Star Wars tells its story all over the timeline spectrum. We started with George Lucas’s original trilogy, then progressed backward with the prequels. So, you always have a foreboding feeling of seeing how things played out. We’ve already seen the newest trilogy of theatrical releases having The First Order supplant the fall of the Empire, and the absolute hubris someone like Senator Xiono exudes in dismissing Hera (or all clues that the New Republic can face another threat) is frustrating. Do you really think this peace will last with all that’s happened and negate the possibility that Empire loyalists could jump at the chance of falling in line with Thrawn? It feels like the air of arrogance some of the Jedi council had about them precluded their downfall.
While we haven’t spent much time on the base level, this is precisely where the penultimate episode of Ahsoka’s ‘Dreams and Madness’ begins. It was important for Dave Filoni to get the gang back together. Much of the narrative runs like a game of chess, setting up what looks to be a big finale. It’s supplemental but tries to give a bit of everything we’ve seen from the seven episodes prior – wonder, classic Star Wars creatures, reunions, and an overall threat putting their grand plan into place. But it also has some new things concerning Baylan and Shin’s master/apprenticeship.
It’s only fitting that ‘Dreams and Madness’ begins with checking in on the disciplinary proceedings with Hera. Mothma is primarily hands-off, as things play out in a contentious manner between Hera and Xiono. Cool C-3PO cameo and Leia reference aside – this scene exists to show someone like Thrawn or Snoke doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Their ascent to power is also quickened by the ignorance of those who work in government. From there, the ghost of Anakin still permeates at different points in this episode. The first time we see Ahsoka training on the ship, she’s training to the last transmission he gave her as Anakin says words of encouragement.
There’s further indication the growth inside her character is taking form. When speaking to Huyang, Ahsoka tells him Anakin is a good master. She’s joking around with Huyang on the ship. Given what happened with Sabine, Ahsoka might have a right to be upset with her, but she meets her padawan and Ezra with happiness. Finally, Ahsoka shows mercy to Shin and offers to help her. It’s a delight to see Dawson’s performance morph into the animated Ahsoka (some of us) know and see the character let go of the pain and guilt over what happened with Anakin.
On the flip side, there’s Grand Admiral Thrawn. He knows Anakin and Darth Vader are the same. Upon receiving information that Ahsoka and Anakin are tied together, he deduces Ahsoka will act recklessly as Anakin did. Was flying through debris the best option? Probably not at the time (Huyang would agree). However, Ahsoka took steps to show that she would fall into the same mannerisms – especially regarding the lightsaber fight with Baylan. Ahsoka of old may have thought killing him was the best action. Creating a diversion was not only clever, but lends itself to an intriguing twist on how these relationships are evolving.
It’s unclear what Thrawn is loading into the cargo, but the time bought by our heroes fighting wave after wave of enemies has bought him some valuable time. Ahsoka and Thrawn demonstrate the lesson in their actions, noting that sometimes it’s not about winning the overall battle. Living to fight another day might be the best course of action. Speaking of evolving relationships, the master and apprentice Baylan/Shin looks to be dissolved at the behest of Baylan himself.
I’m not absolutely not attuned to Baylan’s endgame – he doesn’t move like a Sith in thought like other Star Wars antagonists. He’s far more contemplative and searching for something greater – but what is that greater good? Before we get off Seatos, I hope we learn more about what he wants in the scheme of things. I wonder if Sabine will tell Ezra about what happened and how she got there. Ahsoka finding them and Baylan being alone bails her out at the moment. The “complicated” discussion might be enough, but Sabine has air that needs to be cleared out – even if her motivations weren’t necessarily wrong. Also, why didn’t he take the lightsaber? I love the hidden subtext of that. Sabine is still in her training and still needs all the artillery she can get. It’s been ten years, and Ezra is proficient in the force. He’s guided by it, and other than hearing Sabine, she still isn’t trusting herself enough to where she doesn’t need it as a crutch.
We don’t have a Sith lord and apprentice to impend anyone. Baylan and Shin are more fallen Jedi who were used as pawns in a bigger scheme (perhaps willingly). Time is of the essence, and it remains to be seen Ahsoka’s overall transformation and what Thrawn has in store for some of the New Republic who have fallen asleep at the switch.