The Star Wars universe is about to be shaken up in a big way again. And it’s a crew of familiar Rebel scum who are doing it once more.
It’s been five years since the animated series Star Wars Rebels ended after four seasons of taking the Star Wars universe in all sorts of new directions and introducing numerous new ideas, characters, concepts, myths, and lore along the way. In 2018, the series with a cliffhanger that has been left unresolved ... until now.
With Star Wars: Ahsoka, which premiered today on Disney+ Hotstar, we are finally getting a show that continues the story of not just the titular former Jedi, but also the crew of the Ghost, and Admiral Thrawn as well.
But in case you’re not familiar with Star Wars Rebels, here is a primer. The animated series ran for four seasons from 2014 to 2018, and was set before the events of the Original Trilogy. It was about a small rebel cell based in Lothal that wound up being one of the most pivotal and important cogs in the forming of the Rebellion against the Empire.
Among the members of this Rebel cell was ace pilot and captain of the starship The Ghost, Hera Syndulla (played in live-action by Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and her handy but cranky droid Chopper; Mandalorian weapons expert Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo); the hot-headed Lasat warrior Zeb (who made a cameo in the last season of The Mandalorian); a Jedi named Kanan; and his padawan Ezra Bridger (Eman Esfandi).
Together, they fought the Empire, and were even involved in a few missions that were hugely important to the Rebellion in the lead up to the events of the Original Trilogy.
The former Jedi Ahsoka Tano herself was a recurring character in Rebels, and even wound up fighting Darth Vader himself. She was seemingly killed in that fight, but was later saved by a time-travelling Ezra (it’s a long story, so just go with it).
Ahsoka is set in roughly the same timeline as The Mandalorian, which in turn takes place after the events of Return Of The Jedi and during the early days of the New Republic.
In it, Ahsoka (played in live action by Rosario Dawson) is on the hunt for a star map that could finally show the location of Ezra, who had sacrificed himself by transporting himself and Grand Admiral Thrawn (played by Lars Mikkelsen, who also voiced the character in Rebels) via hyperspace to an unknown location, and was presumably lost or dead. To do so, she teams up with the crew of the Ghost again.
But she is not the only one on that quest, as former Imperial Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) is seeking to bring back Thrawn to become the new heir to the Empire, and has recruited former Jedi turned mercenary Baylan Skoli (Ray Stevenson) and his apprentice Shin Hat (Ivanna Sakhno) to hunt down Ahsoka and her allies.
While almost 90% of her story was told in the animated shows like The Clone Wars and Rebels, the live-action version of Ahsoka has at least already made her debut in The Mandalorian.
However, unlike The Mandalorian, which pretty much started Din Djarin and Grogu’s story from scratch; or Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Book Of Boba Fett, which featured long established characters; Ahsoka is more of a continuation of Star Wars Rebels than it is just about her.
Therefore, for those who are not as well-versed with the Rebels characters and stories, Ahsoka may be a bit of a head-scratcher. In fact, fans who only began their Star Wars TV journey with The Mandalorian and not the animated shows might need a little time to get acquainted with ‘new’ characters like Sabine, Hera, Chopper and Thrawn might seem a bit abrupt.
For longtime fans of Rebels, however, this is the sequel, or rather, ‘Season Five’ of the show we have been pining for. The transition from animation to live-action isn’t perfect, but what we’ve seen so far of Winstead and Liu Bordizzo’s performances are enough to give us a new hope.
The first two episodes are packed with exposition so some scenes tend to drag on quite a bit, but it is a necessary move in order to get the non-Rebels viewers up to speed.
We still get quite a bit of action though, including a number of lightsaber fights, space battles, and even an Andor-esque investigation into a suspected illegal operation by former Imperials.
With another six episodes to go, there is plenty of time to bed in the other characters from the Rebels crew, and also introduce Thrawn as the new big bad villain of the (live-action) franchise.
There’s even an appearance of Hayden Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker to come, so it’s still too early to judge Ahsoka on the basis of just two episodes.
But if you’re a Rebels fan or one who has been following Ahsoka’s journey since she was a young padawan in The Clone Wars, this is without a doubt a must watch.
Star Wars: Ahsoka is now streaming on Disney+ Hotstar with new episodes every Wednesday.
A must-watch for Rebels fans