Season Four of The Chosen arrives in theaters this week before moving to streaming later this spring.
We know that the destruction of the (second) Death Star and the nice Ewok party on Endor wasn’t entirely the happily ever after ending the galaxy had hoped for.
Remnants of the old Empire continue to draw breath, and—slowly—to reconstitute a shadowy semblance of their old power. The New Republic, mired in a false sense of security and its own growing bureaucracy, flounders. But some forces remain vigilant. And while Din Djarin, the famed Mandalorian, trains a young, green foundling in the ways of Mandalore, a one-time Jedi apprentice works in her own way to push a stake through the Empire’s still surprisingly lively heart.
She knows the Dark Side better than some, perhaps. After all, Ahsoka Tano trained under its most prominent acolyte: Anakin Skywalker.
Anakin, aka Darth Vader, is long gone as Disney+’s Ahsoka opens, of course. But other remnants of the Empire lurk in the galaxy’s shadows. Among them: Grand Admiral Thrawn, an Imperial leader who was thought to be dead—presumed killed during the battle for the planet Lothal. And one of that battle’s prime heroes, the onetime Jedi apprentice Ezra Bridger, was thought to have died as well.
Not so fast! The two were, in fact, whisked off to a different galaxy far, far away. Now, Thrawn appears to be the key to rekindle the Empire’s fire. Former Jedi Baylan Skoll; his apprentice, Shin Hati; and Morgan Elsbeth, one of the last remaining Dark Force witches from the order of the Nightsisters of Dathomir, will do everything they can to prop Thrawn on an empirical throne.
But long-time do-gooder Ahsoka is on the case, too, along with her own one-time apprentice, Sabine Wren. Sure, the two didn’t exactly split on the best of terms. Yeah, their relationship could be described, generously, as “frosty.” But they know the stakes. They know how important it is to protect the galaxy from a newly empowered Thrawn. Oh, and yeah, it’d sure be nice to see their old pal Ezra Bridger again.
If that bevy of names feels rather confusing, it’s fair to say you might not be an avid viewer of Star Wars: The Clone Wars or Star Wars Rebels—two animated shows that unpack the backstories of Ahsoka and her pals in detail. So for those jumping into the series cold, the learning curve can be as steep as the mountains of Vandor.
But for all its intricacies, this Star Wars story feels both familiar and of a piece with much of what we’ve seen before.
The sides here are fairly clear-cut: Ahsoka is doing her best to protect the galaxy from a great evil. Baylan, Elsbeth and others are doing their best to once again elevate the Dark Side.
And, at least as the series opens, the show’s content issues are minimal.
Yes, Ahsoka can be plenty violent. Lightsabers cut and stab and sometimes skewer. Blasters fire with regularity and sometimes hit home. But because Star Wars weapons tend to cauterize as they cut—and because so many adversaries are droids—blood and gore are minimal.
Yes, we see some slightly revealing and tight-fitting clothing. But certainly nothing to rival Princess Leia’s slave outfit from Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi. Bad language is rare, if heard at all. This is no gritty, grimy, sometimes wince-worthy saga along the lines of Andor. This is pure escapist Star Wars, filled with aliens and spacecraft, good and evil and, of course, the Force.
And that’s where perhaps the show’s biggest issues lie for some families.
While Star Wars canon contends that the Force is a natural thing (thanks to microscopic midi-chlorians), it looks and feels like magic, and its users often come across as wizards or monks. Indeed, Elsbeth and her fellow Dark Force practitioners are labeled as witches. Other practitioners are garbed not just in robes, but in a sort of pseudo-spiritual vibe. And even though Ahsoka reminds us that the Jedi Order no longer exists, we still hear about the old Jedi temple and see other quasi-religious ruins.
For those familiar with all pockets of the Star Wars universe, Ahsoka will be like a trip to a beloved star system. Still, as Ahsoka herself would tell you, even friendly planets just might hold their share of danger.
Despite the nod to C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia in the title, the Season One finale comes with more of a Lord of the Rings vibe, with heroes and villains battling in an impossibly ancient land and grappling with elements that can feel more like dark, Sauron-like sorcery than what we’re used to seeing in this franchise.
That sorcery manifests most obviously in Morgan Elsbeth and the coven of Nightsisters, all of whom are determined to help Grand Admiral Thrawn find his way out of this strange galaxy and back home—to rekindle the Empire. But Ahsoka, Sabine Wren and Ezra Bridger will do everything in their power to keep Thrawn’s ship from making the impossibly long leap across intergalactic space.
As one might expect for the season finale, this episode is as violent and, in some ways, as disturbing as we’ve seen this season. Ahsoka et al. mow down dozens of stormtroopers via lightsaber, blaster and the Force. Villainous combatants are slashed and blasted through their armor, sometimes leaving telltale burning gashes.
But thanks to the Nightsisters’ dark “magic,” Thrawn’s troopers rise again, zombie-like, to fight on until they’re struck down once more. One particularly death-resistant denizen (with particularly strong armor) exposes a partly skeletal, vaguely orc-like jaw underneath his helmet. A couple of undead troopers are killed with extreme prejudice—one having his helmeted head injected with a lightsaber, the other being decapitated. (We see the helmeted head roll on the ground.)
The Nightsisters grant Elsbeth the “gift of shadow” (confirming her fully into the order, apparently), which involves some magical laying on of hands and some green glowing sparks. They also conjure up the unholy Blade of Talzin—a flaming green sword that Elsbeth uses quite effectively.
Two TIE-fighters are destroyed. Ahsoka, Ezra and Sabine dodge “hellfire” from Thrawn’s ship—a veritable rain of laser blasts. The Force is used to open gates, grab weapons and throw people around (both to help them and hurt them). Someone is sliced across the gut with a lightsaber. Ahsoka’s ship suffers significant damage. A fortress is destroyed. We see the Force ghost of an old Jedi.
Ahsoka and Huyang—riding in the mouth of a Star Whale—arrive at the planet Peridea. But their appearance was expected. Ahsoka’s craft must navigate a minefield and evade a squadron of fighters before even entering the planet’s atmosphere. It’s the prelude to an episode full of fighting—both in space and on the planet’s surface.
In space: Ahsoka tries to evade fighters amid a debris field. The orbiting wreckage smashes into one of the pursuers, and the ship explodes. Plenty of mines explode as well—endangering Ahsoka’s ship. The Star Whales run into countless mines and seem bothered by the blasts. But ultimately, they jump into hyperspace to evade them.
On the ground: Ezra Bridger and Sabine Wren are traveling with the planet’s indigenous, turtle-like Noti people when they encounter Baylan Skoll, Shin Hati and a bevy of raiders. The latter attack the convoy (with Sabine knocking a few raiders down with blasters and the Noti throwing rocks) before the Noti form a defensive circle with their pillbug-like vehicles.
The ensuing battle features unexpected new arrivals and plenty of violence. Combatants are hit (with fists, feet and pole weapons) blasted (by blasters, of course), stabbed with lightsabers and thrown by the Force. One combatant gets shot in the face. Another has his hair singed by a lightsaber. Several of the fighters die.
Back on the bureaucratic planet of Coruscant, General Hera Syndulla is under threat of court martial before Senator Leia Organa intervenes—telling the court that Hera was acting under orders from her. Senator Mon Mothma asks if Leia approved Hera’s actions; Hera says, “Eventually.”
Ahsoka and Huyang travel across intergalactic space in the belly of a Star Whale. “Now I really have done it all,” quips Huyang. Meanwhile, on the ruined planet of Peridea—ancient homeland of the witches of Dathomir—Elsbeth, Baylan Skoll and Shin Hati meet with Thrawn and prepare to bring him out of his exile there. They allow Sabine Wren to leave their company to seek out Ezra—hoping that if she finds him, they’ll have opportunity to destroy them both.
Sabine battles bandits in the wilderness. The skirmish, involving blasters, poled weapons and lightsabers, leaves four bandits dead and one running for the hills.
Elsbeth and others meet with more Dathomir “witches,” all of whom can sense ripples in the Force (which allows them, for example, to detect the arrival of unexpected visitors). They also can discern who certain people are, and one says that Sabine “reeks” of Jedi. Elsbeth talks about how the dreams the witches gave her led her to the planet. And we hear more references to fate.
Meanwhile, Skoll has secret plans of his own, and he hopes Peridea may be the key. When Shin tells him that everyone seems quite happy to leave this planet, Skoll says, “Perhaps they flee a power greater than their own.” We’re told that “death and resurrection are common deceptions played out by both Nightsister and Jedi.”
Bones of Star Whales orbit the planet, and Thrawn tells Elsbeth that if a whale approaches Peridea, she should “destroy it with prejudice.”
We hear references to the Jedi temple. Sabine’s dog-like mount seems rather eager to gobble up some of the planet’s small, sentient inhabitants.
Hera and her son, Jason, along with a small cadre of X-wing pilots, travel to Seatos to find out what’s become of Ahsoka and Sabine. They initially find no trace of either, but eventually manage to find Ahsoka. Sabine, it seems, has been forced to travel with Baylan Skoll and Morgan Elsbeth to the distant galaxy where Thrawn and, perhaps, Ezra Bridger may be in exile. Ahsoka and Hera ponder how they might follow.
Much of the plot in this episode involves Ahsoka’s time in a shadowy realm that’s akin to an afterlife, where she has important lessons to learn. In that place, there’s an extended flashback scene to when she was much younger and battling in the Clone Wars. Combat there involves deflecting blaster fire in a hazy, smokey realm. We also see young Ahsoka vanquish a seemingly human combatant by skewering him with her lightsaber.
That said, Ahsoka also laments the deaths of the Clone troopers who perished following her orders. And she strongly questions whether or not she has what it takes to be a faithful Jedi in the context of a brutal war. Elsewhere, two characters engage in a prolonged lightsaber battle.
A conversation about what it means to be a Jedi includes a reference to each successive generation of Jedi receiving the sum total of knowledge from the previous generation. It’s not exactly clear how this knowledge is transferred, but that transfer seems to have a mystical Force element to it. We learn that a new character in the series may be Force sensitive, in part because of that person’s parentage.
Hera continues to defy New Republic orders, and she’s threatened with real consequences for doing so: being stripped of her rank as a general.
Ahsoka, Sabine and Huyang have crash-landed on the planet Seatos, hoping to try to foil the plans of former Jedi Baylan Skoll, his apprentice, Shin Hati, and the enigmatic Morgan Elsbeth. But that evil trio knows Ahsoka and Co. are there. So (as you might expect), they plan to greet the one-time Rebels with extreme prejudice.
Almost everyone gets into a fight or two here, including Huyang (who does battle with a guard droid). Characters duel with lightsabers (and cut down a few trees in the process). The Force is used to throw someone into a stone wall and to choke someone else. A character’s hand is burned. Several droids are cut down and disabled, and an apparently human lackey is cut across the chest: The wound emits green-gray dust before he expires. Fighter ships are knocked off balance and crash into one another, leading to some presumed casualties. Someone is essentially pushed off a cliff. We hear references to the destruction of Mandalore (and those who died in the wake of that destruction).
General Syndulla disobeys orders and leads a squadron to Seatos to help Ahsoka in her mission. (“You know how it is,” she jokes with one of the fighters joining her. “Once a Rebel, always a Rebel.”) When her son asks why she can disobey orders when he has to obey all of them, Hera tells him, “When you’re a general, you can disobey orders, too.” We hear several references to faith (including lost faith) and witchcraft. Hera’s son talks about having a “bad feeling,” which some speculate means the kid is Force-sensitive.
[Spoiler Warning] A major character seems to “die” and land in some sort of afterlife, where that person encounters old friend. An act of apparent betrayal is committed.
General Hera tries, unsuccessfully, to raise the alarm about rogue Imperial sympathizers among the New Republic’s senators. Meanwhile, Ahsoka, Sabine an Huyang travel to the Denab system to find out what the evil witch Morgan Elsbeth is up to. The answer? No good.
A battle in space leads to several craft being destroyed. One ship has its wing sliced off, while the others simply blow up, as Star Wars spacecraft are prone to do. Ahsoka’s ship also suffers a great deal of damage, and her droid Huyang shuts down during the attack. When his battery power kicks back in, he asks what he missed.
“We almost died,” Ahsoka says.
“Multiple times,” says Sabine.
“Ah, yes. Standard operating procedure,” Huyang says.
Sabine engages in Jedi training. She and Ahsoka fight with wooden swords, and Sabine is tripped. (“Anger and frustration are quick to give power, but they also unbalance you,” Ahsoka tells her.) Ahsoka uses the Force to pull a cup toward her. Sabine has no such luck when she tries.
Where in the world is Grand Admirable Thrawn, the phantom menace lurking behind the plot of Ahsoka? The answer to that question becomes clearer in this episode. And it turns out that he’s not … well, he’s not someplace easy to get to, we’ll say. And both the New Republic heroes (Ahsoka Tano, Sabine Wren and Hera Syndulla) as well as a shadowy cabal of Empire sympathizers (Baylan Skoll, Shin Hati and Morgan Elsbeth) are racing to nail down his galactic coordinates first.
In this episode, that race takes most of these characters to the planet Corellia, formerly home to Imperial shipyards that constructed Imperial Star Destroyers–among other things. These days, the workers there tear those ships apart and use the salvaged parts for New Republic purposes. Or, as Ahsoka and Hera discover, perhaps not.
Ahsoka faces off against both droids and humans in multiple lightsaber battles, with a droid losing its head in one such skirmish and another getting dismantled elsewhere. Two characters deal with an unexpected firefight; multiple combatants are disarmed in the ensuing battle. Combat between ships involves peril and explosions, but no direct hits. Sabine continues to heal from a wound she suffered in the first episode, and we see a bandage removed on her abdomen, revealing a round scar there.
Meanwhile, an important character-development subplot revolves around the question of whether Sabine will once again become Ahsoka’s padawan apprentice and thus resume her Jedi training. She’s ready, but Ahsoka’s not so sure.
Hints of dark spirituality creep in as well, especially as they regard Morgan Elsbeth, who continues to wield her dark mystical arts. One scene takes place at a Stonehenge-like formation on a grim planet—a scene reinforced by a particularly ominous and creepy musical score. We hear mention of a mysterious “Pathway to Peridea;” Baylon says it’s just a fairy tale (and a dark one, it seems), while Morgan assures him the ancient fable is based in fact. Elsewhere, various characters use the Force in battle (to push enemies away) and to discern what previously transpired on a now empty field of battle.
Two Force-wielding villains slaughter a bunch of New Republic security personnel and free its dangerous prisoner, Morgan Elsbeth. It’s apparently a prelude to finding and (if need be) freeing another, even more dangerous Imperial remnant: Grand Admiral Thrawn. Ahsoka’s trying to discover Thrawn’s whereabouts, too, and she has a map that can lead her right to him, hopefully. But to open and read it, she’ll need help from an old friend who’s not so friendly anymore: her old apprentice, Sabine Wren.
Both humans and droids are hewn down by lightsabers. At least two people get skewered through the chest (we see a nasty, albeit bloodless, wound on someone’s leg, too), and one droid is decapitated. A massive explosion obliterates what was left of an already-ruined city. Droids initiative self-destruct sequences. Characters hit and kick and are sometimes choked. Droids fall through sudden holes in the ground. We hear rumors of the death of a few Star Wars characters.
Folks strong in the ways of the Force use it repeatedly, throwing people across rooms and staying people’s hands. Morgan Elsbeth says that she’s one of the last “Nightsisters of Dathonir.” “You’re a witch,” someone tells her. “A survivor,” she amends. Elsbeth soon tells her compatriots, “Fate has decided our next move.”
Sabine is clearly not one to submit to authority. She refuses to attend a ceremony honoring her own heroism—evading those tasked with bringing her in along the way. When given orders from Ahsoka to stay put, she disobeys them.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.
Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.
Season Four of The Chosen arrives in theaters this week before moving to streaming later this spring.
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