Sunday 27 August 2023


Ahsoka, the hotly-anticipated Star Wars live-action spin-off series from Dave Filoni, arrives on Disney+. The third season of The Mandalorian didn't generate as much buzz as previous seasons in the wake of Andor's success.

Can Ahsoka reignite the spark of rebellion?

Nick Smith, our US-based stellar scribe, assembles a band of rebels to crew the Ghost and goes in search of Grand Admiral Thrawn, Heir to the Empire.

Guest post by Nick Smith

Disney does it all the time – taking a much-loved animated classic and adapting it with a live-action twist. It’s a money-spinning exercise that guarantees gold, as demonstrated by The Little Mermaid with worldwide box office takings of half a billion dollars and climbing.

In the Star Wars galaxy of streaming shows on Disney+, the same waters have been tested; Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) and Cad Bane (Dorian Kingi) have made a particular splash, originally appearing in the CGI series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and popping back up in The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett respectively.

Big bad Boba Fett was first introduced in hand-drawn animated form in The Star Wars Holiday Special (he didn’t get a musical number) and recurred in myriad movies and shows, so there’s a long-held precedent of mixing Star Wars media.

The reception of The Clone Wars character appearances, in particular, has been favourable enough to warrant the latest show set in Lucasland. Ahsoka takes everything learned from previous series like Andor and The Book of Boba Fett and cooks it down to a beautiful brew of careful pacing, action set pieces, scowling bad guys and an undoubted passion for, and dedication to, the Star Wars legacy created by George Lucas.

Ahsoka is a direct sequel to another animated show, Star Wars Rebels, following the lives of its cartoon crew. Star Wars Rebels does not have the following as The Little Mermaid’s movie mob but it is just as memorable, a fan-favourite that received respectful ratings on the Disney Channel. The first season was aimed at kids, with plenty of slapstick humour and bright, big-scale adventure. The show got darker, however, with fatal consequences for some of the peppy young characters.

In Ahsoka, we find a wearier, battle-scarred band of peacemongers in a story set after Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. These heroes aren’t in Toon Town anymore; they’re in a real world where a fight wound can put them in hospital; and the bad guys are magically malicious.

In the first episode, the main player Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) is selfish, running away when a huge crowd waits for her to speak. Shades of li’l Leia Organa avoiding her duties in the first episode of the Obi-Wan Kenobi special event series.

As the titular character Ahsoka Tano, Rosario Dawson sleepwalks through her role at first, a calm, collected Jedi master that’s very different from the excitable Snips we met in The Clone Wars movie. Liam Neeson and Alec Guinness incorporated charm and intrigue into their Jedi stoicism; let us hope that Dawson does the same. General Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is similarly low-key, older and more sedate than the confident pilot we met in Star Wars Rebels.

These measured performances suit the first episode’s tempo, which is Andor-slow. Considering that Andor’s slow burn gave it time to develop emotionally complex, well-crafted situations, that’s not a bad thing. There’s also time for a welcome pop-up appearance from Clancy Brown (Burg in The Mandalorian) as Governor Ryder Azadi and Doctor Who’s David Tennant lends his distinctive voice to Huyang, a Clone Wars droid who is an amusing foil for the determined Sabine.

Episode two picks up the pace and delivers character twists, intense conflict, sky combat reminiscent of World War II footage and thankfully, energetic, nuanced performances from Dawson and Winstead.

Chopper, the cheeky little droid from Star Wars Rebels, is a joy to watch after a blink-and-you’ll-certainly-miss-it cameo in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. There are other nods to Star Wars Rebels, including a recreation of a scene where Sabine joins Ahsoka on a quest, although the depiction isn’t exactly the same – the suggestion seems to be that the animated show was a fireside retelling of what really happened in the lead-up to Star Wars: A New Hope.

A knowledge of previous shows is not a requirement for enjoying Ahsoka, but it will definitely help to flesh out the new series’ backstory. If you haven’t watched Star Wars Rebels it comes highly recommended, capturing the derring-do, loveable characters and space-age spiritual elements of the original Star Wars trilogy.

Since Star Wars Rebels’ visual style was inspired by Ralph McQuarrie’s ‘70s concept art, Ahsoka’s continuation of the characters and storyline makes for an epic arc, and a rewarding journey for longtime fans.

New episodes of Ahsoka drop every Tuesday exclusively on Disney+.

Have you seen the two-part premiere of Ahsoka on Disney+? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Nick Smith's new audiobook, Undead on Arrival, is available from Amazon (affiliate link).


  1. Happy to see that the fan-base is all fanned up. I guess I am getting too old for this stuff. I found it hard to stay engaged, it just seemed like a collection of pretty, clippable moments, maximized to deliver the most fan-service in the alloted time, a string of in-game footage sequences, visually appealing but emotionally hollow, a grab basket of easter eye candy. I am likely to skip the rest of the season.

    1. It's the least accessible series for fans who haven't watched Star Wars Rebels or The Clone Wars!


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