Spoilers ahead for the latest episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
When last we left Ahsoka Tano, she had been barred from the Jedi order under suspicion of sedition and the deadly bombing of a Jedi Temple facility. Ahsoka, hunted by the Republic’s forces, was framed for these crimes by a fellow Padawan, a fact rooted out by her master Anakin Skywalker, who exonerated his student. But the damage was already done. Her faith in the Jedi Order and everything she had ever been taught, was shaken. She refused the Jedi Council’s offer to rejoin and went out in search of a new destiny.
And that’s where Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7, Episode 5 “Gone with a Trace” picks up. The first truly new episode of the seventh and final season quickly catches viewers up to speed before dropping in on Ahsoka … who literally drops into the criminal underbelly of Coruscant when her second-hand speeder malfunctions. This may not be the way most fans of the Jedi recluse expected her adventure to continue, but it’s a rather fun visual and narrative way to show Ahsoka’s “descent into the underworld” portion of her hero’s journey. And what better underworld to explore than the infamous Level 1313?
Ashley Eckstein returns as Ahsoka alongside newcomers Brigitte Kali as greasemonkey/ace mechanic Trace Martez and Elizabeth Rodriguez as her smooth-talking, swindling sister, Rafa. (Bobby Moynihan guest stars as Level 1313 thug and loan shark Pintu Son-El.) Ahsoka befriends Trace in a crash-landed meet-cute of sorts, and we soon learn that Trace and Rafa are attempting to earn enough credits to escape the dangerous environment, through any means necessary. Those means include loan sharks, shady business deals, and a black market repair shop masquerading as a laundromat front; the story plays out pretty much as you expect from there: Ahsoka, guided by her sense of right and wrong, but unsteady in her trust in the authorities that maintain that balance, helps Trace out of a jam at the expense of letting Rafa continue her criminal dealings. And in the process, she temporarily reveals her Jedi abilities, though only a child seems to take notice. So what does Ahsoka’s return mean for the rest of her story as it plays out on Clone Wars?
Well, we know we’ll be getting an Ahsoka arc that’s similar to the four-episode story that followed The Bad Batch, so there’s obviously much more ahead. Expect Trace and Rafa to continue to play a part in that story. The recently released trailer for Ahsoka’s return teased much more ahead for Ahsoka, Trace, and Rafa; this episode was just a setup for all of the high-flying, droid-smashing, Force-wielding adventures to come. But for now, this episode was a solid return for Ahsoka and a decent introduction to the character for newcomers to the series who might be dropping in to check out this new season on Disney+.
There are few lore drops (I particularly love the inclusion of the rather dumb but brutally strong binary load-lifters, first mentioned back in the original film), but the standout aspect here is the much-improved animation, especially in the action department. The thrilling chase of the rogue droid through Level 1313 and the battle that ensued was an absolute quantum leap ahead of where the series left off back in 2014, even beyond the Bad Batch episodes, which were basically just improved versions of existing animation. But did Ahsoka’s return live up to the hype?
“Gone with a Trace” was a good but not great episode of The Clone Wars because it’s basically Act I of a multi-act story that’s yet to be told. As an introduction to Ahsoka to series newcomers, it’s solid but a little underwhelming; the same could be said for the tale as a chapter continuing Ahsoka’s adventures before she eventually and inevitably makes her way to events of Star Wars Rebels. A decent return, for sure, but she’s just getting started.
Rating: ★★★ Good