Ahsoka Episode 2 review: It shouldn’t work, but it does
Ahsoka Episode 2 defies itself; this should be an indulgent, tedious endeavor, but there’s a genuine reverence here that makes Star Wars worth taking seriously again.
Andor felt like such a breath of fresh air because it ignored the established Disney Plus formula; the nostalgia kept to a bare minimum, and the priority was clear: making a series that felt like something more than how its IP is imagined among fans.
On paper, after the borderline-disastrous third season of The Mandalorian, Ahsoka is a giant red flag; a continuation of the Clone Wars and Rebels stories once scrubbed from the canon, only to be reinstated by Dave Filoni, Lucasfilm’s own Jedi Master. Unless you’ve been an avid Star Wars viewer since 2008, and perhaps even a reader, there’s a vast amount of backstory that’ll feel like cheat codes you can’t use if you’re not clued up on your lore.
Somehow, Filoni and co. have managed to overcome such an obstacle; yes, it’s probably better for the longtime, devout watchers of Star Wars media – but the focus here is investment now, not retroactively, and the suspense around the inevitable arrival of the next big bad is surprisingly affecting.
Ahsoka Episode 2: Sabine lives
When we last saw Sabine (aka a few minutes ago if you’ve binged the opening episodes), she’d collapsed to the ground with two lightsaber-shaped holes on her body. This would have meant certain death for almost anyone else, but Ahsoka and Huyang managed to get her to safety and patch her up.
Ahsoka comes to see her in hospital, and Sabine confesses to unlocking the orb’s secrets right before the droids stole it, and she never took any record of the pathway it revealed. At that moment, Baylan and Shin could be en route to the other galaxy or sending a signal to Thrawn, so Ahsoka makes a swift exit to track it down. “You need my help,” Sabine says, but Ahsoka coldly responds: “You’ve done enough.”
Meanwhile, Baylan and Shin arrive on a distant planet, and among a cluster of ruins is a spot designed for the orb. They put a call out for Morgan and await her arrival.
In this scene, I was struck by just how convincingly the threat of Thrawn’s return is conveyed; there’s a sense of something deeper and far scarier than the cackle of Palatine’s croaked laughter and lightning fingertips. There’s also an appreciation of the mythos that doesn’t feel unearned; for the first time in years, I’m invested in the magic of Star Wars again. Perhaps it’s the potency of the grey; Baylan isn’t a traditional Sith by any means, and Shin isn’t a teeth-gnashing adversary – these are measured villains under the spell of darkness.
Ahsoka and Sabine tiptoe into a partnership
While Sabine rests up, Ahsoka visits her house to see if she can salvage anything from the ambush, and as she expects, she’s attacked by a droid patiently awaiting on Sabine’s return. Ahsoka makes light work of it, slicing off its head and bringing it back to the hospital for Sabine to tinker with. In simple terms, the droids are built with so many fail safes that she should be able to recover the contents of its memory core – if she manages not to blow the whole place up. “I say go for it,” Hera says, and Huyang walks away with the funniest line of the series so far: “Because you’re a hologram.”
Of course, Sabine doesn’t turn the building to rubble, managing to reveal a curious location: Corellia, home to vast New Republic shipyards, one of which was once commanded by Morgan before the Empire’s defeat. Ahsoka heads that way with nary a thanks or goodbye, leaving Sabine feeling not-so-secretly hurt, but Hera offers her some comfort. Later, after Huyang removes her bandage (leaving a gnarly scar), he praises her for altering Ezra’s lightsaber and making it her own, but she’s clearly self-conscious about never finishing her training. As Huyang observes, it’s not all Ahsoka’s fault for leaving her behind – she has to want to be taught, and blaming Ahsoka is just a convenient excuse. Also, there’s the issue of her not having “the talent, the abilities”, as Huyang brutally, hilariously agrees: “I’ve known many Padawans, and I can safely say your aptitude for the force falls short of them all.”
As Ahsoka and Hera travel into Corellia, Hera confronts her about her attitude towards Sabine, but Ashoka’s bitterness isn’t anything to do with her losing the orb: she’d happily train her if she was ready, and that’s not a decision she can make right now.
The path to Thrawn
Morgan arrives at the ruins, and Baylan asks who built them. “An ancient people from a distant galaxy,” she says, and asks: “Would you like to see it?” Suddenly, they’re encased in a sphere of the cosmos, with a long, bright line shooting out of their galaxy to their destination, where “Thrawn is banished” (there’s even purrgil symbols, so Ezra’s sacrifice in Rebels is definitely canon).
Baylan still isn’t convinced. “You speak of dreams; vague and fractured hopes,” he tells her, speaking from a place of force-guided observation rather than scepticism. He thinks the path is clouded, but Morgan believes Thrawn is calling out to her. Morrok, an Inquisitor-turned-mercenary that definitely isn’t Starkiller, is enlisted to go to Corellia and find Ahsoka.
Shin asks Baylan what will happen if and when Thrawn returns. “For some, war. For others, a new beginning,” he says, and when asked what it means for them, he replies: “Power such as you’ve never dreamed.”
Ahsoka and Hera sniff out corruption
On Corellia, Ahsoka and Hera force a snivelling, sleazy shipyard boss to let them inspect Morgan’s former site and see how her ex-staff have adapted to the New Republic. Hera wonders whether Imperial workers could ever be truly loyal to the good guys, but as he points out: “The average worker doesn’t care about the nuances of galaxy politics… they have loyalty as long as they get paid.” Hmm, one suspects he may be telling on himself a bit here.
As they stare out at the ships leaving the yard, Hera spots an old Empire hyperdrive that’s supposedly being repurposed for a New Republic starship – except any and all details of it are classified, and he refuses to open the file despite having valid authorisation from Hera. While one of his droids tries to get into the file, Hera asks if they have any HK-1s (“assassin droids”, as he calls them) onsite. He scoffs at the notion, but his droid quickly grasses them in: apparently, several came in with high-level security clearance recently, so no report was ever filed on their bizarre arrival – and they’re leaving on a ship as they’re speaking.
Suddenly, a nearby staff member shouts, “For the Empire” and tries to kill Ahsoka and Hera – what a silly man, and how we all laughed at their arrogance. Everyone in the room is swiftly and clinically put down, and the duo set off to fight their own battles: Hera hops in her ship, and with the help of Chopper, they chase after the spacecraft; and Ahsoka has her first duel with Marrok, who reveals himself to be a force-wielder as well as having a spinny Inquisitor lightsaber. Their fight is enthralling but way too short – they’re definitely setting up an incredible face-off later in the season, inevitably the one where we’ll learn who he is – and before we know it, he shoots off into the distance with Shin.
Could he be Ezra, having been seduced by the dark side via Thrawn and now doing his dirty deeds ahead of his return? Time will tell.
Hera manages to stick a tracking device on the ship before it jumps into hyperspace, and back on the ground, she ponders how anyone could still be loyal to the Empire after everything it’s done. “It’s not loyalty,” Ahsoka says. “It’s greed.” It’s not the most inspired writing in the franchise, but it’s not offensive – kindergarten politics, you could say.
Ahsoka has a Padawan again
Back on Lothal, Sabine makes a big decision: she digs out her Mandalorian helmet, cuts her hair, and after looking at Ezra’s mural, she tells Ahsoka she’s “ready” to begin her training once more. They set off to follow the ship from Corellia, and as they jump into hyperspace, Ahsoka says: “Take us out, Padawan.”
Morgan, Baylan, and Shin stay aboard a ship orbiting in the Denab system, ready to plot their next move – but Morgan is concerned about Ahsoka tracking them down. She asks Baylan what he sees, and he says: “Her presence in the force is elusive… but her determination is vivid.” With a wry smile, he says killing her will be a “shame… there’s so few Jedi left”, but that’s their new priority: eliminating Ahsoka before she thwarts Thrawn’s comeback.
Ahsoka Episode 2 review score: 3/5
A breezy, action-packed second episode seals the deal for Ahsoka; it may not be reaching the heights of Andor, but this is honest, classic Star Wars that we already can’t wait to tune in again for.