Warning: This review contains major spoilers for Star Wars: The Clone Wars season 7 episode 6
While the first episode of Ahsoka's season 7 arc floundered slightly, the second episode – “Deal No Deal” – soars ahead at hyperspeed, deepening characterizations and tying her journey back into the Clone Wars.
It certainly felt like last week's episode was all filler and no killer, kneecapping Ahsoka’s journey by tangling her up with your stereotypical Star Wars "scummy-with-a-heart-of-gold" types. Trace and Rafa Martez initially seemed like your typical Coruscant crime lord wannabes, but this episode gives them more breathing room and allows their roles to become clearer.
Rafa has agreed to a job that has red flags flying all over it: running spice from Kessel. Yep, that Kessel. Ahsoka tags along, despite Rafa's protestations as she believes that "everyone plays an angle" and is trying to figure out Ahsoka's. The former padawan, meanwhile, insists she simply wants to keep the two bumbling sisters out of trouble. How very Jedi of you, Snips.
The ragtag crew rises out of the lower levels of Coruscant in a shot mirroring one from last week – when Ahsoka wistfully stares up at the world she once knew. This time, however, she's ascending back into the action. Astonishingly, the graphics look better than the prequels, giving us a Coruscant that feels layered and hectic. Before we even get a chance to properly marvel at the improved visual acuity, however, we get a scene so poignant I had to pause the episode to gather myself...
To no one's surprise, Trace (who has never left Coruscant) is a bad pilot, and she flies them directly into Republic military space. A Venator-class cruiser jumps on their coms and an angry captain demands their non-existent license number – a moment that directly parallels the Death Star interception in A New Hope. We see the captain tell Anakin Skywalker (!!!) that he's going to send a detachment to arrest them.
Anakin pauses, reaches out to the ship, senses Ahsoka – who likewise senses him – and lets them pass. "It's nothing," he says. Anakin’s sure learned to let things go, even though we know that his inability to do just that will destroy him soon enough. Sad stuff, right there, and a testament to the little moments in Clone Wars that pack an emotional punch.
We then revisit the infamous planet Kessel, which we heard about a lot in Star Wars lore but only visited properly in Solo: A Star Wars Story. The crew lands on the lush Southern hemisphere – very different to the Northern one we saw in Solo – where the fruits of King Yaruba's slave labor are on full display. Ahsoka quickly becomes aware of just how shady this entire situation is (and the Republic’s nonchalant attitude towards stopping this awful behavior) and repeatedly attempts to assert some moral standards. Rafa isn't having it (she's the scummy one, remember), and it isn't until they see the spice mines that Trace grows wary.
This episode cements the threesome's dynamic: Trace is young, overzealous, and clearly looks up to her sister, but also idolizes Ahsoka and is torn between their different moral codes. The sisters' struggle to create a better life for themselves now carries emotional weight, and we can only hope they figure out how to get one over on the Pyke Syndicate. Yup, that Pyke Syndicate, as it's revealed that's who they're running the spice to. Ahsoka naively insists they give the spice away to make medicine while Rafa demands they bring it to the Syndicate. Trace, torn between the notion of a life of crime and Ahsoka's starry-eyed do-gooder ideology (and concerned with the fate of her ship), panics and dumps the spice into hyperspace. Hyperspice, if I may.
Things end on a cliffhanger: the crew of the Silver Angel (Trace's undeniably boring name for her ship) are trapped in a Pyke Syndicate tractor beam after attempting to pull the Govath-wool over their eyes in a ploy that involves Ahsoka using a Jedi Mind Trick. I think our girl is going to have to flex some more Jedi muscles next week, eh?
Ultimately, “Deal No Deal” does a lot of heavy lifting – some that should have been done last week. Ahsoka is back in the Clone Wars fold, now tied up in a sketchy spice run that the Republic is aware of but clearly letting happen. We're also reminded that Snips is still pretty young, and, while her morals are sound, her view on the world is still rather stunted. However, her eyes are clearly opening up to the many contradictions of that galaxy far, far away. Ahsoka is becoming the woman we know from Rebels, and it's pretty damn cool.