Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

Ahsoka review: A Star Wars celebration of the old and new

Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka dual-wielding her white lightsabers in the Disney+ series.
“It will resonate the most with The Clone Wars and Rebels fans, but Ahsoka is a refreshing celebration of all things Star Wars that has appeal to everyone.”
  • Rosario Dawson leads with a strong, composed performance
  • Blends classic Star Wars movie atmosphere with fresh storytelling
  • No Clone Wars or Rebels knowledge required
  • Newcomer-friendly, but Clone Wars and Rebels fans will resonate the most

Some fans might feel the Star Wars brand on Disney+ has been getting saturated as of late, with The Mandalorian season 3 being solid, but underwhelming compared to the first two seasons. Thankfully, the newest series, Ahsoka, earns its place among Lucasfilm’s best streaming originals. The studio’s latest adventure set in a galaxy far, far away sees Dave Filoni explore his fan-favorite Star Wars animated sandbox in live-action, with Rosario Dawson reprising her role as Ahsoka Tano from The Mandalorian season 2 as she aims to stop Grand Admiral Thrawn’s return from exile and bid to reignite the embers of the Empire.

Reuniting with her estranged former apprentice Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), the rebels are met with resistance as two fallen Jedi-turned-mercenaries are aiding a Thrawn ally in uncovering the map to his whereabouts. While it’s no secret that the audience that will get the most out of Ahsoka is The Clone Wars and Rebels faithful, this series is delightfully accessible to all franchise fans as well.

Celebrating the old and the new

Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano in "The Mandalorian."
Lucasfilm / Lucasfilm

The argument can be made that, as big on nostalgia as something like Star Wars is, Lucasfilm will need to move past the illustrious Skywalker Saga. And while Ahsoka is another production that opts to fill gaps in the Saga, DFiloni and company tastefully use the atmosphere of the revered Original Trilogy while justifying itself as a compelling story on its own merits. It’s easy for a TV show or movie intended to pay homage to a beloved source material to result in cheap fan service, yet Ahsoka strikes a deft balance in its first two episodes between faithful callbacks to the Rebels animated series and forging its own identity as a standalone live-action show.

Even the series premiere’s opening sequences, dramatic lightsaber duels, and swelling score (courtesy of The Clone Wars and Rebels‘ Kevin Kiner) playfully tug on nostalgic strings. But the key component to these scenes is that Filoni portrays them with the utmost sincerity that has affectionately earned him the reputation of being “George Lucas’ heir” among the fan base.

And with Filoni being best-known for his work on the animated Clone Wars and — more relevantly to Ahsoka‘s premise — Rebels, one of the lingering questions prerelease was how much the series would depend on prerequisite knowledge to follow the story. Fortunately, the uninitiated can rest easy knowing that Ahsoka doesn’t gatekeep when it comes to understanding the plot. The only downside for newcomers when it comes to immersion in the show is that, understandably, The Clone Wars and Rebels faithful will surely be the ones to get the most out of this Star Wars tale.

Making good on The Mandalorian’s promise

A woman keels in Ahsoka.

Part of what makes Ahsoka accessible to those not well-versed in Star Wars’ animated offerings is the clever inclusion of Rosario Dawson’s rendition of the character from The Mandalorian season 2. While it can be frustrating seeing Lucasfilm’s flagship IP force some MCU-like elements of cameos and crossovers that take way some of the current story’s spotlight, Chapter 13: The Jedi pays off for Ahsoka. The episode set the standard for what fans see in this series from Dawson’s character, down to the tone.

Chapter 13: The Jedi was arguably one of the best episodes of The Mandalorian due to its Jedis-as-samurai vibe that evokes Lucas’ fondness for Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa, and that’s quickly shown again in the first episode of Ahsoka. Through a combination of Dawson’s intense commitment to the role (you can’t fault her for being all-in on Ahsoka) and the impressive and methodical combat choreography, these first two episodes do an excellent job of capturing the spirit of the samurai motif that made Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi so fun to begin with.

The supporting cast deserves praise as well for their performances, including the late Ray Stevenson’s imposing Baylan Skoll, David Tennant reprising the voice of the witty Huyang, and Bordizzo’s charmingly rebellious Sabine. But it’s Dawson who rightly commands every scene she’s in. She depicts the character with a sense of strength and composure befitting a Jedi with her level of experience.

Flexing Star Wars’ creative versatility

Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano aboard her shuttle in the titular series.
Lucasfilm / Lucasfilm

Though The Mandalorian‘s third season was rather uneven and suffered from a bit of an identity crisis and Obi-Wan Kenobi didn’t completely satisfy anyone, Ahsoka is a triumphant vehicle that effectively showcases the Star Wars franchise’s versatility. The durable sci-fi brand is represented currently by the sci-fi spaghetti Western The Mandalorian and the riveting Andor, which boldly embraces political intrigue and espionage capers. Ahsoka reignites the appeal of Original Trilogy-level Jedi mysticism on the small screen without ever becoming a pale shadow of its source material.

Ahsoka | Official Trailer | Disney+

Time will tell how the remaining six episodes handle the pacing of Ahsoka‘s story, but the first two episodes are a promising start. The promise of Lars Mikkelsen’s impending Thrawn is reason enough for optimism on top of what Filoni and the rest of his creative team have shown off already, making his potential dynamic with Dawson’s Jedi a thrilling prospect to look forward to.

Overall, Ahsoka has been a welcome example of a story that proudly stands on its own feet while simultaneously honoring the legacy of the franchise it belongs to, and its titular protagonist effortlessly makes her case as a modern Jedi icon.

The first two episodes of Lucasfilm and Dave Filoni’s Ahsoka are available to stream now, with new episodes streaming every Tuesday.

Editors' Recommendations

Guillermo Kurten
Freelance Writer, Entertainment
A University of Houston graduate in Print Media Journalism, Guillermo has covered sports entertainment and practically all…
The 10 best Star Trek: The Original Series episodes, ranked
Captain Kirk, upset, buried waist-deep in Tribbles.

It’s hard to imagine today, but back in the late 1960s, the original Star Trek was not considered a hit. The ambitious science fiction series was constantly on the brink of cancellation and was cut short only three years into its planned five-season run.
However, it’s important to put Trek’s apparent failure into historical context as, given that most markets in the U.S. had only three television channels to choose from, even a low-rated show like Star Trek was being watched by about 20% of everyone watching television on a Thursday night, or roughly 10 million households. This year’s season of HBO’s Succession was viewed by roughly 8 million households a week, which makes it a hit by today's standards. Star Trek’s audience only grew once it went into reruns in the early 1970s, and by the time Star Trek: The Motion Picture hit theaters in 1979, it was a genuine cultural phenomenon. Today, the Star Trek franchise is considered one of the crown jewels of the Paramount library.
Though arguably outshined by its most prosperous spinoff, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: The Original Series holds up remarkably well for a vision of our future imagined nearly 60 years in our past. It’s a space adventure series that tackles social or political issues from what was, at the time, a daring and progressive perspective informed by the contemporary civil rights movement, sexual revolution, and backlash against the Vietnam War. Conveying these values through fanciful science fiction didn’t only allow its writers to get away with a lot of subversive messages, it also delivered them in a way that remains fun to watch decades later — fun enough that fans are willing to forgive when its ideas, or its special effects, crumble under modern scrutiny.
These 10 episodes, however, unquestionably stand the test of time, and thanks to the continuity-light nature of mid-20th century television, any one of them could be your first Star Trek episode. (Be aware, however, that the order in which classic Trek episodes are listed varies depending on the source. For our purposes, we’re using the numbering from streaming service Paramount+.)

10. Mirror, Mirror (season 2, episode 4)

Read more
All the canceled Star Wars movies
Rey Finn Poe Chewie and C-3PO in the desert in "Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker."

These days, Star Wars is just getting more and more projects. While the franchise continues to expand with shows on Disney+, there hasn't been a new movie made since 2019's The Rise of Skywalker. Given that Disney spent a while figuring out what it wanted to do with the iconic sci-fi property, many films had been announced, only for most of them to get blasted off the company calendar.

But with three new films confirmed to be on the horizon, now is the time to catch up on all the Star Wars films that never came to be.
Star Wars: Rogue Squadron

Read more
3 things we learned from the new trailer for Ahsoka
Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka in an ancient ruin in the titular series.

Star Wars fans don't have long to wait for the next chapter in the franchise. Rosario Dawson is headlining Ahsoka, a new original series featuring the heroine who made her name in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. During Dawson's live-action debut as Ahsoka Tano in The Mandalorian season 2, it was revealed that she is seeking out Grand Admiral Thrawn, one of the most formidable officers in the Empire. Soon, Ahsoka will come face-to-face with her nemesis and determine the fate of the galaxy.

Ahsoka | Official Trailer | Disney+

Read more