That ending was rude (affectionate).
Ahsoka thinks that they might have to destroy the map to Ezra if it means preventing Thrawn’s return and asks Sabine if she can count on her for that. Sabine insists that she can. Huyang is busy trying to fix the ship when Skoll’s forces arrive. Ahsoka and Sabine join the battle outside to dispatch the enemy, but they know they have to meet them head-on while Huyang continues repairs and calls for support. He requests that they don’t split up, and they promise they won’t.
Hera has decided that she will be giving aid to her friends with or without New Republic sanction, and tells one of her lieutenants to manage the next staff meeting without her. She boards the Ghost with Jacen and Chopper, flanked by a small squadron of X-wings that includes Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee), and sets off. Sabine and Ahsoka find Marrok and Shin Hati in the woods and separate to fight them off. Ahsoka dispatches Marrok, but Sabine insists she can handle Shin on her own, so Ahsoka continues on to find Baylan Skoll. Baylan knew Anakin and tells Ahsoka that he will protect the map because he knows this is the right thing, even if it starts a war—he believes that sometimes destruction is necessary to make way for creation, but won’t elaborate further. Ahsoka and Baylan begin to duel, and Ahsoka pulls the map from its pedestal, stopping the computations for the Eye of Sion’s jump.
Shin knocks out Sabine and heads back to her master. Seeing Shin, Ahsoka assumes that Sabine is dead and knocks the apprentice unconscious, preventing her from retrieving the map. Sabine arrives and grabs the map, threatening to destroy it. Baylan knocks Ahsoka off the cliffside and tells Sabine that he knows she doesn’t want to destroy the map—that it’s her only link to Ezra Bridger, the only family she believes she has left after Ahsoka’s lack of trust in her caused the death of her family. Sabine relinquishes the map, and Baylan puts it back on the pedestal, completing the calculations. He then destroys the map so no one can follow them.
Huyang fixes the ship’s communication system to call for help only to learn that Hera and her forces have already arrived. They find the Eye of Sion and cut it off. Baylan, Shin, and Sabine arrive on the hyper-ring ship, and Elsbeth insists that they make the jump, knocking the Ghost and X-wings apart and destroying several of them. Hera and her remaining fighters are left to decide what comes next. Ahsoka meanwhile wakes in the World Between Worlds and comes face to face… with Anakin Skywalker.
They faked us out, they distracted us with promises of flashbacks so we’d forget that there was still every chance that Ahsoka was going to see… Force Ghost Anakin? (The Force has done some uncanny de-aging on the poor guy, but we’ll have to let it pass.)
They’ve got a lot more explaining to do, of course, namely why is Anakin surprised to see Ahsoka in this space? Because this is the live-action premiere of a spot simply known as “World Between Worlds,” which showed up in Rebels—Ezra used it to (accidentally) rescue Ahsoka from her confrontation with Darth Vader, which makes her meeting Anakin here hilariously ironic. The space is kind of a Force nexus that potentially connects to all points in space-time? So, y’know, if it connects to other galaxies, Ahsoka could potentially just appear on the Eye of Sion to rescue Sabine.
Unless she means to rescue Ezra and return the favor.
Which brings me back to Anakin’s surprise because it’s never been indicated that this was any kind of netherworld or afterlife space. And if it is, that’s kinda huge for a number of reasons, namely the fact that it is accessible to Force-users when they’re alive? But I guess we’ll get more of that when we finally hit next week’s episode.
It’s genuinely bemusing that Filoni cannot resist a hallmark of the animated shows, being that if someone tells you not to do something… you’re going to do it immediately and the consequences will probably be bad. We’ve got two specific requests here, the first when Ahsoka asks Sabine not to risk galactic war and be willing to let Ezra go and destroy the map if it seems like Elsbeth is nearing the completion of her plan. The second is Huyang telling Ahsoka and Sabine not to separate because they’re “better together… in my opinion.” They promptly do both of those things, in reverse order to spice it up.
Look, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t set these things up, I’m just saying that there’s a tendency to make these comments right before they’re relevant instead of loading that setup ahead of time—even if both of these conversations had occurred in the previous episode, it would have diminished the silliness significantly. But instead we get two very obvious “please don’t do this thing” discussions that you know everyone’s going to forget at the relevant moment. Y’all. Come on.
Of course, this is all to point us in the direction of the thing that ostensibly led to Ahsoka and Sabine’s falling out—Sabine lost her family due to Ahsoka not “trusting her.” We know that this is running concurrently with The Mandalorian and we’ve seen how fragmented their people are, so it makes sense that Sabine’s family didn’t make it, but the details are blurry timeline-wise. The Siege of Mandalore occurred at the end of the Clone Wars and scattered the remaining Mandalorians to surrounding worlds, one of which housed Sabine’s family and the rest of Clan Wren. Sabine handed the darksaber over to Bo-Katan Kryze during the building of the Rebel Alliance, believing she was unfit to wield it. Perhaps Sabine’s family died when the darksaber was taken by Gideon?
It’s a shame that we’re not getting a little deeper on these issues, because Sabine’s desire to fight Shin doesn’t come off as anything other than a really bad idea. She needs help right now. She’s maybe not ready to face down the person who almost killed her the last time they fought. And Ahsoka’s fear at the thought of possibly losing Sabine when she sees Shin emerge from the forest is not given the weight it’s due. Her cold reaction is a reflection of the sort Anakin used to have whenever she was in danger, and that connection is important going forward. Ahsoka is learning what it feels like to be responsible for someone in the same way—it deserves more time to marinate in the narrative.
Baylan Skoll has the sort of gravitas only Ray Stevenson can provide, but I’m worried that his reasoning is going to fall short of being interesting. There have been plenty of SFF villains who hold to the “you must destroy to create” line of thinking, but they’re rarely as smart as they think themselves in the long run. (See: Thanos et al.) Also, I’m hoping that there’s some real pathos behind this choice, but given how rough-sketch Star Wars antagonists have been of late (I’m looking directly at Obi-Wan Kenobi and how they undercooked Reva to a shameful degree), I’m not holding out hope. At least Stevenson’s presence is giving where the script might not.
And that comes through primarily in the fight between them because they are, interestingly, the same sort of fighter. Most lightsaber duels hinge on one of the combatants being impatient and flying into the fight. Here we’ve got two masters who know that the goal is to wait and discover your opponents weaknesses. Ahsoka rarely faces someone on her level this way, and you can tell that she’s actually enjoying interplay, at least on an intellectual level.
As opposed to Marrok, who tried to do that ridiculous spinning lightsaber trick the inquisitors always go for, and was quickly (correctly) dispatched for it. I love that they went this route in the build up to her fight with Skoll because it’s a fear tactic, and it should only work on people who are inexperienced and terrified. Ahsoka is neither, and the move she pulls on him is pure Obi-Wan in that moment: Short, to the point, and deadly. And yes, I really enjoyed watching Ahsoka use a single blade more in this episode because her combat influences are far more obvious when she’s not using both blades. We don’t need it all the time, but once in a while it makes for a great payoff.
(Why did Marrok evaporate in smoke? I… got nothing. Maybe this is the new standard for dark side deaths. Maybe Marrok is just smoke in a suit of armor. Idk.)
Bits and Asides
- Huyang putting his hands on his droid hips and admiring his own repair work. Huyang fighting evil henchman like a pro. Huyang giving advice and calling for help and being a general MVP. Just… him.
- Big lol at the Eye of Sion needing to “dial in” its hyperspace calculations just like a Stargate.
- Fandom was apparently rooting for Inquisitor Marrok to secretly be Galen Marek aka Starkiller—who was Vader’s apprentice in the video game The Force Unleashed. I’m just as glad they didn’t go that route, namely because the introduction of the Inquisitors to canon means the idea of Vader having an apprentice is just unnecessary. (And if you’re gonna do that, you better use it as an excuse to introduce Mara Jade, dammit.)
- Jacen has a bad feeling because he’s clearly Force-sensitive like his dad and ask me about how I’m feeling knowing that Hera has to raise that kid without Kanan when she could really use his help. Or, you know, Ezra’s help, as his unofficial big brother. (Don’t ask me how I’m feeling about Sabine thinking that Ezra is the only family she has left when Hera and Zeb are still around. That’s your best mom and your carnage-buddy uncle you’re leaving out, Sabine.) Also my whole heart to that kid for asking why he has to do what he’s told when mom doesn’t because I’m sure Kanan also asked Hera this question and was similarly rebuffed.
- So Carson Teva is one of Hera’s, huh? It’s wild knowing this does more for his bonafides as one of the good guys than anything we’ve seen on The Mandalorian combined. Because Hera is that good and anyone who’s on her team is automatically elevated.
- Did I cry seeing the Ghost exit the fleet surrounded by X-wings? No comment.
- I really hope they’re not about to live-action introduce the Yuuzhan Vong, but seeing how they were re-upped in the new canon due to the Thrawn books… it’s possible. Prepare yourselves.
Next week, Anakin Skywalker has some explaining to do.