Friday night, I had a plan. It was a great plan as far as plans go. We’re talking the perfect recipe for relaxation. Was going to start the night watching a couple of episodes of Cowboy Bebop, which you can now find on Netflix, while eating some Chinese food. Beef and broccoli with an egg roll, just living my best life. Right off the bat, you know this plan is excelling. Once the food was completed, right on the cusp of where I was borderline wondering if I used too much soy sauce (I did), I was going to turn on the Knicks game to have as background noise and to help to my mind off the abysmal soul-crushing season that the Giants have been providing. Purging the current Giants season from my brain also equals remarkably relaxing evening. Duh.
With the Knicks as background noise, it was time to open Gandalf the Paperwhite (my new Kindle) and start reading the second book in Joe Abercrombie’s Age of Madness Trilogy, The Trouble With Peace. Having finished book one the night before, thus preventing me from writing a column here, I was looking forward to a couple of hours with The Trouble With Peace with the sounds of squeaky sneakers and hip hop bass lines in the background as was intended. Seriously, I can’t emphasize enough how much fun I’m having with these books and how each minute I spend doing anything other than reading feels like I’m being taunted by the universe. Just put it into my veins already.
Before all that though, I decided to hop on Twitter for a second and see what was going on. You know, one of those casual glances because you have bigger plans for the night but you want to make sure nothing was burning down around you.
And that my friends, is where the night took a dramatic shift. The first five items in my feed were different reactions to this-
I read each tweet individually as my brain slowly caught up to what my eyes were reading. And then, well, my brain, overstimulated and excited, exploded into millions of little pieces that could only rival the destruction of Alderaan.
Hayden Christensen is returning as Anakin Skywalker in the upcoming Ahsoka series.. Hayden. Christensen. Ahsoka. Dave. Filoni. Live-action.
The return of Christensen for Kenobi felt special. Like Chris Collinsworth says, this was a guy who took a pretty unfair wrap for the prequels. Time being what it is the fan base’s perception of the prequels has softened to an extent. Whether that stems off of people’s disdain for the sequel trilogy or a whole generation of Star Wars fans whose first real introduction to a galaxy far, far away was the prequels and now are old enough to have their voices heard or the fact that Filoni’s work in Clone Wars made the enhanced the prequels in ways that the films couldn’t do on their own all play a factor to some degree. But at the end of the day, you find fewer people complaining about “Mesa called Jar Jar Binks, mesa your humble servant” and more people complaining about “Rey…Skywalker.” Oh, the trials and tribulations of being a Star Wars fan.
Christensen’s willingness to return after so much scrutiny and venom during the prequel era and the fan’s opening their arms for a Wookie-sized hug, felt wholesome. A second chance for everyone to come together and celebrate what this is all about, Star Wars. Christensen gets to further live out the dream of becoming Darth Vader and we the fans, get to see him have fun in that preverbal, pun intended, sandbox. It would have been easy to peg this return in Kenobi as a one-off event adding further depth to the story of Obi-Wan and Anakin while bringing back a familiar face. If there’s anything Star Wars fans can agree on, it’s the return of beloved characters. Looking at you Luke Skywalker at the end of Mando!
Christensen’s return in Ahsoka speaks on an entirely different volume. If Anakin/Vader is coming back in Kenobi to further explore that relationship and give the fans just a little more than Anakin’s return in Ahsoka is here to validify not only her presence in Star Wars but the importance of Clone Wars and Rebels.
Think about it, what’s the one thing that’s missing from the prequels besides well-written romantic dialogue? Ahsoka. Her absence is deafening to the prequels and Dave Filoni has constructed both Clone Wars and Rebels in a way that mute’s that absence to a degree. Look at those final four episodes of Clone Wars and look at the balance it brings to Revenge of the Sith. It completes the movie. For Clone Wars to exist successfully there needed to be answers on why Ahsoka wasn’t present when Anakin turned to the Dark Side. It made no sense for the second most important person in Anakin’s life to be nowhere to be found before “unlimited powerrrrrr”. Filoni fixes that gap and in doing so improves the prequel experience. Hands down. You go from “well, where the hell is…” to “oooooooh man” real quick.
Here’s the thing though, not everyone has time or the patience to watch the animated programs. They don’t. I have friends and family who are massive Star Wars fans but just won’t commit to Clone Wars or Rebels despite how often I tell them it’s some of the best Star Wars out there. And for those fans, they don’t know about the importance of Ahsoka’s relationship with Anakin. Hell, they barely know who Ahsoka is at this point. For them, she’s a Jedi chillin in the woods wearing a hood. But all of that is about to change.
Clearly, we have no idea what Hayden Christensen’s role in Ahsoka is going to be. We know that the show will be in the Mandalorian timeline taking place five years after the events of Return of the Jedi. If you do that fast math, then you know that Anakin/Vader is very much dead at this juncture in time. So how are we getting Christensen? What role could Anakin possibly play here? And the answer is flashbacks.
Using Anakin in a way to cement live-action Ahsoka to a fan base who hasn’t watched Clone Wars or Rebels is a genius idea. Anakin is a character that alllllll Star Wars fans know and recognize. If Fioloni chooses to, he can flashback to some pivotal Clone Wars moments in a live-action form. Imagine seeing Ahsoka quit the Jedi Order but with Hayden Christensen and Rosario Dawson. Imagine seeing a live-action Vader vs Ahsoka duel. Imagine reliving Ahsoka and Anakin’s last moments together before the Force takes them on different paths. These are moments that are incredibly moving in the animated series and can solidify the importance of Ahsoka to a section of the fan base who hasn’t followed her every step.
Of course, Filoni doesn’t have to go the flashback route. He could easily have Anakin come to Ahsoka as a Force Ghost. We know the Force doesn’t hold killing children against anyone as Anakin emerges all dead and glowy at the end of Return of the Jedi. What if in a moment of despair, Anakin comes to Ahsoka and apologizes. Tells her he came back before he died. Tells her his regrets and shame. My god, I’m not emotionally strong for any of that. Just typing it made me a bit of a mess. What a powerful moment that could be and now that I’ve typed it, a moment I need to see.
If there is anyone in Star Wars that I trust, it’s Dave Filoni. The return of Hayden Christensen to Ahsoka doesn’t feel like a gimmick but more of a master storyteller not only understanding the narrative but the importance of character. Christensen’s return in the hands of Fioloni seems like the perfect marriage, I mean, Fioloni has already displayed such an immense understanding of that character in Clone Wars. We’re not just seeing the return of Anakin Skywalker but the birth of a new era of Star Wars. One where Ahsoka gets to carry the torch forward. And yes, The Last Jedi told us to let the past die but using the past to shape the future could give us gifts we only imagined of. Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano on a live-action screen together… I’m overwhelmed with the possibilities and beyond excited to see them play out.
God, I love Star Wars.