While Ahsoka Episode 5 was all about character development, in particular Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson)’s, this week the focus shifted to world-building, or new galaxy world building to be specific. Just when you thought Star Wars didn’t have any worlds to still build, they found a way, and it both looked and felt great.

I didn’t mind that Ahsoka was only on screen in the cold open this week. I know it’s her show, but last week was almost exclusively about her and Anakin’s past, and her present, and this week still progressed the main story where she plays a main part, so it didn’t feel like they Boba Fetted her at all. Plus, seeing the purrgil travelling in hyperspace was cool, and Huyang (David Tennant) saying “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” was just perfect.

Instead we’re back with the characters we left, or rather who left us, for an episode. We’re introduced to trhe planet Peridea. Up above, it’s a star whale graveyard. I focused on the desolate imagery of this part on my first watch, and ignored the probable implication that travelling to this planet was only a one-way trip by purrgil, since this is were the creatures went to die. This could explain why people got stranded there in the first place.

Down below, it is the ancestral home of the Nightsisters of Dathomir, complete with stone structures, one of them looking very much like the one we just left. We also get three Great Mothers, who were quite happy to see Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto). I’m glad we’re revisiting one of the most interesting parts of The Clone Wars, and not just peripherally through Elsbeth.

Of course, we can’t ignore the blue elephant in the room. Amidst all this world building, we get the much-anticipated return of Thrawn!

Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) returns on the Chimaera Star Destroyer – Ahsoka Episode 6 – Far, Far Away (Lucasfilm)

Lars Mikkelsen brings the same cool detached evil pragmatism to his portrayal of Grand Admiral Thrawn here that he did in animation in Star Wars Rebels. Yeah, he’s not as boney as he was in animation, having a human face behind the blue makeup and all, but his mannerisms, eyes, and costume are all on point. And then there’s that voice, the one that is chilling in its calmness. Yes, Thrawn’s return lived up to the hype, and was worth the wait. And yes, I can see him as the big bad, not only for this series, but for the Feloniverse as a whole.

And no, those aren’t regular stormtroopers with him. The captions even call them nighttroopers, and they are clearly held together with red tape. So my theory, and that of many others, is that Thrawn’s troopers didn’t survive the trip over, and were reanimated through some nightsister magic. And since they’re taking a few days to load up his embattled Star Destroyer the Chimaera (which looks great in live action – still imposing even if it is falling apart) from the catacombs below the temple, it seems like his army of the undead may grow significantly when they get to Dathomir. If, indeed, that is their first planned stop upon returning to the regular galaxy.

However not everyone who came over on the Eye of Sion/giant hyperspace ring is down with this plan, or even hopes to see it through. And that’s where we get some solid development in this largely world building episode. Baylan Skoll (the late Ray Stevenson) reveals to his apprentice Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno) that he is looking for something else, and thinks he can find it right where they are.

Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno) and Baylan Skoll (Ray Stevenson) on Peridea – Ahsoka Episode 6 – Far, Far Away (Lucasfilm)

This episode established, or for some confirmed, both of their backstories. It also reinforced Shin’s loyalty to Baylan’s teachings, and her questioning when it seems like he may have been ordered to go back on his word. We found out that his motivation is a noble one, and a potential game changer: stopping the cycle of Jedi Republic, and Empire, or the equivalent (or “breaking the wheel” if you want to get all Game of Thrones about it). Still, his methods of achieving it seem less than noble. With the mistrust Thrawn now has for the two of them, I wonder if one, or both of them may switch sides.

Regardless of the outcome, these are complex, conflicted characters, and cool as hell. This is due, in large part, to the performances, in particular Stevenson’s (RIP), while Sakhno is really believable as the inquisitive apprentice. I’m really curious to see where they end up, and what their presence in the story will bring to both this story, and the dynamic of how we understand the Star Wars Universe. Last episode was fantastic, but this pair was indeed missed.

We left Baylan and Shin out of the Thrawn/Elsbeth world, and chasing the episode’s other throughline of Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo)’s not very good day, until the end, that is. She was a prisoner, then a different kind of prisoner, then freed on a quest to follow her friend (and being tracked), then attacked, abandoned by a new pet, reunited with said pet, following a bunch of clothed turtle people, and eventually finding the long-lost Ezra Bridger (Eman Esfandi).

Ezra Bridger (Eman Esfandi) approaches Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) after she finds him – Ahsoka Episode 6 – Far, Far Away (Lucasfilm)

Through this journey (or at least through everything after she is freed), we are introduced to the ground-level life on Peridea. Sabine’s ride was a Howler Mount. It introduced Sabine, and us, to a whole new Star Wars landscape. it looked overall desolate, but still had plenty of life. Kind of like parts of Tatooine, if you think about it. The clothed turtle people, who I’m sure the Howler just wanted to eat, are the Noti. Sabine followed them to their village, where she finally found Ezra, who had been living as part of their community (and might have been the one who gave them their clothes).

Yes, the Noti were cute as hell, and clearly not dangerous predators. Plus they have a society. Will they enter the pantheon of memorable Star Wars species, like the Ewoks did? Or will they be just around for a couple of episodes like the Lurmen (this deep cut from the George Takei episode of The Clone Wars)? Only time will tell.

And with time running out on the first season of Ahsoka (only two more episodes), we not only caught up with Thrawn, but also with Ezra. So far, Esfandi has the voice. The look is expected to be a bit different, as ten years living with turtle people, while not shaving, may do that. As for the personality, from the little we saw, Esfandi and Bordizzo does feel like the Ezra and Sabine interplay we are used to from Star Wars Rebels. This bodes well.

I’m curious to see how Ezra will take Sabine undoing his very reason to strand both him and Thrawn there in the first place, by hitching a ride with the crew intending to bring the Grand Admiral back. Also, she probably should let him know that he isn’t the only one who knows she’s there. She might not know she’s being followed, but Ezra would probably figure it out if he has enough time. Better to find out from her, than by Baylan lunging at him with a lightsaber.

Now that the new world and galaxy has been set up, Ahsoka is soon to re-enter the picture, and the Great Mothers are cooking up some more dark magic for Thrawn, we’re set for a solid, action-packed two episode finale.

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