After an action-packed episode filled with droid fights, lightsaber duels and literal and figurative fallen Jedi, “Fallen Jedi” closes out on a cliffhanger sure to thrill some longtime fans ... with an ominous warning buried underneath.
Let’s not bury the lede — Ahsoka ends the episode coming face to face with her master.
Yes, it was foretold he would be here, but Hayden Christensen again returned to the role of Anakin Skywalker in the closing moments of “Fallen Jedi” after being referenced several times during her lightsaber duel by Baylan Skoll, mostly to provoke her and get her off balance. Baylan asks if Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side left a mark and whether that was why she walked away and abandoned him, which Ahsoka does not want to talk about. He later jabs that her legacy, like her master’s, is one of death and destruction.
After being knocked off a cliff by Baylan during their duel, Ahsoka wakes up in the World Between Worlds, previously seen in Star Wars: Rebels, and hears a faint “Hello, Snips.” Knowing that could only be from one person, she says “Master?” and turns around to see the erstwhile Jedi Knight behind her as he last appeared before his fall in Revenge of the Sith. He tells her he didn’t expect to see her so soon and she has a look of joy and awe on her face seeing her old master. However, beneath this joyous reunion — the theme of Darth Vader closes out the episode, which has to be a harbinger of dark things to come.
As excited as I was to see these characters in live-action, I can’t deny that the de-aging process done to Christensen really kind of took me out of the scene. Somehow, for me at least, it was the most jarring example of this I’ve seen to date. Honestly, I would have preferred they not de-age him at all, as they did not do so during his training flashback in Obi-Wan Kenobi. Especially once they went in close, it just looked off. That being said, I’m curious to see the follow-up to this cliffhanger next week with the current Jedi master, Dave Filoni, in the director’s chair and how they bring Ahsoka back to main story eventually, because I don’t believe they’re really going to kill her off half-way through her own series. Then again, as Luke once said, “No one is ever really gone.”
Be careful what you wish for
Last week, Ahsoka told Huyang that she doesn’t need Sabine to be a Jedi, just herself. This week, we got a dose of that, for better and worse.
Ahsoka notes to Sabine at the beginning of the episode that she fears a difficult choice may have to be made — if they can’t make the journey to find Ezra, then no one should. Sabine quickly says it won’t come to that, but Ahsoka says it might have already. When Sabine points out that would mean stranding Ezra for good this time, Ahsoka says that may be better than allowing Thrawn’s return as heir to the Empire. In a heavy bit of foreshadowing, Ahsoka asks Sabine if she can count on her, which Sabine assures her that she knows she can.
Later, we see Sabine, kitted out in her full Mandalorian armor, engage in another battle with Baylan’s apprentice Shin. This time she largely fights as a Mandalorian, using her blasters and making the most of her armor. Eventually, she has to engage in a lightsaber duel once again and she gets overmatched. Upon being unarmed she moves as if she was about to wield the Force, with Shin noting she has no power, but it was a ruse to be able to use weapons from her gauntlet to knock the lightsaber out of Shin’s hands.
Later, once she emerges at the site of the ruins where Ahsoka and Baylan have dueled, Ahsoka tells Sabine to destroy the map as she is injured from disrupting it and is in a tough spot with Baylan. After he knocks off Ahsoka off the cliff, Baylan appeals to Sabine’s sense of family and the notion that he is the only family she has left after her family died in the purge of Mandalore — an event he says occurred because Ahsoka didn’t trust her. He tells Sabine they share a common goal — to make this journey. He assures her that no harm will come to her if she makes the journey willingly and she will be reunited with her friend. In the end, her sense of loyalty to Ezra wins out and she gives Baylan the map.
Both instances show the consequences of Sabine acting more Mandalorian than Jedi. Mandalorians are noted for their fierce emotions and loyalty, something antithetical to the detachment of the Jedi. A true Jedi, as Ahsoka notes, would have let go of their feelings, not because they wanted to, but because it served the greater good — as Ezra did in the Battle of Lothal and as he noted in the holo message Sabine played in the first episode of this series. A Mandalorian, however, can’t leave a comrade behind and is willing to fight to the death for their family and friends. In this way, Sabine has shades of Anakin in her inability to let go. It will be interesting to see what this choice means for Sabine’s Jedi journey and whether she is forced to face it again in the future.
Several characters in this episode are forced into difficult choices.
Of course, the most noteworthy and significant is Sabine. She easily could have blasted the map into smithereens when Ahsoka told her to do so. But once again, her loyalty and love for Ezra hold her back, harkening back to Ahsoka’s question of can she count her at the beginning of the episode. Even with Ahsoka potentially falling to her death (again, I don’t think she’s dead), Ahsoka would want Sabine to do what was necessary and destroy the map rather than focusing on her.
With Ahsoka gone, there was no one to counter Baylan and remind Sabine of the sacrifice Ezra himself made in the Battle of Lothal and how choosing to allow Thrawn’s return in a way spits in the face of that sacrifice. Yes, Sabine is doing this because she loves Ezra, but is this something he would have wanted her to do? And does it make his sacrifice all of those years ago for naught?
Meanwhile, Hera makes her own difficult choice in disobeying New Republic orders and going to aid Ahsoka and Sabine with a small squadron of X-wings, including Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, who has an excellent YouTube channel about collectibles if you’re interested in that), who has become something of a throughline in the Mando-verse shepherded by Filoni and Jon Favreau. Hera notes “Once a rebel, always a rebel” when breaking ranks, and she sees firsthand what Morgan Elsbeth has been up to. Unfortunately, she is too late to stop it, and in the process loses a few of her comrades when Elsbeth makes the jump to hyperspace despite the Ghost and the X-wings being in the way (although it is not nearly as beautiful as when Admiral Holdo made the Holdo Maneuver in Last Jedi).
Then there is Baylan, who has been one of the more complex “villains” in recent Star Wars lore. Not fully evil, but also clearly not a Jedi, as he noted in the premiere, the late Ray Stevenson shines in his biggest showcase to date. He still seems wary on some level about this whole plan, with Morgan asking him if she detects fear in his voice, but he merely chalks it up to experience. He later notes that if Morgan’s calculations are off even by a little, they’ll be lost the void. She tells him to have faith, but he notes that he lost that a long time ago, a seeming reference to his experience as a survivor of Order 66. Later, he outlines his motivations in assisting Morgan in returning Thrawn, noting that he is not starting a new war, but Thrawn will, and that it is an unfortunate evil that speaks to a greater truth. One must destroy in order to create, he tells Ahsoka. It is said that all villains see themselves as the hero of their own story, and this explanation dovetails with that line of thinking nicely. He seems almost rueful when it comes to his inevitable duel with Ahsoka, later telling her it didn’t have to be this way. His ambition and quest for power seem in opposition to the ideals of the Jedi he may have once been, but he also does show some honor by forcing Shin to release her Force choke on Sabine as he had given her his word that no harm would come to her. It will be interesting to see if Baylan has a moment of redemption at the end of this story.
Up in smoke
After all the fan casting, theories and discussion, Marrok seems to have been nothing but a red herring.
No Marrok was not Starkiller, Reva, Mara Jade, Barriss Offee or even Ezra Bridger himself. It seems he was but a simple Nightbrother of Dathomir, with Morgan Elsbeth’s magick releasing forth in the form of a green cloud upon his death in the same way that Mother Talzin’s did when Savage Oppress was killed by Darth Sidious in Clone Wars.
One wonders if perhaps Marrok has been used as a decoy to throw fans off the scent of a bigger fish, but only time will tell when it comes to that. Marrok joins a long line of Star Wars characters who in the end were not nearly as important as they originally seemed.
- Droid fight! I didn’t expect to see two droids go at it in this series, but Huyang’s battle with one of Morgan’s HK droids was quite fun. It showed he can be more than just a haughty exposition device, and his way of warning Ahsoka and Sabine of trouble was quite clever.
- It is interesting to see how this series is folding the purge of Mandalore into things. I never really expected that, although, I suppose I should have given Sabine is Mandalorian. We briefly saw her family on Rebels and it never even occurred to me that they could be referenced in this series (although still no mention of one of my favorite Star Wars animated characters, the Duchess Satine of Mandalore). It will be interesting to see how they further delve into why Baylan blames Ahsoka in part for the destruction of Sabine’s family and whether Sabine herself lays any of the blame at Ahsoka’s feet.
- Speaking of Mandalore, it’s easy to see how the events of this series could be tied into whatever crossover Mando-verse movie is supposedly being plotted by Filoni. Characters have intermingled between all three Mando-verse shows, and Mandalore has been a key plot element throughout. I don’t think we’ll see Mando or Bo-Katan in this series, although it would be interesting to hear Bo’s take on Baylan’s claims about Ahsoka and her culpability regarding Mandalore’s fall given their strong prior alliance.
- The lightsaber duels were once again excellent this week. Following Andor, which featured no Force-users and no lightsabers at all, this series has delivered the quintessential Star Wars action in spades. Ahsoka continues to be one of the most acrobatic duelists we’ve seen in the galaxy far, far away, making her duels different than what we’ve seen before in live-action. It was surprising to see Ahsoka outdueled here, especially given that she’s defeated Maul and even held her own with Darth Vader, but she was injured and the story largely required it. I’m sure that we haven’t seen the last of the laser swords, and one hopes we get a rematch between Baylan and Ahsoka.
- Now that we’re in the World Between Worlds, what other characters could we see going forward? Will we see any past events play out, perhaps in a different way than they previously did in canon? And does this trip to a neighboring galaxy open up the possibility of a Star Wars multiverse?
- Given that Filoni is in charge next week and the way this episode ended, I would not be surprised if it’s mostly or even entirely spent with Ahsoka and wherever/whenever the World Between Worlds takes her. This feels like a point where we could take a slight detour into Ahsoka’s past, which she has been so hesitant to speak about, before really amping things up for the final stretch of this season.
Well, that’s it. Another excellent episode that has me excited for what’s to come. Hit me up on X at @ByAndySilva to let me know what you thought of “Fallen Jedi” and how excited you are for where the series might go.