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Ahsoka Episode 3 Review: Bizarrely Brief But Promising

Blink and you’ll miss the third episode of Star Wars: Ahsoka, which sped by so fast as I watched it that I worried my cat had sat on the remote and skipped forward several scenes (again). But the episode, titled “Time to Fly,” really is just over a half-hour long—a stark contrast to the two previous episodes, which were 54 and 42 minutes, respectively. It’s the unfortunate (and unnecessary) truncation of this episode that makes its mediocre editing stand out like a droid you are looking for.

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There are scenes and moments in Ahsoka that should have had me on the edge of my seat, whooping with glee like that Mandalorian season three dogfight with Bo-Katan Kryze, Din Djarin, and TIE bombers. But instead, the episode often felt weirdly flat, like I was experiencing everything through a thick barrier—a bizarre effect which I can only attribute to its editing. “Time To Fly” doesn’t fly, so much as it glides for a bit.

Stream Episode 3 now: Disney+

New Republic politics

The episode opens with Sabine and Huyang (sporting four arms like a posh, British General Grievous) training on Ahsoka’s T-6 Shuttle. Of course, Huyang thinks Sabine is ass, remarking that she’s “not bad, but not good.” Ahsoka, however, is happy to see she remembers the core tenets of at least one fighting technique, and suggests they try out another, but Huyang is skeptical. So, like any good Star Wars trainer, Ahsoka slaps a mask on Sabine and tells her to sense where she’s going to strike. While this follows a tried-and-true franchise trope, it’s the first of several lethargic, lengthy shots that hold for a bit too long, and rob the episode of its kinetic potential.

Read More: The Best Star Wars Easter Eggs In The Ahsoka TV Series

Meanwhile Hera Syndulla is trying to get New Republic support to chase down Morgan Elsbeth, and, by extension, Grand Admiral Thrawn by appealing to several senators and its Chief of State via holo-call. We get a lovely little cameo by Mon Mothma actor Genevieve O’Reilly, who shows her obvious affection for Hera by opening up the call with a question about Jacen, the child Hera had with the late Jedi Kanan Jarrus. The senators want to get down to business, though, and rush their conversation so they can cast doubt on the chance of Thrawn’s return, suggesting that Hera is, perhaps, blinded by her desire to find Ezra alive, and deny any help. We’ve heard this story before, it’s another Star Wars trope at this point.

Sadly, though there’s a brief nod to the “family” Hera lost because of Thrawn, and a wistful look that dances across her face, those who aren’t actively plugged into the animated series from whence these characters came won’t get the reference, as they never mention her lover by name. Just another example of Ahsoka showrunner Dave Filoni relying too much on viewers having done their homework before watching.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead once again shines as Hera, despite the too-bright contacts and still-strange makeup, and we finally get to see a live-action version of her son, who, thankfully, does not have weird little ears like he does in Rebels. That scene is all we get of her aside from a brief holo-call she makes to Ahsoka, as the episode snaps straight back to the core trio (Ahsoka, Huyang, and Sabine), and a lengthy bit about the latter’s training. It’s here that Ahsoka lays out its thesis.

One with the Force

Filoni has always wanted us to believe that Ahsoka Tano, like her former master Anakin Skywalker, is a very different kind of Jedi. She turned her back on the Order, but rather than turn to the Dark Side like Anakin, she chose to continue utilizing her connection to the Force, but on her own terms. As someone who has written about the benefits of the democratization of the Force (i.e. the belief that more people in this universe should have access to its power, rather than a select “gifted” few) and who thinks the Jedi should be abolished, I’m inclined to believe Filoni—Ahsoka is special, and so is Sabine.

Read More: Star Wars: Ahsoka Is Quietly Showing That Anyone Can Be A Jedi

Thus far, the series has made it clear that Sabine is not Force-sensitive, but is rather a very gifted fighter thanks to her Mandalorian upbringing. Though Rebels never established that Ashoka attempted to train Sabine in the ways of the Jedi, it’s a believable reveal in Ahsoka—after all, Kanan Jarrus tried the same thing with Sabine, and also found her frustratingly Force-insensitive.

After their training session, Ahsoka and Sabine sit down in Star Wars’ version of a conversation pit and discuss the nature of the Force. Ahsoka shows off a bit, Force-pulling an Ikea cup towards her while chatting about the importance of training and discipline, but it’s her conversation with Huyang that is the most important. Huyang reiterates his bitchy take: that Sabine isn’t cut out for this, that she’d never be a candidate for Jedi training, that she sucks, basically. But Ahsoka makes it clear: she doesn’t need her to become a Jedi, she just needs her to be competent in the ways of the Force so that they can defeat the likes of Shin, Baylan, and Morgan. The Jedi failed, remember.

Read More: Ahsoka Episode 2 Review: This Is Where The Fun BeginsStream Episode 3 now: Disney+

I’d love for Ahsoka to be a bit more clear on this—it feels like it’s edging towards outright saying the Jedi suck, but remember, Ahsoka did advocate for bringing Grogu to Luke Skywalker in The Mandalorian, and that dude tried and failed to restore the Jedi Order after almost killing Kylo Ren. A full-throated “let’s stop organized religion” would be great here, and maybe Ahsoka will eventually give us that. The conversation with Sabine is certainly promising, as it reiterates the notion that the Force isn’t just for special people, but for everyone.

After this chat, Huyang reveals that the ship’s scanners can’t quite figure out what the hell is hovering near Seatos (where the tracker followed the transport ship), so the T-6 needs to get in closer to investigate. Prepare for a dogfight.

A dogfight on Ambien

The lengthy space fight that unfolds is the second and most egregious example of sleepy, strange editing that handcuffs the episode’s pacing. All of the elements are there for this to be an absolute banger of a scene, something that Star Wars fans should be talking about for years to come: two squadrons of three ships, led by the feral Shin Hati, are in pursuit of the T-6, and Morgan Elsbeth’s massive Halo ring–sorry mass relay—sorry the Eye of Scion is firing massive canons at them, too.

Sabine takes the gunner at the back of the ship, but she and Ahsoka initially struggle to down their pursuers until they realize the power of working together—and Ahsoka turns the dogfight into a Jedi lesson. The women go back-and-forth, with Ahsoka waiting for Sabine’s signals on when to dive, roll, or otherwise steer the ship, and Sabine uses her master’s willingness to listen as a chance to make the most of her skills. It’s a nice nod to their potential as a duo, but the scene is so strangely flat that I’m more bemused than anything.

The next bit of action is further testament to Ahsoka’s strange direction and/or editing (did Disney demand shorter episodes, then look at how short this episode was and keep in some unnecessarily long shots of the T-6’s cockpit, or Sabine in the gunner?). Why does such a jam-packed action sequence make me feel like I’m watching it on Ambien? After the ship takes a massive hit from Morgan’s gunners, the scene lingers far too long on a shot of everyone in the cockpit, rather than slicing back and forth between the two women scrambling to try and revive the dead-in-space-ship. This moment should be dripping with tension, it should be anxiety-inducing—instead, I watched it with a gently furrowed brow, like a toddler confused about where you go when you put your hands over your face.

It’s even worse when Ahsoka goes out onto the hull of the ship in a cool custom spacesuit and ignites her lightsabers, blocking blaster bolts from the dogfighters and flipping end-over-end in the blackness of space. She slices the wing off a damn incoming ship—remember how much we freaked out when Rey did that in The Rise of Skywalker? Remember how impactful it felt? Instead, what should be the coolest thing a Jedi-trained person has ever done in Star Wars plays out like I’m having Bacta tank dreams.

As my partner said to me during this scene: “J.J. Abrams would have directed the shit out of this show.”

But for all its poor editing, Ahsoka still gives us something beautiful to sit with long after it ends—after restoring power to the ship, they fly straight into a school of purrgil—giant, mythical space whales who can travel through hyperspace. As Sabine says, the last time we saw these guys they were taking Ezra and Thrawn to who knows where, and watching them float languidly through space, their creepy little tentacles flickering behind them, is the first time the episode’s speed feels right. We should pause and admire these beauties, we should be in awe of their presence.

Ahsoka ends with the T-6 hiding in the blood-colored forests of Seatos as Shin and the mysterious Marrok regroup with Baylan. Ahsoka and Sabine can barely contain their glee at the sight of the purrgil, as they believe they’re finally close to finding Ezra. But Morgan and her crew of baddies want to use the Eye of Sion to travel those hyperspace migrating paths laid out by the purrgil, and that means we’ll likely be getting the big Seatos fight between Ahsoka and Baylan and Shin and Sabine in the next episode—though why we didn’t just add it to this one is beyond me.

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