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Time to Fly (Ahsoka - S01E03) - Live Action Series

Series: Ahsoka

Title: Time to Fly

Season: One

Episode: 3

Original Air Date: August 29th, 2023

Runtime: 31 minutes

Credits: Review & Text: Thomas; Page layout & Design: Chuck Paskovics

Discuss the latest Chapter! (Discussion)

"I don't need Sabine to be a Jedi. I need her to be herself!" SPOILERS.

"With the blast shield down I can't even see, how am I supposed to fight?"

Ahsoka is a difficult show for me to review, mostly for one reason: I do not derive any fun or enjoyment from talking about things I feel are not really all that good. I'd rather pour praise over something than pick it apart. So let me start with the positives... if you suffer from amnesia or have never watched any of the Star Wars movies and if you switched off your brain and just sat back... you could have a lot of fun with the most recent Ahsoka episode! It's very, very short, actual runtime excluding the recap and credits is barely 29 minutes and it has a pretty brisk pace, and half of the runtime is dedicated to a dogfight in space with some over the top action. So if you grab some popcorn, put your brain into energy saving mode and just relax... Time to Fly can be fun. But the problems arise if you do not suffer from amnesia and haven't switched off your brain....

The more I learn about the New Republic the less I feel sorry about its eventual destruction

The episode has three parts, part one is Ahsoka training Sabine and here the episode basically copy pastes the A New Hope training sequence on the Millennium Falcon, and Ahsoka also has about the same charisma as the training remote. She's still mostly an emotionless bot in this episode. I believe Filoni tries to portray her as a wiser, more mature Jedi master (even though she is no Jedi really), but in doing so he robbed Ahsoka of all her charm and personality, when you compare her to Ashley Eckstein's phenomenal performance in The Clone Wars. This is still one of my major criticisms... the main character is bland and uninteresting and comes across as mostly flat, monotonous and emotionless. Stoic.

The contact lenses from hell

The entire training sequence is really just a rehash of what we saw in A New Hope. You have seen it all before. Later Ahsoka and Sabine have a brief chat and we learn that Sabine has zero force powers. Yet for some reason Ahsoka is still training her, when Huyang inquires about it later Ahsoka merely replies that she doesn't require Sabine to be a Jedi, but herself... how exactly Jedi training is supposed to achieve that is anyone's guess. Of course at this point it is blatantly obvious that Sabine will almost certainly have her big moment later down the road when she can finally connect to the force when the situation requires it.

Foreshadowing for beginners

A friend of mine suggested that maybe Ahsoka wants to make the Jedi order more inclusive by accepting non force sensitive "secular" applicants. This could be an interesting concept but the question remains what function these non force users could have in a Jedi order that is all about the force? Ok, they might take over administrative duties, freeing actual force users to do more "force" stuff. Or maybe they could be ambassadors, teachers, something like that, connecting the Jedi order to the normal people instead of it being an elitist club of the few. But I feel this would still go against the very essence of the Jedi, that only people who can wield the force can be Jedi. Accepting just "everyone" feels very modern day where we hand out participation trophies to everyone and actually frown upon people who excel at something. Still, this would make sense if this is Ahsoka's actual goal. A reformed order that is open to more people.

You have seen this before

We also get a brief scene with Hera who is with the New Republic fleet. In a holo call she tries to get the greenlight for a mission to support Ahsoka in her search for Thrawn. But of course the senators, including chancellor Mon Mothma, are the usual bureaucrats who don't believe a single word from Hera about Thrawn being a potential threat and instead they accuse her of trying to get funds for yet another Ezra Bridger wild goose chase... this in light of the recent incident on Corellia, the fact that there are still strong pockets of Imperial Remnants and Moff Gideon almost taking over Mandalore, but the senators are all "nothing to see here, move along" and thus deny Hera any funds or help and so she cannot even join Ahsoka. Mary Elizabeth Winstead felt a bit more like Hera in these scenes, but she still feels more like a cosplayer than an actual character. The horrible contact lenses do not help. They look super fake in the close-ups and make Hera look as if she just consumed the biggest joint in the galaxy with her super wide pupils even though the room is brightly lit. We also meet Hera's son, who is not even properly introduced, i.e. if you never watched Rebels you would not know that he is the son of Hera and Kanan. You would wonder why a child of a twi'lek looks so human without any lekku even. But this series is primarily aimed at Rebels fans, not casual viewers so much.

Shin only has a few very short scenes in a fighter cockpit with zero meaningful dialogue

The second half of the episode is all about a space battle. As you may recall Chopper managed to attach a tracker to the hull of the ship stealing the hyperdrive core in the previous episode and Ahsoka and her team have tracked the ship down. All communication is suddenly scrambled and when they drop out of hyperspace they are immediately attacked by several small fighters, one of the squadrons is lead by Shin. And we only get to see her in a cockpit in this episode, zero character development for her, she's just a "baddie".

Laser shots now explode in space like artillery shells... I believe we have reached peak stupidity in Star Wars

What follows is yet another copy pasted segment from A New Hope, this time the escape from the Death Star and Luke and Han trying to blast TIE fighters. Only here it's Sabine who is trying to shoot down the fighters. And of course she succeeds in taking out almost all of the fighters, other than Shin, Marrock and one Red Shirt. The scene itself is pretty good on the surface, i.e. it's good action, my issue is that is just yet another rehash of things we have seen countless times in Star Wars now... I know that Lucas famously quipped "it all rhymes" but this is entirely too much rhyming for my tastes. Where is the innovation? The new ideas? This episode feels like a mixtape of A New Hope in so many ways. Filoni is paying hommage to his mentor entirely too much here. But the worst thing about the entire sequence is that turbo laser blasts from the hyperspace ring now - for the first time ever in Star Wars - work like WW II anti aircraft artillery shells. I know that space combat in Star Wars has always been nonsensical and that it was based on WW II dogfights ever since A New Hope, but while space ships manoeuvering like WW II fighter planes may be wrong on so many levels it still looks "plausible", but turbo laser blasts that suddenly, using space magic maybe, explode into big puffs of smoke like anti aircraft shells would is just too much for me. First... how can laser blasts suddenly explode into puffs of smoke? Second... this scene is set in space, where there is no air, in fact, the vacuum is one defining feature of outer space. Where there is no air you can't have any concussive shockwaves like exploding artillery shells would produce them in the sky, where we have an atmosphere. So artillery shells would do mostly nothing in space, other than propel shrapnel and potentially damaging your hull, but there would be no shockwave that can rock your ship. I know Star Wars is not science fiction and just space fantasy, more of a fairytale really, but some very basic plausability would still be much welcome. I guess Filoni thought this is "cool" and "new", sure, we haven't seen it before. Because it is utterly stupid.

Ok I was lying before, THIS is peak Star Wars stupidity

But it gets worse... the turbo laser anti aircraft shells eventually manage to incapacitate Ahsoka's ship which is losing all of its energy and comes to a dead stop in space, drifting aimlessly... you would think it is easy prey now for the three surviving fighters which can shoot it to tiny pieces. But no... because Ahsoka comes up with the most genius plan ever, she performs an EVA (at least she puts on a spacesuit, because there is no air in space... they DO remember that factoid here) and now stands on one of the wings of the ship, with ignited lightsabers, apparently trying to block all incoming fire. Now imagine you are a fighter pilot in space. A space fighter does not need to move constantly like an airplane, there is no lift you need to create with your wings (remember, there is no air in space), in fact, you can easily be at relative rest to your target if its just drifting in space with no propulsion. So what do you do when you see a suicidal maniac leaving her ship, standing on the wing with funny glow in the dark sticks, trying to block your blaster shots? Any sane person would just laugh, entirely ignore the idiot on the wing and blast the ship to bits and pieces and then either pick up Ahsoka and taking her prisoner, or they would simply watch her while she slowly suffocates, drifting in space after her ship gets destroyed. But what do they actually do??? They concentrate their fire on Ahsoka... who can effortlessly deflect all the blaster shots. But the stupidity does not stop here... instead of keeping your distance and just firing from all angles they actually perform strafing runs, flying extremely close to Ahsoka. So what does Ahsoka do? She takes out the ship of the last remaining Red Shirt when he comes too close with his fighter by cartwheeling in space and cutting his fighter to pieces... yeah... many moons ago the term "jumping the shark" was made famous by Fonzi literally jumping over sharks with water skies... I believe we may have seen a version of that in Star Wars in this episode with Ahsoka cartwheeling in space so she can slice and dice a fighter getting too close. What the.... Please watch Babylon 5 for believable space combat.

Filoni doubles down on Space Whales

Now I think this entire scene sounded great on paper and sure, it's a spectacular action sequence, something we have never seen before in Star Wars... but for a reason. Because it is just plain stupid. Almost on the same level as space horses riding atop a star destroyer, in fact, I was lying when I said we haven't seen this before, because we have... it's merely a riff on a scene in The Rise of Skywalker when Kylo Ren, for no real reason, flies straight at Rey with his TIE for some reason only he knows, and when he gets too close Rey somersaults over the TIE, cutting it into pieces... it was stupid in The Rise of Skywalker... it's still stupid now. And so it's ultimately yet another sequence Filoni borrowed from one of the movies.

Scanners don't exist in Star Wars, so you can easily hide under the canopy of trees

Anyway, after Ahsoka's stunt Sabine manages to get the power back up and they manage to escape by using space whales floating in the atmosphere of the planet as cover. Shin and co lose sight of them and since scanners do not really exist in Star Wars Ahsoka can hide the ship in a forest. Ok, they power down and go all silent, but you would assume the ship still has a heat signature or that scanners should be able to pick up the metal via magnetic readings, whatever...

The heroes finally learn what the audience has known ever since episode 2

And now the heroes finally learn what the audience has known all along, that Elsbeth wants to use an old space whale hyperspace route to get to another galaxy where Thrawn is supposed to be. The issue here is that the audience has known this since episode 2, it would have been so much better if the viewer discovered it along with the heroes. It's never all that much exciting when the heroes know less than the audience and we patiently wait for them to catch up with us, the viewer. So the entire episode really only had one point: Ahsoka and co find out about the hyperspace ring and what Elsbeth is planning to do with it. And this is something we have known all along.

We get ten seconds of Baylan and one line of dialogue from him

The episode closes with a very brief shot of Baylan ordering his red shirt droids to search the forest for Ahsoka and her ship. And that's it. It's over.

As I said in the beginning of my review I really find no pleasure in talking about things I did not enjoy all that much. You may argue I simply overthink certain things and that it's "Star Wars", just sit back and enjoy... but I feel I shouldn't be required to basically switch off my brain to be able to enjoy Star Wars. Star Wars has always been a bit on the more silly side of things, it's not serious science fiction, but rarely has it been flat out nonsensical and dumb, at least under Lucas. Also, ever since Andor there really is no excuse anymore for nonsensical scripts. Not everything needs to be Andor, Star Wars should mostly be fun and action packed... but the writing should still be good and the things happening should make sense and be plausible. At this point it is difficult to believe something like Andor is even set in the same universe. Ahsoka is reaching Obi-Wan Kenobi levels of utter stupidity.

As I also said earlier.. on the surface everything is fun here, you can have fun, the action is great, you get a few character building moments for Sabine (mostly just Sabine, who is also the best hero character on the show), we get yet another glimpse at how inane and incompetent the New Republic is... but the second you think about what is happening it all falls apart. This is not helped by the fact that only Huyang and Sabine are more or less enjoyable characters. Ahsoka feels bland, grey and flat. Hera is slowly growing on me here, which could also be the mere exposure effect, she still feels and sounds "wrong" though, not helped by her atrocious make-up and googly contact lenses.

I question the decision to make Ahsoka a proper sequels to Rebels without bothering to even explain some of the background to people who never watched that show. Why do we get a scene with Hera's son someone who never watched Rebels will almost certainly not care about? In fact, I would not be surprised if it confuses people why Hera's son looks mostly like a human with dyed hair. The show never even mentions Kanan.

And while Star Wars is not based on science (at all) and just a fairytale in space the turbo laser WW II anti aircraft gun is just silly... how can lasers turn to smoke anyway? Only topped by Ahsoka cartwheeling in space and taking out a fighter that gets too close to her. My issue is that these antics, while entertaining on the surface, require the enemies to be complete morons you cannot take seriously. Who in their right mind would fly strafing runs getting very close to a suicidal Jedi twirling her lightsabers? When you can keep your distance and comfortably shoot the ship she's standing on to bits and pieces, completely ignoring the idiot who believes laser swords can win a space battle? By dumbing down the villains (something Star Wars loves to do) you also remove any real threat.

And that's my next issue... while all these fights, if you switch off your brain, are spectacular, they all have zero stakes. Ahsoka, Sabine and co and all the main villains have plot armour. They cannot and will not die. So what do better shows do? They introduce you to characters early on you may start to care about, but who are essentially not part of the core team, only you do not know that. In a fight or battle the villains will manage to kill that person. Even if the series previously gave you the impression the character may be part of the core hero team. But this will put the viewer more on edge, because once you lose someone you have grown attached to in early episodes you know that no one is really safe and that there is real danger. But we don't have that here. We know that nothing, literally nothing, can ever happen to Ahsoka, Sabine, Hera and all the others. Even Baylan, Shin and Marrock are safe from any harm until the season finale at least. So all the battles between the two sides have zero stakes and zero tension, it's just acrobatics then. Filler really. The only things "dying" are countless red shirt droids.

My biggest complaint though is that Filoni basically copy pastes scenes from the Original Trilogy and Sequels of all things and only slightly adapts them for Ahsoka. This feels lazy. I do not want rehashes and memberberries. Once more I need to mention Andor... here you see and get new things, not iterations of scenes you have seen too many times now. I am actually slightly worried about Filoni's movie now, because it seems that man has suddenly lost all creativity, or maybe it was George Lucas all along who provided Filoni with the good ideas in The Clone Wars and he merely built on that. I can't say. But based on Ahsoka Filoni feels like a super Star Wars fanboy with too much money who was allowed to make a super expensive fan movie with all the silly ideas no serious showrunner would ever put in any of their shows. It pains me to say that right now I feel someone like Tony Gilroy would be better suited for any future Star Wars projects. An outsider who is not in awe of Lucas and tries to copy his master at every opportunity.

And finally... the best thing about this show, the not quite Sith but not Jedi either Baylan and Shin, by far the most intriguing and interesting characters on the show, are criminally underutilized, reduced to mere bit players. I fear we will never learn anything more about them really and they will just be the baddies who fail to kill the heroes week after week because of sheer stupidity on their part. I mean, Shin could have destroyed Sabine in episode 1, instead she just gently stabbed her in the one place where there are apparently no vital organs. And now, in this episode, they do not behave like rational people by shooting Ahsoka's drifting ship to bits and pieces, no, they fire at the Jedi with the lightsabers. And even do her the favour of getting too close to her so she can slice and dice one of the fighters by carthweeling in space.

So while Ahsoka is "fun", as in "if you do not think about it it's pretty enjoyable and never boring", it's also creatively bankrupt, a mishmash of scenes we have seen before with nonsensical things and villains that are required to be braindead idiots for the action scenes to work. I wish it was different. Right now I am feeling that Ahsoka is losing me... I still hope the show will get much better. But I have my doubts. And if you enjoyed it or think I overthink these things, I am happy for you! I wish I could enjoy it much more than I do. This is peak mediocrity for me. Not "bad". But far from being really good either. And I hate it that I feel this way about Ahsoka. I wanted to love the series and Ahsoka is even my favourite Clone Wars character and I even enjoyed much of Rebels. But in many ways Ahsoka is peak stupidity.

Added: August 30, 2023
Category: Ahsoka
Reviewer: Thomas
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