“Master and Apprentice ” finds Ahsoka seeking a map while Morgan Elsbeth is broken out of jail by two mysterious Force wielders, Baylan and Shin. Ahsoka reunites with Hera Syndulla and then Sabine Wren, the latter of whom she seeks to recruit. Sabine unlocks the map, but Shin takes it, and Sabine is gravely wounded.
In “Toil and Trouble,” Sabine recovers in the hospital, and Ahsoka decides to pursue the non-Jedi Force wielders. In Sabine’s home, Ahsoka encounters and destroys one of the droids that attacked Sabine. Sabine extracts the droid’s memory from its head. Morgan Elsbeth locates Thrawn’s location with the map, and Shin and Baylan prepare for the journey. Hera and Ahsoka inspect Morgan’s holdings. While there, they learn that many of the New Republic employees working to redistribute these assets are loyal to the Empire. An assassin droid escapes the port despite Ahsoka and Hera’s efforts, but Hera tracks the ship. Sabine rejoins Ahsoka as her Padawan.
Before we really get started, I have to praise Kevin Kiner’s score. This music feels very classic Star Wars in a way most of the Disney+ shows’ soundtracks haven’t. I’m not saying Star Wars music always has to sound and feel the same, but I love Kiner’s work and the way he honors and plays with John Williams’s iconic themes. The loud piano during the scene where Shin and Balon free Morgan from the New Republic cruiser is reminiscent of silent movie soundtracks, which reminds me of Williams’s mentality that the music should tell the story even if there’s no dialogue. The action and visuals look great in both episodes, especially the climactic battle between Sabine and Shin at the end of “Master and Apprentice.” This is nitpicking, but I really appreciate the attempt to fix Ahsoka’s lekku. They’re much longer than they were in The Mandalorian. They’re still not just like in Rebels, but credit where it’s due, they look much better. The opening scene of “Master and Apprentice” is just breathtaking. I love the use of the opening crawl and how it differs from the classic one, like the red text. It’s like a cross between the classic crawl and the opening to the Siege of Mandalore Clone Wars arc. Just very aesthetically pleasing, and it pumped me up for what was to come. Using a Star Cruiser as the transition was very A New Hope. As silly as it sounds, in less than a minute, “Master and Apprentice” assuaged much of my concern going into Ahsoka.
The opening action scene between Balon, Shin, and the crew of the Star Cruiser is great, too. In fact, everything with these two is pretty good. Ray Stevenson is quiet and thoughtful as Baylan, and Ivanna Sakhno is fierce and deadly as Shin. I’m eager to learn more about them. We know they’re not Jedi, but not exactly Sith either, so where does that leave them? I’m very intrigued. One thing I love about the action here is that it isn’t quite as stupid as what we’ve seen in The Book of Boba Fett and Obi-Wan Kenobi. It’s sad that I need to say that, but it’s true. For example, when Ahsoka battles multiple droids at once, they don’t wait and attack one at a time; that’s a big pet peeve for me. They all charge at once, forcing her to think outside the box or disable some of them. Small details like this show that the writers actually thought about how this would play out instead of taking shortcuts.
Ahsoka is also slavishly devoted to Rebels and The Clone Wars, but I mean this in a good way. There are a lot of Rebels references here for those with a keen eye, and they do a great job balancing that with things for non-Rebels viewers. Clancy Brown returns to play Ryder Azadi, the governor of Lothal he voiced in Rebels. He also played Burg in The Mandalorian, season 1, episode 6. Ahsoka’s ship is hailed as “Fulcrum,” her codename in Rebels before she was revealed. The exact artwork from “Family Reunion and Farewell,” the Rebels finale, that depicts the Ghost crew together is on display in this episode at several times. Sabine is in possession of Ezra’s lightsaber and a pet loth cat, a species unique to Lothal. These two aren’t references but a confirmation of continuity and a very cute creature. I love the scene where Sabine cuts her hair. The way it’s done reminded me of Mulan or Zuko in Avatar: The Last Airbender, and it keeps the continuity with her hair in Rebels. I’m upset about Ahsoka’s attire at the very end of “Toil and Trouble,” though. What about her white cloak and staff from the Rebels epilogue? What a wasted opportunity.
However, this brings me to a complaint I didn’t expect to have with Dave Filoni so heavily involved in this show. The relationships between Hera, Sabine, and Ahsoka are all wrong. In fairness, Ahsoka and Sabine didn’t interact much or have a bond in Rebels, so I don’t mean those two specifically. However, Hera was essentially a mother figure to Sabine and all the Spectres (except for Kanan, with whom she was romantically involved). This isn’t present in Ahsoka at all, at least so far. I don’t like Mary Elizabeth Winstead for the role of Hera, and that probably has something to do with it. I’m not getting the motherly, leadership vibe from her, and I don’t feel her affection for Sabine. As for Ahsoka, she just lacks the playfulness she once had. Her use of the Force is on par with what she displayed in Clone Wars and Rebels, but her personality is so muted here. I’m hoping to see more over time.
And I’m really not happy with the revelation that Ahsoka abandoned Sabine. That isn’t Ahsoka. They liken this to her youthful decision to leave the Jedi Order, but it’s not the same. Ditching someone you promised to train isn’t at all like extricating yourself from an organization that turned its back on you. Aside from Anakin, the Jedi totally abandoned Ahsoka in her time of greatest need. We don’t know all the circumstances, but I doubt Sabine did anything to deserve this. However, I also don’t want Sabine to be a Jedi. They do say she isn’t Force-sensitive, or at least they heavily imply it. But how can you be a Jedi if you don’t have the Force? What does that even mean? I don’t like the idea that Ahsoka ever took Sabine as a Padawan, but either way, I struggle to accept that she did and then turned her back on her. At least they’re now acknowledging that Ahsoka isn’t a Jedi, although that begs the question of how she can even have a Padawan.
Overall, I liked the Ahsoka premiere, for the most part. I have issues with some of the main characters’ personalities and relationships, and Dave Filoni should have kept Ahsoka’s look from the Rebels epilogue intact. That felt like an impactful moment, like her salvation from the World Between Worlds by Ezra had changed her. I look forward, cautiously, to what happens next.