Ahsoka Episode 5 Review: Anakin Skywalker’s Haunting Presence

Anakin and Ahsoka stand face-to-face in the World Between Worlds.

In the latest installment of Ahsoka’s journey, the highly anticipated live-action reunion between Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano finally unfolds. For fans of the Clone Wars series, Anakin apologists, and Star Wars aficionados, this has been a moment of eager anticipation. The prospect of witnessing the powerful acting performances of Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka and Hayden Christensen as Anakin in a live-action setting held significant promise. However, as the episode progresses, it becomes apparent that this reunion, while marked by flashes of brilliance and stunning visuals, doesn’t quite fulfill the lofty expectations set by fans.

One recurring theme throughout the episode is the heavy influence of Star Wars nostalgia. It’s a sentiment that many fans can relate to, as characters, clothing, facial expressions, and lightsaber choreography often appear as deliberate nods to the franchise’s iconic moments. This penchant for nostalgia occasionally bogs down the episode, leading viewers to feel like they’re in on an inside joke or reference, sometimes requiring a second viewing to fully grasp showrunner Dave Filoni’s intentions.

The pivotal encounter between Ahsoka and Anakin, however, leaves a somewhat mixed impression. While it’s heartwarming to see these beloved characters finally come together in live action, the interaction between them doesn’t dive as deep as some fans had hoped. Anakin’s initial observations about Ahsoka’s appearance and the playful banter that ensues hint at the camaraderie they shared, but the episode quickly shifts gears towards combat rather than conversation.

Ahsoka looks at Anakin's lightsaber.

This choice to prioritize action over dialogue in their reunion might have left some fans wanting more. The relationship between Ahsoka and Anakin is complex, marked by moments of mentorship, friendship, and ultimately, a painful separation. Many viewers anticipated a meaningful heart-to-heart conversation, a chance for the characters to address their shared history and the emotions that have lingered since their parting. Instead, the episode steers toward a lightsaber duel, albeit one choreographed with the finesse of the original trilogy’s best fights. While visually impressive, this choice might not align with what fans were truly seeking.

Furthermore, the framing of Anakin as Ahsoka’s potential teacher in this episode doesn’t fully align with the character’s development in previous series. Ahsoka’s departure from the Jedi Order in earlier shows wasn’t portrayed as a regrettable mistake but rather as a principled decision after being wrongly accused of murder. Given Anakin’s own struggles and track record, his role as a mentor raises eyebrows.

The absence of substantial conversations in this episode echoes a recurring issue in Filoni’s live-action Star Wars work. Characters often veer away from naturalistic and honest dialogues, opting instead for monologues and cryptic exchanges. While this approach can work for certain reflective moments, it falls short when characters are engaging with one another, making their interactions feel less genuine.

A scene from Kagemusha that shows a samurai wielding a sword in a colorful, surreal setting.

Despite these challenges, the episode manages to shine, largely due to the inclusion of Clone Wars flashbacks. As Ahsoka engages in a lightsaber duel with Anakin, she is transported through the Worlds Between, revisiting key moments from her past. These scenes, set in a dreamlike, half-memory space, are a visual treat for fans of Star Wars animated projects. The appearance of iconic characters and references to significant events, such as the Siege of Mandalore, deliver a dose of nostalgia done right.

Ariana Greenblatt’s portrayal of young Ahsoka in these flashbacks stands out as exceptional, capturing the character’s early earnestness and frustration. This flashback dynamic also offers a rare moment of engaging dialogue, showcasing the stark contrast between the rich storytelling potential and the episode’s preference for action over conversation.

As the episode delves into Ahsoka’s past and her relationship with Anakin, it attempts to address the multifaceted nature of their connection. Anakin’s role as both a mentor and a complex figure in Ahsoka’s life comes into focus. However, the episode’s execution leaves some viewers perplexed. Anakin’s character oscillates between different facets, including caring mentor, stern war leader, and Darth Vader, which might confuse audiences regarding Ahsoka’s feelings toward him.

Anakin and Ahsoka stand back-to-back during the Clone Wars.

The episode’s attempt to provide closure and redemption for Anakin’s character feels somewhat hurried, making it unclear whether it aims to satisfy Ahsoka or the viewers’ desire for a redeemed Anakin. This ambiguity could be attributed to dialogue choices or editing decisions, resulting in a slightly confusing narrative.

Despite these narrative challenges, the episode features a visually striking sequence where the Worlds Between condenses into water, submerging Ahsoka. She awakens on Seatos, rescued by one of Hera’s pilots, with Anakin’s name on her lips. Whether this experience was a dream or a profound encounter is left open to interpretation, adding a layer of mystery to Ahsoka’s character.

As the episode progresses, Ahsoka’s character undergoes a transformation. She taps into the Force to connect with Sabine’s memories embedded in a discarded map, revealing her determination to find her lost friend. This newfound resolve is juxtaposed against the backdrop of space whales, the purrgil, who make a convenient return to aid her quest. Ahsoka’s interactions with these majestic creatures are a testament to her growth and her evolving understanding of the Force.

Anakin Skywalker stands in front of a window in Revenge of the Sith.

In this episode, Ahsoka appears lighter and more liberated, seemingly unburdened by past regrets or conflicts. Her transformation is symbolized by her change in appearance, donning all-white attire that signifies her newfound perspective. This portrayal aligns with Dave Filoni’s tendency to draw parallels between Ahsoka and Gandalf the Gray from The Lord of the Rings, emphasizing her role as a wise and transformative character.

The episode concludes with Ahsoka’s departure alongside the purrgil, embarking on a journey of discovery to find Sabine. Her farewell to Hera, delivered with emotional resonance, adds depth to their relationship. As the purrgil jump to hyperspace, their destination remains unknown, leaving viewers intrigued about the adventures that lie ahead for Ahsoka.

In sum, Ahsoka Episode 5 offers moments of brilliance and beauty, particularly in its visual storytelling. However, it grapples with messy dialogue and a somewhat convoluted narrative. While Dave Filoni has the potential to craft compelling narratives within the Star Wars universe, some fans might find themselves hoping for a more refined execution. Nonetheless, despite its imperfections, this episode represents a notable improvement in Star Wars storytelling and offers a promising glimpse of what’s to come in Ahsoka’s journey.

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