Following the triumph of Ahsoka‘s two premiere episodes, the question that lingered was whether the show could maintain its momentum and quality in its third installment. A pattern has emerged among many live-action Star Wars series, where a decline in quality sometimes follows after the premiere, leaving fans dissatisfied with the mid-season installments. In the case of Ahsoka, with only an eight-episode season, the stakes were high as it ventured into Ahsoka Episode 3 , “Time to Fly”, helmed by director Steph Green and writer Dave Filoni. Yet, whether due to their experience with animated runtimes or the magic inherent in the show’s dynamics, this episode delivers, opening the door to myriad possibilities for the franchise.
Ahsoka Episode 3 picks up with Ahsoka, Sabine Wren, and the Jedi architect droid, Huyang, continuing their pursuit of Morgan Elsbeth, who has constructed a hyperspace ring capable of venturing to a distant galaxy where Grand Admiral Thrawn is believed to be. Amid hyperspace, Sabine Wren receives rudimentary lightsaber training from Huyang. Ahsoka intervenes when it becomes apparent that Sabine’s training isn’t progressing as desired. Against Huyang’s best wishes, the master and apprentice practice a training method called Zatoichi, which likely references the fictional, blind swordsman from the Edo period created by Japanese novelist Kan Shimozawa, who also served as an inspiration for Rogue One‘s Chirrut Îmwe.
The sequence evokes a pivotal Jedi training moment where the master blindfolds the padawan during training, reminiscent of Obi-Wan and Luke’s session aboard the Millennium Falcon in A New Hope. However, this training scene is more intimate, occupying a significant portion of the episode’s opening minutes. Here, Ahsoka guides Sabine through the training with the finesse of a seasoned warrior. This training session serves as a poignant reminder of pivotal moments in her Force training, emphasizing Sabine’s need to transcend her Mandalorian upbringing. This mirrors advice she received from Kanan Jarrus while learning the Dark Saber in Rebels. Her physical prowess is considerable, but her mental fortitude needs refinement.
Following their training, Ahsoka Episode 3 delves deeper into that mental block by attempting to unravel why Sabine struggles to connect with the Force. It’s not a matter of incapability; rather, the training and focus take precedence over innate potential. This revelation underlines that the Force is not limited to those deemed worthy of Jedi training; it offers possibilities for many across the galaxy. This insight aligns with the High Republic era, where numerous Force-sensitive individuals coexist (to an extent), possibly paving the way for other characters within the franchise to explore harnessing the Force—perhaps even Finn from the Sequel Trilogy.
Ahsoka’s lecture echoes more personally than past Jedi Masters like Yoda or Obi-Wan. She isn’t enveloped in grand cosmic metaphors or what the Jedi Order says to do in every situation. She instead wishes Sabine to excel in her own way. This approach signifies a deviation from traditional Jedi teachings, potentially forging a new path for those who reject the Jedi binary.
This perspective challenges Huyang, to debate the right course. Ahsoka raises the prevalent theme that the Jedi Order faltered. Her unique approach likely stems from her incomplete training and distance from the Jedi Order, fostering her quest to develop her method. She aims to prepare Sabine to confront Morgan Elsbeth and her three lightsaber-wielding allies, not just to be a Jedi.
On the other side of the narrative, Ahsoka Episode 3 bestows much-needed screen time upon General Hera Syndulla. Although brief, her scenes continue to highlight the New Republic’s stumbling transition of power post-Empire’s fall during a conversation between Hera and the New Republic Senators as she looks to get help for Ahsoka and Sabine. Much like in Andor, the politicians seem apathetic toward leadership changes as long as their lifestyles remain unaffected.
This indifference causes them to disregard apparent threats, as evidenced by the recent episode’s exposure of a compromised system that is supposed to be integral to the rebuilding efforts. These politicians, including Senator Mon Mothma, ignore Hera’s reports despite her direct involvement with Thrawn, attributing her requests to a continued pursuit of Ezra. This presents the first glimpse into the challenges Hera faces in this supposed era of peace. A freedom fighter turned general, she now contends with a different kind of conflict—the politics of post-war governance. While they don’t offer support, Hera’s unfiltered response to the senators captures the essence of her character for those unfamiliar with her from animation.
Following a brief yet endearing appearance of Jacen, Hera’s son, the narrative shifts to an exhilarating space battle. This battle unveils character dynamics while delivering high-octane action between our heroes and a strike team led by Shin Hati, all while Morgan Elsbeth hovers around the enormous hyperspace ring. Discernible in this battle is a hint of tension and distrust alluded to in the season’s initial episodes. Although outright division isn’t evident, a rift emerges between Elsbeth and Shin.
They subtly compete to vanquish the Ahsoka and company, trading barely noticeable jabs when the other falls short. Meanwhile, Marrok remains passive, obeying Shin’s commands affirming his lesser role in the narrative. Simultaneously, the bond between Ahsoka and Sabine evolves amid the battle. It’s a great mirror that will hopefully continue to show itself throughout the series.
Time has not only allowed Sabine to learn from Ahsoka but also permitted Ahsoka to evolve. Much emphasis has been placed on Ahsoka’s characterization, but this development reflects the natural aging and transition of heroes, as they pass their wisdom to the next generation. Ahsoka, unlike any previous teacher, comprehends the dangers stemming from both Jedi and Sith teachings. Mid-battle, Ahsoka realizes her attempt to impart her unique teaching style onto Sabine—forged after leaving the Jedi Order decades earlier—still constrains Sabine’s potential, akin to the limitations Ahsoka and Anakin felt within the Order.
For Sabine to truly grow, she must retain her free-spirited essence, which defies the societal molds of nearly every group she has been a part of. This realization beautifully mirrors the way Anakin trained Ahsoka. While Ahsoka believes he never completed her training, entrusting Sabine to be herself and make her choices, even in pivotal moments like this, echoes some of their most significant moments together.
A hallmark of these live-action adaptations is bringing animated possibilities to life. Ahsoka’s presence in space matches the grandeur of expectations and aligns with her animated ship-bound feats. Depicting lightsaber combat in space, a rarity in live-action, is executed exceptionally. Additionally, the notion of gargantuan space whales surpassing the size of starships brings the nearly inconceivable concept to life, introducing live-action audiences to the purrgil outside of their outlines in hyperspace. Although fleeting, this glimpse reinforces the vastness and imaginative possibilities of the Star Wars universe. It serves as a reminder that the galaxy’s potential isn’t confined to the Force alone, encouraging speculation about what lies within the far reaches of the galaxy by season’s end.
While the premiere episodes catered to animation devotees, Ahsoka Episode 3 caters to newcomers unfamiliar with these storied characters. Though constrained by a compact season and runtime, the series continues to unravel characters’ complexities, emphasizing the multifaceted nature of Force connections and mentorship. Further, viewers gain deeper insights into Ahsoka and Sabine’s dynamic while unraveling the New Republic’s bureaucratic entanglement, which will surely cause more problems in the future. Most importantly, though, as Ahsoka and Sabine’s bond rekindles, they stand better prepared to face the forthcoming challenges united.
Star Wars: Ahsoka Episode 3 — "Time to Fly"
While the premiere episodes catered to animation devotees, Ahsoka Episode 3 caters to newcomers unfamiliar with these storied characters.