Ahsoka is Ignoring the Biggest Lesson From the Original Star Wars Trilogy
To make a good Star Wars show, you have to hit the ground running.
From the first frames of The Mandalorian, it was clear that live-action Star Wars television would operate on a different wavelength from the movies. The latter were giant space operas following the fate of an entire galaxy, while the Disney+ shows were decidedly narrower in scope, focusing on the personal journies of a few key characters.
Ahsoka changed that. While the series claimed to be focused purely on Ahsoka Tano, its scale was far grander than anything we’d seen in Disney+. It even had an opening crawl, a feature once considered exclusive to the nine mainline movies. But those movies contained an important lesson that Ahsoka didn’t grasp, and that error affected every single episode.
One of the best parts of A New Hope is how the opening crawl plops the viewers into the middle of a major conflict. “It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire,” it says. Those two short lines could have been an entire movie. In fact, they’d eventually become an entire movie: Rogue One. But A New Hope skips the preamble and trusts the audience will keep up.
Ahsoka, on the other hand, got bogged down in making sure viewers were all on the same page. The series introduced many Rebels characters to live-action, and much of the first three episodes were spent establishing who they were and what their relationship to Ahsoka Tano and the New Republic was. Now, let’s have a look at Ahsoka’s opening crawl:
“Former Jedi Knight AHSOKA TANO captured one of Thrawn's allies and learned of a secret map which is vital to the enemy's plan. Ahsoka now searches for the map as her prisoner, MORGAN ELSBETH, is transported to the New Republic for trial....”
That just sums up what happened in Ahsoka’s episode of The Mandalorian Season 2. The opening crawl could have been used to quickly introduce Ahsoka’s friends and allies, but instead it catches viewers up on the events of a show they probably watched.
Ahskoa needed to trust its audience and hit the ground running with Sabine, Hera, Ahsoka, and Huyang already searching for the Eye of Sion. Sure, Rebels fans may have had more background information on Sabine’s relationship with Ahsoka, and why Ezra Bridger is stranded in another galaxy. But viewers who hadn’t watched Rebels could have picked those clues up through context; Ahsoka’s attempt to catch newbies up just left them watching characters they knew nothing about putter around on ultimately meaningless errands.
Starting in the middle worked for George Lucas, and Dave Filoni should have learned from his mentor. Star Wars fans, even casual ones, can grasp new characters without tedious monologues about why they’re important, like the one Senator Azadi delivers when we’re introduced to Sabine. Ahsoka painted itself into a corner by bringing animated characters to live-action, then overcorrected so hard it lost touch with what made those characters so compelling to begin with.