Ahsoka episode 3 review: “Unexceptional but not a disaster, yet”

Ahsoka episode 3 review: “Unexceptional but not a disaster, yet”

GamesRadar+ Verdict

Negligible plot momentum and lightweight character progression facilitate an unexceptional third episode, where Ahsoka basically points out where it’s going rather than actually going there.

This review features minor spoilers for episode 3 – you have been warned…

“Not bad, but not good,” says Huyang, an ancient droid who long ago served the Jedi Order (and with the voice of chameleonic thespian David Tennant). While Huyang is referring to the results of Sabine’s lightsaber evaluation, his analysis also works for this episode of Ahsoka.

‘Time to Fly’, the third chapter of the latest live-action Star Wars series, occupies that annoying middle ground where it isn’t all expensive junk that is a symptom of the streaming era’s diseases. But neither is it a must-watch. Returning series director Steph Green, whose previous work nabbed Oscar and Emmy nominations (New Boy, Watchmen), seems to operate here on cruise control; despite riotous dogfighting that would have George Lucas salivating and some engaging character moments, nothing ever coalesces into singularly gripping appointment viewing. ‘Time to Fly’ is not the legendary Star Wars saga as a TV episode, but a functional TV episode that inexplicably carries the name of Star Wars.

Estranged buddies


(Image credit: Disney+)

Picking up just moments after episode 2, ‘Time to Fly’ presses onward in the series’ primary narrative of Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson) and her relationship with the aforementioned Sabine (Natasha Liu Bordizzo). To briefly recap, the two are estranged war buddies who reluctantly reunite to defeat a resurgent Empire. While Sabine is first and foremost a Mandalorian, she opts to resume Jedi training under Ahsoka, with Huyang’s assistance. Meanwhile, Hera (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) runs into red tape from New Republic politicians who putz around and seem no more useful than their Empire predecessors. Thus, with whatever Ahsoka and Sabine encounter on their way to Seatos, they are on their own. 

Thanks to Tennant and his reliably brilliant talents even when playing a bafflingly old robot, Huyang is an honest menace about Sabine’s shortcomings as a would-be Jedi. “I only spoke the truth,” he asserts to Ahsoka, adding that her Padawan would not be an “acceptable candidate” for the Jedi. Ahsoka contends that not only are the Jedi gone and so their standards are bupkis, but Ahsoka simply needs Sabine to be her best and not the best. How fitting for a saga that began with Luke Skywalker, a farm boy with no inkling who the Jedi Order even were and is now himself so mythic that he even got Moff Gideon to quiver. If there’s anything worthwhile in this episode besides Tennant’s delectable line delivery, it is what Ahsoka wants from Sabine – to do all that only she can – that is shaping up into the core of her show. As Huyang himself observes, “In that way, she fits right in.”

An increasingly critical state


(Image credit: Disney+)

Somewhat ironically, ‘Time to Fly’ is not Star Wars at its best. Even with Ahsoka’s stacked deck that includes a wildly beloved main character (played by a usually exceptional actress) and the endless resources of a powerful Disney regime, this week’s episode doesn’t bother to take advantage of its strongest assets. In its storytelling, it pretty much just circles its destination in Sharpie ink to tell us where things are going rather than actually going there. We learn this week the Empire’s remnants, including yet-to-be-seen Thrawn, are constructing a powerful “hyperspace ring” – basically a slingshot for spaceships – which Huyang fears can bring the Empire to anywhere it wants, at any time. Terrifying! But even with an efficient exposition dump, Ahsoka’s third episode lacks the right urgency and tone for the threat to really register.

Working in Ahsoka’s favor is Green’s proven expertise as a TV director; bear witness to how the visualist responsible for one of Watchmen’s best episodes makes Ahsoka believable as a bonafide Jedi master in the opening training sequence. Watch her soar with a rousing space battle – its energy buoyed by spatial cohesion and proper pacing – that is all appropriately exciting in the way Star Wars is meant and expected to be. Praise be to Grogu for her, because Ahsoka could easily derail by the continued concrete performances from most of the cast save for Tennant (again) as well as both Ray Stevenson and Diana Lee Inosanto, who elevate their Sith antagonists above Power Rangers villains that they would otherwise feel like from lesser actors.

Ahsoka isn’t a disaster, yet, and ‘Time to Fly’ offers enough Saturday morning cartoon whimsy to not feel like a complete waste of time. But overall franchise fatigue in the wider culture, as evidenced by the lower box office for Marvel films, Fast & Furious, and even Mission: Impossible sequels this summer, leaves Ahsoka in an increasingly critical state to define its identity, get to the point, and bedazzle a more cynical audience – and fast. All told, things aren’t looking good. But with five episodes still to go and some semblance of direction established, things aren’t so bad either. 

New episodes of Ahsoka drop every Tuesday in the US and Wednesday in the UK on Disney Plus. For more on the Star Wars show, check out our guides to:

More info

Available platforms TV
Genre Sci-fi


Eric Francisco is a freelance entertainment journalist and graduate of Rutgers University. If a movie or TV show has superheroes, spaceships, kung fu, or John Cena, he’s your guy to make sense of it. A former senior writer at Inverse, his byline has also appeared at Vulture, The Daily Beast, Observer, and The Mary Sue. You can find him screaming at Devils hockey games or dodging enemy fire in Call of Duty: Warzone.

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