Ahsoka: Season 1

Genre: Sci-Fi Drama
Service: Disney+
Creator: Dave Filoni
Release Year: 2023
Watch: Disney+

At what point am I too old for Star Wars? Not science fiction, mind, you, because sci-fi is for everyone. But more so the painted-face, creature-feature space opera that some of these franchise shows like Ahsoka have become. Or always were. Because Ahsoka is essentially a spin-off of The Mandalorian — a series where the main character has shown his face exactly once in three seasons — about a character created for a cartoon that I have never seen, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. She is kind of pumpkin colored and has what I have to assume are fake-looking tribal markings on her face and tentacles coming out of the back of her head that are also maybe one of those Rasta hats that white rock band dudes wore in the 1990s. I clearly have a ton of respect for the canon.

I guess at this point we’re just supposed to believe that this soundstage in California or Atlanta or wherever is just how we view television now. Thing is, as I mentioned above, I might be too old to suspend disbelief to that that degree. Even when they put some rocks in the foreground, I can tell this alien planet is just a giant LCD screen that our actors are walking in front of. I get that COVID wrecked the world and that traveling to Tunisia or New Zealand to mimic an off-planet world is difficult and expensive, but now we are forced into this false reality that you kind of either buy or you don’t. I don’t. My Polar Express adult heart aside, I have to also buy into this character, Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson), to make this show make any sense. The issue is, I don’t have any clue who she is. I mentioned I didn’t see the cartoon from which she sprang, so her entire backstory is lost to me. They try in vain to fill in the gaps for those of us uninitiated folks — without bumming out the true fans by being all exposition-y — by bringing back the ghost of Hayden Christensen and throwing a bunch of space whales in our face, but it didn’t connect in the way I think they were hoping it would. Though I’m into the idea of magical space whales, I guess.

Even though I’m not a huge Star Wars nerd, I do listen to podcasts that talk about these shows in excruciating detail. I think it’s with the hope something they say will enlighten me in a way I’ve previously not been. They speculate about who’s going to show up when and are great at building that anticipation. One of those folks they talked about ad nauseam is this dude Grand Admiral Thrawn. My god, you’d think this dude was going to be Tony Soprano, Darth Vader and Keyser Söze all rolled into one. And then we get a look at the dude. And, ironically, he appeared to be Kevin Spacey (fake hair and all) painted blue with red contacts and a paunch. Dressed in a 1970s polyester jumpsuit. Certainly a weird look for our baddest baddie. Of course it wasn’t Spacey, but Lars Mikkelsen (who starred alongside Spacey for a few seasons in House of Cards). A guy who is just fine when he’s not in costume, but looks exactly like a not particularly in shape middle-aged dude with a bad toupee and stupid contacts when he’s in costume. It was a really poor showing by the series creators.

To add, there are children that seem to have mysterious backgrounds that feel like they’ll be a thing. But end up just kind of disappearing. And then a bunch of other plot lines that don’t seem to go anywhere. Characters with foggy motivations. Witches. Which seems like a thing that shouldn’t be a thing in Star Wars. Not to mention the incredibly inconsistent way the Force works. Like someone can go from not being able to move a pebble to Force pushing a human being the length of an ocean liner. Seems egregious, even for someone who thinks very little about the Force. Honestly, the biggest issue is how they use Dawson. Or, after watching her sleepwalk through Briarpatch, perhaps this kind of listless thing is her acting style. But her character is pretty low energy and dour. Which the podcasters explain away because she lost some friend named Ezra Bridger (Eman Esfandi). Who she eventually meets up with, and it’s kinda like old co-workers running into each other at a bar after not seeing each other for a couple years. But somehow less emotional. I don’t even care about these people, but even I could tell there should be more of a spark than we get. And, sure, Dawson’s energy is a little better after the reunion, but the show is named after her character, and she’s probably the least interesting one on it.

This is all to say that perhaps I’ve left Star Wars behind. Or perhaps it’s left me based on this level of blah. Thank god for Andor, I guess.