[This story contains spoilers for Ahoska episode five.]
Ahsoka episode five takes a break from the conflict at hand to take a nostalgic trip down memory lane — one that expands on a major cameo revealed at the end of last week’s episode.
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Directed and written by Dave Filoni, the midseason episode picks up right after the major cliffhanger in episode four, in which Hayden Christensen reprised his role as Anakin Skywalker, confronting Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) in a location that appeared to be the World Between Worlds.
Dressed in black Jedi garments akin to his look in Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of Sith, and de-aged to look like his younger self, this version of Anakin is different from that of a traditional blue Force ghost. While that part isn’t fully explained in the episode, it may have something to do with the World Between Worlds itself, which was first seen in Star Wars Rebels season four. The mystical location is described as a netherworld of the Force that serves as a collection of doors and pathways that link all moments of time and space together, meaning it’s also a place where time travel is possible through the Force.
However, time travel in the World Between Worlds isn’t as simple as it may seem. Previously explained by Filoni in a Rebels season four Blu-ray featurette, while one can use time travel to gain knowledge about moments from the past, present and future, it’s dangerous to use the Force to alter things that have already happened.
Anakin tells Ahsoka, who’s at first confused by her former master’s presence, that he’s there to complete her training. After Ahsoka lost to Baylan Skoll (Ray Stevenson) in episode four, it appears that Anakin is implying that with complete training — and by confronting her past — Ahsoka will be able to conquer whatever is holding her back.
Anakin engages his former padawan in a tense lightsaber duel, presenting her with a choice: “Live or die.” When Ahsoka thinks she’s bested him, Anakin informs her that “I haven’t taught you everything yet,” before he destroys the mystical bridge she’s standing on and transports Ahsoka to one of her earliest memories as a padawan.
Meanwhile, amid the master-apprentice duo’s trip down memory lane, Hera (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and her team search the planet of Seatos for Ahsoka and Sabine (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), who seem to have disappeared into thin air. Hera’s son, Jacen Syndulla (Evan Whitten) — who is revealed to have Force-sensitive capabilities — senses that Ahsoka is lost in the ocean, as he hears the clashing of lightsabers below.
Back in the World Between Worlds, we meet a younger version of Ahsoka (Ariana Greenblatt), sent back to one of her earliest missions at the Battle of Ryloth alongside Anakin in the Clone Wars. Surrounded by dust, a raging battle and prequel-era clones, a younger Anakin emerges, looking remarkably similar to his animated Clone Wars character from the show’s earlier seasons. It’s a historic moment in Star Wars, in which the Clone Wars duo finally come to life as their live-action counterparts.
Anakin implores Ahsoka to keep up, as she dodges the ongoing battle around her. Conflicted over the horrors of war, Ahsoka explains to her master that she doesn’t want to fight anymore. There’s lots of cryptic, Jedi-esque dialogue, leaving Ahsoka confused about her lesson. Anakin tells Ahsoka that if she doesn’t want to be a soldier, she will die. As he heads back into the fighting, Ahsoka sees her former mentor flash between his younger self and the menacing form of Darth Vader.
Ahsoka’s next memory skips ahead a few years — and several Clone Wars seasons — to the Siege of Mandalore, in which Ahsoka leads a mission to liberate the planet from Darth Maul. At this point, Ahsoka, now much more skilled and fighting with her signature double white lightsabers, has already left the Jedi order and walked away from her training with Anakin.
Here, audiences are treated to a brief cameo from Temuera Morrison — who originally played Jango Fett in the prequels, followed by a reprisal as Boba Fett in Disney+ miniseries The Book of Boba Fett — voicing clone Captain Rex, one of Ahsoka’s closest friends during the animated Clone Wars.
Anakin — who was not originally present for this Clone Wars season seven battle — joins Ahsoka in the memory, explaining her legacy in their Jedi lineage. The two argue over whether or not that very legacy is one of death and war.
“You’re more than that,” Anakin tells her. “Because I’m more than that.”
“You are more, Anakin,” responds young Ahsoka, “but more powerful and dangerous than anyone realized.” With that, Anakin devolves into a red-eyed, Sith version of himself, red lightsaber and all, and strikes against Ahsoka once more.
Back in her present-day body, Ahsoka fights back, and we even see her eyes turn a Sith yellow for a brief moment as she dabbles in the Dark Side to defeat her former master. Taking his lightsaber and tossing it off the bridge, Ahsoka announces that she chooses to live, coming back to her blue-eyed self, with Anakin’s red eyes turning back to normal, too.
“There’s hope for you yet,” he tells Ahsoka with a smile, before vanishing.
Then, thanks to Jacen, Ahsoka is saved from the water by Hera’s team of X-wing fighters, who have been holding off the New Republic from stopping their unauthorized mission throughout the episode.
Although Anakin’s final lesson is mostly left up to interpretation — for both the audience and Ahsoka, herself — it seems that by confronting the darkness of her past, Ahsoka was able to overcome her own traumas left behind by the legacy of death and destruction throughout her training in the Clone Wars. Ahsoka decides to not let those memories define her, just as Anakin’s time as Darth Vader doesn’t have to define him.
At the close of the episode, Ahsoka uses the Force power of psychometry to uncover Sabine’s decision to willingly go with Baylan Skoll to find Grand Admiral Thrawn and Ezra Bridger. With the map to the far-off galaxy destroyed, Ahsoka determines her own way to make the journey — Purrgils, a species of massive space whales capable of traveling through hyperspace. With the help of some Purrgils passing by Seatos, Ahsoka — now dressed in her Gandalf the White-inspired look last seen at the end of Rebels — and Huyang embark on their journey to follow Sabine.
With three episodes left in the series, it’s unclear whether or not Christensen will make another cameo, now that Anakin has seemingly accomplished his goal of teaching Ahsoka one final lesson. Next, perhaps audiences will finally get to see Rebels characters Grand Admiral Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) and Ezra Bridger (Eman Esfandi) brought into the live-action Star Wars universe.
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