The following recap contains spoilers for Ahsoka Episode 7, “Dreams and Madness” (written by Dave Filoni and directed by Geeta Vasant Patel). Some elements of the Star Wars Rebels series are also discussed in this recap.
If you compare this first complete Ahsoka series to a normal 40-hour work week, it’s about 11:00 AM on a Friday. The week (or the season) is winding down and we’re getting to that point that everyone has been dreaming about since things kicked off at 8:00 A.M. on Monday.
Just like 5:00 P.M. on the clock every Friday afternoon, the end of Ahsoka is inevitably coming and there is nothing that can be done to stop it at this point. But let’s just say that those toiling away on the Ahsoka work week have left A LOT of their work for Friday afternoon.
Like many penultimate episodes of television seasons, Episode 7, “Dreams and Madness,” spent much of the episode setting up the plot chess board for a climactic finale next week. We got a few lightsaber action sequences and some exposition on Thrawn’s motives and future plans, but this was largely an episode that was focused on reuniting the remaining characters who had yet to see one another, tossing a few more questions into the plot, and setting up threads that are sure to remain hanging until the next Filoni-verse Star Wars entry.
When I saw on the Episode 7 title card that this episode was entitled “Dreams and Madness,” I must admit I sat up a little straighter in my chair. If you recall from Episode 6, perhaps the most interesting revelation from that episode was not the introduction of live-action Grand Admiral Thrawn and Ezra Bridger, but the ulterior motives of Jedi-turned-mercenary Baylan Skoll. Skoll, along with his apprentice Shin Hati, commented that Peridea was a place of “dreams and madness” with a “power greater than their own.” He believes some kind of ancient power or mysticism is calling to him there, more enticing than anything the Jedi or Empire can offer.
He asks young Sabine if she feels the same. Have you felt it?
That, combined with his admission that he wants to break the wheel of the rise and fall of Jedi, Republic, and Empire, gave this show a new trajectory that could mysteriously complement the inevitable Ahsoka-Thrawn showdown in the Episode 8 finale. What is Baylan up to? He clearly hitched a ride to this new galaxy as a Force-sensitive hitman, but he wants nothing to do with the plans Thrawn, Morgan Elsbeth, and the Nightsisters are cooking up.
I must say, however, that I was supremely let down when Baylan and Skoll barely appeared in this episode. When they do appear, it is so Baylan can dump some last-minute advice to “take your place in the coming Empire,” because his “path lies in another” direction. WHAT DIRECTION? His parting words of “impatience for victory will guarantee defeat,” felt more like they were directed to me as an impatient viewer wanting to know his intentions than to Shin, who just feels more and more like an accessory to the plot.
Why title an episode “Dreams and Madness,” the exact words Baylan used to describe this planet that’s calling to him, and then explore that path no further? My unfortunate reading of this is that there will be some kind of massive reveal about the lore of this planet or the origins of the Nightsister witchcraft or the birth of the Jedi that Baylan uncovers in the finale. I fearfully think that, because of how strong a performance Ray Stevenson is delivering as Baylan, Dave Filoni would have wanted to give him more to do in future Star Wars projects and perhaps even a larger stage (or screen) to do it.
All this might have been planned out before the unfortunate passing of Ray Stevenson in May of this year. Unfortunately, the mystery box that Baylan Skoll will surely open in the Ahsoka finale might have to be locked up again without Stevenson to play this very intriguing character.
Meanwhile, in our “A” story, Baylan does briefly duel with Ahsoka again, but it’s the kind of low-budget, practice-our-moves duel that saves the good battle for the finale. I mean, the Kansas City Chiefs aren’t going to open up the entire playbook in a blowout against the Chicago Bears in September. They wait until the playoffs for that.
(Since I’ve already mentioned the Chiefs, I might as well do the rest of the SEO engagement farming: Taylor Swift, Travis Kelce, Swifties, ketchup and ranch, 1989).
Baylan holds off Ahsoka just long enough for Shin and some of the Nightroopers to launch an attack on Ezra, Sabine, and their new heroes-in-a-half-shell friends before disappearing. Ahsoka rushes to their aid and the small crew is able to dispatch the soldiers easily while Ezra and Shin force-battle in a rather unique way. Sabine offers Ezra the lightsaber that he gave to her near the conclusion of Star Wars Rebels, but he says he doesn’t need it and it belongs to her. He proceeds to fight Shin and her lightsaber with just his mastery of the Force. After 10 years without a weapon, he’s apparently been training as hard as Colin Kaepernick and is ready to move up from the practice squad to the active roster.
Ezra quite easily dispatches Shin and sends her running back to Morgan and Thrawn without Baylan by her side. That’s sure to be a fun meeting when she returns and has to explain that Baylan ran off to parts unknown and left her to do battle with a Jedi and a Mandalorian.
After the battle, Ahsoka, Ezra, Sabine, and droid Huyang can finally have a formal, emotional reuniting. Ezra, still clueless as to how Sabine and Ahsoka arrived on this planet, comments that “I’m getting a feeling. I think I might be going home after all!” I’ve got news for you, Ezra. Some young Jedi apprentice and a few ragged Nightroopers are the least of your concerns.
By the end of this episode, Ahsoka and Sabine still have not filled in Ezra on the circumstances that brought them to the planet (namely Sabine selling out Ahsoka, handing over the map, and then letting Baylan destroy it). Going home ain’t going to be that easy, Ezra. Unless you have a plan to sneak aboard Thrawn’s hyperspace hearse that’s likely carrying his undead army, the only way back to your galaxy is by way of Purrgil. That would be the same Purrgil that were killed or maimed by a galactic minefield Thrawn set up, trying to destroy Ahsoka before she could reach them.
A confrontation with Thrawn and this group is predestined for the finale, although based on things Dave Filoni has already told us, Thrawn is going to be the Thanos-level baddie for future Star Wars installments. That means we know he and Morgan are surely to make it off the planet to provide threats down the line. Knowing those stakes are naturally lowered does give me optimism that whatever it is Baylan is seeking will come to fruition in a powerful way in Episode 8 and provide the payoff that this lackluster episode seems to be setting up.
A couple of notes about the opening scene of this episode:
- I understand why the writers needed to tie a bow on the Hera/search mission story, but our plot was so far removed from this court martial scene that it seemed to exist in an entirely different galaxy from our main story (which, of course, it did).
- C-3PO showing up and referencing Senator Leia Organa was a wonderful little heartstring tug, and that actually was original actor Anthony Daniels playing the persnickety droid. I will take a C-3PO cameo over a de-aged and completely CGI Carrie Fisher any day of the week.
- Mon Mothma was so over-the-top amazing in Andor that anytime she has scenes or dialogue in this series it makes me wish we had seen more of her in the other show. This dialogue and writing are not doing her nearly as many favors as they did in Andor.
- Senator Xiono, who is dead-set on seeing Hera court-martialed and punished, played the trope of the bad guy pretending to be a good guy so blatantly that I found myself wondering if Dave Filoni was trying to trick us somehow or if it was a bait-and-switch with someone else on the New Republic council. His insistence that a series of Imperial remnant events were completely unrelated had me yelling at him to just get it over with and show us his Empire loyalty badge already.