Ahsoka Episode 5 review: Spectacular Star Wars

Cameron Frew
A still from Ahsoka Episode 5Disney+

Ahsoka Episode 5 is a hyperspeed jump into the highest echelon of Star Wars television; wondrous, emotional, and spine-tinglingly envisioned.

There are two main camps of Ahsoka viewers: devotees of The Clone Wars and Rebels shows, and those who let the animated tales pass them by. I fall into a secret third camp: somebody who once loved Star Wars, but slowly fell away from fervent obsession, and also someone who’s required to write about it on a weekly basis – so, homework was required.

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Still, the fear going into the series was that it’d be a circle-jerk of Dave Filoni’s characters and arcs, and that lack of familiarity would translate to confusion and tiresome plotting, rather than intrigue. For the most part, it’s managed to overcome those concerns, but it’s felt somehow suppressed; with all the teasing, it’s hard not to ponder: why should we care about all of this?

Episode 5 is like a flick of a switch, immersing viewers in an emotionally riveting, awe-inspiring moment of Ahsoka’s story; if I was blind, now I see.

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Spoilers to follow…

Forget Thrawn and Ezra for now. For the first half, Episode 5 revolves around the search for Ahsoka, lost somewhere under the crimson leaves of Seatos and the planet’s crashing waves. Dave Filoni is behind the camera for this chapter, ‘Shadow Warrior’, and his vice-grip control on every scene is evident; shots drift not aimlessly, but with anxiety, and there’s potent foreboding in the eery rattling of thunder in the clouds.

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Hera lands on the planet with Jacen, but it looks like they “missed the party.” She soon finds the orb with the map to Thrawn’s galaxy, but it’s been split in half beyond repair. She hears a crack behind one of the rock structures, but it’s nothing nefarious: it’s Huyang, somberly holding Sabine’s Mandalorian helmet. “I told them to stay together… but they never listen,” he says.

A still from Ahsoka Episode 5Disney+

Kevin Kiner’s score is similarly suspenseful, with an enchanting mix of bassy woodwinds and sense-soothing sounds of the shakuhachi; overall, this is the composer’s best episode yet by a distance.

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Suddenly, we’re in the depths of the World Between Worlds, with Ahsoka face-to-face with Anakin Skywalker. “You look the same,” she says. “You look old,” he replies. Both actors have playful chemistry – Hayden Christensen isn’t the best actor in the world, but he’s charming.

“You lost a fight,” he tells her, but she struggles to remember what happened. Baylan Skoll’s name comes back into her head, which means she still “has a chance” – so, Anakin gets down to business. “I’m here to finish your training,” he reveals, but Ahsoka thinks that time has passed. “One is never too old to learn, Snips,” he tells her, and just like she’s his Padawan again, she agrees – but what’s the lesson? “Live or die,” he says, as he wields his blue lightsaber. At first, she refuses to fight him. “I’ve heard that before,” he says, before launching into a full-on duel.

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Ahsoka returns to the Clone Wars

Back in Seatos, Carson Teva warns Hera that there could be consequences for them staying out there for so long without any answers. Meanwhile, Jacen senses something in the water; not necessarily Ahsoka, but he hears the clashing of lightsabers in the waves – and soon, Hera hears it too, so she orders her X-wing fleet to fly across the water to see what they can find. Carson is baffled at first, but Huyang explains his heritage: his father, Kanan Jarrus, was a Jedi, so he has abilities too.

We cut back to Ahsoka and Anakin’s fight, and for a moment, it appears she’s got the best of him. “Looks like you don’t have much else to offer,” she quips, but he slices his lightsaber through the platform beneath their feet, dropping her into an indefinite free fall. “I haven’t taught you everything yet,” he says.

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She descends into a purple cloud and awakes in the past; for a series that’s often felt visually bland, this is a thick, commanding palette that nods to the engulfing mists of Macbeth and Blade Runner 2049. Instead of Rosario Dawson, it’s Ariana Greenblatt playing a young Ahsoka calling out to her master; he runs past her in his Clone Wars armor and leads troopers to the frontline. “Why are we here? I don’t understand,” she says. “That’s your problem,” he replies, before they both sprint ahead with their lightsabers in hand, deflecting blasters as others are thrown into the air by explosions; it was obviously filmed on a studio lot, but the limited practical effects work a treat.

Ariana Greenblatt as Ahsoka in Episode 5Disney+

In the wake of the battle, Ahsoka wanders through the makeshift infirmary as dead troopers are carried away. She sits next to one and rests her hand on their chest, and they hold her hand in return. Anakin sees her and walks over. “Is there a problem?” he asks. “We lost so many… it was my fault, they were following my orders. I got them killed,” she says. “There’s always a price to be paid… this is war, Ahsoka. As Jedi, it’s our job to lead, that doesn’t mean we don’t make mistakes,” he says.

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She tells him it isn’t what she trained for, but Anakin says she needs to change with the times; she’s not a keeper of the peace or a soldier – she’s anything she needs to be whenever it’s required. “What if I want to stop fighting?” she asks. “Then you’ll die,” he tells her, before leading the rest of the troops into another fight. As he walks away, Ahsoka looks on in fear – his figure turns into a silhouette, but like a crack of lightning, he transforms into Darth Vader.

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It is a head-rocking moment and perfectly calculated; we all like seeing Vader, but toying with Ahsoka’s loyal, frightened-in-hindsight memory of her master is incredibly affecting. Also, let’s give it up for Greenblatt; Dawson’s older, wiser, more taciturn Ahsoka is fine, but this is the version of the character that made her a fan favorite, and the young star wipes the floor with everyone else in the episode.

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Ahsoka leads the Siege of Mandalore

We briefly cut back to Seatos – let it be said that these are the weakest scenes of the episode, and the continual interruptions to the rhythm of Ahsoka and Anakin’s mini-arc are rather frustrating – where Carson is nervous about the fleet running out of fuel. Hera orders him to keep searching, but she confides in Huyang that he’s right and they might be chasing ghosts.

“You do things your way because you care, that’s why people like you,” the droid tells her, which makes her smile. She then asks Huyang what Anakin was like, and he responds with one word: “Intense.”

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Then we see a major Star Wars event in live-action for the first time: the Siege of Mandalore, with Ahsoka tearing through super commandos with her dual lightsabers (again, Greenblatt is terrific here). “Nice work, commander. We’ll secure the perimeter,” a nearby clone trooper says – it’s Captain Rex, voiced by Temuera Morrison.

Anakin and Ahsoka in Episode 5Disney+

As she stands alone in the fiery carnage, Anakin approaches from behind. “I don’t know this battle,” she says, explaining that they had parted ways by this point. “You’re a warrior now, as I trained you to be… within you will be everything I am, all the knowledge I possess, just as I inherited knowledge from my master, and he from his. You’re part of a legacy,” he tells her.

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Ahsoka feels guilt over her role in death and war across the galaxy, but Anakin says she’s more than that, just as he is. “You are more, Anakin, but more powerful and dangerous than anyone realized,” she says. It quickly becomes clear that Anakin is aware of his destiny – and he doesn’t like being reminded of it. “I gave you a choice… live or die,” he says, as he wields his red lightsaber. “No,” Ahsoka responds. “Incorrect,” he replies, before the pair duke it out once more.

Anakin kicks her back into the World Between Worlds, where she returns to her grown-up form. As he marches through the cloud, we hear that iconic breath as the lightning of his fate crackles again, flickering between Anakin and Vader. “You lack conviction… time to die,” he says (with some subtle, giddy sound design on his voice), but Ahsoka manages to grab his lightsaber. “I choose to live,” she tells him, and the red pigment fades from his eyes. “There’s hope for you yet,” he says, but he then disappears as Ahsoka’s surroundings turn into water.

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Ahsoka is rescued – and she hatches a plan

Jacen was right after all: Ahsoka is found floating in the sea, somehow alive after god knows how long. She wakes up on her ship, dazed and confused about her experience. Huyang greets her and brings her the broken orb, and asks if she remembers what happened to Sabine.

She heads outside, dressed in her white robe – this is the show’s version of Ahsoka the White, presumably, a bit like Gandalf – and hugs Jacen. “I owe you my thanks,” she tells him, but when Jacen asks who she was fighting, Hera gets Huyang to take him to the Jedi training room. Ahsoka then taps into the Force to see the “impression” Sabine left on the orb, learning that she left the galaxy with Baylan, Shin, and Morgan.

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Ahsoka and the purrgil in Episode 5Disney+

At first, she seems hopeless – but the purrgil in the clouds give Ahsoka an idea. While Mon Mothma sends the New Republic fleet to bring Ahsoka and Hera home, they approach the pod of purrgil in the sky – much like Avatar 2’s whales, they are scene-stealers, reminiscent of the quiet wonder of Journey. Ahsoka stands on the wing of her ship and silently communicates with the biggest whale, and it opens its mouth for them to go inside. “It could go anywhere,” Huyang warns. “I know, but it’s better than going nowhere,” Ahsoka says.

As they fly into outer space, Hera and Jacen look on from behind the pod. Ahsoka promises to find Ezra and Sabine, and Hera tells her in a moment of pure magic: “May the force be with you.” And off they jump, into the Unknown Regions.

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Ahsoka Episode 5 review score: 4/5

Ahsoka Episode 5 is a series-defining chapter; it’s the most visually, emotionally, and thematically affecting episode of the show.

Ahsoka Episodes 1-5 are available on Disney+ now, which you can sign up for here. You can check out our other coverage below:

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About The Author

Cameron is Deputy TV and Movies Editor at Dexerto. He's an action movie aficionado, '80s obsessive, Oscars enthusiast, and a staunch Scot. He earned a First-Class Honours Degree in Multimedia Journalism from Glasgow Caledonian University, accredited by the NCTJ and BJTC. He began his career at UNILAD, starting as a Junior Journalist and becoming Entertainment Editor prior to joining Dexerto. You can contact him at cameron.frew@dexerto.com.