Ahsoka Episode 3 Recap: “Time to Fly” Plays the Hits

Ahsoka and Huyang train Sabine
Courtesy of Disney+/Screenshot

The following recap contains spoilers for Ahsoka Episode 3, “Time to Fly” (written by Dave Filoni and directed by Steph Green). Some elements of the Star Wars Rebels series are also discussed in this recap.

Editor’s Note: This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the series being covered here wouldn’t exist.

After thinking and talking more about the two-episode premiere of Ahsoka that I covered last week, I am now more convinced than ever that series creator and writer Dave Filoni and the various producers he is bringing in to create each episode must have two audiences in mind when Ahsoka episodes are constructed.

Once the first two episodes premiered, two factions of fans formed. One side vehemently defended the plot threads, the character references, and the Easter eggs that tie back into an expanded, elaborate animated universe, and felt the show could still be enjoyed without prior knowledge of that history. It has all the basic Star Wars elements, after all (more on that later), even if the names and places were unfamiliar.

The other side was somewhere in between disapproval or evisceration of Ahsoka in how they didn’t feel like they could be a part of the inner circle because they didn’t have the backstory of Ezra Bridger, Thrawn, Hera, Jacen, Purrgills, or Huyang. Star Wars always creates entertaining stories for this group, but with no preexisting relationships or character connections, it was hard not to feel like they were being left behind.

Hera tries to convince the Senate to track Thrawn
Courtesy of Disney+/Screenshot

I now realize that both sides hold tremendous amounts of validity. The watchers of Star Wars Rebels or Clone Wars or Tales of the Jedi can continue down a path that started with these animated series all the way back in 2008. And the non-animated series watchers can be frustrated with the lack of exposition or explanation of the stakes, while still enjoying a classic Star Wars tale with all of the familiar tropes.

For Episode 3, “Time to Fly,” it’s abundantly clear that Filoni and director Steph Green were catering to this last group. While the members in the band might have looked different, they all got on stage and played the hits from the Star Wars catalog, in an effort to bring everyone along for the (hyperspace) ride. There was very little plot development or movement toward accomplishing the central mission in this episode, but it was still one that both sides of the audience could enjoy.

This episode, while short and sugary instead of meaty and substantive, comes close to being able to satisfy any Star Wars fan no matter what their connections to this story or these characters (except for the Purrgills—those certainly require an explanation, which I’ll provide below). There were three main beats in this tidy, 30-minute episode. I’ll take each one by one.

Ahsoka (Re)Starts Training Sabine to be a Jedi

As Ahsoka, Sabine, and Huyang travel to Seatos (following the tracker that Chopper put on the stolen hyperdrive in Episode 1), Ahsoka begins to pick back up on her Jedi training of Sabine. In the second episode, Ahsoka admitted she “walked away” from Sabine in their first round of Jedi school, and this mystery of why or when is something both audiences share. This will surely be explored more as Ahsoka and Sabine’s relationship deepens.

In what must be the longest trip through hyperspace Star Wars has ever seen (seriously, it seems like they were traveling at light speed for a couple of days), we see Master Ahsoka reintroduce Padawan Sabine to all the old methods from Learn To Be A Jedi Academy.

Sabine and Ahsoka talk about the nature of the Force
Courtesy of Disney+/Screenshot

We see the fight-with-a-helmet-on montage, where Sabine struggles even though younger trainees like Luke Skywalker and Anakin Skywalker did not. We have the opening statement in Jedi Basics 101 where Ahsoka explains the Force is in all of us, we just have to harness how we use it. Sabine wants to move that cup on the table with her mind so badly, but as Huyang says, “She is not an acceptable candidate.”

Ahsoka apparently wants to attempt to recreate and resurrect the mantra of “Democratize the Force” that Rian Johnson attempted in The Last Jedi, and Rogue One did with Chirrut. Ahsoka believes her training is necessary not because of her pre-ordained high midi-chlorian count, but because the world lacks Jedis. But while she trains her like a Jedi, Ahsoka also admits to Huyang that she doesn’t need Sabine to be a Jedi, she just needs her “to be herself.”

Sabine being herself was already a capable warrior, leader, techno-wizard, and battle-tested asset. Why continue to put her through tests that only chip away at the confidence she once exuded as a Mandalorian? This training may not be just a way to train Sabine in the ways of the Force or teach her to move glassware with her mind. It may just be the way Ahsoka believes she can repair the fractured relationship with Sabine. Ahsoka and Anakin bonded during her training all those years ago, after all, and Ahsoka longs for what was lost during that time.

The New Republic is Back to its Old Ways

While Ahsoka and Sabine are off light-speeding their way to the other side of the galaxy, Hera is left behind to play politics with the newly-formed, yet highly uninformed, Republic Senate. We are treated to more Mon Mothma (played by Genevieve O’Reilly following her brilliant turn as Mothma in Andor), who is now Chancellor! Uh oh, we know what happened to the last Chancellor who encountered some Jedi.

Hera tries to convince the Senate to send a battalion of Republic forces to Seatos to end this lingering Imperial threat once and for all. But apparently, this Senate went to the George W. Bush “Mission Accomplished” school of geopolitics and they think there’s no reason to worry about some fringe outlier groups on the edges of society. Uh, Senators, I’ve got recent history I can share with you if it will help change your mind.

Mon Mothma and Senators talk to Hera
Courtesy of Disney+/Screenshot

Hera throws the “I fought in this war, what did you guys do?!” line in their faces to no avail and warns them what can happen if Thrawn is figuratively or literally resurrected with so many of the galaxy’s inhabitants still loyal to the Empire. Still getting denied, Hera looks determined to take matters into her own hands.

Perhaps accompanying her will be her young son, Jacen, who we first met in the closing moments of Star Wars Rebels. As the son of Hera and deceased Jedi Kanan Jarrus, Jacen is a wide-eyed adventurer who is thrilled by the fact that Ahsoka is back and that Sabine is training to be a Jedi. “I wanna be a Jedi!” he says, in what is the most blatant foreshadowing of a spinoff show ever seen in the history of Star Wars.

Space Fights!

Finally exiting hyperspace somewhere in the galaxy far, far, FAR away, Sabine and Ahsoka almost immediately find themselves in the midst of a galactic dogfight. This classic Star Wars scene was a treat as it looked like it was straight out of Memphis Belle or Tora! Tora! Tora! with the classic 1940s-inspired Imperial warships. But one thing you’ll never see in World War II aerial cinema is the pilot donning a perfectly crafted spacesuit and standing out on the wing so they can CHOP SHIPS IN HALF WITH A LIGHTSABER.

Ignoring the physics and simple lack of gravity with this maneuver, it’s been a while since Star Wars fans have been treated to a dogfight in the stars, and it was a delight to see, despite how unrealistic it seemed even in a fictional universe. Sabine was able to man the guns on Ahsoka’s ship and even though Ahsoka didn’t “save (her) presets” on the weapon, she was able to overcome the obstacle and blast several fighter ships out of the sky.

Shin Hati tracks down Ahsoka and Sabine in her ship
Courtesy of Disney+/Screenshot

Eventually, the fact that Ahsoka and Sabine are outnumbered about 20-to-1 catches up with them and Morgan Elsbeth blasts their ship with the “turbolasers” equipped to the hyperspace jump portal that she is building. I think the turbolasers must be an add-on feature because the base model package hyperspace ring I’m familiar with doesn’t usually have a need to blast incoming ships. Sabine does her best to repair the damage, but to no avail. The ship is going to crash onto the planet Seatos, where Baylan Skoll, Shin Hati, and their goons begin a hunt to find them.

We did, finally, also get to see the live-action version of the Purrgills, the “space whales” who were the initial inspiration for jumping to light speed and traveling through hyperspace, in a moment that must have thrilled the animated devotees and utterly confused those who aren’t. (As a co-worker of mine put it, “Why were there huge whales flying around in space?”)

This is Exhibit 1A of how the show can provide fan service to the diehards, but it better not go too much longer before explaining to the masses what exactly those things are. Who knew Purrgills would be the creature that could possibly drive the biggest wedge between Star Wars fans (Greedo was the leader in the clubhouse for years)?

Altogether, this was just a fun episode of Star Wars television. Not especially well-written. Not concerned about huge leaps forward with plot. It was just a fun 30 minutes that called back to a lot of the Star Wars OG themes that made us love this galaxy in the first place. Balancing more of that with elements of the deeper dive possibilities is what this show will need to maintain the early success it has seen.

Written by Ryan Kirksey

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *