The first five episodes of Ahsoka are overflowing with memorable images, surprising callbacks, Easter eggs, and plot twists that could change the entire landscape of the Star Wars universe. As a deep dive into the franchise’s galactic lore, the series is everything hardcore Star Wars fans have wanted. As an actual study of Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) and her rebel friends, however, it’s been far less successful.
Nowhere is that clearer than in Ahsoka Episode 5, which is structured as a journey into the past. The episode, “Shadow Warrior,” spends half its runtime following Ahsoka as she verbally and physically spars with her former master, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), in the World Between Worlds and their shared memories from the Clone Wars. Along the way, Anakin challenges Ahsoka to two duels and tells her that he intends to finally, at long last, finish her training.
These scenes, while exciting in a nostalgic way, don’t lead anywhere, and they seem more focused on Anakin than his former Padawan. That raises a question: what does Ahsoka have to say about Ahsoka?
During the flashbacks in “Shadow Warrior,” Ahsoka’s younger self (played by Ariana Greenblatt) repeatedly voices her concerns about the Jedi Order’s involvement in the Clone Wars, but Anakin brushes aside her objections. When Ahsoka calls him out on his transformation into Darth Vader, he tells her she’s missing the point of their lesson, goes full red-eyed Dark Side, and duels her until she successfully disarms him.
Looking her master in the eyes, Ahsoka tells him that she chooses to live. Anakin, in response, notes there may still be hope for her after all. It’s a confounding final note that fails to cohesively bind the Clone Wars flashbacks and present-day scenes throughout “Shadow Warrior” together. Ultimately, the episode’s Anakin sequences offer no real lesson for Ahsoka to take with her when she returns to the living world.
They also don’t conclude Ahsoka’s relationship with Anakin in any satisfying way. In fact, they say more about Anakin than Ahsoka, which is why it feels like Ahsoka itself doesn’t know what to do with its main character. The series has made numerous vague statements about how Ahsoka needs to fight more and trust Sabine (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) more, but none of these moments have landed with much weight; she already fights a lot and trusts her apprentice more than she should.
Before “Shadow Warrior” premiered, Ahsoka already felt side-lined on her own show. Now that we’ve seen Episode 5, however, it’s beginning to feel less like the series’ creator, Dave Filoni, isn’t interested in the fan-favorite former Jedi and more like he just doesn’t know what to do with her. Ahsoka has felt stagnant ever since she showed up in The Mandalorian Season 2.
Perhaps Filoni just doesn’t have as much time as he needs to both continue Ahsoka’s inner journey and further develop the Grand Admiral Thrawn-led story that he’s been setting up since Rebels Season 3. One could argue, however, that Ahsoka’s current stagnation is because her story has already reached its conclusion. That would explain why the character’s recent scenes with both Sabine and Anakin have been lackluster. Maybe it’s simply time for Filoni and Star Wars to move on from Ahsoka.
While fans might not be happy with that conclusion, it’s worth noting that the character has already lived far longer than George Lucas ever intended. By Filoni’s admission, Lucas thought Ahsoka should have met her demise before the events of the Original Trilogy. Now, Ahsoka may be showing why he was right.
New episodes of Ahsoka premiere Tuesday nights on Disney+.