In the Star Wars prequel Revenge of the Sith, we see Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker frantically trying to right a damaged ship careening towards Coruscant before it simply explodes. In recent years, that has become an apt metaphor for the Disney era of Star Wars: after high-profile disasters like The Rise of Skywalker, the studio has been putting out high-profile shows like The Mandalorian in an attempt to convince fans that this franchise isn’t destined to simply crash and burn. Ahsoka was meant to be the crowning jewel of these efforts, but this popular show may accidentally ruin Star Wars as we know it.
Ahsoka’s success could mean Disney is likely to push more limited Star Wars series over major movies.
Now, let’s get the obvious out of the way: Ahsoka was a crowd-pleasing show that more or less served as a fifth season of the popular Star Wars Rebels show. Fans were treated to live-action portrayals of amazing characters like Sabine Wren and Hera Syndulla, and getting to see Grand Admiral Thrawn in live-action was something old-school Star Wars EU fans have waited decades to experience.
The show even threw in cool lightsaber battles, some stunning visuals, and the return of Hayden Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker, so why do we have such a bad feeling about what this show will do to the Star Wars franchise as a whole?
First off, Ahsoka is the biggest offender when it comes to the long-running Disney+ sin of turning everything that could have been a long and entertaining season into a limited-episode special event. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney will actually be moving away from this format for its Marvel shows so that “characters can take time to develop relationships with the audience rather than feeling as if they are there as a setup for a big crossover event.”
Meanwhile, Star Wars seems stuck with the endless setup format…for example, it’s an open secret that we’ll be getting a major Thrawn series or film in which he helps rally the Empire into a going concern for the fledgling New Republic.
Because of this, the studio will continue to cancel ambitious films that might actually do something new (like Patty Jenkin’s Rogue Squadron film) in favor of the televised soup of the day…
Let’s be honest: wouldn’t you rather skip straight to that epic moment rather than spend six long episodes waiting for his intergalactic Uber to show up and bring him home? However, we’re stuck with a series designed only to set up other series, and that only happened because the ending of Star Wars Rebels set up the need to explain how both Thrawn and Ezra Bridger return.
How does this translate to Ahsoka ruining the venerable Star Wars franchise, though? For one thing, the general success of the show (on Rotten Tomatoes, it has an 86 percent critical score and a 70 percent audience score) sends the message to Disney that fans are content to receive nothing but televised appetizers instead of major entrees.
Because of this, the studio will continue to cancel ambitious films that might actually do something new (like Patty Jenkin’s Rogue Squadron film) in favor of the televised soup of the day (spoilers: it’s always lukewarm nostalgia).
No matter how much you like Ahsoka, we should all be able to agree that this is sloppy storytelling that’s almost as bad as the casual “somehow, Palpatine returned” storytelling of The Rise of Skywalker.
Additionally, the show gives us our clearest view yet of the fact that the Star Wars franchise is trapped by its own increasingly complex canon. For example, we know that The Force Awakens takes place only 22 years after Ahsoka, and that film firmly establishes that there are no trained Jedi left in the galaxy except for Luke Skywalker’s cranky old ass.
Fans might naturally wonder where Jedi like Ahsoka and Sabine are, and because the franchise is unable to deviate from the awful lore of the Sequel Trilogy and unwilling to kill off these fan-favorite characters, they get unceremoniously stranded on a planet that is literally in a galaxy far, far away.
No matter how much you like Ahsoka, we should all be able to agree that this is sloppy storytelling that’s almost as bad as the casual “somehow, Palpatine returned” storytelling of The Rise of Skywalker. Again, the positive fan reaction to this show and its clumsy writing sends a message to Disney that Star Wars fans don’t care about quality storytelling as long as we get to see shiny lightsabers.
…as the credits of the final episode rolled, we were struck by how little these episodes moved the plot forward and how much of its potential was wasted.
Speaking of lightsabers, we’ll almost certainly get at least one series focusing on Ahsoka and Sabine squaring off against the two Dark Jedi, allowing the studio to milk these characters without the series threatening the franchise’s tangled web of lore.
Interestingly, Star Wars already has a show that has paved the way for how future spinoffs should be handled. Andor combined adult storytelling and amazing acting with a longer structure (12 episodes compared to the usual six) that allowed character relationships to build even as the finale left us breathlessly excited about what was going to happen next season.
That’s the complete opposite of Ahsoka, where the most exciting aspect of the finale was imagining Thrawn finally kicking New Republic ass. However, that’s exactly what most fans were looking forward to before this Star Wars spinoff aired its first episode, meaning that this story of characters hopping galaxies felt a lot like a show simply spinning its wheels in place.
Ironically enough, this is the one time when The Rise of Skywalker story treatment might have worked: wouldn’t you rather hear “somehow, Thrawn and Ezra returned” if it meant we got to jump right into the real story instead of wading through six episodes of setup and filler?
Before you Star Wars fans bust out the Youngling Slayer 9000 on us, we’d like to reiterate that there is much to love about Ahsoka: the show is perfectly cast, has great action scenes, and even gave fans a manic Sith-y dream girl to pant about online. But having all the best ingredients doesn’t mean much if nobody knows how to cook, and as the credits of the final episode rolled, we were struck by how little these episodes moved the plot forward and how much of its potential was wasted.
If the future of Star Wars is nothing but a pointless setup, the franchise should definitely rope Mark Hamill back in but without the CGI. Forget Ahsoka: how about six episodes of elderly Luke Skywalker learning to control his lactose intolerance so he can suck down that green milk even more passionately than Han Solo doing shots of space whiskey in Mos Eisley?
If that happens, though, you better brace yourself for weird fanboys screaming about how Luke Skywalker using the sacred Jedi texts as a toilet reader took the franchise in a bold and visionary new direction.