This review features spoilers for episode 6 - you have been warned...
One week after a rather unforgettable episode of any Star Wars TV show, Ahsoka on Disney+ keeps its forward momentum going even when its latest chapter 'Far, Far Away' emphasizes style and vibes over meaningful substance. Not that that’s a bad thing, though.
Directed by Jennifer Getzinger, who has sat behind the camera on Orange is the New Black and Jessica Jones, 'Far, Far Away' lets Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson) take the week off so her show’s other main character can shine: Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), who since two episodes ago has been prisoner of villains Baylan (Ray Stevenson), Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno), and Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto). In an effort to find Ezra Bridger (played by Eman Esfandi), Sabine surrendered herself to their custody as they flung across the galaxy to a planet whose outer ring is a grim graveyard for the purgill. The whiplash of seeing these flying whales in their full majesty to a sprawling place where their meatless bones drift in orbit ominously foreshadows the imminent evil fans are soon to become acquainted with.
Something wicked this way comes
On the desolate Peridea, which unfortunately is yet more grayscale sunsets and onyx rock formations that fail to please the eye, they are greeted by Nightsisters (they’re evil witches in red – there, I saved you a Wookiepedia deep dive) before finally meeting the true big bad of Ahsoka. Grand Admiral Thrawn, who for decades has meant a lot to hardcore fans of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, leaps from cartoons to flesh and bone live action, with his Rebels voice actor Lars Mikkelsen reprising the part to tremendous effect.
Caked in devilish blue skin with golden red eyes and lips pursed so tightly they’re practically stapled together, Mikkelsen boldly inhabits the worn-but-polished boots of Thrawn in one of the most impactful character debuts in franchise history outside of animation. He’s so seriously unnerving here that when I briefly paused the episode to clear my coffee table of my late-night dinner, I was genuinely disturbed by the paused screen of his eyes looking back. I felt at any time he would move again on their own.
While besieged by stormtroopers in gnarly ravaged armor that includes one unforgettable subordinate – the gold-plated “Captain Enoch” who has just inspired loads of cosplayers weeks ahead of Halloween – Mikkelsen doesn’t have much else in the script to make Thrawn feel like an authentically malignant presence, at least not yet. But as far as debuts go, I would be shocked if Lucasfilm execs haven’t already kicked around ideas for a stand-alone Thrawn for whenever the strikes end.
Play the Star Wars greatest hits
Mikkelsen is simply so good here that everything else in 'Far, Far Away' pales in comparison. Even Sabine’s growth into a more active co-protagonist feels artificial in her condensed tour of Star Wars itself. From contentious animal companions to fighting off thieving raiders, to striking friendships with weird little dudes (in this case, crab-like nomads who feel descended from yesteryear’s Ewoks), to a most heartfelt reunion, Sabine doesn’t so much explore as she bumps into quintessential Star Wars hallmarks. Nothing about this is particularly awful or a drag. The crab dudes are adorkably cute, and die-hard Rebels fans might well up with Sabine’s reunion with you-know-who, even if these characters still feel like total strangers in live-action than they would have been animated. But as Ahsoka persists in nostalgia for its own franchise’s past, more doubt creeps in. Can Star Wars can ever step away from the looming shadow of its own greatest hits? The trait that without uncertainty plagued the sequel trilogy. Might Ahsoka succumb a similar fate?
Getzinger’s eye as director, as exhibited by 'Far, Far Away', is wholly functional but not awfully inventive. Yet it’s through these eyes that its strongest elements shine. Mikkelsen’s Thrawn is a force waiting to be reckoned with; his fleet of zombified stormtoopers, looking resurrected in their DIY-restored armors and unceasing loyalty to a dead regime, inspires fear in how inescapably and unfortunately real it is that antiquated evil can and will always have its believers. And so, speculation that Thrawn is the seed-bearer for the First Order continues. There’s a potently brutal atmosphere that Getzinger captures through her own similarly and fittingly brutalist filmmaking. The vibes are not immaculate, and something is brewing. Thrawn is here. Now we wait for Ahsoka to finally strike.
New episodes of Ahsoka drop every Tuesday in the US and Wednesday in the UK on Disney Plus. For more on the Star Wars show, check out our guides to:
- Who is Grand Admiral Thrawn?
- Who is Hera Syndulla?
- Who is Sabine Wren?
- Who is Ezra Bridger?
- Who is Jacen Syndulla?
- The purrgil explained
- Explaining the mystical realm of the World Between Worlds
- Why Anakin calls Ahsoka Snips
- 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?
- The Ahsoka timeline explained
- The Ahsoka release schedule