Disney+ just wrapped up the Ahsoka mini-series. Let’s see how it stacks up to what came before it.

The title character, Ahsoka Tano, first appeared in the CG animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars pilot movie. She was introduced as Anakin’s padawan, as an attempt by the Jedi Council to help him grow as a Jedi Knight. Through the seven seasons of The Clone Wars, Ahsoka grew from young padawan to capable young woman, helping to teach younglings before leaving the Jedi Order over a disagreement over methods. Contrasted with Anakin, Ahsoka was able to let go of her connections, something Anakin could not do.

Ahsoka reappeared in Star Wars: Rebels, helping the crew of the Ghost during the Rebellion, taking the fight to Grand Admiral Thrawn on Lothar. Suring the course of Rebels, Ezra Bridger emerged as part of the next generation of Jedi, being trained by Kanan Jarris, who was a padawan when Order 66 was issued. Ezra worked with Sabine Wren, a Mandalorian who had the potential to be a Jedi.

Grand Admiral Thrawn first appeared in Heir to the Empire, the first of The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn. Heir, published in 1991, the first of a large number of Star Wars tie-in novels released by Bantam Spectra. Thrawn reached the rank of Grand Admiral in the Imperial Navy through his approach to warfare – study the opponent, not just military structure but the culture as well, especially the arts. His approach to waging war made Thrawn effective to the point an entire cell of Rebels were tasked to counter him.

Speaking of Rebels, Hera Syndulla was the leader of the cell, the Spectres, that took on the task of stopping Thrawn when he arrived on Lothar. The Spectres were effective in stymying early Imperial plans on Lothar, leading to Thrawn being assigned to deal with the nascent Rebellion there. The Spectres fled the planet to avoid the worst of the possible punishments being inflicted on the populace, working with Phoenix Squadron in other theatres of the Galactic Civil War. They returned specifically to deal with Thrawn and liberate Lothar.

Circling back to the Clone Wars, Hera’s droid, C1-10P, aka Chopper, served during the early battles against the Separatists. Chopper served as part of a Y-Wing squadron in the droid socket of one of the bombers. The droid’s Y-Wing was shot down during the Battle of Rylot, leaving Chopper with PTSD even after Hera took him in after the battle. Chopper is a veteran of two wars, much like R2-D2, but with a much saltier vocabulary.

Two sources for Ahsoka are animated. The Clone Wars started with stiff animation that improved greatly over the first season and then the full run of the series. Rebels and The Bad Batch both benefitted from the work in The Clone Wars even as they built on top of what happened in the older series. Ahsoka, however, is a live action production. How well can it make the jump in visual mediums?

Casting is the first key to look at. The cast of Ahsoka includes Rosario Dawson as the title character, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Hera, Natasha Liu Bordizzo as Sabine, and Dave Filoni as the uncredited voice of Chopper. Thanks to the makeup crew working on the series, Dawson and Winstead look like their animated counterparts. Dawson’s Ahsoka is the culmination of years of training under Anakin Skywalker, leaving the Jedi Council near the end of the Clone Wars, and fighting in the Galactic Civil War. Dawson portrays the calm of a Jedi Master, much like Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, but in a manner in line with the Ahsoka audiences saw through multiple series.

Winstead’s Hera is the same. She matches Hera’s appearance in Rebels, but, again, with some added. Hera is now a general in the New Republic Defense Force, and needs to balance her need to take care of a problem with the politics of the fledgeling New Republic and its council. She still has Chopper, and Chopper still has his salty vocabulary and lack of regard for living beings.

Chopper is a physical entity in Ahsoka, much like Artoo was in the core movies and BB-8 in the the sequel trilogy. the CG animation in Rebels came close to realism when it came to droids, starships, and characters like stormtroopers with full body armour. The live acton Chopper is indistinguishable from his CG animated version. Having Filoni back as the voice of Chopper seals the deal.

Sabine starts the series with longer hair, but when she’s drawn back in to deal with the threat, she cuts her hair and gets out her Mandalorian armour. Bordizzo is ideal casting for Sabine, being an older version of the animated character. The costume designers matched the armour from Rebels, including the colourful touches Sabine added. A major decision Sabine makes in the live action series reflects events that happened in Rebels.

Joining the cast are David Tennant, Ray Stevenson, and Lars Mikkelsen. Tennant reprises his role of Huyang from The Clone Wars, an ancient Jedi teaching droid who has seen every Jedi that has appeared on screen, possibly including Yoda. Huyang first appeared in the fifth season of The Clone Wars, helping Ahsoka with some Jedi younglings against the charismatic pirate, Hondo Ohnaka. Huyung, like Chopper, has a physical body in Ahsoka, and with Tennant back as the voice, is still the kind but firm teacher.

Stevenson takes on the role of Baylan Skoll, a fallen Jedi. As a Jedi Knight, he served as a General during the Clone Wars and survived Order 66 only to see the Jedi Temple burn down. By the start of Ahsoka, he has picked up an apprentice, the near-feral Shin Hati, played by Ivanna Sakhno. In searching for his own vision, he and Shin are hired by the head of a Corellian ship yard, Morgan Elspeth (Diana Lee Inosanto), who still has Imperial loyalties.

Mikkelsen plays Grand Admiral Thrawn, the centre of the mini-series’ plot. The goal Morgan has is to retrieve Thrawn from wherever he went at the end of Rebels. Thrawn, again, is an older version of what was seen in The Thrawn Trilogy and Rebels. He’s older and wiser, having learned from his loss on Lothar.

As can be seen above, creator Dave Filoni is pulling in threads from multiple sources. Ahsoka herself is his creation from the pilot Clone Wars movie. The Clone Wars shows the progression of the battle between the Republic and the Separatists, the rise of Palpatine, and the fall of the Jedi, as well as setting up Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side. Ahsoka goes through character development; the Ahsoka at the end of the series is not the young padawan nicknamed “Snips” for her sharp tongue of her first appearance. She stands in sharp contrast to Anakin in her ability to walk away from the Jedi Council and her duties when she believes that her duties conflict with the Jedi Code.

Filoni also pulls from the older Expanded Universe tie-in novels, adding in the problems the New Republic had with dealing with the Imperial Remnant, the systems where various would-be replacements for the Empire fled. Warlords tried to cement a base of operations while staving off New Republic attempts to end their occupations. The switch from a military high command to an elected senate is a growing pain for the young New Republic, one that frustrates Hera in Ahsoka.

Ahsoka brings a close to the title character’s story arc. She may or may not appear in future series, but her own arc is complete. As such, the series is a success. Ahsoka at the end is a mature, capable woman and a wise Jedi. The Force is with her, and she is at peace with that.

However, the ending of the series leaves a lot of dangling plot lines. There will have to be one or more follow-up series to fully wrap up the events of Ahsoka, though Ahsoka may not appear in them. The ending may leave some in the audience cold, but that wasn’t the point of the last episode or of the series. Ahsoka’s story is complete. The stories of everyone else is still ongoing.

Overall, Ahsoka is well worth the watch. The potential for continuity lockout is avoided, through early episodes taking the time to introduce the characters and Disney+ having available the entire run of Rebels and key episodes featuring Ahsoka to help bring audiences up to speed. Ahsoka brings together a strong cast to take several animated series and turn it into a story of its own.

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