Ahsoka has finally come into her own. Not as a Jedi, mind you – she actually seems to be getting less mature as time goes on, no doubt due to prolonged exposure to a Skywalker. But in terms of her status as a character, ‘Lightsaber Lost’ marks a definite turning point: it’s the first episode where she’s really on her own, with the action following her the entire time and not cutting away to any of the “classic” movie characters. Yes, Jocasta Nu puts in a cameo, but she’s hardly one of our regular heroes. Anakin also makes an appeareance for the first minute or so, but after that, he ducks out for good. But is it for good? Ahsoka, without Anakin for support and/or moral confusion, turns out to be a mixed bag.
Of course, Ahsoka’s not exactly alone, since she’s paired with another new character, an aged Jedi Master named Tera Sinube, who steals ever scene he’s in. To start, he’s hilariously old, and old age is something we haven’t seen in a while. Ever since Yoda whipped out his lightsaber in Attack of the Clones – a moment which, admittedly, I loved – his status as an old fart was gone forever. Tera Sinube, though, looks like a Mystic from The Dark Crystal, and his name sounds like drowsy cold medication. And sure enough, when Ahsoka first meets him in the Jedi Archives, he’s asleep at his terminal, probably dreaming of some early-bird special in the Jedi cafeteria. He also cracks corny jokes, walks slowly, talks slowly, and in the episode’s funniest bit, drives slowly. All that’s missing is a gag about leaving his blinker on for several miles.
Jokes aside, Master Sinube was a breath of fresh air, a Jedi with actual personality. (Bring on the action figure, Hasbro!) In contrast, Ahsoka came off like a petulant brat. At best, she tries to simply ignore the old Jedi, and at worst, she’s cutting him off and calling him Gramps. Granted, Ahsoka is under some pressure, having had her lightsaber pilfered right from under her nose (hence, the plot), and desperately trying to get it back without telling Anakin. Still, even though ol’ Sinube immediately proves himself to be a smart detective, Ahsoka seems determined not to notice. I kept wishing that I could take her aside and whisper, “Stop second-guessing the geezer. Don’t you get it? He’s Columbo!”
So from a character perspective, Ahsoka’s punky attitude is pretty annoying. But from a story angle, I get it. In Star Wars, the wise, meandering teacher is always paired with an inpatient, arrogant learner. It’s about as classic a trope as there is in this franchise, and there’s a reason Mr. Lucas keeps coming back to the same well: it works. Master Sinube even gets a rare (for this show) moment of Jedi philosophy, in which he instructs Ahsoka on how to use the Force to ferret out a guilty conscience. For once, it’s nice to see the Jedi using their powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Then again, in a crucial moment later on, Ahsoka conveniently forgets to use the Force, prompting fanboy headdesking throughout the country.
The episode’s villains, unfortunately, aren’t quite so compelling. They’re certainly striking on a visual level, with one sporting creepy vertical eyelids and the other apparently a big admirer of Heath Ledger’s Joker. But aside from being crooks, they didn’t seem to have any real motivation other than “Woowee, I gots me a lightsaber!” And hey, as a fan, I understand that inclination, though with black-market lightsabers (as opposed to black-colored lightsabers, which are next week’s shtick) apparently going for big bucks, I kept hoping for a bit more backstory. Still, that’s a minor complaint, especially considering the awesomeness of the central chase through Coruscant skylanes. (Full disclosure: I looked that word up.) There were speeding transports, giant floating billboards, and though the baddie wasn’t a Force-user, she still used the stolen ‘saber with intelligence and cunning. It was, so to speak, fast and intense.
I was also happy to see Coruscant finally used to its full extent, especially now that The Clone Wars has racked up enough stock aliens to fill out a crowd scene. That’s actually become one of the most enjoyable elements of the show, since you never know which characters are going to pop in for a scene or two. It reminds me of The Simpsons, where a single episode can feature upwards of sixty characters, something a live-action show could never pull off. This was especially effective in the ending, which I’m not going to spoil except to say that it’s immensely satisfying. And the overall lesson, about accepting help instead of covering up mistakes, was rather subtle, and even kinda sweet. ‘Lightsaber Lost’ may be a stand-alone ep, but it’s a welcome change of pace, and introduces a wonderful new Jedi. I sure hope we see him again.