All I ever want is for Star Wars to be good.
For someone who draws a not-insubstantial part of their identity from Star Wars, these last few years have been frustrating. On one hand, I could never have dreamt of a future in which new Star Wars would be the factory setting. I grew up with the original films, when the only new content between the movies were the stories I enacted with action figures. Old Obi-Wan refers to the Clone Wars as "the dark times," but the post-Return of the Jedi years were equally bleak. Back then we seized upon the mere rumor of new films with the greedy appetite of a starved Hutt, and we lived in silent fear that there would never be any more.
So it still boggles my mind when I sit on my couch and fire up the newest episode of Star Wars, as though it was Modern Family or Matlock, and not the great cinematic love of my life.1 We've had Star Wars on TV before, but animated shows, good as they are, always feel less special. I still get a rush watching live action Star Wars. It somehow looks just as good as the films. Like–pinch me, is this real?
If you had told 10 year-old me that one day I'd regularly be fed new Star Wars directly to my house basically intravenously, I would've assumed by 'house' you meant my personal Star Destroyer. It's unfathomable. A part of me still can't quite believe it.
Unfortunately, it's very much a "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times," scenario. I'm not the type to complain about gifts, but when every box you open contains a pair of socks, the excitement quickly wanes.
There is a loud, stupid, vile subset of fans who can't deal with women wielding lightsabers, or being heroes, or basically existing. This is not that. The best part of Ahsoka is that it's almost exclusively female. As my wife said as we watched, "it's nice to see a bunch of women as the main characters." I agree. Even better–it's not token representation, but arises from the simple fact that women are at the heart of the story. Imagine that.
The only male characters of any note are Baylan Skoll (Ray Stevenson)–who is exceptional as a Dark Jedi / Sith and refreshingly isn't all one-note with his hatred–and the droid Huyang (David Tennant). I don't know if the droid really counts; it has a man's voice and unearned confidence but none of the dangly bits. We'll call it 1.5 men?
In comparison, there are 5 main female characters: Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), General Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Nightsister Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto), and Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno), Baylan's young and presumably foolish apprentice.2
The casting is spot-on. Cinematography is great. Costumes, effects, sound–all of it is impeccable. Star Wars has always excelled in these areas. But Ahsoka exhibits the same fatal flaw that seems endemic to Star Wars at this point.
The writing sucks.