TV Recap / Review – “Star Wars: Ahsoka” Episode 1 – “Master and Apprentice” Reunites Friends and Introduces Enemies

This morning I published my overall thoughts on the first two episodes of the new Disney+ live-action series Star Wars: Ahsoka, and now I’ll be breaking down each individual episode as they are released through the rest of the season.

The first installment of Ahsoka, entitled “Master and Apprentice,” begins with a title crawl that brings us up to speed on recent events in the Star Wars galaxy: the Empire has fallen and been replaced with the New Republic, and former Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano (played here by Rosario Dawson) has captured Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto, last seen in a second-season episode of The Mandalorian) as part of her quest to track down the missing Imperial Grand Admiral Thrawn, who does not appear on-screen in this episode– though he is talked about quite a bit. Then we get into the action: a New Republic cruiser is boarded by two cloaked humans (Ray Stevenson and Ivanna Sakhno) claiming to be part of the long-extinct Jedi Order, though they soon ignite their red-bladed lightsabers and strike down the ship’s captain (guest star Mark Rolston from The Shawshank Redemption) and the rest of his crew, rescuing Elsbeth, their prisoner-in-transport. This incident prompts General Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) to call in Ahsoka, who is still spending her time in pursuit of Thrawn. We catch up with Tano on a planet with an ancient shrine built by the Dathomirian Nightsisters– a group that we learn Elsbeth is descended from– where she solves an Indiana Jones-esque puzzle to retrieve an orb theoretically containing a map to wherever in the galaxy Thrawn ended up at the end of Star Wars Rebels.

So Ahsoka pays a visit to Hera on the New Republic’s Mon Calamari-built flagship Home One (as featured in Return of the Jedi) and together they discuss the possibility that Elsbeth’s rescue may somehow be connected to Thrawn and young Jedi Ezra Bridger’s (Eman Esfandi) disappearance. Syndulla points Tano back to the planet Lothal, where their mutual Mandalorian acquaintance Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) has made a home in the aftermath of the Galactic Civil War. Speaking of Sabine, we see her display her more rebellious nature as she ditches a ceremony hosted by Ryder Azadi (acclaimed character actor Clancy Brown, uh… also from Shawshank, not to mention a bunch of other great stuff, reprising his voice role from Rebels). Then Ahsoka shows up and tries to enlist her in the continued quest for Thrawn and Ezra, and we learn that in the interim Tano has been training Wren in the ways of the Jedi. Some questions are left unanswered here, like why Ahsoka didn’t really pitch in during the war, and how Sabine can be trained as a Jedi if she’s not attuned to the Force (we know she’s got some great swordsmanship skills, but historically that hasn’t been enough to join the Order).

There are some great character moments in these scenes, with Sabine watching Ezra’s final hologram message to her wistfully, and Ahsoka have an emotional sit-down with her former apprentice, but things get interrupted when the droid Professor Huyang (voiced by David Tennant) discovers that the bearded older man who invaded the New Republic vessel was in fact a Jedi named Baylan Skoll who disappeared after the Clone Wars. With Ahsoka distracted by this information, Sabine swipes the map-sphere thing and returns to her makeshift apartment atop Lothal’s communications tower, where she keeps an adorable pet loth-cat. She manages to crack the cypher and unlock the map, but just then she’s attacked by Morgan Elsbeth’s HK-series assassin droids (who, by the way, we found out earlier in the episode essentially have nuclear bombs embedded in their chests). Despite Sabine putting up a pretty good fight and calling Huyang for help, the droids take the map and destroy her notes, leading her down to ground level and a confrontation with Skoll’s apprentice Shin Hati, who manages to skewer Wren through the abdomen with her lightsaber.

That’s the cliffhanger ending for this first episode, and upon rewatching it just now I remained just as impressed by the cast, direction, and pacing of Ahsoka. I absolutely adore how this series is allowing itself to take its time to play out rather than rushing through a series of plot points as has become the custom in big-budget storytelling these days. Naturally episode one was always going to be a big adjustment in getting these characters from the animated world of Star Wars Rebels into the live-action “Mandoverse,” so I’m definitely very glad we as the audience we given plenty of time to let that concept establish itself and settle before thrusting us into a planet-hopping adventure– though elements of that Star Wars staple are on display here as well. I also want to mention how incredibly cinematic this show feels; last week I was worried that was because I had actually seen these first two installments in the theater, but thankfully that impressive showmanship carried over to the small screen in my own home. To me, this premiere cements the notion that writer/director Dave Filoni really is the heir apparent to George Lucas, capable of delivering jaw-dropping sci-fi spectacle while simultaneously getting us to care about the characters and their personal journeys.

Star Wars: Ahsoka premiered earlier this evening, exclusively on Disney+.

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Mike Celestino
Mike serves as Laughing Place's lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly "Who's the Bossk?" Star Wars podcast. He's been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general all his life and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.