In the opening crawl (in red, which is a nice touch), we learn Ahsoka is in search of a map that could lead her to Grand Admiral Thrawn and Ezra Bridger, wherever they are after their disappearance at the end of Rebels. Rosario Dawson’s performance is decidedly stoic and measured, which checks out considering this character’s journey throughout the years. Her clash with the HK-87 droids is a nice introduction to the brand of action we’ll be in for as the show rolls on. The lightsaber combat is fast and frenetic but filmed deliberately so that all of the movements are easy to follow, a subtlety that can make or break a scene. And Ahsoka’s explosive escape is a joy, due in part to her banter with Huyang.
It’s a clever move to insert Huyang into the story here. The master lightsaber builder’s appearances in The Clone Wars gifted him with one of the most unique backstories of any character in Star Wars, let alone any droid, and it’s cool to see that his wisdom and expertise with Jedi weapons will be a big part of this show. Beyond all of that, it’s just a no-brainer to include a droid companion voiced by the phenomenal David Tennant. It’s all just charming as hell.
Seeing a liberated Lothal in “live action” is a special moment, but seeing Clancy Brown reprise his role as Ryder Azadi is even sweeter. Sabine (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) ditching the ceremony in Lothal and dipping and dodging on her speeder bike as she holds up a proverbial middle finger to authority is yet another near-perfectly done character (re)introduction that feels right in line with the tone of Rebels. At this point it becomes clear that the show knows what it wants to be and understands what fans want from these beloved characters.
The strongest aspect of the show so far is the friction between Ahsoka and Sabine. The tension Dawson and Liu Bordizzo create is palpable and helps greatly in tying the drama of this show into the dynamics established in Rebels. Ahsoka walking away from training Sabine clearly hurt her deeply, and seeing them get back to a place where they can move forward with the mentorship by the end of the two-episode arc tugs at the heartstrings a bit.
But before their reconciliation, there was the first, but almost certainly not last, lightsaber duel between Sabine and Shin. Simply put, this showdown was sick as hell. The choreography, the lighting, the facial expressions, the intercutting with Ahsoka rushing to save her former Padawan…this scene wasn’t meant to just “look cool.” There’s a real sense of peril here, and Sabine getting a lightsaber through the gut sets up the rest of the story nicely. Again, Shin and Baylan come out of these two episodes looking like bonafide killers.
Ahsoka and Hera Syndulla’s (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) visit to the Corellia shipyard feels a bit routine at first, sort of like one of the less interesting episodes of The Mandalorian. It’s nice to spend time with Ahsoka and Hera but the whole interaction with Peter Jacobson’s shipyard officer plays out in the most predictable way possible. You see the deception coming straight away, and there’s no element of surprise when the shit hits the fan.