Finally, after five episodes of anticipation and finger-wagging, Ahsoka shows us Grand Admiral Thrawn. He’s just been sitting in this other pocket of the universe, surrounded by stormtroopers, waiting to be found. Very convenient!
I shouldn’t complain too much, ‘Part Six’ of the Star Wars show brings sorely missed propulsion to the story. The Star Wars series has been preoccupied with nostalgia and shoehorning references built on fan-service, like Ahsoka episode 5’s jaunt into The Clone Wars.
That might be one of the best animated series, but there was something so self-aggrandizing about bringing Hayden Christensen back just to relive these scenes. But I digress – ‘Part Six’ offers Thrawn, in all his glory, and the return of Ezra Bridger, the Star Wars character at the root of all this.
Baylan, Shin, and Morgan bring Sabine Wren to Thrawn’s location on Peridea, a planet crucial to the Nightsisters. They’re met by a group of the witches, who take Sabine away before where they get an audience with the former imperial officer. He still has his army, welcoming them with his particular brands of soldiers, called Night Troopers.
There was very little chance Thrawn’s presence could fully deliver on the expectation Dave Filoni created. Nonetheless, Lars Mikkelsen holds steady as a menacing leader who’s ready to step up and start truly rebuilding the Galactic Empire. The visuals here are classic Star Wars, an ominous brigade standing lock foot behind a perfectly dressed fascist dictator.
As his first port of call, he decides to use Sabine to find Ezra, who’s been laying low on Peridea. Cut to Sabine, who finds an opportunity to escape from her robot guards and takes it, little knowing this is part of the plan. She pokes through the landscape, finding other inhabitants who recognize Ezra’s name, leading to a village and the man himself.
Filoni treated Ezra and Thrawn much the same in his build-up, one based on love and the other fear. Ezra’s comeback manages to be considerably better because it’s so understated. He just needed to be alive and Sabine and Ahsoka would be satisfied, whereas the actual Thrawn would always struggle to live up to the anxiety he inspires.
The best Star Wars villains are frequently built on deeds rather than reputation. Darth Vader’s arrival in the Star Wars movies, or Kylo Ren torturing someone to open The Force Awakens. Sometimes they just look cool AF like General Grievous. Thrawn was all about excitement based on 30 year old Expanded Universe novels without internal narrative heft.
Someone wanting their friend back is an easy emotion, someone being the arbiter of a new dark age is trickier to outline, and that’s been Filoni’s big failing on Ahsoka so far. There’s still time, as it’s teased that Baylan and Thrawn won’t be allies for much longer.
A classic double cross, and probably a redemption for Baylan, who states that he still has some love for the “idea” of the Jedi, but not the organization. Shin may very well become part of the nomadic creed that Ahsoka chooses at the end of all this.
Speaking of our eponymous former Jedi, she only appears in one scene, flying with the space whales, where she and Huyang chat galaxy history. Huyang says the classic Star War preamble out loud, and I groaned almost as loudly as when Solo: A Star Wars Story made the Imperial march an in-universe piece of music. Star Wars worships many things, itself first and foremost, and I fear these stories will swim in circles until we’re all sick of it.
Ahsoka is streaming now on Disney Plus. Check out our guides on the Star Wars movies in order and new Star Wars movies for more from a galaxy far, far away, and we have articles on The Marvels and Avatar 3 if you want spacefaring of a different kind.
We finally meet Thrawn in a broiling episode of Ahsoka that finally starts to redeem some plodding storytelling.