Leave it to Dave Filoni to pull off a Star Wars nostalgia play that has me sobbing on my living room couch after years of nods to other characters that felt more fan-service-y than impactful. With Ahsoka episode four, the unofficial heir to George Lucas’ empire manages to weave together multiple Clone Wars’ story arcs, uncharted territory, and a prequels-era redemption in the series’ strongest episode yet.
I am always hesitant to get too excited about Star Wars, especially after the violent juxtaposition that was The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, but after “Fallen Jedi,” I can’t wait to see what the next episode of Ahsoka brings. Brilliantly, the Fallen Jedi of the episode’s title could refer to several characters central to its plot–is it Baylan Skoll, who Ray Stevenson plays with all the air of a classically trained British stage actor? Is it Ahsoka Tano, former Jedi turned deserter? Is it Sabine Wren, former apprentice turned hermit? Or is it, perhaps, someone else?
Read More: Ahsoka Episode 3 Review: Bizarrely Brief But Promising
Stream it now: Disney+
Let’s get into it.
The episode begins immediately where the last left off: Ahsoka, Sabine, and Huyang are stranded on Seatos, their ship disabled by a blast from Morgan Elsbeth’s ship. They’re trying to hail help (read: Hera) but their comms are shot, too. The scenes on the stranded ship are the weakest of the entire episode, and it’s largely because Ahsoka still has a problem with editing and pacing, with retreading character motivations and repeatedly showing the same hand (how many times are we going to be told that there’s something lingering in the forest around their ship?).
But once we get past that, and re-establish that Ahsoka will do whatever it takes, no matter the personal connection, and Sabine may not be able to do that because of her attachment to Ezra (Ahsoka points out that they may have to destroy the map rather than let it be used by the baddies to get Thrawn, even if it means stranding Ezra forever), the episode jumps directly into more meatier stuff—namely, lightsaber fights.
Baylan has sent his personal pitbull Shin Hati and the ever-illusive Marrok to handle Ahsoka and company along with a few of Morgan’s assassin droids and henchmen. The first wave (henchmen and droids) attack Huyang while he’s working on the ship, giving us a hilarious fight that feels like Star Wars does Rock’Em Sock’Em Robots as two droids punch the shit out of each other, the clangs of metal ringing throughout the blood-red forest. Somehow, Ahsoka and Sabine can’t hear the two fighting outside, so Huyang destroys the wiring he was just working on, killing power to the ship and alerting the two that something is afoot.
Ahsoka and Sabine run out, guns blazing and sabers ignited, and make quick work of the henchmen and droids. It’s a tightly shot, well-paced fight with sound design that snaps and crackles like a warm fire—Sabine deflecting blaster bolts with her Beskar vambraces is especially satisfying. The really good stuff, however, is waiting amongst the trees, and the two women know that. As they set off into the forest, Huyang tells them to stick together, just before they run off.
Elsewhere, Hera has decided to ignore the Republic’s decision to not send aid to Ahsoka and Sabine and heads there anyway with a little squad of her own, which includes Paul Sun-Hyung Lee’s Captain Carson Teva (we’ve seen him in The Mandalorian, remember?). Naturally, she brings her son with her, which at first annoys me, but then swiftly breaks my heart when I realize he’s wearing what appears to be Kanan Jarrus’ pauldron. RIP. Also, I’ll never complain about a vintage-style Star Wars cockpit shot, and we get several here.
But let’s get back to the fun stuff, shall we?
Baylan and Morgan are finishing calculations for the massive hyperspace jump her weird Halo-ring ship is about to go on. Bizarrely, we get yet another scene where Morgan activates the map so that her ship can finish calculating their path, which felt like it could have been left on the cutting room floor—especially since Shin and Marrok are waiting.
In the forest Ahsoka takes Marrok, while Shin and Sabine have a rematch of their battle on Lothal in a beautiful back-and-forth fight split between the four duelers. We’ve been waiting to see who the hell the masked Marrok is, with rumors abounding about their origins. Is it Sam Witwer’s Starkiller from The Force Unleashed games? Is it Bariss Offee from The Clone Wars? Is it someone else entirely? Filoni, for once, doesn’t cater to any of these fan-servicey wishes.
Ahsoka and Marrok clash for a bit, then Marrok decides to get fancy, spinning their double-bladed saber with dizzying effects, but Ahsoka isn’t bothered–she doesn’t even ignite her second saber, but waits patiently for her opponent to strike before cutting them down just like Obi-Wan takes out Darth Maul in Rebels. As Marrok kneels, a glowing saber wound straight through their torso, we finally figure out just what the fuck the deal is: Marrok is made of smoke, a nothingburger, the same ilk as the Inquisitor Ahsoka makes quick work of in Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi. Yes, Marrok is no one, they’re all just smoke and mirrors.
Shin is clearly shocked by Marrok’s defeat, however, and temporarily stops fighting Sabine because of it. Though Sabine has been getting her ass thoroughly kicked by the hot honey badger, she tells Ahsoka to leave her and go after the map (guys, what did Huyang just say?), and we’re set up for yet another lightsaber battle, this time between Ahsoka and Baylan.
As these fights rage on, Morgan’s ship is finishing its calculations for their hyperspace jump, so we get an occasional break from whooshing laser swords in order to catch our breath. But I don’t care if I’m breathless, this episode has got me more excited than a Wookie playing holochess.
Baylan and Ahsoka meet under the glistening starmap, Stevenson playing it cool like an even cuntier Count Dooku, Dawson playing it confident like she just made quick work of one of his henchmen (because she did). Stevenson’s work here is just another harsh reminder of the hole his loss leaves (he died earlier this year), as you can see how badly Baylan wants to avoid fighting Ahsoka, how committed he is to this idea that he can create a new world in the ashes of the old one. He’s reserved but relentless, confident but careful, and it certainly seems that his plans are to convince Thrawn to let him start a different kind of Jedi Order for a newer, darker age.
The two clash in yet another gorgeous, well-choreographed fight that sounds nearly as good as it looks, Baylan fighting strong and upright like a medieval knight, Ahsoka attempting to use her speed to get the better of him. It’s the most evenly matched we’ve seen her yet, and Baylan’s attempts to manipulate her by reminding her that she once learned under Anakin Skywalker, a man known to bring death and destruction, are powerful and somewhat effective. Ahsoka occasionally struggles during this fight, and it’s strange to witness since we’re so used to seeing her competent, confident, and strong—she’s clearly warring with Baylan and herself, with her losses, with her legacy. Before we can further unpack that, however, she grabs the map from its mantle and badly burns her hand in the process. “That was unwise,” Baylan warns.
Episode four’s third act is its strongest, as we get a chance to see a side of Ahsoka we haven’t gotten yet in live-action. During her fight with Baylan, Shin shows up alone, and the realization that she may have lost Sabine plays across Ahsoka’s face. It distracts her, and with her hand burned from the map, she’s backed up against the edge of the cliff by Baylan. A flash of anger at the thought of a dead Sabine gives her enough power to Force-smash Shin against a rock, and then Sabine appears, the map in her hand, her pistol aimed at it.
The episode’s earlier conversation comes back bright and strong, as Ahsoka urges Sabine to destroy the map to ensure Morgan and Baylan can’t get to Thrawn and (presumably) Ezra. Sabine hesitates like we knew she would, and that hesitation gets Ahsoka thrown off the cliff and into the steel gray ocean below it. Shocked, Sabine is left unguarded and open for manipulation, and Baylan’s power makes the best of it. Stevenson shines here yet again, pausing to sense Sabine’s warring emotions to determine that her relationship to Ezra is the key, especially with Ahsoka presumably dead.
“You and I share a common goal, to make this journey,” he says after sheathing his saber and walking slowly towards Sabine with cool, calm, disconcerting confidence. “You, to be reunited with your long lost friend, and I, to serve a greater good. Come with me, willingly, and I give you my word no harm will come to you.” Natasha Liu Bordizzo plays this scene beautifully, as well, her eyes welling with tears, the decision clearly tearing Sabine up inside. In a moment of weakness (something we need to see more of in our Star Wars heroes, IMO), Sabine hands Baylan the map and seals her fate.
Though Shin tries to force choke Sabine (down, dog!), Baylan keeps his word, and escorts her (cuffed) to Morgan’s ship. Hera and her crew arrive at Seatos before the baddies can leave, but Morgan hyperspace jumps straight through them, killing half the rebel pilots in the process. In the aftermath, as she struggles to right the ship, Jacen Syndulla turns to Hera and says, “Mom, I’ve got a bad feeling.” Don’t we all, kid.
But “Fallen Jedi” isn’t done with us yet. Huyang tries to call both Sabine and Ahsoka over their comms, but to no avail. The camera cuts to an overhead view of the cliff Ahsoka fell off of, lazily panning over and across the waves crashing against the coast, bizarre, discordant horns signaling something else is afoot. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the waves turn to something else—glowing, bioluminescent particles, surrounding a prone Ahsoka.
And here is the moment where Rebels fans collectively shit their flight suits: Ahsoka is in the World Between Worlds, a mystical plane that links all of Star Wars’ time and space, though those who haven’t seen Rebels may fear she’s in the afterlife. As she stands, confused to be back in this space (Ezra pulled her into the World Between Worlds during her duel with Darth Vader years ago, effectively saving her from death), she senses something, and we’re reminded of the power of Rosario Dawson as an actor. Several emotions flit across her face: confusion, concern, incredulity, hope. “Master?” she wonders aloud.
“Hello Snips,” a distorted voice says, referencing the nickname a certain someone gave to his Padawan decades ago. Ahsoka turns, still unsure, and comes face-to-face with Anakin Skywalker, played by a slightly de-aged Hayden Christensen. “I didn’t think I’d be seeing you so soon,” he says, and we see Ahsoka’s face change to mirror a younger version of herself. She’s ecstatic, viewers are confused, and fade to black.
As a staunch believer that the Anakin Skywalker Renaissance is upon us, and that Christensen deserves a chance to portray the character with more nuance than he could before, I was (and am) ecstatic. Hell, I sobbed on the couch, repeatedly referencing the “somebody sedate me” scene from Grey’s Anatomy and the one from Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire when Cedric Diggory’s dad keeps going “THAT’S MY SON! THAT’S MY BOY!”
I know that I’m getting high off my own nostalgia supply, as a woman who believes Anakin is the best, yet most fundamentally misrepresented, Star Wars character of all time, and a woman who was once a young girl that was blindly in love with him. I know that this is what the Star Wars franchise does, trotting out older characters unnervingly de-aged or re-mapped onto different people’s faces so that we’ll coo and cry over them. But just this once, I don’t give a fuck. I’m fully plugged in and ready for Anakin and Ahsoka to finally have the conversation they both need to have, and we all need to hear.
Ahsoka’s next episode airs Tuesday, September 12 at 9 p.m. EST on Disney Plus.
Stream it now: Disney+