed as part of the Ahsoka cast. Despite the exciting appearance of Anakin and live-action versions of Clone Wars scenes, however, “Shadow Warrior” left me with the realization of why I continue to care more about the Rebels characters than any others, including Ahsoka herself.
Admittedly, as somebody who has argued for years that Star Wars Rebels is better than The Clone Wars from start to finish, I knew I was going to be biased toward Sabine and Hera over other members of Ahsoka‘s supporting cast. But “Shadow Warrior” focusing on Anakin and Ahsoka with some thrilling sequences in the World Between Worlds helped me sort out my priorities, and see why I feel that Ahsoka has done a better job with the non-Ahsoka parts of the story. Bear with me, and read on for why!
Ahsoka’s Story Is Rooted In The Clone Wars
Seeing scenes from The Clone Wars adapted into live-action was pretty damn cool, especially since I was rooting for more animation-into-live-action ever since Ahsoka recreated a Rebels moment. I really liked Ariana Greenblatt as young Ahsoka, but I also felt like the entire World Between Worlds sequence cemented that Ahsoka’s story is rooted in the era of the Clone Wars and Anakin Skywalker. Seeing her work through her trauma from Anakin/Vader was interesting, but we also just saw that happen with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Obi-Wan, and I’d say that OWK did it better.
I may be in the minority among Star Wars fans, but I’m ready for more on-screen stories set in the galaxy far, far away that don’t connect back to the Skywalker saga. From a narrative standpoint, Ahsoka is always going to be connected to Anakin Skywalker and a long-gone era, and I’m ready for Star Wars to move on at this point in the timeline.
Thrawn Is Hera’s Star Wars Rebels Nemesis
Star Wars fans who have only seen the live-action shows may primarily associate Ahsoka Tano with Thrawn after Rosario Dawson’s debut episode of The Mandalorian introduced her search for him. Star Wars Rebels fans have already seen Thrawn in action across two seasons, where he emerged as a nemesis for Hera more than anybody else. Ahsoka even touched on that when Hera mentioned that Thrawn had killed friends and people she thought of as family.
Rebels fans know that Kanan Jarrus – a.k.a. Jacen’s late father, who died due to Thrawn’s work on Lothal – was likely on her mind, particularly given that the next scene actually introduced the young boy. Throw in the absent Ezra, and Hera is the character with the strongest personal and military motivation to take down Thrawn. After all, Ahsoka was absent for most of Thrawn’s seasons of Rebels, and the hunt for Thrawn would be more engaging with personal stakes like Hera’s.
Finding Ezra Is Sabine’s Star Wars Rebels Quest
Star Wars Rebels found a way to say goodbye to Ezra and Thrawn in time for the original film trilogy timeline by sending them off into unknown regions via the purrgil in the series finale. Ezra’s final message to the Ghost crew reminded Sabine that he was counting on her, and that he “can’t wait to come home.” She stayed behind on Lothal, and waited until the time when she would be able to find him again. And yes, Ahsoka showed up at the very end of the finale to make good on her World Between Worlds agreement to find Ezra, but the emotional stakes of the search for Ezra were entirely Sabine’s.
Ahsoka was a supporting character at best in Rebels, and didn’t spend much time with the Ghost crew. Ahsoka did emphasize that Sabine cares more about finding Ezra than anything else just as the show made the point that Hera shouldn’t jump galaxies with her young son as her copilot, but it has yet to convince me that Ahsoka is the character whose story should be all about Thrawn and Ezra.
The Future Is Jacen’s
While Ahsoka’s importance continues to feel tied to the past, the moments of hope for the future in the series are tied to Jacen Syndulla more than anybody else… and Jacen is not tied to Ahsoka. Sure, they shared a sweet hug in Episode 5, but her Star Wars journey from Clone Wars onward connects her to Luke Skywalker as Anakin’s son, not Jacen as Kanan’s son. If there’s going to be any narrative symmetry, then Ezra is the natural fit to train Jacen and continue Kanan’s legacy, not Ahsoka and not Luke’s academy.
Plus, Hera has shown some reluctance to allow her son to train to become a Jedi, and I can’t say that I blame her. Ezra returning with the potential to pass Kanan’s teaching along to Jacen seems like a factor that could change her mind. As the son whose Jedi father never dipped into the dark side and whose mother is a hero of the Rebellion, Jacen is a symbol of hope for the future whose fate has not been decided by the sequel trilogy. Ahsoka is tied to the past and the Skywalkers.
I’m Not Worried About Ahsoka
Unfortunately, I just don’t feel any stakes about Ahsoka Tano, for all that her fate hasn’t been determined by the sequel trilogy, and I don’t say that just because she’s not going to be killed off part of the way through her own show. Ever since Star Wars Rebels introduced the World Between Worlds to save Ahsoka from what should have been her death on Malachor, I just haven’t felt any sort of nerves for her future.
She’s a big enough name in the franchise that she got her own show centered on quests that should really belong to other characters, and the closest that we have to a reason to fear for her life is that hers is among the voices of Jedi that Rey hears late in Rise of Skywalker. I just don’t feel high stakes about Ahsoka, and that’s not the case for the Rebels characters in her show.
So, despite the thrills of seeing Hayden Christensen back as Anakin Skywalker (or some kind of Force manifestation a la Empire Strikes Back) and The Clone Wars coming to live-action, Episode 5 left me wanting scenes to switch out of the World Between Worlds and back to Hera in her search for Sabine, or to wherever Sabine is. In the grand scheme of Star Wars, Thrawn is Hera’s nemesis, Ezra is Sabine’s quest, Jacen is the Force user whose future is still bright, and Ahsoka is… also there with her name in the title, and I know which stories are more interesting to me as a Disney+ subscriber.
None of this is to say that I’m not enjoying the ride of Ahsoka or Rosario Dawson’s portrayal of the character; I like the actress in the role, and it appears that we’ll start to see more emotion from the character after her decision to live in Episode 5. The story so far just leaves me wishing that this was a live-action Star Wars Rebels Season 5 more than an Ahsoka Tano show. I’m still holding out hope for another Zeb appearance, though!
New episodes of Ahsoka release on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on Disney+. You can also find every episode of The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels on the Disney streamer, along with the episodes of The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett that included Rosario Dawson.