The following recap contains spoilers for Ahsoka Episode 4, “The Fallen Jedi” (written by Dave Filoni and directed by Peter Ramsey). 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.
Many Star Wars properties have been known to start slowly and build up into some kind of hard-charging adventure. The first thing that comes to mind is Andor, which released three episodes right out of the gate on Disney+, but the first two and a half focused a lot on world-building and what it meant to be a citizen in the middle of a brewing Rebel-Empire conflict. But then the last half of Episode 3 was like being shoved through hyperspace into a super-spy thriller.
The early 2000s prequels, Book of Boba Fett, and Star Wars Rebels all started slowly as well but ended with much more intriguing conflict and adventure. When the first three episodes of Ahsoka oscillated back and forth between stage-setting and space-jumping, I was willing to keep pushing through, knowing the potential of many of the characters we have seen and others we have yet to see. But when this scene of dialogue appeared at the top of the episode between Ahsoka and Sabine, I admit I was getting worried again.
Sabine: Don’t worry about me.
Ahsoka: I’m not.
Ahsoka: Should I be?
Ahsoka: I know how much Ezra means to you. Sometimes we have to do what’s right regardless of our personal feelings.
Sabine: You really believe that?
Ahsoka: When the stakes are high, I have to.
It’s not exactly Shakespeare that Dave Filoni is writing here. It turns out, however, that this short exchange was just the bull pawing the dirt in anticipation before he charges forward with full Force (pun intended). The first couple of minutes of this episode allow us a chance to inhale before jumping on an adventure ride that made this cynical reviewer feel like he was a kid watching Star Wars again.
Right after Ahsoka and Sabine finish their conversation, the minions of Baylan Skoll and Shin Hati attack their ship, which crashed in the forests of Seatos at the end of Episode 3. Huyang, Ahsoka’s droid, is about to become a bucket of bolts before Ahsoka and Sabine intervene. After dispatching Ahsoka’s version of the red shirts in Seatos’ red forest, two formidable foes appear. Merrok (the Inquisitor) and Shin Hati arrive, looking for a tag-team Battle Royale match against Ahsoka and Sabine.
These two intimidating figures stand in the way of Ahsoka and Sabine confronting Baylan and confiscating the galactic map that will allow him and Morgan Elsbeth to make the intergalactic hyperspace jump to the presumed location of Thrawn. Ahsoka ends up with a faceoff against Marrok while Sabine, now decked out in her lightsaber and Mandalorian armor, gets a rematch with Shin (who drove a lightsaber through Sabine’s gut in Episode 1). The much more interesting battle ends up being between the dark-side padawan Shin and the light-side padawan Sabine. Shin has a far greater mastery of the Force and of her lightsaber, but Sabine now wears impenetrable armor and has hidden weapons at her disposal like she is Iron Man fighting Thanos.
While Sabine struggles, Ahsoka makes quick work of Marrok. Once Marrok started the spinning lightsaber move, he should have known his minutes were numbered. These dark side Force-wielders need to send out a company-wide memo that the Jedi have easy ways around the spinning red lightsaber move, despite how cool it might look in person. Merrok is run through easily by Ahsoka and we see him dusted into a green mist upon his death. (The green smoke likely means he is somehow connected to Dathomir, just like Morgan Elsbeth whose Nightsister powers often involve green mist and green shadowy movements. Sorry for those who were hoping that would be our old pal Darth Maul behind the mask!)
Before they rush to confront Baylan, Huyang imparts some wisdom that offers a much-needed shot of emotion in between the battles these two are about to face. Despite his assertion that Sabine does not make a great Jedi candidate, he implores them:
“May I make one request of you both? Stay together. You always did better that way, in my opinion.”
SO MANY LAYERS. What exactly did you mean, Huyang? Let me count the ways. We still do not know what caused the falling-out that forced Ahsoka and Sabine apart years ago, but apparently even the cold-hearted Huyang noticed the power these two had as a pair. Not only were they more powerful together in the past, but they also need each other in the difficult path that lies ahead. They are inching towards facing an intimidating adversary and will be better positioned to beat him together.
Huyang’s words also stretch across just about everything we have ever seen or read about Star Wars. Those who seek to do what is right and fight for those who can not defend themselves are always more powerful as pairs. It reminded me of when Han Solo shows up at the end of A New Hope, partnering with Luke Skywalker to let him destroy the Death Star. It reminded me of Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, battling Darth Maul together. It reminded me of Kylo Ren, coming to Rey’s defense when Snoke’s guards are trying to destroy her. And it reminded me of Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano, so close in their bond as master and padawan, but unable to mend their differences, opening the door to the path they would both end up taking.
What are Ahsoka and Sabine capable of if they stay together? Perhaps thwarting the return of the galaxy’s greatest threat since Darth Vader? Who can say?
Ahsoka reaches Baylan and the map at the Henge first (Huyang said to stay TOGETHER, Ahsoka!) and an epic, old-school lightsaber battle commences. After some banter about the ethics of their past, the two “Fallen Jedi” battle to a standstill until Shin shows up, distracting Ahsoka, who now thinks Sabine must be dead. Sabine does eventually show up at the Seatos Stonehenge, but not before Baylan gets the upper hand, pushing Ahsoka off the cliff to parts unknown. All that’s left is Baylan, Sabine, and the knowledge that they are both trying to use the map to reach someone important (Sabine believes Ezra Bridger can be found at the end of the hyperspace jump as well).
Sabine grabs the map and threatens to destroy it, but Baylan knows she is faced with the very same decision Ahsoka warned her about in their opening conversation. Sabine knows if she destroys the map, she destroys any hope of ever seeing Ezra again. She knows she can’t see him again unless she gives Baylan and Morgan the map, as they are the only ones with the technical capability and coordinates to find him. Thrawn also waits at the end of that choice, but she reluctantly hands over the map to Baylan and agrees to be his prisoner.
Those 20 seconds of silence as Sabine debates whether to give Baylan the map stand out as the most powerful moment of the episode, even scaffolded by incredible lightsaber battles. If the Emmys put the facial acting award on the ballot this year, be sure to add Natasha Liu Bordizzo as Sabine to the list.
Meanwhile, a small squadron of Rebel fighters—the Phoenix Squadron—led by General Hera arrives to try and stop the jump to hyperspace, but their attempt is met with disastrous results. She loses several of her crew in the process, and surely now has a court-martial lined up when she returns, after disobeying a direct order from Mon Mothma in Episode 2. Might as well stay and help find Ahsoka and Sabine now. All that’s waiting for you back there, Hera, is a pink slip and a lot of paperwork. Hera is left to try and determine where she should go next while Sabine is a prisoner on Morgan and Baylan’s ship, headed straight towards Thrawn.
The end of Episode 4 is both a jaw-dropper and a head-scratcher depending on your level of commitment to Star Wars lore. We see Ahsoka wake up in a place Star Wars Rebels fans will be familiar with: The World Between Worlds. What is the World Between Worlds, you ask? That’s an interesting question. It’s not Jedi heaven or some kind of purgatory, as many have been led to believe. But rather it is a place that exists outside time and space where those who have the closest connection to the Force can gain knowledge and connection to others strong in the Force. Ahsoka has been here before when she battled Darth Vader at the end of Season 2 of Star Wars Rebels. She was originally thought to be dead, but Ezra was able to bring her out of the World Between Worlds and back to her life in the galaxy.
What does it mean, then, that when she wakes up, she sees her former master Anakin Skywalker? Did he bring her there to save her from death when Baylan pushed her off a cliff? Has he brought her there to try once and for all to persuade her to pick a side and no longer exist as a Gray Jedi? It’s worth noting that when we see Anakin, he is not in his brown Jedi robes a la the remastered Return of the Jedi when we see a redeemed Anakin. He is in his black Duel of Mustafar robes, and the scene fades out with an ominous Darth Vader theme before closing to the credits.
What version of Anakin is this and what are his intentions with Ahsoka? Episode 5, not only written but also directed by Dave Filoni, promises to answer that question and is already gaining social media buzz as the best episode of the series.
Needless to say, I am fully back on board with where Ahsoka is going after this episode and where we are pointed for the second half of the season. I am completely bullish on this show now and am ready as can be to charge through the next several episodes.