I’m not sure which is more interesting: the Star Wars fandom itself, or the attitude towards the fandom. On hand, there are instances of terrible behaviour directed at sequel-trilogy characters which are appalling. On the other, there’s the reality that Star Wars post-Lucas has been largely treated like trash.
I’m not here to dunk on shows. I simply haven’t enjoyed many of them.
I found The Mandalorian season one and largely season two to be really enjoyable. In particular, I enjoyed the Ahsoka episode in Mando as well as the season two finale. Season three of Mando was probably the lowest point in Star Wars history. I’m uncertain if there was a single episode worth talking about.
The Book of Boba Fett started out sensationally. Episodes one and two were stunning, specifically the world building as Fett trained with the sand people in the Tatooine desert. The rest was some of the least gratifying Star Wars TV ever.
Obi-Wan Kenobi was clearly a feature film first and split into TV seasons later, either to catch some extra profit or to catch a trend. There are moments in Obi-Wan where you can be left in awe (the Vader-Kenobi fight was truly special, especially the details of how Vader “killed” Anakin). Yet others are head-scratchingly poor (specifically the instance where Kenobi just walks out of Fortress Inquisitorious dressed in a disguise.)
Andor was good! Like, wonderful. The biggest strike against Andor was how long it took before you remembered you were watching a Star Wars show. It took three whole episodes to see anything related to the Star Wars we’ve all grown up with, be it an Imperial Stormtrooper or an ISB agent of sorts. Andor writing was the best Star Wars writing yet, but I do think the show faces an uphill battle without Jedi and without the Force.
Perhaps it’s a sign of future things to come, but Ahsoka most certainly follows the Andor path more so than the other paths. Ahsoka may well save Star Wars from certain doom. In the Disney era, only Rogue One has come close to Ahsoka. The show has everything a Star Wars fan could dream of:
- Jedi and the Force
- Dathomirian nightsister magic
- Strong female lead characters
- A true, scary villain
- A looming, even scarier villain
- A dual-wielding lightsaber hero(ine)
- Past characters doing more than just fan service
- Attention to detail
I want to draw attention to this last bullet point, as I feel this is the reason the fandom is so in love with this show.
Ahsoka, of course, is being written top-to-bottom by Dave Filoni. Handpicked by George Lucas himself, Filoni was always “The Chosen One” — the one meant to take over Star Wars after George retired. Filoni’s fingerprints are all over modern Star Wars stories, specifically The Clone Wars, Tales of the Jedi, and the very best pieces of The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett. His biggest achievement though is Ahsoka herself — Filoni created the character with Lucas and built out her story better than perhaps any other Star Wars character in history.
Filoni is Ahsoka. Ahsoka is Filoni. And Filoni is Star Wars more than any other person on the planet. The planets were aligned for Ahsoka to succeed.
Filoni doesn’t miss any details. He is masterful in ensuring no stone is left unturned. Did anyone notice the live-action debut of Kanan Jarrus in the latest Ahsoka episode? Of course, Dave would ensure that detail makes its way into the live-action show.
Or the attention to detail in the Ahsoka-Baylan fight. Each warrior chooses a particular lightsaber form — almost as though each were playing a former Jedi Knight video game — and attacks with precision and skill. Both warriors cycled through three or four different lightsaber forms in the fight, with Ahsoka notably using her former master’s preferred stance to cut down Marrock in a single slash. This reminded me of the greatest lightsaber duel in history — the Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Darth Maul fight in the animated show Rebels — which was, of course, written by Filoni from start to finish.
I don’t believe even Lucas’s Star Wars had this level of detail. Remember how General Grievous pulled out four lightsabers, two of which were a Kenobi and Skywalker lightsaber? My gosh, it’s almost like the props director ran out of cash and needed a filler lightsaber.
The attention to detail isn’t just in production. It’s in the story itself. Sabine Wren’s attempt to use the Force on the empty cup is one for the ages — how many people have watched Star Wars, stuck out their hand while nobody was watching, and tried to close the door with the Force? Or tried to summon the TV remote with the Force? If you love Star Wars, I guarantee you’ve tried this.
Filoni found a way to inject this right into the story, and he ensured it doubled down on the democratic-elements of the Force. Filoni literally states anyone can use the Force — just like Broom Kid! — yet Filoni doesn’t get bombarded with death and destruction from the fandom. Filoni fulfilled Lucas’s midichlorian story arc in but a flash, and nobody is out there with pitchforks calling for his ouster.
Because Filoni gets it. Because Filoni is Star Wars.
My faith is being restored in the franchise. I was deeply afraid Disney would screw up Ahsoka and destroy my favourite Star Wars character. Other fans saw their Luke Skywalker childhood hero destroyed in The Last Jedi. Others, the same with Han Solo in The Force Awakens. I thought for sure Ahsoka would be headed down the same path.
So far, though, my darkest expectations have been averted. So far, Ahsoka has been genuinely wonderful. Ahsoka is full of lore, is paced like a Star Wars film of old, has an attention to detail unlike any Star Wars we’ve seen before, and has a truly enticing storyline fit for keeping folks coming back each week.
I wanted to get all this out there before the incoming bonanza of Episode Five hitting the airwaves this week. Presumably, it’s so good, it warrants a release in various theatres throughout the world. I have zero idea where the show will go, nor do I know if it will end as good as it has started. The episode is being directed by Filoni as well — who I feel has a slightly spotty track record as a live-action director — so we’re bound to have a few seismic charges go off.
For now, I’m going to bed each night knowing the story of my childhood appears to be back in very, very good hands. It just took 11 years of trial and error to get here.