TV review: 'Star Wars' series 'Ahsoka' leaves viewers lost

Rosario Dawson is Ahsoka Tano. Photo courtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd. and TM
1 of 5 | Rosario Dawson is Ahsoka Tano. Photo courtesy of Lucasfilm Ltd. and TM

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- Ahsoka, premiering Tuesday on Disney+, is clearly made for Star Wars fans who have been waiting to see the title character in live action since her animated debut.

Unfortunately, the new series is impenetrable to casual Star Wars fans.


The show begins with a scroll, in red text instead of the movie saga's trademark yellow, explaining Ahsoka takes place after the fall of the Galactic Empire. Agents are working to thwart the New Republic begun by Luke Skywalker, Leia, et al.

From there, the series introduces three sets of characters who go places to find things and talk to people.

Baylan Skoll (Ray Stevenson) and Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno) impersonate Jedi to free Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) from prison.

Jedi survivor Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson) finds a ball in a temple that is actually a map to the hiding place of Admiral Thrawn.


Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) rebels against her father (Clancy Brown), the governor, and hopes to reunite with Ezra Bridger (Eman Esfani), who has been captured by Thrawn but sends Sabine holographic messages.

Those are a lot of new names to remember without much explanation for why they are important. It turns out, Thrawn, Sabine and Ezra are also characters from the animated Star Wars: Rebels, and Elsbeth previously appeared on The Mandalorian.

The characters talk more about the past drama than any new developments. Expository backstory dates back to the original Star Wars, when Obi-wan filled Luke in on the Darth Vader story (leaving out some important parts) in the original Star Wars, too.

But that was at least creating new mythology. This exposition alienates both sets of audiences. It does not catch up new viewers because it is indecipherable mythology that still leaves us waiting to find out why any of it matters.

For devoted fans who know these characters, this is at best two episodes of reminiscing about the animated series. More likely, it's so redundant it also stalls the drama.

Sabine has some resentment toward Ahsoka for not choosing her for Jedi training. This apparently happened after Rebels, so if this is new material, they should make a show about that instead of just talking about it. Abandoning a Jedi Padawan is kind of a big deal in the Star Wars universe.


There's nothing inherently wrong with a simple macguffin and a quest if the journey is entertaining. Unfortunately, Ahsoka only has a few light saber fights, too few and far between to justify all the exposition.

Ahsoka brings the map ball to Sabine, who is able to solve the map puzzle, but it's a lot of waiting around looking at the ball until she finally twists it and clicks it into place.

Furthermore, scenes just sit there as characters talk about what happened before the show started and what they're trying to do in future episodes. In Episode 2, the bad guys chart their path through the galaxy, so the show still is making plans for a journey that hasn't begun.

Ahsoka is such a strong, silent type that new audiences don't get to know her. Dawson appeared in one episode of Mandalorian to introduce her as the live-action Ahsoka.

As a guest star in another show, she can be mysterious, but as the lead in her own show, Ahsoka has to start showing some personality to warrant following her for several episodes. She doesn't have to talk, but actions must be more demonstrative.

The Mandalorian stars a character who never takes his helmet off. He speaks, but his personality is conveyed through body language and the fact that he protects a baby alien.


The Mandalorian was a promising start to Star Wars streaming series, introducing new characters in the familiar galaxy far, far away. Andor even took an interesting angle on an existing character from one of the movies.

The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan ended up just spinning wheels with pre-existing characters, unable to further their stories because of what the movies have established as canon. Ahsoka proves as dramatically inert as Boba Fett and Obi-Wan.

Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001, and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012 and the Critics Choice Association since 2023. Read more of his work in Entertainment.

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