I watched the first season of Ahsoka. I previously wrote about my reaction to the pilot.
Look, I don’t get it. In part that’s because I didn’t watch the 700 animated episodes that are apparently a prerequisite for understanding this show.
I feel like I’ve learned how to write television, from decades of watching it and, now, years of trying to write it. Alas, all my television is unproduced—so if you’re playing the game of “consider the source” to discount me, I don’t blame you.
But in my educated opinion, Ahsoka is not how you design a season of television.
I do not understand what anybody wants in this show.
Grand Admiral Thrawn wants to escape exile and do something with all the boxes he is bringing into his ship.
Sabine wants to find and save Ezra—okay, that I understand.
Lord Baylan wants to bring Thrawn to power because he thinks it will be good for the galaxy—okay, I understand this, too.
Other than that...I really don’t understand what anybody is trying to do.
Absent those “wants,” the show ended up being people traveling for plot purposes (ship broken, somebody lost, etc.)—where they bump into their opponents, have lightsaber and spaceship fights, and then run away to regroup.
I found it preposterously uninvolving.
The best character was easily Lord Baylan, who for some reason walks away after doing part of what he wanted to do, to wander a barren planet. (Very sadly, the actor has died, and the character will either have to be abandoned or recast.)
This is simply not how you write television.
Now, is it possible that in the grand scheme of 40 episodes and five movies, all of this will make sense? In terms of plot, probably.
But the audience has to understand what is driving the characters. What do they want? And, linked to that, what do they need?
That’s basic drama: the character tries to do what he wants (let’s say, avenge his family), collides with endless obstacles, and eventually grows to realize that what he needs is something else entirely (to start a new family).
The way to do this right is Game of Thrones. Those characters got split up and thrown into all sorts of side adventures—but you always knew what was driving them. They were after vengeance, or love, or honor.
You understood them, so you could relate to them. And you were interested in what happened to them.
That’s called “real writing.” Ahsoka is, basically, comic book writing.
What’s the difference? Real writing is interested in the human condition. Comic book writing is interested in explaining the backstory of somebody’s costume.
The real “tell” is in Natasha Liu Bordizzo’s performance as Sabine Wren (the ostensible star). Bordizzo has been ranked near the top of IMDb’s “star-meter” the past several weeks. This means the whole world is going, “Who is this hot girl?”
She is, visually, an electric presence. Perfect casting. Physically, super impressive with the fighting and stuntwork.
However, this is a terrible performance. This poor actress has been left adrift. She is basically mugging.
It is not only the directors who have let her down—it’s the scripts.
I guarantee what happened here is the thought process of, “Okay, you’re a spunky rebel. So be spunky and rebel.”
But it’s not actually in the writing. It’s not in the scenes. So there’s no actual emotion to play! It’s just, “Be annoyed.”
So what do you get? Mugging!
It’s really unfortunate. But that’s what happens when your characters aren’t actually characters.
Ahsoka is not altogether incompetent. There are gestures towards dramatic weight, without fully getting there.
It’s really quite peculiar, to have so much production competence on one hand, and such narrative emptiness on the other.
Here is an example of how dumb the writing is. At the end of the season finale, Ezra (major good guy) escapes the bad-guy fleet and flies an Imperial shuttle onto the good-guy spaceship.
He is dressed as a stormtrooper, so of course there are a hundred good guys holding guns on him—until he removes his helmet and everybody is like, “Oh, wow!” and has a happy reunion.
The only reason he would keep his helmet on is to have this “movie moment.”
It’s preposterous. Why would he not come out sans helmet? Does he want to get shot?
Better yet, why didn’t he call from the shuttle: “Hey, guys, it’s me, don’t shoot!”
Is Ezra a big prankster who likes to mess with people? I don’t think so.
It’s just so stupid.