Peace is a foreign concept when it comes to the Star Wars universe. Even as the Empire has fallen at the end of Return of the Jedi, that leaves a considerable power vacuum for someone to fill. ‘Master and Apprentice’ is a slow table setter of what all available parties are after. The title of the episode also has a double meaning to it. For starters, there’s the matter of Baylan Skoll (Ray Stevenson) and Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno), who ambush a ship in a cold, calculated manner to free Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) that has a clue as to where Grand Admiral Thrawn is.
The alliance is interesting, given that Baylan survived Order 66 – now equally invested in bringing back Thrawn on a quest for power. He and Shin are not Sith Jedi in the classical sense, even as they do evil bidding. Morgan has revealed herself to be a member of the witches of Dathomir or a Nightsister. Palpatine killed the Nightsisters during the Clone Wars, but only a few survived. So the question is, what made Morgan so loyal to the point where she helped build the Imperial Fleet? For now, all three parties have a shared goal which involves a map revealing the potential location of where Thrawn is.
On the flip side is Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), also on the search to find where Thrawn is. It has been a while since she’s seen Hera (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and her former apprentice Sabine (Natasha Liu Bordizzo). Dave Filoni provides a great introduction to Ahsoka’s character – she’s all about getting the circular orb with no dialogue and then dismantling the droids in the end. It’s the same stoic confidence she gives off when talking to Hera about potentially having a pathway to Thrawn, but having to perhaps call on Sabine for help to decipher it.
Something happened between these two because Ahsoka is reluctant to do so despite the assistance of Hera. Much of it could be rooted in her prior experience with Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader – she’s still very much affected by that ghost. Ahsoka mentions to Hera that she walked away from the Jedi order just like she walked away from Sabine. The circumstances in which she walked away from the Jedi were justified – Ahsoka was framed for something she didn’t do, and in the Jedi’s hubris, they didn’t believe her. She also mentions a stubbornness in Sabine (which, funny enough, Hera reminds her Ahsoka probably was herself. She was!) Was that enough for her to walk away from Sabine’s training, or the fact that it was too close to how the Jedi go about things?
Hopefully, the show expounds upon these things with brief flashbacks. As for Sabine, she’s cool hanging out with her Loth-cat by herself in her loft. Everything around her seemed to be a reminder of falling short – whether it be her watching one of the last transmissions from padawan Ezra Bridger. her Mandalorian armor being in a random bag or knowing Ahsoka stopped her Jedi training. She’s not force-sensitive; however, Sabine wants to be helpful, so she takes it upon herself to take the map off the ship even though Ahsoka asks her not to.
Within the good guys, there are two different goals in mind. Ahsoka wants to find Thrawn to potentially stop another war from happening. Sabine sees this as a possibility to find Ezra. The concept of the Outer Regions has been discussed, but it is exciting to see the prospect of going there in a live-action sense. In shows like The Book of Boba Fett or The Mandalorian, it tends to stick to the Star Wars rivers and lakes we’re used to.
Ahsoka’s first stop also feels fresh because if you don't know much about The Clone Wars or Rebels, it’s not so far-fetched to turn off new viewers. I kindly suggest you watch those shows to see how the easter eggs and subtexts play into many of these interactions. But in how ‘Master and Apprentice’ shows the issues and problems to untangle, you can easily follow along. The episode ends on a bit of a cliffhanger – obviously, Sabine is brave for what she does, but Shin is a bit more skilled in lightsaber combat. When Ahsoka gets to Sabine, I wonder if she’ll feel somewhat responsible for not wanting to complete Sabine’s training and ending up in this life-or-death predicament.