Ahsoka S1E7: Dreams and Madness
Thank the maker! "Dreams and Madness" is a perfect setup for next week's season finale.
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Hero reunions, a familiar protocol droid, Leia, Anakin and a whole lot of action make "Dreams and Madness" a fitting addition to the "Ahsoka" series. It's a 40-minute episode that breezes by in the blink of an eye and perfectly sets up the season finale.
This week's episode starts on Coruscant, the heart of the Republic. Hera Syndulla (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) finds that no good deed goes unpunished as she stands before a council answering for her unauthorized mission to Seatos. She's pressured by Senator Xiono (Nelson Lee) and threatened with being court-martialed for her actions, but at the last minute, a familiar voice is heard from off-screen. Its tinny, overly proper vocalization is clearly recognized as a specific protocol droid that has been with us since the beginning.
C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) shares a data card with the council against Senator Xiono's protests. The message is from Senator Leia Organa, stating she authorized Hera's mission and then proceeds to take the panel to task, stating via C-3PO that she's 'Willing to overlook this misstep." Leia doesn't have a second of screen time and is still the biggest badass in the room.
In another galaxy, Ahoska (Rosario Dawson) and droid Huyang (David Tennant) are cruising along in the belly of a star whale with the planet Peridea growing ever closer. Ahsoka passes the time with a training holo that her master, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), left her. He gave her 20-plus training holos during The Clone Wars and during this training session Anakin even name-drops some heavyweights like Count Dooku, General Grievous, and Asajj Ventress. I may have squealed with delight on that last one. My favorite moment in the scene is when she laments, "he was a good master," and drives home how far his fall from grace really was.
Ahsoka has a box she keeps the holos in, and I want to know what happened to that box over time. I'm hoping that Anakin's mixtape collection shows up at a pivotal moment later down the road. What if his son took possession of them, and they were part of the training at his Jedi Academy? A kid can dream, can't he?
When Ahsoka and Huyang drop out of hyperspace, they find the planet surrounded by a minefield deployed by Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen), hoping to thwart their arrival. This proceeds a fun fighter chase scene with an "Attack of the Clones" vibe, with Ahsoka's ship weaving in and out of a debris field with fighters closing in. The scene plays super fast, and I loved every second of it.
And we finally see Thrawn doing what he does best - being the best military tactical mind in the galaxy and moving all of the pieces exactly where he needs them to be. I'm still unsure why he's so reliant on the Nightsisters magick due to his military prowess. It doesn't seem like a person with his reputation would require it. When intel is provided about Ahsoka and he learns that Anakin was her former master, he realizes she won't be his ordinary quarry. Much like her master, he expects her to be unpredictable and dangerous. And indeed, she is..
Since the last episode, Sabine (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) brought Ezra (Eman Esfandi) up to speed on recent events such as the second Death Star's destruction, the fall of the Empire, the rise of the New Republic, and Zeb and Hera taking their place within it all. My favorite part of the scene, and I hope was an intentional jab at "The Rise of Skywalker," is when Ezra questions, "The Emperor died?" and Sabine responds, "That's what they say." While I love my Star Wars, that is still one of Disney's worst decisions regarding the franchise, and that's saying something.
The duo is creeping along with the Noti when Baylan (Ray Stevenson), Shin (Ivanna Sakhno) and their posse of Night Troopers locate them. But instead of leading the charge, Baylan informs his apprentice that their destinies fall along different paths, instructing her to kill Sabine and Ezra and "take her place in the coming Empire." Shin's reaction to being cast aside is subtle but powerful. There is nothing but a stare and silence, which speaks volumes of what is internally happening with her.
The tale end of the episode is filled with tons of action with Shin and her posse descending on the Sabine, Ezra, and the Noti, and it plays like an old western wagon train scene with bandits trying to seize their prize. The setting feels pulled straight out of "Star Wars Rebels" as it takes a lighter, funnier tone with more exaggerated movements and a Noti tossing a frying pan to incapacitate a Night Trooper.
When they become surrounded, Sabine tries to pass off the lightsaber back to Ezra, who refuses, proclaiming that all he needs is the Force, and it's clear he's been working on his skills while he's been away. The ensuing battle continues the fun, with Ezra and Shin finally facing each other before Sabine ignites her green blade and joins the fray.
Meanwhile, Ahsoka and Baylan are facing off, with the latter not anticipating the former's return, which I found odd since Baylan was so good at reading the Force earlier in the series. Is there something on Peridea clouding his ability, or is he simply blinded by his goal, which we still don't know the truth about? I love that they are letting this mystery play out the entire season. It's so much fun.
Their fight continues, but Ahsoka isn't pressing her foe but biding time and before too long, we find out what she's been waiting for. Huyang, doing his best Han Solo impersonation, swoops in at the last minute to create a distraction for her to steal Baylan's steed and make her way to the others.
She arrives just in time as Night Troopers are closing in on Sabine and Ezra, with Shin leading. She quickly handles Shin, and the Night Trooper is recalled by Thrawn, leading her Dark Jedi alone. Ahsoka asks her to drop her weapon and offers her help, and for a moment, you can see Shin weigh the offer - for a moment. But the defiance quickly returns to her eyes, and she flees to fight another day.
Meanwhile, back on the Chimaera, Thrawn is overseeing the assault on Ahsoka and her group, but we learn that his plan was to create time for loading the cargo onto the Chimaera. He tells Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) that time is on their side and intends to keep it that way and those left behind when they leave are accessible losses. Curiously, he cannot locate Baylan on his military map, so it begs the question - where has our mercenary Jedi gone?
The episode ends in the most "Rebels" way, with our friends reunited, hugging and happy to be together. Heroes reunited and fans happy - what a novel concept. This proves that Disney's decision to keep Luke, Leia and Han apart during the sequel trilogy was a complete and utter mistake. Every time I watch the sequel trilogy, it's like a gut punch realizing what could have been.
What a fun episode "Dreams and Madness" is. Director Geeta Vasant Patel delivers an episode full of action and fun; it's a quick ride that leaves you wanting more. This series is alongside "Andor," one of my favorite Star Wars shows on Disney+, and exactly what I hoped for. I feel this series will reignite the passion in the fanbase that has become jaded by Disney's mishandling of the franchise as a whole. Star Wars is a tale of redemption, and "Ahsoka" could be Disney's absolution for its past sins.
Atoning for those sins began in the "Obi-Wan Kenobi" series, with Christensen being brought back in the fold and continuing in "Ahsoka" with Christensen's return and Anthony Daniels as well. When you talk of Star Wars royalty, Daniels is close to the top. I can't imagine there wasn't a single fan that didn't let out a yell when you heard his unmistakable voice off-screen. He's an icon, and I loved seeing C-3PO back.
We finally see a lighter side of Ahoska playfully teasing Huyang and even smiling a time or two. For those questioning Dawson's performances as Ahsoka early in the season, sit and enjoy this transformation because it's fabulous. Liu Bordizzo and Esfandi are excellent as Sabine and Ezra and capture the playful relationship shown in "Rebels."
Sakhno and Mikkelsen are so good at being bad. I find Sakhna particularly mesmerizing any time she's on screen. I want to know more of her story and would welcome it in any form, whether in books, comics, or on the screen. The character and her performance deserve it.
Mikkelsen is always superb in anything he does, making Thrawn such a menace by just using his voice.
The most tragic aspect of this series is watching Ray Stevenson's performance as Baylan Skoll and knowing he's no longer with us. It's one of the finest performances in the Star Wars universe, and everyone should feel grateful for his talent.
I anticipate a conclusion next week that echoes the tone of 'The Empire Strikes Back.' I don't see any way around it, and I hope it happens. Sometimes, our heroes fail and lose, but it allows them to rise, and series creator and writer Dave Filoni understands that better than anyone. Plus, you can't bring back Thrawn and not have him impose his will upon the galaxy. What fun would that be?
"Dreams and Madness" is a perfect setup for next week's season finale of "Ahsoka." It's packed with fun action and once again raises more questions than it answers. Another superb effort from Filoni and company.