New Star Wars TV show Ahsoka marks the moment that a whole host of characters from the long-running cartoons The Clone Wars and Rebels make the cross over to live action. Could this be the start of a new golden era for the sci-fi franchise, reinvigorating it with a massive infusion of characters who are already beloved by a hardcore of fans? Or will casual viewers be bewildered at why the orange lady is fighting the blue guy? Read on for about as concise an explanation to the background to Ahsoka as we can possibly muster.
Is there a trailer for ‘Ahsoka’?
Hell yes, there’s a trailer.
Who the heck is Ahsoka and why should we care?
Ahsoka Tano is the most important Star Wars character that the casual fan – that is to say, somebody who has ‘only’ watched the films – didn’t know existed. A major protagonist in the long-running cartoon The Clone Wars, she was introduced in 2008 as the young apprentice (or, if you must, padawan) to Anakin Skywalker, aka the hotheaded young Jedi who would go on to become the nefarious Darth Vader.
Over the course of The Clone Wars, Ahsoka – as voiced by Ashley Eckstein – developed from an irritating teenage sidekick to a complex and troubled character who gets booted out of the Jedi order, but whose innate decency seemed vastly preferable to Yoda and co’s starchy moral code.
Played by Rosario Dawson, she made her live-action debut in season 2 of The Mandalorian, and randomly popped up chilling with Luke Skywalker in an episode of The Book of Boba Fett.
She is a total badass who fights with two white lightsabers, which she sometimes ignites by firing them into each other: surely needlessly hazardous, but it does look very cool.
Ahsoka is a member of an alien species called the Togruta, although she acts and behaves like a regular human (accepting she can lift stuff with her mind). You don’t really need to know anything about the Togruta.
What will ‘Ahsoka’ be about?
Well… after Clone Wars, Ahsoka was in yet another cartoon: Rebels, which followed the adventures of the Ghost crew, a ragtag band of, uh, rebels getting up to rebel stuff in the years prior to the first Star Wars film. She only really had a secondary role in that, but Dawson has said that this show is effectively Rebels season five… something pretty apparent by the massive numbers of Rebels characters in trailer.
So how many hours of cartoons am I supposed to watch as prep?
It’s obvious from the trailer that the show will be littered with Easter eggs, but it should be easy enough to pick up. Certainly Dawson’s guest appearance in ‘The Mandalorian’ didn’t leave viewers tearing their hair out in confusion. And bear in mind the the Star Wars films literally began with the fourth episode and seem to have done alright.
Any news on the actual plot?
At the end of Rebels, the show’s hero Ezra Bridger – a young Jedi – made the ultimate sacrifice by flinging himself and the show’s main antagonist Grand Admiral Thrawn far beyond the boundaries of the Star Wars galaxy, with no apparent way to get back.
From the trailers, Ahsoka would seem to concern the title character’s efforts to find Ezra and thwart a returned Thrawn, though it seems quite probable that Ezra and Thrawn will be only in fact be background characters.
Who’s in the cast?
From the trailers it’s clear we’ll have a whole heap of Rebels veterans leaping into live-action, notably Lars Mikkelsen’s Thrawn, Eman Esfandi’s Ezra, streetwise Mandalorian Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), heroic pilot Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and droid Chopper, a sort of sociopath version of R2-D2. Genevieve O'Reilly will be reprising her Andor role of Chancellor Mon Mothma. And various other Rebels characters like Zeb and Rex seem liable to at least cameo.
On the dark side, Diana Lee Inosanto’s Mandalorian villain Morgan Elspeth will be back. And there are also some mysterious new baddies: the orange lightsaber-wielding Baylan Skoll (played by the late Ray Stevenson) and Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno) are apparently a Jedi turned mercenary and his apprentice. From the trailer they seem to be rather more ideologically invested in Team Thrawn the bland ‘mercenary’ description suggests.
Will Hayden Christiansen will be in ‘Ahsoka’?
It has been heavily rumoured that Hayden Christensen will be reprising the role of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader in Ahsoka. While it hasn’t been officially confirmed, it seems very likely considering Christensen returned to the Star Wars fold in last year’s Kenobi. His character is very much dead at this stage, but there are a lot of ways around that, let’s be honest.
When is ‘Ahsoka’ set in the Star Wars timeline?
It’s not clear yet. The epilogue to Rebels, in which Ahsoka and Sabine headed off to find Ezra, was set some years after Return of the Jedi, but way before The Mandalorian. The trailer to Ahsoka seems to show… Ahsoka and Sabine heading off to find Ezra. It’s not obvious if this is the Rebels scene repeated as live action, or if Ahsoka and Sabine are doing the same thing again after messing it up the first time, or if it’s all a clever trick of continuity editing.
How many episodes of ‘Ahsoka’ will there be?
The first two episodes of the eight-episode run will hit Disney+ on August 23, and then come out weekly on Wednesdays.
Will there be more ‘Ahsoka’?
It’s been billed as a ‘limited series’, though that doesn’t really mean anything these days and Dawson has gone on the record as saying she wants to carry on playing the character. Filoni is developing a ‘Mandoverse’ film that seems likely to see the combined casts of Ahsoka and The Mandalorian make a final stand against Thrawn. Ahsoka Tano has been knocking around in some form or other since 2008. She’s not going away anytime soon.
‘Ahsoka’ will stream on Disney+ from Aug 23.
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