clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Ahsoka stands in front of a window in a cloak holding here white lightsaber horizontally in front of her in a scene from the Disney Plus series Ahsoka Photo: Suzanne Tenner/Lucasfilm

Filed under:

Ahsoka might fix the sequel trilogy the way Clone Wars fixed the prequels

Dave Filoni, the Star Wars continuity doctor

If watching Ahsoka feels a bit like walking in on the middle of a story instead of the beginning, that’s because it kind of is. While it’s not billed as such, the latest live-action Star Wars show is very much a sequel to the animated series Star Wars Rebels, reuniting its cast to tell the next chapter in a story that creator Dave Filoni and his collaborators have been telling, in one form or another, since The Clone Wars premiered on Cartoon Network in 2008. That said, it is also a follow-up to plot threads introduced in the second season of The Mandalorian, and, presumably, setup for one of three forthcoming Star Wars films.

Ahsoka, however, is contemporary to the story The Mandalorian is telling, and therefore set during a time for which there are very few canonical Star Wars stories: the New Republic era, the nebulous 30-year gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. This means it’s likely that Filoni is using Ahsoka to do for the sequel trilogy what he’s already famous for doing for the prequels: to explain what the movies wouldn’t, and make the Star Wars movie canon make some kind of sense.

This is Filoni’s strength. He is perhaps the foremost Star Wars continuity doctor, a guy known for using seven seasons of The Clone Wars to rehabilitate the prequel trilogy’s reputation by foregrounding and exploring a lot of the ideas those movies just breeze by. He’s a fan’s fan, the kind of person who has thought that we should have some explanation for why it was so easy for the Clone Troopers to turn on the Jedi during Order 66, or how the Jedi learned to become Force Ghosts. And when Disney’s 2012 acquisition of Lucasfilm led to the canonical slate being wiped clean with the exception of the movies and The Clone Wars, Filoni, in his role as supervising director on The Clone Wars, was suddenly responsible for a lot of Star Wars canon that he had led development on in concert with George Lucas.

The First Order Stormtroopers assemble in front of Admiral Hux in Star Wars: The Force Awakens Image: Lucasfilm

The first two episodes of Ahsoka suggest Filoni is turning his eye toward the sequel trilogy as well. If you’re the kind of fan who asks the kinds of questions Filoni asked about the prequels in The Clone Wars, then you might be a little bothered by the seemingly sudden and total collapse of the triumphant New Republic after The Force Awakens seemed to erase all of the hard-earned wins of the original trilogy.

Ahsoka suggests it’s heading toward an answer: the looming threat posed by Grand Admiral Thrawn, an Imperial legend thought defeated after the conclusion of Rebels. It’s a neat little solution, a way to further reintegrate Thrawn — one of the most popular villains from the old Star Wars Expanded Universe (aka the Legends timeline) — into the current canon and stage a crisis large enough to suffocate the nascent New Republic and leave it vulnerable to the First Order.

It’s a tantalizing thought, but there’s some danger in this approach. A strength of The Clone Wars was its anthology structure, a roving focus that allowed it to tell stories about characters all over the galaxy, exploring all manner of ideas. This gave it a loose feel that, while it was canon, didn’t make it feel like it was putting forth the final word on anything. It was just one vision for the Star Wars universe, given the freedom to define a specific period in time.

Ahsoka tano holds out a green lightsaber in star wars: the clone wars Image: Lucasfilm

Should Filoni use Ahsoka to extend this logic to the New Republic era and the sequel trilogy, then it becomes an integral link in the chain, removing the biggest strength of shows like The Clone Wars and Rebels: They made Star Wars feel bigger. Here were characters who could — and did — interact with heavies like Anakin and Obi-Wan, but primarily spent their time in their own corner of the galaxy, with another cast of characters unrelated to the films and their well-trod territory.

It’s an understandable impulse to want to see a lot of disparate parts of Star Wars lore come together to form a coherent whole, and it’s possible that Ahsoka could be a successful step in that project. It would reward over a decade of fan investment, a considerable amount of which began with kids watching The Clone Wars on TV — seeing the world of Star Wars come full circle in a satisfying way as an adult would be undoubtedly cool. But a lot of the magic of Star Wars is in what we don’t know. And what we could, if we left the twin suns we’ve lived under all our lives in favor of the danger and discomfort of something unfamiliar.

Star Wars

Ahsoka’s place in the Star Wars timeline is immediately confusing


Star Wars Jedi: Survivor sequel in the works, star says

Star Wars

Ahsoka has finally made Star Wars more fantasy than sci-fi

View all stories in Star Wars

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon