7 Things the Disney+ ‘Ahsoka’ Show Must Do To Save ‘Star Wars’

in Entertainment, Star Wars

Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson) lifting her hood

Credit: Lucasfilm

As the upcoming Star Wars spinoff, Ahsoka, gears up for its release on Disney+, the pressure is on for the show to succeed. Amid a tumultuous year for Lucasfilm and its parent company, Disney, Ahsoka has the rare potential to rescue what many fans consider to be a dying franchise from certain doom. But in order to do this, and improve its chances of getting a Season 2 renewal, here are seven things Ahsoka Tano’s solo adventure needs to achieve in its eight-episode run first.

Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano
Credit: Lucasfilm

What Is ‘Ahsoka’ About?

Cast, storyline, and release date

After making her live-action debut in Season 2 of The Mandalorian, Rosario Dawson’s take on Ahsoka Tano made it clear that Disney and Lucasfilm had serious intentions for the character moving forward.

Once the immature and snarky apprentice of Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker (as shown in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series), Ahsoka was initially rejected by fans but gradually became a fan-favorite over the show’s seven seasons. Since then, she’s appeared in additional projects like Star Wars Rebels and the Disney+ Tales of the Jedi anthology series, where Ashley Eckstein voices her.

Ahsoka Tano in "A Friend in Need" in The Clone Wars
Credit: Lucasfilm

Related: Ahsoka Actress Cried After Fans Slammed Her for Being “Too Bratty”

With Ahsoka being a franchise staple for the better part of 15 years, it’s safe to say that her solo series has been a long time coming. The Disney+ show was first announced at the 2020 Disney Investors Day, with longtime Star Wars creator Dave Filoni attached.

While story specifics remain scarce, Ahsoka will follow an older and wiser version of Dawson’s titular ex-Jedi as she reunites with some old friends to track down a familiar threat to the galaxy: Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen). Check out the official trailer below:

Ahsoka will bring several familiar faces from Rebels into live-action, with Mary Elizabeth Winstead playing Rebel General Hera Syndulla, Eman Esfandi playing missing Jedi Ezra Bridger, and Natasha Liu Bordizzo set to take over the role of Mandalorian Sabine Wren. Mikkelsen, who voiced Thrawn in animation, will also portray him in Ahsoka, much to the delight of fans.

Newcomers include Ivanna Sakhno and the late Ray Stevenson, who play mysterious Force users Shin Hati and Baylan Skoll, respectively. The Mandalorian alum Diana Lee Inosanto will also reprise her role as Nightsister Morgan Elsbeth, a cunning warrior loyal to Thrawn’s cause.

Shin Hati in 'Ahsoka'
Credit: Lucasfilm

Related: Disney Goes Too Far: Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan Will Be Axed From ‘Star Wars’, Report Says

We’re likely in for some additional surprises, with rumored cameos already making their rounds across the internet. After Rebels’ Garazeb “Zeb” Orrelios made his unexpected live-action debut in Season 3 of The Mandalorian, voiced again by Steve Blum, it seems almost a sure bet that the brutish Lasat will pop up in Ahsoka to reunite with the members of his former crew.

zeb mandalorian s3 cameo
Credits: Lucasfilm

There’s also speculation that popular Clone Wars character Captain Rex will show up during Ahsoka’s hour of need, where legendary Star Wars actor Temuera Morrison will presumably play him. The show’s two-episode premiere will be available for streaming on Disney+ beginning August 23, with episodes scheduled to release every Wednesday at 12 a.m. PST.

Connections to Dave Filoni’s “Mando-Verse”

It goes without saying that Ahsoka will have some pretty substantial connections to the greater “Mando-Verse,” considering Dawson’s character made her big live-action introduction in The Mandalorian Season 2. In “Chapter 13: The Jedi,” Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) tracks down Ahsoka in his ongoing effort to return his Force-wielding foundling to his people.

After finding Ahsoka on the planet Corvus, the former Jedi refuses to train baby Grogu, insisting that she’s ill-suited for the mentor role—perhaps referencing her time working with Sabine. It’s then that Mando and Ahsoka go their separate ways so that Ahsoka can complete her mission: interrogating Morgan Elsbeth for information on Thrawn’s whereabouts.

beskar spear
Credit: Lucasfilm

Ahsoka also—briefly—appeared in the Mando-centric episodes of The Book of Boba Fett on Disney+, where she had a heartwarming interaction with a CGI-hybrid Luke Skywalker who agreed to train Grogu in The Mandalorian‘s Season 2 finale. While we’re all too familiar with how Luke’s Jedi school turned out by now, Grogu learned a great deal about his Force abilities thanks to the Jedi Master.

With all of the Dave Filoni-helmed Disney+ Star Wars shows all being connected in one way or another, there’s no question that Ahsoka will play a significant role in the upcoming “Mando-Verse” crossover movie. The project was announced at this year’s Star Wars Celebration Europe, and will bring together characters from all corners of the universe, including The Mandalorian, The Book of Boba Fett, Ahsoka, and Jude Law’s Skeleton Crew in an epic cinematic event that could very well be Lucasfilm’s most lucrative film since 2019’s Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker.

ahsoka tano (left) and luke skywalker (right) in the book of boba fett episode 6
Credit: Lucasfilm

Why Lucasfilm Needs a Big Win With ‘Ahsoka’

‘Indiana Jones 5’ bomb

It’s no secret that Disney is dipping into the red when it comes to its latest string of box office releases. The live-action remake of The Little Mermaid (2023) and the more recent Haunted Mansion (2023) failed to draw in audiences beyond their opening weekends, spelling trouble for the company amid the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes which are currently bringing their productions to a standstill.

Still from Dial of Destiny
Credit: Lucasfilm

Still, Harrison Ford’s final adventure as the eponymous hero in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023) is shaping up to be not only Lucasfilm’s biggest commercial flop of 2023, but perhaps ever. With the movie’s staggering $350 million budget, it’s barely managed to break even at the box office, with its unimpressive haul being nothing short of a disaster for CEO Bob Iger and Lucasfilm. Because of this, Lucasfilm needs to turn things around—and fast. And what better solution than to direct their focus toward their ultra-lucrative Star Wars franchise? If Ahsoka can manage to surpass fans’ expectations and rake in millions of views on Disney+, the show could fix things for Disney and Lucasfilm—at least for now.

Fans are losing faith in ‘Star Wars’

Star Wars fans are nothing if not extremely vocal about sharing their opinions, and the backlash to some of Lucasfilm’s more recent projects certainly proves it. For one, the legendary hate surrounding the Disney-led Sequel Trilogy was reminiscent of the scathing reviews the Prequels received back in the early 2000s, but arguably worse, thanks to the megaphone that is modern-day social media.

the mandalorian season 2 mission to morak (l-r) bill burr as migs mayfeld, gina carano as cara dune, ming-na wen as fennec shand, pedro pascal as din djarin, and temuera morrison as boba fett
Credit: Lucasfilm

Since turning their efforts towards expanding their presence on Disney+, some of Lucasfilm’s TV shows like The Book of Boba Fett and the Obi-Wan Kenobi miniseries were also met with pointed criticisms, with many even blasting Disney for “killing” George Lucas’ galaxy far, far away. But given that Ahsoka is such a beloved character and Dave Filoni is a generally trusted figure within the Star Wars universe, Ahsoka could redeem the franchise in the eyes of many disillusioned fans.

7 Things ‘Ahsoka’ Must Do To Succeed

7. Explore Ahsoka’s complicated relationship with Sabine

Based on what we know from the trailers, Ahsoka will heavily showcase the former Jedi’s strained relationship with Sabine Wren, the Mandalorian warrior with an artistic flare that served alongside the Ghost crew for all four seasons of Rebels. Since the show’s finale, Sabine has felt guilty about not searching for Ezra, who disappeared into the Unknown Regions after facing off against Thrawn.

Ahsoka seems to have taken Sabine in as her sort of pseudo-padawan in the wake of Ezra’s disappearance, though whether or not Sabine is actually Force-sensitive or just handy with a lightsaber remains to be seen. While it’s unclear why Ahsoka left Sabine’s training early or why Sabine has such resentment for her former “Master,” it might be because Sabine felt she and Ahsoka weren’t doing enough to find Ezra.

sabine wren live-action
Credit: Lucasfilm

6. Showcase the bond between Ahsoka and Anakin (in the form of a Hayden Christensen cameo)

Recently, The Making Star Wars Show addressed a long-standing rumor that when Ahsoka journeys into the World Between Worlds, she’ll look into a sort of portal of alternate universes. In one of them, Ahsoka will reportedly see a timeline where a younger version of herself and Obi-Wan attempt to pull Anakin back to the Light Side on Mustafar, but instead of defeating him, as seen in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005), he’ll strike down Obi-Wan, showing that there was nothing she could do to save him.

This aligns with the all-but-confirmed understanding that Hayden Christensen will reprise his role as Darth Vader for Ahsoka, which Rosario Dawson accidentally revealed in a now-deleted 2021 Instagram post.

Anakin Skywalker (Mat Lanter) and Ahsoka Tano (Ashley Eckstein) talking in 'Tales of the Jedi'
Credit: Lucasfilm

With Anakin widely believed to be returning to Star Wars as “Sky Guy” once more, Ahsoka has the opportunity to highlight the intense bond between this former master-apprentice duo. The two were shown to have a close relationship throughout The Clone Wars’ seven seasons and more recently in Tales of the Jedi. 

Anakin was like a brother to Ahsoka, and to drive home just how tragic their separation truly was, Ahsoka needs to feature some emotionally-dense character moments between the two. This could take the form of flashbacks or maybe even Anakin as a Force Ghost, imparting wisdom on his old padawan from beyond the grave. Either way, more than an Anakin namedrop will be needed to get this point across.

5. Set up Dave Filoni’s “Mando-Verse” crossover

Ahsoka has some heavy lifting to do when it comes to setting up Dave Filoni’s “Mando-Verse” crossover. Although the film doesn’t have a release date as of now, the series needs to set up some important plot points leading into the film, especially Thrawn and his role in the ever-changing galaxy. But Ahsoka also has to, in some capacity, explore her relationship with the other heroes of the “Mando-Verse,” explaining how she, Mando, Boba, and others will eventually need to join forces to defeat Thrawn and his fleet.

To properly prepare audiences for the team-up flick, Ahsoka also needs to clarify this point in the timeline while also laying the groundwork for what exactly the galaxy-wide threat will be, and how it comes to happen. 

Mando (Pedro Pascal) and Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson)
Credit: Lucasfilm

4. Address loose plot threads from ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars,’ including Order 66

It’s about time fans’ dedication to the animated Clone Wars series paid off, and Ahsoka might just be the best show to do it. We already know that the series will have a lot of connective tissue to Star Wars Rebels, but The Clone Wars, which is widely considered to be one of the best pieces of Star Wars media since the Original Trilogy, hasn’t really gotten its due diligence in live-action yet. Given that Ahsoka Tano got her start in animation, it seems impossible for her upcoming solo show not to feature callbacks to The Clone Wars. 

Ahsoka and Rex in 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars'
Credit: Lucasfilm

Whether this be in the form of Captain Rex and perhaps, other clones, Ahsoka namedropping Prequel Era Jedi like Obi-Wan and Plo-Koon, or even showing flashbacks to her days on the battlefield, Ahsoka can finally do right by fans who watched (and probably, cried) The Clone Wars throughout the formative years of their lives.

And yes, even though some fans are sick and tired of seeing Order 66 flashbacks, it’s important to highlight this pivotal moment, which irreversibly changed the course of Ahsoka’s life forever. With Ahsoka set to explore a wiser, more “Gandalf the White” version of the character, she’ll need to reflect back on, and fully accept the atrocities that defined her past in order to move on.

3. Give Ahsoka Tano her time to shine

One repeating issue in recent Disney+ Star Wars projects is that the focus is almost always diverted away from the main character. Take the Obi-Wan Kenobi show, for instance, which, despite following Ewan McGregor’s legendary Jedi Master post-Order 66, spent perhaps an unnecessary amount of time building up backstories for less essential characters like Moses Ingram’s Third Sister, Indira Varma’s Tala Durith, and even Kumail Nanjiani’s goofy Jedi impersonator, Haja Estree.

This loaded cast took away valuable screen time from Obi-Wan and especially Darth Vader, with many feeling “scammed” by Hayden Christen’s highly-awaited return to Star Wars, only for him to appear in the show for a handful of scenes.

darth vader broken mask obi-wan season 1 finale
Credit: Lucasfilm

But perhaps the most egregious example of Star Wars overshadowing legacy characters is The Book of Boba Fett, which virtually ignored Temuera Morrison’s iconic bounty hunter in favor of adding not one, but two episodes centered around the Mandalorian. With both Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Book of Boba Fett having short six and seven-episode seasons, respectively, many felt their own leading characters were unjustifiably replaced. Ahsoka can’t afford to follow suit with just eight episodes to tell its story, meaning it will have to balance enough Ahsoka-centric moments with those epic Star Wars Rebels reunions.

2. Have memorable connections to ‘Star Wars Rebels’

Dave Filoni has previously stated that Season 1 of Ahsoka acts as a sort of de facto Season 5 of Star Wars Rebels. For those unfamiliar with the show, it aired on Disney XD from 2014 to 2018 and follows the Rebel crew of the starship Ghost as they join in the fight against the Galactic Empire.

Ahsoka was a recurring character in the series and played a crucial role in important Season 2 and Season 4 arcs. In the legendary “Twilight of the Apprentice” episode, Ahsoka even fights her former Master, now Darth Vader, before being whisked into the mysterious dimension-bending “World Between Worlds.”

star-wars-rebels-crew
Credit: LucasFilm Animation

The World Between Worlds will be a prominent plot point in Ahsoka, with rumors allegedly claiming that Ahsoka will travel back to the portal at some point during the show, where she’ll see alternate timelines of “what if” scenarios, including a reality where Anakin defeats Obi-Wan Kenobi on the lava planet of Mustafar.

For Ahsoka, showrunners will need to explain this lore in a way that’s accessible to more causal Star Wars fans who might not’ve watched Rebels while also giving more invested fans a brief rundown of what Hera, Sabine, Zeb, Thrawn, and others have been up to since the series finale.

1. Establish Thrawn as the “Mando-Verse’s” Thanos-level threat

Grand Admiral Thrawn is already one of Star Wars’ most formidable villains, but Ahsoka has to live up to some very high expectations regarding his live-action portrayal. Despite being a Disney project, the series has to feature the same ruthless, cut-throat antagonist first featured in Timothy Zahn’s 1991 novel “Heir to the Empire.”

For Thrawn to be the overarching villain of this next chapter of Star Wars content, with him more than likely being the central threat of Filoni’s “Mando-Verse” movie, the pressure is on for Ahsoka to make him as scary, powerful, and menacing as fans would expect. And given that Thrawn has allegedly picked up “Magick” during his time in the Unknown Regions, he could very well have the ability to plunge the galaxy into chaos, spelling serious trouble for our protagonists.

Lars Mikkelsen as Thrawn in Ahsoka
Credit: Lucasfilm

The first two episodes of Ahsoka arrive on Disney+ on August 23, 2023.

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