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Fallen Jedi (Ahsoka - S01E04) - Live Action Series

Series: Ahsoka

Title: Fallen Jedi

Season: One

Episode: 4

Original Air Date: September 5th, 2023

Runtime: 37 minutes

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

Discuss the latest Chapter! (Discussion)

"Better than than allowing Thrawn's return as heir to the Empire!" SPOILERS.

Huyang fights droid goons...

We have reached the midseason point for Ahsoka and "Fallen Jedi" was the best episode of the season thus far. And the reason the fourth episode is the best so far is because it is very light on plot, has various action scenes and lightsaber duels instead and finally features Ray Stevenson as Baylan in a more prominent capacity with more than two lines of dialogue. And Baylan proves to be by far the most interesting character of the show. Everything else remains unchanged though, Ahsoka is a joyless, emotionless, bland, monotone bot who sleepwalks throught her dialogue. Hera still looks like a cosplayer in a fan movie, Sabine is still the best realized heroine here and while Natasha Bordizzo won't win any awards her Sabine is closest to her animated counterpart.

Hera fights bureaucracy...

So what is the episode about? Ahsoka wants to retrieve the map to stop the bad guys from finding Thrawn, she insists that they destroy the map before they let the villains fully decode it. The villains meanwhile advance on the ship that is still hidden in the forest, Baylan sent a few goons, Marrock and Shin among them, to deal with Ahsoka and co. Why Baylan would have his apprentice deal with a fully trained quasi Jedi is not entirely clear, other than that the plot demands it that Ahsoka will only encounter Baylan later in the climax, so he can't duel Ahsoka now.

Sabine fights Shin...

What follows is a lengthy action sequence with various fights and duels. The goons are no problem, but Shin gives Sabine a lot more trouble. However, Sabine, who eventually uses her (Ezra's) lightsaber, can absolutely hold her own, even though she struggles here and there. Now Sabine was defeated by Shin maybe three or four days ago, based on what we know about the timeline of events thus far, but those few days were enough to upgrade her dueling skills and even though Sabine still has zero force powers she can, for the most part, keep up with Shin in a lightsaber duel.

Ahsoka fights helicoper lightsabers...

Ahsoka has few problems with Marrock though and his "let's try spinning, it's always a good trick" routine with his helicopter lightsaber can't save him. Or save it. It turns out Marrock is either a mysterious smoke monster with no real corporeal shape or just some piece of animated armour. Either way Ahsoka cuts him open and that's - as far as we can tell - the end of this villain who literally turns out to be just some fancy armor with zero character. Maybe it's Filoni's way of making fun of characters like Phasma.

Ahsoka fights Baylan...

The Shin and Sabine duel copy pastes the duel between Kylo Ren and Rey from The Force Awakens in some ways, it's once again a dimly lit forest and Shin cuts down trees. Filoni seems to love his homages. Anyway, Sabine urges Ahsoka to go for the map after she has made short work of the animated armour that was Marrock, while she tries to keep Shin busy. Their duel ends in a stalemate when Shin uses a smokebomb to disappear, she goes after Ahsoka.

Sabine fights Baylan...

We also get a few short scenes with Hera who basically defects from her own command and goes AWOL. She takes the Ghost, her son Jacen (why?) and four X-Wing pilot friends, among them Carson Treva, with their X-Wings and flies to the system where Ahsoka is trying to retrieve the map. Once there they are hit with some kind of shockwave as the hyperspace ring goes into hyperspace, two X-Wings are destroyed, Carson Treva's plot armour is strong though and he, the other pilot and Hera, her son Jacen and the Ghost remain intact.

Baylan is quite the convincing person

But before Elsbeth jumps into hyperspace Ahsoka catches up with Baylan who is protecting the map, which is transferring flight data to the hyperspace ring. And here we get the best scenes of the entire episode because we get a few glimpses into Baylan's mindset. We learn that he absolutely has plans of his own, and that he is very well aware that Thrawn is evil, but he believes it's a necessary evil, because only through destruction can you create something new. We also learn that Baylan has a less than favourable opinion of the Jedi order. And he believes Ahsoka is very much following the tradition of that order. We learn that Baylan knew Anakin and about what had become of him. Baylan also reveals that the reason he is doing all this is to "secure the future", whatever that future is supposed to be. He accuses Ahsoka of abandoning her former master and all in all Baylan seems to be someone who, while extremely determined, is not evil per se. In fact, it is Ahsoka who ignites her lightsaber first and Baylan almost seems to regret this. So the two duel, Ahsoka manages to grab the map, but she has to let it drop because the massive energy stored inside burns her hand. Baylan eventually manages to defeat Ahsoka and pushes her off a cliff. A short while before Ahsoka's demise Sabine arrived and grabbed the map (which is now no longer radiating massive energy) and threatens to destroy it by shooting it with her blaster. Ahsoka urges her to do it, but then Baylan pushes her over the egde and thus Baylan gets the opportunity to talk to Sabine. He senses that she actually doesn't want to destroy the map, since it's the only way to get to Ezra, the only family she has left really. So Baylan proves to be a very convincing person and talks Sabine into giving him the map, he promises her that no harm will come to her. And Baylan almost immediately shows that he can be trusted, because when Shin arrives she force chokes Sabine and wants to kill her, but Baylan calls her off and tells her to stop, since he promised Sabine that no harm will come to her, so Shin relents. Baylan reinserts the map, it can transfer the final pieces of data, Baylan, Shin and Sabine arrive on the hyperspace ring, it goes into hyperspace and as mentioned before in the wake of it Hera's squadron gets decimated and only she with the Ghost and two X-Wings survive.

When all else fails, fall back on nostalgia

But the episode does not end here, we get the twist ending treatment: Ahsoka wakes up in the World Between Worlds, she somehow, mystreriously, transported to that realm when she fell off the cliff. And first we hear a faint voice, then more clearer "I didn't expect to see you so soon" and then we get visual confirmation, Anakin Skywalker is in the World Between Worlds with Ahsoka. And now we have to wait for next week.

Overall "Fallen Jedi" was good entertainment and fun, if you do not think about things too long and hard, something that can be said about much of Star Wars of course. But the many and quite diverse duels were fun, we get a few scenes that will leave you behind with questions, like what exactly the deal with Marrock is who appears to be either some animated magic armor or some mysterious smoke creature that simply evaporates once the suit gets sliced open. The bigger question of course is if Anakin in the World Between Worlds is his force ghost version (likely) or maybe just an illusion or even Anakin from the past before he became evil. It is also unknown how or why Ahsoka ends up there in the first place.

Highlight of the episode are the scenes with Baylan, we still do not learn all that much, but he is certainly no one who is nostalgic about the order, which implies he recognized the many flaws of the old order which may even be in part to blame for turning Anakin to the dark side in the first place, because they robbed him of his mother, resulting in his many fears of loss and emotional instability. We still don't know what Baylan is up to, but chances are we will learn more about it eventually. It is absolutely tragic that Ray Stevenson passed away unexpectedly shortly before the Ahsoka premiere. We don't know of course if Baylan survives season 1, but if he does they will probably have to recast the character. Anyway, Stevenson has a very intense screen presence and as I said before, he and his character Baylan is the very best part here, and I find myself wishing the show was about him and Shin instead.

But as mentioned in the intro the weaknesses of the show are still present... an Ahsoka who feels lobotomized, joy- and emotionless. So the main character is the weakest link. Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Hera still feels fake and more like a cosplayer in a fan movie. Also, why would any responsible mother take her son on a life threatening mission that can absolutely mean the end of everyone, instead of leaving him behind in the care of a nanny or so? Sabine mostly works, and unlike Ahsoka Natasha Bordizzo is allowed to display actual emotions. In fact, even Huyang, the droid voiced by David Tennant, is more emotive than Ahsoka.    

Baylan's scene with Sabine and how he manages to convince her to give him the map was yet another highlight. He does of course tempt her, like dark siders tend to do, but he only really takes advantage of something Sabine wants anyway, to find Ezra again, and for that they need the map. It was always obvious that Sabine would never destroy the map. Ahsoka is a bad judge of character here.

Does this episode redeem season 1, or what we have seen of it so far? Not really, three pretty mediocre episodes are still three pretty mediocre episodes, but if the remaining four episodes are on the same level as "Fallen Jedi" the show would certainly leave behind a much more positive impression. But we have to wait for future episodes before we can make a final verdict.

Ahsoka however also proves how creatively bankrupt modern Star Wars is. When all else fails... fall back on nostalgia and have fan favourite characters return. The Mandalorian did this with great success with Luke Skywalker, The Book of Boba Fett tried to repeat that feat, Obi-Wan Kenobi was "Nostalgia, the series" and now Ahsoka once more gives us Anakin Skywalker, after his short cameo (as Anakin, not Vader) in Obi-Wan Kenobi. I am very happy for Hayden Christensen who didn't have the best of times after the prequels and his acting career was mostly over after the prequels. He had a few roles in low budget movies here and there after his failed big budget movie that was Jumper, so this is Hayden's return to the limelight, and he absolutely deserves it. But for Star Wars this overreliance on nostalgia is not a good thing. Used sparingly it can be a very powerful tool and even when you get it for the third or fourth time it will affect you, nostalgia is a very strong emotion. But it's also in many ways a cheap trick and a clear sign that modern Disney Star Wars has no real ideas on how to progress, the sequels which kind of tried that crashed and burned and must be considered a creative failure, even if financially successful. So instead Star Wars is all about the past. Even The Mandalorian, which started out as a space western with all new characters, has turned into a quasi Clone Wars sequel with Clone Wars characters and Luke Skywalker cameos.

So while it is of course nice to get more Anakin Skywalker it also means no one at Lucasfilm has any real ideas on how to move on, all they do is look back. Don't get me wrong, it is nice to see Anakin again, but I feel the many Star Wars series we now have should not rely on nostalgia as much and instead create something new, something that moves the overall narrative forward.

Apart from that the return of Anakin is of course very intriguing... what will he want with Ahsoka? What are his plans? Is it even the real Anakin to begin with? So if you put aside any potential philosphical issues with the overreliance on nostalgia it is a very interesting development that could, potentially, expand the canon and provide a very meaningful contribution to the greater Star Wars mythos.

One final word about the action: it was pretty good, while not on the same acrobatic level as the prequels the fights were pretty entertaining and well choreographed, it's also good to see that no or very few stunt performers were used. I love how Filoni put thought into each character's fighting style, how a Jedi fights often tells us something about their character. The prequel Jedi tended to be somewhat ostentatious, they twirled their sabers, added flourishes.... Baylan however is the very opposite. He uses his lightsaber more like a broadsword with massive, brutal and very powerful swings. Something that tells us a few things about his determination, he is a no nonsense character. But Baylan is also shown to be quick and efficient, he has a very unique way of deflecting blaster fire, he makes minimal movements, again, very quick and efficient, no unnecessary flourishes or flashy acrobatics. This is a nice touch and overall the action choreography here is pretty good, better than in Obi-Wan Kenobi.

All in all "Fallen Jedi" is an episode that most people will almost certainy like and which most will consider the best Ahsoka episode so far. The main issues of the show were less visible this time, because the episode was very focused on the action, less on dialogue and Baylan had more screen time too, which adds to the positive impression. And of course it ends on a mysterious cliffhanger that plays the nostalgia card... again. The episode was fun, just don't think too much. Relax and enjoy. Once you start thinking though you may see the shiny veneer is pretty thin.

Added: September 6, 2023
Category: Ahsoka
Reviewer: Thomas
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