It was a long time coming, but the brief payoff was certainly worth it. Ever since Ahsoka made her official return in the season one finale, fans had been waiting for her to ignite her sabers and get back in to action.
In “Future of the Force”, we not only get to scratch that itch, but we can start to piece together how these different force wielders stack up against one another. Kanan couldn’t handle both Inquisitors, which is a big ask, but Ahsoka dusted both of them with ease. Clearly, the two post powerful force users of the Rebels era are Vader and Ahsoka. How convenient. With Kanan’s training cut short and Ezra only beginning to discover his power, we turn to Ahsoka as the most skilled of the “good” force users, even if she left the Jedi order before Kanan did.
As has been a running theme this season, Rebels has been slowly adding connective tissue between the prequel era and the original trilogy era, and this episode continued the trend. An early episode of Clone Wars, with the resoundingly similar title “Children of the Force” revealed the Sith to be kidnapping force-sensitive youngsters from across the galaxy. We don’t learn what exactly the Sith were planning to do with these children, as our heroes rescued them before their indoctrination could begin but it’s certain that they weren’t raising them to be upstanding citizens. Hopefully time will tell what the Sith’s intentions were with the kids, but for the time being it’s clear that the forces of evil are still snatching force-sensitive children.
Our heroes embark on dual missions to rescue the latest round of kidnapped children, only to converge on Takobo where the majority of the action takes place. Kanan, Ezra, Zeb, and Chopper are successful in recovering the children, but have a really difficult time escaping the Fifth Brother and Seventh Sister, who were not thrilled to have the kids taken away from them. With backs against the wall, Kanan has no choice but to engage the Inquisitors, but he can’t handle them and is quickly knocked aside. With Zeb having already bowed out of the fight, Ezra puts on a brave face but he too is incapacitated almost immediately, which is a curious decision given how the show has gone to great lengths to show how quickly he’s progressed. It’s either a “reset” of the audience’s perception of him, or a showcase of the Inquisitors skills. Then, just as the mission looks to be doomed to failure, the locked doors of their docking bay open to a blare of white light, with a determined looking Ahsoka emerging, ready for battle. From there we see an Ahsoka who remains just as skilled as her Clone Wars days (how did she stay sharp for all of those years?), but who also seems far more mature spiritually. Both Inquisitors at the same time are no match for Ahsoka, who barely breaks a sweat.
We are getting closer to the day where Ahsoka gets a real test against an opponent who might be able to counter her moves and tendencies, and who might be powerful enough to shake her newfound inner strength.
Vader? Yeah, that guy. Does Ahsoka know who he really is? Or will that be revealed during an evetual showdown?
Until then, I think we can safely assume that we’re free and clear of those slower “character study” and that the ball is finally rolling for season two.