Ahsoka episode 8 review: "Top-notch action can't save the worst of its sins"

(Image: © Disney+)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

Meaty action can’t salvage all of its worst sins, and things are so wide open for season 2 that it’s hard to say if this season finale actually resolved anything at all.

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This review features spoilers for episode 8 - you have been warned...

We have certainly not seen the last of Ahsoka Tano....

With its final episode, 'The Jedi, The Witch, and The Warlord' (a painfully strange homage to a completely different universe), Ahsoka doesn’t quite stick the landing so much as it crashes into it with minimal carnage. In this slow-to-start, action-dense finale from director Rick Famuyiwa, zombie stormtroopers rise and narrative resolution is in short supply, but Ahsoka still stands strong as an overall crowd-pleaser that remembers to prioritize all that makes our hero and her story plated in gold. Even when much of Ahsoka seems wrong, you can’t deny that it at least feels right.

A slow burner


(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

Picking up again just moments after last week’s episode, the core trio that is Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson), Sabine (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), and Ezra Bridger (Eman Esfandi) prepare to make their final march to face Grand Admiral Thrawn (a still mesmerizing Lars Mikkelsen who has not missed a beat all season long). It’s a straightforward premise on paper — season finales of this type tend to be — but Ahsoka still takes careful time to take stock of all its wares, particularly characters that have not yet had opportunity to meaningfully interact. Before bonding over their shared history with Kanan Jarrus, David Tennant’s witty saber-builder Huyang quips to Ezra: “This is not something you can rush haphazardly.” 

Behind the camera, Famuyiwa may have taken Huyang’s words to heart, as the episode indeed takes time before lightsabers cross and blasters go pew-pew. This isn’t a bad thing, to be clear; the slang the internet likes to use these days to refer to meaningful artistry is “to cook,” and it should never be forgotten how much time it takes to prepare hearty meals. But Ahsoka as a whole has questionable time management, and its season finale doesn’t shake off the nagging feeling that there’s maybe too much dependency on the audience's assumed familiarity with other Star Wars media, specifically Star Wars Rebels, for any of this to matter. To go back to that cooking metaphor: just because Rebels served up solid hamburgers before doesn’t mean Ahsoka can get away with undercooked Happy Meals.

Part of the puzzle

Baylan Skoll in the Ahsoka finale

(Image credit: Disney/Lucasfilm)

At least the action remains top-notch. While there’s little innovation in Star Wars’ action set-pieces these days — not since the throne room scene in The Last Jedi has any Star Wars action felt both artistically rich and aesthetically pleasing all at once — Ahsoka still knows enough to have fun, and a horde of undead stormtroopers is a heck of a way to spice up formula. Famuyiwa, who has not formally helmed horror before, makes a strong case for himself to do so in what has to be one of the most unbelievably fun Star Wars sequences in a long time. 

All told, 'The Jedi, the Witch, and the Warlord' knows well what makes Ahsoka such a unique piece of the Star Wars puzzle. It isn’t its pastiche of other cinematic genres that make Ahsoka a stand-out television show, but the characters who breathe life into it. That’s what this episode nails so impossibly well: we care about these characters above all, and their inability to stick together for any meaningful period of time is a bigger obstacle than any Star Destroyer.

Excitement could lie ahead


(Image credit: Disney Plus)

While I maintain that Ahsoka relies too much on Rebels to inspire any sort of affection towards Sabine, Ezra, and maybe even Ahsoka herself, even I still recognize that Ahsoka is now the proper home for these aspirational galactic heroes who have a stronger head on their shoulders than other Star Wars TV heroes. Their chemistry is still bone-dry but I admit now they’re fun to watch, and I lament it’s taken legitimately the whole season to finally want to see more. Skill issue, a “me problem,” whatever — I just know that I have an easier time knowing who these people are than anybody not played by Diego Luna on Andor. While the show’s overall plot remains directionless even now, there’s comfort knowing there will be more should Lucasfilm will it.

As we stand at the finish line, I can say with certainty now that Ahsoka has been in some regards a mid-tier offering that embodies many of the sins found throughout the content era of streaming. But it also surprised me in pleasant ways. Rosario Dawson plays dignified and cool impressively well, enough to make me believe her Ahsoka has gone through a galaxy of pain to evolve from passionate and ill-tempered to the most calculated individual in any room. Her show hasn’t just been an excuse for Dawson to don nifty cosplay, but to see a former Jedi inadvertently embark on a path she once left behind. I await what now lies ahead of her. 

Ahsoka is available to watch on Disney Plus. For more on the Star Wars show, check out our guides to:

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Eric Francisco

Eric Francisco is a freelance entertainment journalist and graduate of Rutgers University. If a movie or TV show has superheroes, spaceships, kung fu, or John Cena, he's your guy to make sense of it. A former senior writer at Inverse, his byline has also appeared at Vulture, The Daily Beast, Observer, and The Mary Sue. You can find him screaming at Devils hockey games or dodging enemy fire in Call of Duty: Warzone.