The Dark Herald Does Not Recommend: Ahsoka
I think it’s safe to say that The Star Wars Holiday Special is in no way the worst show in the franchise. I’ll give it credit where it’s due, it felt more like a Galaxy, Far, Far Away than anything I’ve seen since 2017. At least the Holiday Special was a self contained story. Ahsoka is nothing short of an ad for Star Wars The Next Thing.
LucasFilm is currently controlled by the Portland Community College Creative Writing faculty. Or it may as well be because that is the quality of storytelling that Ahsoka brought to the table. This show was the product of the Disney Civil War, there was too much fighting at the top to pay attention to sub-basement-level storytelling that Filoni and company delivered.
This show was fascinating in its creative incompetence. It. Got. Every. Single. Thing. Wrong.
This was the purest distillation of the Force is Female ideology that the LucasFilm Story Group has wanted to indulge itself in for years. Only Dave Filoni, a man who clearly has ovaries in his ball sack, could have delivered to the small screen.
Listing the problems will take a while so I better get started.
First; assumed familiarity with the backstory.
LucasFilm is now so insular that they take it for granted that everyone knows what they know about the Filoni-lore. The truth is that Rebels and the Clone Wars were cartoons. Clone Wars was reasonably popular for its run but Rebels was a show on Disney XD which was an optional tier level back then. The audience was never there. The vast majority of casual Star Wars fans didn’t feel any need to watch it and so they didn’t. This entire show was a continuation of a story about characters that no one knew anything about.
Worse still, there were some backstory elements that hadn’t been shown anywhere at any time. Sabine had been Ashoka’s padawan at some point after Rebels but that relationship had ended acrimoniously. This has never been portrayed on TV or in books. Even Rebels fans were left going, huh? Finally, there was the Big Bad; Grand Admiral Thrawn. Why is this guy such a threat to the New Republic is never brought up. I will grant there was a lot of anticipation built up about this guy in The Mandalorian. Cool. But casual fans who are just Culturalists and Flirts, the people who didn’t read the books or watch Rebels have been given no reason to believe Thrawn is any kind of a threat to regime stability.
This backstory problem was far from insolvable, you would have had to have burned up an episode bringing the audience up to speed but the show needed an entry point. It would take a lot of good and careful writing to accomplish but it was far from impossible:
General Hera is watching some lecture disapprovingly at the New Republic Star Academy. Lecturer is talking about how Grand Admiral Thrawn did the brilliant THING at the Battle of PLACE thus snatching defeat from the Jaws of Victory. Lots of little shiny boom-booms are happening in the holo tank and the cadets are gasping in amazement.
Instructor NAMEHERE: Is there a problem with the lecture General?
Hera: No. There’s a problem with the cadets. The way their eyes get all glassy when hear about what a miracle worker that bastard (profanity required for emphasis in this case) was.
Instructor NAMEHERE: But he was a miracle worker General.
Hera (Cold angry stare): I gather you never met him.
Instructor NAMEHERE: He’s gone, General. Even if Thrawn was still alive he won’t be coming back. Besides, they are young. When you are that age it’s hard not to admire a man who was the very best, even if the cause he served was the worst in history.
Hera turns angrily and stalks off.
Less than thirty seconds and you know everything you need to for the purposes of this show. Filoni and company never thought they could possibly need such a scene. They just assumed everybody would know all they needed to.
This show was for all intents and purposes a live-action version of season six of Star Wars Rebels.
This is the only aspect of the show that was hit or miss. Some of the casting was fine, Ray Stevenson and Diana Lee Inosanto were stuck with the Atlas-like task of having to carry the entire weight of the series on their shoulders. Lars Mikkelsen did fine as Thrawn’s voice actor but he doesn’t have anywhere near the physicality required for the role. He was Dad-Bod Thrawn. The worst casting choice was the title role, Rosario Dawson. She was hopelessly miscast for a role that requires the physicality something like this does.
Her other problem was screen presence. Her screen presence has always had a lot a lot do with sexuality. Fine, it’s Hollywood baby. But now she’s in her mid-forties and while she can do Mom roles this isn’t that. She was the wrong choice to headline the show.
Third; Direction. Filoni has never directed live actors before and it shows. He’s trying to do things directors he admires have done in the past. There are lots of scenes where the characters say nothing, pause, and look at each other for a significant length of time. If you have Sir Alec Guinness, that’s doable. If you have Rosario Dawson and Natasha Liu Bordizzo it is not. You just end up with a lot of awkward, boring, and blank screen time, which this show did.
Fourth; Continuity. Yeah. There wasn’t any.
Fifth; Writer’s Room Fan-Fiction.
Where. To. Start(?).
At the launch of Indiana Jones V, (before she went radio silent), Kathleen Kennedy started saying how Star Wars needed to go beyond George Lucas. What she appears to have meant by this was the weird-ass Wicca bullshit shot gunned randomly all over this show. We now have witches in Star Wars.
In the last episode, something called the Sword of Thalron(?) is introduced. What the fuck is it? Is a perfectly reasonable question. Hell, I didn’t know. Didn’t have a clue. This is like a self-published fantasy writer stopping the story after the line “her face was suddenly chopped off” to do a fifty-page continuous bullshit lore dump.
You dumb bitches in the LucasFilm writing room are not Tolkien!
Sixth: Ripping off Tolkien.
It was all over the place. Ahsoka returns from the underworld after losing a duel and she is now Ahsoka The White. Not kidding about that guys. There is also the blatant theft of the Argonath from The Lord of the Rings, one of the final shots of the show is Baylan Skol standing on Isildur’s outreached hand.
Seventh; character motivation.
Character motivation was whatever the show needed it to be. Sabine desperately wanted to be reunited with Ezra. Why? In Rebels, it is made plain that Ezra has a major crush on Sabine but she just viewed him as a friend. Honestly, that made sense in the context of Rebels. Ezra was a barely teen and Sabine was a pretty, older teen. Him falling for her but her having no interest in him scanned. That was fine. But her determination to be reunited with Ezra even at risk of setting a gigantic threat to everything they had worked for like Thrawn free only makes sense if Sabine was in love with Ezra. And, that would have worked too.
Sabine found a bunch of recordings that Ezra had made moaning on and on about how super-wonderful and amazing she was. Okay, in the real world, it just would have been awkward and embarrassing but again decent writing could have made it work.
Sabine (tears starting to fall): I couldn’t leave myself open to how much hurt it could bring. Not in that time and that place. I always hoped there might be a little time for us some other when.
There would have actually been some emotional impact when they were finally reunited
Nope. That would have taken waaaay too much power away from stronk wahman Sabine. Consequently, she threw Ezra’s sacrifice away by opening the door for Thrawn’s return because she wanted to find her “good friend.” No woman in history has made that big of a sacrifice for an orbiter. When Sabine and Ezra were reunited it was this weird, “Hey, dude sup,” moment. The emotional letdown for the audience was completely anti-cathartic. It was barely possible to feel disappointment. Ezra willingly sacrificed himself to take Thrawn out of the picture, he was resigned to life in eternal exile. Sabine undid that sacrifice for no better reason than to find her “bro.” This is terrible feminist writing.
Eighth; dumb writers trying to write smart characters.
Thrawn got done the dirtiest in this show and it was mostly because the writers’ room was too stupid to write a high-intelligence character. They kept trying to make Thrawn look like a genius but it felt like Pee-Wee Herman saying, “I meant to do that!” His plans were dumb as ditch water, so when they failed there would be some line along the lines of, “No, I won anyway because… I didn’t lose. Just accept it.”
Ninth; Force Witches and Zombie Stormtroopers.
You heard me. Zombie Stormtroopers are now canonical to Star Wars. Thanks, Dave!
Tenth; fight choreography: The fight choreography was absolutely pathetic. It was about as bad as Alec Guinness versus David Prowess. In fairness, Alec was old and David was wearing a helmet with zero visibility. They had an excuse. The only thing I can think of is that no decent sword master will work with LucasFilm (that’s a guess on my part but given how they do business it isn’t a bad one).
Eleventh; Payoffs with no setup.
I’ll go with the worst one. At the mid-point of the show, Ahsoka loses a fight with her antagonist Baylan Skol. She drops into the ocean and has an out-of-body experience. She relieves her life with Anakin acting as her spirit guide. At the end of it, she decides to live.
Problem, this is supposed to be both a climax and a catharsis for the character. You have to have an extended buildup of emotional crisis first. For no discernable reason, she’s suddenly terrified she’ll become another Darth Vader. Why? Is a question that isn’t even considered. Somebody in the writer’s room just really, really liked that Episode of Buffy where she went catatonic and Willow had to go inside her head to figure out what the problem was.
Twelfth; fan response.
Oh, this was sad. At this point, the only fans left are the Filoni Advocates. These poor schmucks are desperately trying to convince everyone, most especially themselves that this show was so much better than it actually is. I ran into this on Twitter a lot during the course of the series.
Rando Tweeter: Ahsoka is broken because THING
Filoni fan Tweeter: No, you don’t get it. What is really going on here is THING THAT NEVER HAPPENED OR WAS REFERENCED EVEN ONCE IN THE SHOW. These pathetic Star Wars jack-wagons are frantically writing their own fanfic in a vain attempt to make Ahsoka better than it really is. This is beyond tragic.
Basically, Ahsoka was made by people who know they won’t get fired no matter how bad of a show they turn in. I wish I could say they’re wrong.
Yes, Filoni’s wife is in the LucasFilm StoryGroup.
In summary, this series was under-directed, poorly choreographed, badly written, and was relying on memberberries that the vast majority of the TV audience can’t remember because they never freaking saw the source material. As there is absolutely no reason to see this…
The Dark Herald Does Not Recommend Ahsoka