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‘Ahsoka’ Makes Star Wars Feel Small

The Big Picture

  • The recent Star Wars shows, including Ahsoka, are receiving mixed reactions, with some fans tired of deep-cut callbacks and references that require prior knowledge.
  • Dave Filoni’s involvement in Ahsoka is highly anticipated, as he is passionately committed to the Star Wars universe and has been given creative control.
  • The revelation of another galaxy in Ahsoka limits the creative possibilities of the Star Wars universe and feels unoriginal, leading to a lack of excitement for future developments.


What are we doing, Ahsoka? Over the last couple of years, the Star Wars universe and its reputation have taken some interesting turns. While Andor and the first two seasons of The Mandalorian have been acclaimed by both critics and fans alike as some of the best entries in the entire franchise, other shows like The Book of Boba Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi, the third season of The Mandalorian, and Ahsoka have been met with very mixed reactions. Some think that they are carving out new paths for Star Wars, while others are tired of their deep-cut callbacks and references to odd corners of the canon that require newcomers to do a bit of homework if they want the whole scoop. Speaking on the side of folks who haven’t watched all of Clone Wars or Rebels and aren’t worshiping the ground that Dave Filoni walks on, the direction that these recent shows, and Ahsoka in particular, is concerning. Star Wars isn’t infinite anymore, it’s a box of action figures.

Star Wars is a franchise that has continually reinvented itself over the years. Even all the way back in its earliest years, The Empire Strikes Back flipped the original film on its head, introduced us to bigger and more imaginative worlds, and hit us with a twist that audiences never saw coming. The prequels hit audiences with a more politically charged galaxy far, far away, and shattered our expectations of the kinds of worlds and force abilities that we might be able to see in this universe. The original trilogy made the Star Wars galaxy feel enormous, but the prequels made its boundaries stretch to infinity. Then there are the sequels, which hearken back to the kinds of locations and character types that we first encountered in the original trilogy, but radically shook up our expectations for what the world of Star Wars and its stories might be. Any way you roll it, while the saga films have made slip-ups here and there, the galaxy far, far away in those movies has always felt boundless.


Everything Dave Filoni Has Done Leads to ‘Ahsoka’

Image via Lucasfilm

And then there’s Ahsoka, and not only Ahsoka, but the works of Dave Filoni in general. While it is clear that Filoni has a great passion for the world of Star Wars, he also just seems like a great guy. He clearly gets along great with everyone at Lucasfilm, both the company’s current leadership and alumni. Kathleen Kennedy has given him the keys to many different corners of the franchise, as George Lucas did all the way back in the late 2000s. He seems like a joy to work with, and his enthusiasm is infectious — and that’s coming from the perspective of a viewer. Imagine how it must feel to work with him!

Filoni has worked on several different Star Wars shows since Rebels wrapped up in 2018, but more than any of them, Ahsoka seems to be his baby. After all, this is his flagship character, introduced way back in his 2008 Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie. Not only is Ahsoka led by its titular character, the series is also largely populated by tons of characters that have appeared in Rebels and Clone Wars. Filoni is putting all the Star Wars chips that he has crafted so far into this basket — it’s Clone Wars and Rebels in live-action.

The Boundaries of Star Wars Don’t Feel Limitless

Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka in Episode 4
Image via Disney+

And the thing about Clone Wars and Rebels is… none of it feels original, nor do these shows feel like they practically fit into the Star Wars timeline. Anakin (Hayden Christensen) had a secret Padawan that was never, ever mentioned or seen? Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) is this massive threat that threatens to wipe out the galaxy, and we never hear word of it in the sequels? There’s a “World Between Worlds” that makes time travel possible? That’s really the new and exciting angle that we’re bringing to Star Wars? Not only that, but the big bad of this entire Filoni-verse isn’t even one that he created, we’re just digging up old Timothy Zahn books instead? I know that those books are supposed to be great, but it just feels like we’re treading old water. And as of Ahsoka’s third episode, the mind-blowing revelation is supposed to be that Thrawn and Ezra (Eman Esfandi, portraying one of the many characters being lifted from animation into live action) are in… another galaxy! Yes, different from the galaxy far, far away. What are we doing?

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Creativity in Star Wars Feels Finite

ahsoka-episode-4-rosario-dawson
Image via Disney+

This “other galaxy” revelation is indicative of two major problems that are plaguing the Star Wars universe at the moment. For one, by revealing that the villain and one of the primary Filoni heroes are in another galaxy, one that is separate from the galaxy that we are dropped into at the beginning of every single movie and show, a paradox takes place. Star Wars is suddenly made finite, while also… nothing really changes. On one hand, the galaxy that we have once felt was limitless, suddenly has a limit, because there is another galaxy for our characters to jump over to, if the occasion calls for it. This “creative” choice kills that wondrous feeling that you get when you read those iconic words, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” There’s a magical air to that sentence that tells you that anything can be out there in the Star Wars galaxy. Any alien, location, or force ability that you can drum up just might be out there, but most importantly, it’s out there — in that galaxy. How big is it? What all is out there? Who knows the answers to either of those questions? We aren’t supposed to know, it’s supposed to extend forever.

Not according to Dave Filoni. For a guy who loves Star Wars as much as he does, you’d think that he might hold the words that precede the opening crawl to be a sacred text. This is fundamental to what makes this series feel magical. Now, those words hold so much less meaning than ever. This galaxy has boundaries, it has limitations, and fully indicates everything that we already know about the current state of creativity in the Star Wars franchise. We’re bringing back Thrawn from old Legends books to be the main villain. Boba Fett survived the Sarlacc Pit. To hell with making new characters, or bringing in new actors to portray beloved characters (Alden Ehrenreich forever), let’s continue to poorly de-age actors and bring them back as legacy characters. And don’t forget it, Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) is important. Is she? Then why doesn’t anyone ever mention her in the nine core movies, let alone any of the other “highly important” Filoni characters who are so closely intertwined with the events of the Saga films, but are never mentioned, and never appear? The galaxy, both literally and figuratively, has clearer boundaries than ever. Star Wars just admitted that it is creatively finite.

The Actual World of Star Wars is Technically Still Infinite

Daisy Ridley as Rey and Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi
Image via Lucasfilm

Also, by saying we’re going to another galaxy, all we are doing is going to… “more space”. This is an empty calorie reveal. Its impact is dead on arrival. You know, if you said something like Thrawn is on a moon of Mustafar, it would feel sort of like a pointless name-drop of one of the franchise’s most beloved planets, but it would at least be a new world to explore, and wouldn’t shatter the unlimited wonder of the whole “galaxy far, far away” opening text. Instead, we’re just going from one outer space setting to another. There will be a black void filled with stars and planets, and that’s it. When our heroes do eventually travel to this other galaxy, the audience won’t be looking out the windows of these spaceships thinking “Wow, what an amazing new galaxy”. They’ll have to remind themselves that it’s supposed to be a big deal that we’re there because ultimately, it’s just more space. Am I supposed to be excited?

Star Wars fans are, notoriously, never happy, no matter what anyone holding the reins does. Some are obviously going to be excited about the revelation of another galaxy, and if you are, then great. If you aren’t in that camp, then you likely agree that someone behind the scenes needs to get to cooking and shake the foundation of Star Wars once again. No matter how you feel about The Last Jedi, everyone walked out of that movie feeling like anything could happen in Star Wars. Now… it feels like we’re stuck in a box of action figures. Everything we’ve ever known is sitting right there, and you don’t really have to challenge yourself to get in there and start playing! Well, what if we’ve been playing with the same toys for… 46 years now? We either need to put the box away altogether or get some new toys. That, and maybe take inspiration from movies, books, and TV shows that aren’t Star Wars. This series will only find new life by taking inspiration from places other than itself, not by making the characters in it hop from one galaxy to the next.

 

Reference

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