It didn’t take me very long to figure out what the problem was with “Ahsoka”, the latest offering from the
Snooze Star Wars franchise.
The same franchise that shot real energy into the 1970s sci-fi scene and electrified the early 1980s (pun intended) with fun adventure, exciting characters, and solid development has completely flipped the script in the 21st century. Ever since the cringe inducing dialogue from the prequel movies helped my fall into the Cynical Side of the Force, I have been eagerly awaiting for the filmmakers to regain their sanity and stop straying from the formula that worked so well.
I’m still waiting.
Don’t get me wrong, the charisma of Daisy Ridley was a shining example of how you can make likeable characters if you let the actors, you know, ACT. But the directors of the Disney Plus shows seem to overlook that time and time again. Directors who have been hailed as having “genius” levels of talent love playing it safe with stoic, monotone, and emotionless main characters.
The latest offering is the series named “Ahsoka”, which appears (in the first half of the season) to be just as sleep-inducing as the other Disney Plus shows the fans have consumed. This series had intense hype behind it, with marketing on multiple mediums, and the revelation that Dave Filoni himself wrote every episode. The same Dave Filoni that fans have hailed as a Star Wars god over the past decade. The same Dave Filoni who is pretty much the co-head of Lucasfilm, having been given the keys to the kingdom two years ago.
At yet it seems Filoni has stepped away from character fundamentals that made Ahsoka Tano, Hondo, Rex, and other creations become fan favorites. The latest examples of how Lucasfilm has decided to help fans sleep at night include:
Boba Fett: Okay so the guy never really leapt off the screen (except once) in the movies, but when handed his own series he floundered. His storyline was so boring and his energy level on par with some Senators that the directors decided to cut him out of his own series for two solid episodes. Considering there were only seven episodes in the season, that means our titular character is off-screen for 28% of his own show.
Cassian Andor: Lucasfilm really gets a kick out of naming a series after the protagonist and the “Andor” series is no exception. While the first season was ultimately hailed by fans as a triumph, the criticism was that it was boring, particularly in the first half of the season. The main character himself takes a few shots from the fans, but other characters, the pacing, the writing, just about everything was mind-numbing.
Obi-Wan Kenobi: To be fair, Kenobi wasn’t exactly the most energetic character in the prequel films, but he at least was allowed the occasional chuckle and even have a pretty strong outburst in “Attack of the Clones”. However, in this series he was relegated back to being a depressed, melancholic character. To add on even more fairness, he had suffered quite a bit of trauma given the fact that he had front row tickets to the end of civilization as he knew it. That being said, he was the latest in a long line of snooze-inducing characters that Lucasfilm decided was worthy of his own show.
That brings us to Ahsoka Tano, a beloved character by the franchise who had grown from a padawan apprentice to a rogue character who had one giant demon in her past that haunted her nightmares. In “The Clone Wars” she was quick with a joke or a quippy one-liner. In “Rebels” she was kinder and nostalgic, but still had a warmth to her emotional presence.
Halfway through her anticipated series, we find an extremely stoic character. Surrounded by friends she has known for years, her voice barely raises in tone or volume. Sabine, her on-again off-again apprentice, is also trying hard to keep her heart rate below 50. Even Hera, who displays the most amount of energy in her screentime, is not enough to keep audiences engaged. Ahsoka renounced the ways of the Jedi and appears to have embraced the life of a Vulcan instead.
Hera’s “once a rebel always a rebel” line is delivered with the same flat energy as the rest of the dialogue. David Tennant (voicing a droid) does deliver some quippy lines with brutal honesty, and is quickly becoming a fan favorite, much like K2-SO did in “Rogue One”, which also had a problem with delivering emotional dialogue.
What does it say that two of the most humorous and energetic characters are robots?
I asked Star Wars fans in our private Facebook group, the GNN Greats, for their opinion as well. On a scale of 1-10, with “1” being incredibly exciting and “10” being comatose, how exciting were these shows?
Cam Fischer said: “Boba Fett was a solid 8, Andor was 6, Ahsoka is at about a 5 so far.”
Jenae Elix said: “Ahsoka is 2, Book of Boba an 8, Andor gets a 10. I didn’t bother watching the second episode of “Andor” because it made no sense at all.
Sean Elford added a meme about how he was nodding off to “Andor” until he heard a TIE Fighter.
Gary Karr said: “Book of Boba (a.k.a. Mandalorian 2.0) was 8, Andor was 9, so far Ahsoka is 9.”
Of course there’s plenty of time to ratchet up the excitement and you can’t have a “pow” moment every 13.78 seconds unless you get Michael Bay to direct it. I’m truly hopeful that the second half of the season will bring back the adventurous fun we all enjoy. However, this series seems to mirror the predecessors in that our main character is just so hard to get emotionally invested in. You can be stoic, you can be thoughtful, you can be calm and controlled. It worked out pretty well for Ned Stark (until it didn’t) who barely got heated about anything but had a tremendous impact on the first season of “Game of Thrones”.
But with Boba Fett, Andor, and now Ahsoka we find it harder and harder to truly get behind them. A majority of scenes in the first half of “Ahsoka” shows her talking in a flat voice, with crossed arms. At least in the fourth episode we see a pretty solid duel between her and a villain named Baylan Skoll, but it lacked the fire and intensity we’ve seen before. Ahsoka herself isn’t just bland, she’s just…plain…boring.
I can’t help but be reminded of a classic scene from Futurama…before the re-re-resurrection of the series.
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