Ahsoka seems to finally be finding its stride with Episode 5 — perhaps a little late, but fitting given that this is the first real look we’ve gotten into Ahsoka’s (Rosario Dawson) past in live-action. Having Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) here to shepherd us through this stroll down memory lane is both narratively fulfilling and just plain fun. Once you get past the initial jarring impact of witnessing the de-aging tech Star Wars has become obsessed with, it’s easy to get fully absorbed in seeing these two characters reunite. That excitement is cut short, however, when we find ourselves already done with this monumental and revelatory event with half the episode’s runtime left. Ahsoka and Anakin’s reunion deserved to be an entire episode, not just the better half of one.
‘Ahsoka’ Episode 5 Does Deliver Some Great Things
It’s not like the episode delivers nothing. We get flashbacks to Ahsoka’s first battle, getting to see Snips as we knew her best brought into live-action — and we really do see that Ahsoka we grew to know here. She’s contrary, questioning, and compassionate to a fault. So she’s a lot like Anakin. We see how early she came to doubt the institution that was raising her, even how she came to realize Anakin might be wrong. In these flashbacks, everything is hazy; the battlefield in Ahsoka’s memories is an unending barren landscape only broken up by flashes of explosions and gunfire. The Clone Wars were hell, and they look like it. Anakin tries to explain to a young Ahsoka (portrayed by Ariana Greenblatt) that war is just like this, but she struggles to accept it.
We jump forward again in time to a slightly older Ahsoka, this time wearing her gear from the end of The Clone Wars series. This battle has no Anakin; they’ve already separated by this time. But we see a much more confident and aggressive Ahsoka taking out numerous enemies with ease. It’s also the first time we’ve gotten to see Ahsoka fighting alongside Captain Rex (Temuera Morrison) and the clones, something that is a huge part of her character and backstory but tragically underutilized in her live-action stories so far. This is the Battle of Mandalore, a defining moment for Ahsoka and a massive canon event in Star Wars in general. It, too, is painted in this horrid haze of war but for a brief moment, we’re really seeing things as they were. After these two brief flashbacks, Anakin asserts that his real purpose for meeting Ahsoka in the World Between Worlds is to test her will.
‘Ahsoka’ Episode 5 Is More Skirmish Than Fight
In these flashbacks, we’ve seen flashes of Vader and at this confrontation, Anakin takes on the appearance he had on Mustafar. He attacks Ahsoka and she fights back. The sequence culminates with Ahsoka taking Anakin’s lightsaber and holding it to his throat before sparing him. This act turns him back to “good” Anakin, and Ahsoka leaves the World Between Worlds more assured of herself and her will to fight.
The fight itself is fine. Nothing special. And that’s the problem. This is a momentous occasion, one we’ve only seen before in animation, and it’s over so quickly. This fight could have been an opportunity to show us how much Ahsoka has grown, any resentment she may have for Anakin, and just how differently they fight, but instead it’s a pretty run-of-the-mill swordfight that’s resolved in an impersonal way. Her willpower to get things done never seemed like something she struggled with. Her conflict this season has always been about legacy. Her own, her master’s, and the Jedi as a whole. What if this fight hinged on Ahsoka’s unresolved anger toward her former master? Instead, the fight is brief, unremarkable, and internally focused to a fault.
‘Ahsoka’ Episode 5 Had Some Missed Opportunities
The lackluster fight wasn’t the only problem. Cordoning the Anakin reunion off to only half the episode meant we only got two distinct flashbacks from Ahsoka: One from super early on in her Jedi career and another from after she’d left. That’s a huge chunk of time, time specifically relevant to her relationship with Anakin, that we’re leaving completely untouched. Turning this into a whole episode would be a good excuse to give a thorough run-down on Ahsoka’s backstory but also a chance to do a sort of Ahsoka’s Greatest Hits highlight reel.
There are so many different story beats that would’ve been perfect to touch on here. Both the scenes we have could be perfect bookends as we watch Ahsoka grow through the years. We could see her growing through her changing lightsabers (a good chance to explore her unique dual-wielding to the audience). Or highlight some of her biggest battles by getting into more specifics. No faceless hazy void. Show us Ahsoka fighting Ventress (Nika Futterman), Grievous (Matthew Wood), or Maul (Sam Witwer); all massive villains she was able to hold her own against. Show us her laughing with the clones before we see them dying on Mandalore. Show us her learning to fight beside Anakin instead of trailing after him. Show us her leaving Anakin at the Jedi temple. If we had more time or more detail in these scenes we could truly get a sense of why Ahsoka left in the first place and why it still haunts her so much. There’s so much more to Ahsoka’s origin than this, and it feels like a huge missed opportunity to use these flashbacks as something that dictates her will to live or die instead of as a more thorough look at how she feels about the Jedi and Anakin.
The Bad Pacing in ‘Ahsoka’ Episode 5 Is Emblematic of a Larger Issue
The pacing of this episode also does a disservice to the other half of the plot. Getting the purrgils to work with them is definitely not as exciting as a swordfight with a dead tyrant, but it’s still engaging in its own way. This was a whole episode in Rebels, exploring how the Force works and how different creatures use it. Talking about the Force outside the light side and the dark side like we’re used to would be perfect for Ahsoka because she also exists outside of those binaries. Aside from the expository purposes, it’s just fun to see Ahsoka be a little goofy and plant her ship in a space whale’s mouth with no idea if it’ll work out. She feels fun, smart, and like herself in these scenes in a way she sometimes didn’t in earlier episodes — but this whole half of the episode can’t help but be a letdown in the wake of an all-too-brief Anakin cameo.
This is emblematic of a larger problem with Ahsoka’s pacing. Some episodes seem to drag out scenes too long. Episode 2 in particular seemed to slow things down after what seemed like a bombastic start. Scenes or story beats that feel like they need more time are cut short and others that seem unremarkable are turned into half the runtime of an episode. Here the episode starts off fast-paced and grinds to a halt halfway through. It’s not that either part of the story is bad, but it’s hard not to feel disappointed when going from Darth Vader to goofy space whale shenanigans. Ahsoka and Anakin’s relationship has so many layers to it, not to mention that exploring Ahsoka’s past was bound to be something fans clamored for more of, so to make this reunion only half of an episode long does a disservice to both the characters and the show.
New episodes of Ahsoka premiere Tuesdays on Disney+.