By Josh Reilly B. & George Bate
In Ahsoka Part Three – “Time to Fly,” the titular character has a moment with her new apprentice in which she explains how it’s possible that Sabine Wren, who hadn’t shown any Force powers up until this point, could still grow to become a Jedi. The reasoning behind this, Ahsoka says, is that the Force resides in all living things, and that while talent plays a part, determination and commitment to training are the most important aspects. With that, Star Wars expands its lore; the question of who can become a Jedi is now more open than ever. And with Ahsoka, the franchise expands in more ways than just this one, as the threat of Grand Admiral Thrawn’s imminent return grows ever stronger, the future of Star Wars becomes clearer.
Just like “Master & Apprentice” and “Toil and Trouble,” part three of Ahsoka has a sense of impending danger and grandness that makes the series truly exciting. Thrawn hasn’t even appeared yet, but his presence is felt throughout. The audience can sense that it’s just a matter of time before he returns to the known galaxy and begins an all out war to take down the New Republic. That’s what the heroes are trying to prevent in this action heavy new episode.
“Time” to Fly” features Ahsoka and Sabine as they travel to the far outskirts of the galaxy to search for Morgan Elsbeth and her hyperspace ship that is being built to reach Thrawn. Much of the episode takes place as they try to reach Elsbeth, as Ahsoka and co. are pursued by Shin Hati and the ever mysterious Marrok, who finally gets some speaking lines in this outing.
That action sequence takes up the vast majority of the episode, and it’s interesting that this is the first true space battle show in live action in a Star Wars Disney+ series. Those kinds of scenes have often been reserved for the feature films, but that there’s one here in this new episode adds to the overall cinematic feeling that Ahsoka has. Bar Andor, Ahsoka might just be the most refined and cinematic Star Wars show yet, and this episode shows exactly why. Not only is the overarching plot of the threat of Thrawn worthy of a film, but the directing from Steph Green excels here as well. Green, who also directed Part Two, first joined the franchise with a stellar episode of The Book of Boba Fett, and has gone from strength to strength since then. Green now looks completely comfortable in a galaxy far, far away, and the way she shot the action sequences are particularly impressive.
The music from Kevin Kiner is another highlight of this episode, just as it was for the first two parts. Kiner, who composed the scores for The Clone Wars and Rebels for Ahsoka showrunner Dave Filoni, has crafted a score that is simultaneously grand and deeply personal. This show feels very character driven, with long, drawn out sequences spent on the heroes that help the audience to get to know them better and get inside their head more. What contributes to that feeling is not just the direction, but Kiner’s score as well. Above all, though, it’s impressive just how much Kiner is able to create a score that feels like classic Star Wars without just repeating the iconic music from John Williams. The motifs and small references to the most famous musical pieces in the franchise’s illustrious history will be greatly appreciated by the hardcore fans, too.
If there is one complaint to be had for this episode of Ahsoka, it’s the relative lack of character shown by the title hero. As she has grown older, Ahsoka has morphed into the traditional wise Jedi, and one who thinks before she speaks. With that in mind, it still feels as if Ahsoka is not as engaging as she could be, particularly in her own show. As this is her first time in the spotlight, having previously been part of an ensemble, it’s hard not to wish for Ahsoka to have a little bit more to her in this story and a little less stoicism.
This won’t be the most exciting or groundbreaking episode of Ahsoka this season, and some might label “Time to Fly” a filler outing. However, to dismiss this episode in such a way would be reductive, both in terms of the character work done and the way in which it ends with the heroes coming directly into contact with the villains for the first time. Just because Thrawn or Ezra didn’t make their highly anticipated returns this week doesn’t mean that this episode is a failure. In fact, the way in which Sabine’s role as a Jedi padawan is cleared up, along with the added responsibility she is given by Ahsoka progresses Natasha Liu Bordizzo’s hero greatly.
Ahsoka part three is an action-heavy episode that features the heroes of the show getting closer and closer to Baylan Skoll, Shin Hati, Morgan Elsbeth, and the rest of the mysterious villains. The plot doesn’t progress as much as the last two outings, but that doesn’t mean it’s a filler; there’s some excellent character work done here as well an incredibly exciting space battle sequence that makes this more than worth the watch.