Ahsoka Episode 7 review: Grandstanding style over substance

Ahsoka and Ezra Bridger in Episode 7Disney+

Ahsoka Episode 7 is enjoyable. There’s fan service aplenty, slick aerial combat and Jedi fighting, and it tees up an exciting finale – but that’s its problem: it’s a long stretch for rather little on its own terms.

Episode 5’s hit of nostalgia may define Ahsoka, but last week’s chapter felt just as essential as it reintroduced a terrifying villain to the galaxies far, far away: Grand Admiral Thrawn, an old threat to some fans, and a new force of cunning nature to others. That, and we also reunited with Ezra Bridger, the young Jedi once lost in the stars.

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The momentum was exhilarating, even for those (including myself) who aren’t au fait with all things Clone Wars and Rebels; there was a palpable sense of danger encroaching on hope. So, with this week’s episode being the penultimate chapter of the show, one would hope that keyed-up energy would ramp up, if not be retained.

Unfortunately, Episode 7 falls victim to the same pitfall as Ahsoka: it loses time it doesn’t have with frivolous, albeit entertaining action just as the series kicked into a higher gear. Spoilers to follow…

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Ahsoka Episode 7 “prepares for the worst”

Hera and C-3PO in Ahsoka Episode 7Disney+

Eons away, Hera is brought before Mon Mothma and the New Republic’s senators after she disobeyed orders to withdraw the fleet from Seatos; specifically, Senator Xiono really has it in for her, slamming her for bending the rules for personal gain. Hera says she ignored his orders – not the council’s – to protect the people, which earns a snigger in the room.

Xiono is also sceptical of the general’s report, dismissing it as a “fairytale” with its claims of Jedi, “false Jedi”, and star whales, and doubts the legitimacy of Thrawn’s return. When Carson Teva references Mandalore – aka, the events of The Mandalorian Season 3 – Xiono is similarly contemptuous of any notion of Imperial Remnants believing there’s no proof of any such “greater conspiracy.”

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Just as he puts forward a vote for Hera to be court-martialled, a familiar face walks in: C-3PO, armed with a transcript from Leia Organa which proves she personally sanctioned Hera’s mission to Seatos – and as she’s the head of the Defense Council, Xiono has little choice but to sit there and shut up.

Court is quickly dismissed, but despite Mon Mothma’s clear support of Hera and Leia, she takes Hera aside and asks her to put her personal feelings aside in her assessment of the likelihood of Thrawn coming back. “We have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” she says.

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The purrgil arrive far, far away

Ahsoka and Anakin's hologram in Episode 7Disney+

Back on Ahsoka’s ship, the purrgil near their destination as she practices her Jedi moves – with the assistance of one of several hologram tapes from her old master, Anakin. “In this war you will face more than just droids.” he says. “As your master, it’s my responsibility to prepare you… you need to be able to make it on your own.”

As Huyang wakes in, the tape ends. Ahsoka tells him about all the recordings he made, and says (more as an assurance to herself): “He was a good master.” The dynamic between Ahsoka and Anakin, even these small, contemplative moments, is affecting – it’d be easy to want more of it, but that’s what The Clone Wars series is there for.

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As they jump out of hyperspace, Ahsoka can only see flashes of fiery light between the whale’s baleen as their ship is rocked by some sort of interference. They fly out of its mouth and discover they’re flying through a miles-long Imperial minefield, blasting and hurting every purrgil in the pod. Don’t worry, there’s no sobering Avatar 2-style whale death here – they all hop away into hyperspace once more, leaving Ahsoka and Huyang stranded but free to manoeuvre through the floating mines.

As Thrawn’s forces emerge from Peridea to chase them through space, Ahsoka leads them into the debris field full of purrgil bones. Some are lost in the graveyard, others collide with the carcasses, while Ahsoka manages to hide out while they figure out what to do next. On the ground, Thrawn is cool as a blue cucumber: after learning about Ahsoka’s past with “general Anakin”, he orders the withdrawal of the fighters. His mind isn’t like other villains; a Sith Lord would be hellbent on destroying their enemy, but Thrawn is a tactical thinker, one who’s keenly aware of how “unpredictable and dangerous” a Jedi like Ahsoka could be. By letting her choose her own path towards Ezra, Sabine, and him, he can be two steps ahead at all times – her destination is inevitable, as is his.

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Baylan parts ways with Shin

Baylan and Shin in Ahsoka Episode 7Disney+

As Sabine travels with Ezra and his family of Noti (the little turtle people), he probes her about what’s happened since he’s been away – including a laugh-out-loud nod to “somehow, Palpatine’s returned” when he asks if the Emperor is dead. “That’s what people say,” she tells him. Up in space, Ahsoka attempts to use the Force to find Sabine. Their connection isn’t as strong as some masters and apprentices, but Sabine hears her voice – or rather, a “familiar feeling.”

Watching from afar are Baylan and Shin, but Baylan delivers an unexpected goodbye. “Contact Thrawn… and take your place in the coming Empire,” he says, and she looks almost hurt that he doesn’t want to help. “Your ambition drives you in one direction, my path lies in another,” he adds. Scenes like this only intensify the hunger for other stories in the Star Wars universe. Baylan is a fascinating character, arguably the strongest of the whole series, but there’s a nagging feeling he’ll be underserved by the end. “One parting lesson,” he says. “Impatience for victory will guarantee defeat.”

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Shin then leads the nomads in a pursuit of Ezra and Sabine, and this sort of weightless, green-screen action feels like such a needless distraction; the show has just got really interesting, and we’re dilly-dallying with set-pieces worth a mere shrug. They end up circled by the bandits, and Sabine catches sight of Shin. “She’s like you but lacks a sense of humor,” she tells Ezra.

Meanwhile, Ahsoka hops out of her ship and faces off with Baylan once more. “Well now, this is a surprise,” he says, but there’s no anger in his voice. “I don’t have time for this,” she says. “That I know,” he responds as he wields his lightsaber, and they go head-to-head in another dazzling battle, one that Baylan loses – but he’s not killed. “You can’t defeat me,” he says. “Perhaps… but I don’t have to,” Ahsoka tells him as Huyang peppers the ground with flares, allowing Ahsoka to escape. As she rides into the distance, Baylan doesn’t look on with any disdain, nor does his pride appear to be bruised – it’s hard to get a grip on exactly what he’s thinking, but it certainly appears as if he’s conflicted by the light he once knew.

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Sabine, Ezra, and Ahsoka are back together

Sabine and Ezra Bridger in Ahsoka Episode 7Disney+

As Ezra and Sabine prepare to fight, she tries to give him his lightsaber back – but he’s not interested. He gave it to her for a reason, and besides, “the Force is his ally” – and boy is it. While Sabine puts her Mandalorian roots to good use with a mixture of traditional weaponry and her lightsaber, Ezra runs around Force-pushing bandits and beating them with his bare hands.

When Shin gets to him, she swings her lightsaber and singes a bit of his hair. “Close,” he quips, before they go toe-to-toe. Shin can’t overpower him, and if she thinks fighting Sabine at the same time is hard, it only gets worse for her when Ahsoka slides in. There’s no other word for it: she gets dogwalked by the surrounding Jedi, but they don’t kill her – Ahsoka offers to help Shin, but when she runs away, she lets her go.

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Ahsoka then hugs Ezra. “Guys, I’m getting a feeling… I think I might be going home after all,” he says, but Ahsoka and Sabine’s brief glance at each other is a deafening “eek” – especially when Thrawn has basically masterminded their whole time on Peridea. Back on his ship, Morgan questions how the loss of several troops and Baylan’s apparent abandonment can be seen as a victory. To him, it’s not about who won the battle – he considers this first match with Ahsoka a win because he’s gained something she can’t afford to lose: time. She’s miles away, and their departure is imminent – will she make it back, or will the Rebels be stranded far, far away?

Ahsoka Episode 7 review score: 3/5

As a penultimate episode, Ahsoka Episode 7 should be in service of building hype for the finale – but there’s simply not enough here on the chapter’s own terms. Fun, but far from a series high.

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Ahsoka Episodes 1-7 are available on Disney+ now, which you can sign up for here. You can check out our other coverage below:

Episode 1 review | Episode 2 review | Episode 3 review | Episode 4 review | Episode 5 review | Episode 6 review | Ahsoka cast and characters | Who plays Grand Admiral Thrawn? | Who is Captain Enoch? | Who is Marrok? | What time does Ahsoka come out? | How many episodes are there? | When does Ahsoka take place in the Star Wars timeline? | How long are the episodes? | Where was Ahsoka during the original Star Wars trilogy? | Darth Sion and the Eye of Sion explained | Who is Jacen Syndulla? | What are purrgil? | The World Between Worlds explained | Why does Anakin call Ahsoka Snips? | Ahsoka budget: How much did it cost? | Dark Jedi vs the Sith | How old is Ahsoka? | The Siege of Mandalore explained | When does Ahsoka die? | Night Troopers explained | Dave Filoni divides Ahsoka fans with Thrawn casting

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