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The lines converge


WORLD Radio - The lines converge

Disney’s Ahsoka brings together The Mandalorian and Rebels in a way that may leave new viewers lost in a galaxy far, far away

Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars: Ahsoka by Disney+ Lucasfilm Ltd.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Friday, September 1st. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Myrna Brown

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: a new chapter in the Star Wars saga.

The character Ahsoka Tano first appeared in the 2008 show, The Clone Wars. She has since appeared in several other shows and now is the protagonist of the new show on Disney Plus, Ahsoka.

Disney is hoping for a hit to rival its last big fan favorite—The Mandalorian after Disney canceled the star of the show Gina Carano for having politically incorrect views. And with slumping revenue at its parks and the box office, the company could use a win.

BROWN: WORLD Features Editor Leigh Jones is a big Star Wars fan. But she has her doubts about whether this new show has the force Disney needs.

LEIGH JONES, REVIEWER: Ahsoka is the series die-hard Star Wars fans have been waiting for. It brings to life, or at least to live action, one of the franchise’s most popular animated series—Rebels.

BAYLAN: War is inevitable. One must destroy in order to create. We are no Jedi.

Rebels aired on television between 2015 and 2018. It followed the adventures of a group of friends who fought on the fringes of the early rebellion against the Empire.

Ahsoka picks up where Rebels left off, after the Rebel Alliance’s final victory over the Empire.

AHSOKA: General Syndulla. It’s good to see you.

SYNDULLA: And you. Though I wish it were under better circumstances. I’m afraid we lost your prisoner. I’ve prepared a briefing to get you caught up.

AHSOKA: Just like old times.

SYNDULLA: Unfortunately.

Rebels ended with the disappearance of its main character, the budding Jedi Ezra Bridger. And in the final scene, Ahsoka and Sabine Wren, another member of the Rebels team, head out to find him.

Ezra: Hey, Sabine. I’m sorry for disappearing on you. I made this recording because more than the others I need you to understand. As a Jedi, sometimes you have to make the decision no one else can. So, that’s what I did to defeat Thrawn.

This new series opens several years later. Ahsoka is still on the hunt, but Sabine has returned to Ezra’s home planet, Lothal. When not brooding in the outpost where Ezra used to live, she’s dodging recognition of her past victory.

Governor: On this day several years ago, the empire was defeated thanks to the heroic efforts of Commander Ezra Bridger, who sacrificed himself to liberate our world. This monument we dedicate here today stands in recognition of Commander Bridger and the rebel leaders who fought so valiantly on our behalf. May their courage and commitment never be forgotten. Here to say a few words is one of those rebel leaders: Commander Sabine Wren.

Sabine Wren.

Toward the end of the first episode we learn the reason for Sabine’s angst. While on their quest to find Ezra, Ahsoka began to train her in the ways of the force, and it didn’t go well. That caused a rift, and they haven’t spoken since.

SABINE: So, where do you call home these days?

AHSOKA: This ship serves me fine.

SABINE: Still? Don’t you ever get tired of moving from one place to another?

AHSOKA: I go where I’m needed.

SABINE: Not always.

AHSOKA: You never make things easy.

SABINE: Why should I? You never made things easy for me, Master.

When Ahsoka discovers a map that could give them another shot at finding Ezra, Sabine can’t resist rejoining the hunt.

SABINE: Do you really think Ezra’s still out there?

AHSOKA: Nothing is certain. However, our enemy is actively seeking Thrawn, which is what led me to the map.

Sabine’s main goal is to find her friend. But Ahsoka is focused on a bigger prize: Grand Admiral Thrawn. He was the ultimate bad guy in Rebels, and he disappeared along with Ezra. But his followers are plotting his return. And they hope he’ll gather together the shreds of the empire for a galactic comeback.

SHIN: Master, What happens when we find Thrawn?

BAYLAN: For some, war. For others, a new beginning.

SHIN: And for us?

BAYLAN: Power, such as you’ve never dreamed.

Ahsoka knows exactly where those kinds of grandiose designs lead. After all, Anakin Skywalker—the man who would become Darth Vadar—was her master.

So, Ahsoka is determined to keep Thrawn out of power.

Along the way, she’ll have to defeat two new enemies: former Jedi who have turned to the dark side. That promises to deliver some epic lightsaber battles featuring Ahsoka’s signature, two-blade fighting style.

SOUND: [Two lightsabers igniting]

Ahsoka’s first few episodes set up what promises to be a grand adventure in the best quest tradition. And the cast, led by Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka, delivers solid performances. But fans have raised objections about how some of their favorite characters differ from their portrayals in Rebels. That could be a problem for Star Wars executives, who are desperate for a big win to reinvigorate the franchise. Ahsoka marks their first attempt to bring an animated series to live action, which could prove even more risky than introducing a completely new cast of characters.

That formula worked well for the last Star Wars hit—The Mandalorian. It was so successful in part because anyone could jump in and enjoy it, even if they had never heard of Luke, Leia, or Darth Vadar. By contrast, Ahsoka relies heavily on a detailed backstory that most people won’t know. And at least in the first few episodes, the show doesn’t do much to catch audiences up. You can find short synopsis videos on YouTube that condense four seasons of Rebels into a few minutes. But I’m not sure many viewers will bother.

And that’s a shame because Rebels, and now Ahsoka, features some of the most compelling characters—and interesting storylines—in the Star Wars universe.

I’m Leigh Jones.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


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