The future of Star Wars is in very safe hands. At this year's Celebration, it was announced that Dave Filoni would be stepping up to direct a theatrical movie that will tie together the Disney Plus shows. If there was ever any doubt that Filoni is the man for the job, Ahsoka episode 5 well and truly lays it to rest – and proves that Filoni's film is the most exciting project on Star Wars' release slate (which also includes the likes of a new Rey movie and James Mangold's film about the origins of the Force).
Before The Mandalorian, Filoni was at home on the animated side of Star Wars. He developed both The Clone Wars and Rebels, with his first live-action directorial endeavour The Mandalorian season 1 premiere. That episode already proved that Filoni's eye for visuals translates from animation to live-action; just think of Mando's imposing introduction, framed in the doorway with his cape billowing behind him. Since then, Filoni has helmed more crucial episodes, including Ahsoka's live-action debut in The Mandalorian season 2, episode 5 and The Book of Boba Fett episode 6 (which saw Luke Skywalker train baby Grogu).
Top tier Star Wars
Filoni's Star Wars credentials more than check out, then, but Ahsoka episode 5 is a cut above the rest. 'Shadow Warrior' is filled with striking visuals, from the mystical, glowing blue backdrop of the World Between Worlds to the visceral, startling violence of the Clone Wars-era battles. Details like Anakin Skywalker's red lightsaber reflecting in Ahsoka Tano's eyes and turning them Sith yellow, along with those jaw-dropping flashes that jolt Anakin to Darth Vader and back again, stand out – and would look even better on the big screen, explaining why this was the first Star Wars episode to get a theatrical release.
Then there's the flawless lightsaber choreography. Anakin and Ahsoka's duels are filled with flourishes – like Anakin's infamous one-handed spin – and the clashing blades look simply incredible, with vivid colors and sizzling sparks of energy. These are the very best lightsaber fights ever seen in a Disney Plus show, proving Filoni's commitment to creating top tier Star Wars.
'Shadow Warrior' doesn't just demonstrate that Filoni excels at bringing action to life, either. His Star Wars work has always delved deep into the spiritual side of the saga, and Ahsoka episode 5 is no different. Ahsoka Tano is in the World Between Worlds to be taught a serious lesson by her Master. Often, Filoni's work is unfairly criticized as overusing cameos and nostalgia, but this overlooks the fact that revisiting the past can be extremely effective at moving forward to something new.
The episode doesn't take us back to the Clone Wars so you can point at the screen, it takes us back so Ahsoka can come to terms with her history to embrace the future (and also gives us the ultimate evolution of Anakin Skywalker in the process). There's a reason Ahsoka dons a new, Gandalf the White-style outfit after her trip to the World Between Worlds is over; she has experienced a fundamental change thanks to Anakin forcing her to fight for herself and regain her spirit. Ahsoka's smile and free attitude as she communicates with the purrgil also proves that, all along, her more reserved personality was an intentional choice.
Embracing the future, remembering the past
Filoni is no stranger to moving Star Wars in new directions, after all. Not only did he develop the World Between Worlds itself, but fascinating concepts like the supernatural realm of Mortis and its three Force gods were introduced in The Clone Wars, while Rebels brought us Loth-wolves and their mysterious connection to the Force, along with the enigmatic Bendu – a strange being that's neither light nor dark but at the very center of both (he has yet to make a live-action appearance). Ahsoka episode 5 gives us an Anakin Skywalker that's at peace with both his light and dark sides, too, in a major step forward from the saga's usual binary. There's also Sabine Wren, a Mandalorian who isn't Force-sensitive in the traditional way, who is undergoing Jedi training with Ahsoka. From the beginning, Filoni has been changing and building on our understanding of the Force.
But, as with Ahsoka episode 5, Filoni also never forgets that moving forward doesn't mean the past needs to be abandoned. Star Wars is a saga with a long, rich history, with room for many kinds of stories. Filoni's work fits seamlessly into this tapestry, introducing us to fascinating new characters while also working in returning familiar faces where they make sense. Luke Skywalker's appearance in The Book of Boba Fett was criticized at the time as nostalgia bait fan service, but look deeper and you'll see the episode reveals a lot about his approach to the new Jedi Order – and why it's destined to fail, leading us to the sequel trilogy.
In 'Shadow Warrior,' Anakin tells Ahsoka that she's part of a legacy: something Filoni has always understood, which makes sense for someone who has worked so closely with George Lucas. And, much like his and Lucas' creation Ahsoka Tano, Filoni has never been afraid to strike out in a bold new direction, either. That's what makes his Star Wars movie so very exciting.
Ahsoka is streaming on Disney Plus now. For much more on the show, check out our deep dives on:
- Who is Grand Admiral Thrawn?
- Who is Hera Syndulla?
- Who is Ezra Bridger?
- Who is Jacen Syndulla?
- Why Anakin calls Ahsoka Snips
- Where is Ahsoka in Revenge of the Sith?
- Everything you need to know about Star Wars Rebels
- The Ahsoka end-credits clues explained
- The Nightsisters of Dathomir explained
- Who is Clancy Brown playing in Ahsoka?
- Huyang explained
- Who is Inquisitor Marrok in Ahsoka?
- Where have we seen Morgan Elsbeth before?
- What to watch before Ahsoka
- How to watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars in order
- The Ahsoka timeline explained
- The Ahsoka release schedule