With Ahsoka having such a great start with Episode One, I hoped the showrunners could keep up the momentum and deliver another excellent episode for Toil and Trouble. It’s safe to say that I wasn’t disappointed with the episode overall. I have some gripes with certain aspects of the show, but we’ll get into that as we get there.
This review of Ahsoka Episode 2: Toil and Trouble may contain spoilers.
Story – Imperial Forces Lurk in the Cracks
This episode opens up in the aftermath of Master and Apprentice. Sabine is laid out in a hospital bed while Ahsoka contemplates out a window. After registering her situation, Sabine immediately tells Ahsoka that she unlocked the map that Shin Hati stole. Ahsoka asks about the droids that attacked her and Sabine mentions she managed to take out one of them. Ahsoka begins to walk out but Sabine protests that she needs her help. She tells Sabine that she has done enough and needs to rest. This sets up the main dynamic between them for the episode, Sabine wants to help, but Ahsoka doesn’t think she’s ready.
Meanwhile, on another planet named Seatos, Baylan Skoll and Shin Hati land their shuttle near a ruinous structure. Baylan takes out the golden orb they took from Ahsoka, and places it on a pillar in the center of the structure. This activates a mechanism and turns the orb leading to a thud, as if the orb was a key to something. Baylan then tells Shin to contact Morgan and tell her they found the “reflex point” on Seatos. Shin takes her leave, and Baylan looks up to the sky as ominous music leads us to the opening title.
We then see Ahsoka investigating Sabine’s tower, looking for any leads for her next move. As she approaches Sabine’s room, she trades glances with her Loth-Cat. She continues her investigation when she notices the hologram that Ezra Bridger gave to Sabine before he disappeared. It doesn’t play the recording, but Ahsoka does give a wistful smile when she sees Ezra, It’s interesting that a lot of the characters have this shared grief about him, showing the emotional impact of his sacrifice in Rebels.
The show cuts back to Sabine’s hospital room where Ahsoka, Huyang, and Hera look over as she is inspecting the head of the droid that Ahsoka took back. Sabine says she should be able to plug into the droid’s memory core and retrieve the location of where the droid originated. She mentions that as they try to recover the location, the droids core will overheat and eventually explode if they can’t extract it in time. This leads to a scene where time is running out and the core is about explode before Huyang pulls the plug at the last possible moment. Fortunately, they were able to find out the droid came from Corellia, a planet that should be under New Republic control. I felt this scene was a bit contrived, mostly there to propel the plot.
We transition back to Seatos, Morgan Elsbeth has arrived and commands Baylan to show her what he found. She examines the pillar that holds the golden orb and asks them if they would like to see the purpose of the structure. Using her magic, she activates the orb and it projects the galaxy they are currently in. The orb then aligns another galaxy in the pillar across from it and connects a line. Morgan declares that is their destination where they will find Grand Admiral Thrawn.
Baylan shows doubt towards all this, as he has heard of it but only in fairy tales. Morgan then rolls hers eyes as voices whisper, she says Thrawn calls to her across space. This does little to sway Baylan’s doubts. Morgan ends the projections and tells Baylan to make sure the “Eye of Seion” is delivered to Seatos successfully. Baylan mentions near the end of the scene to his apprentice that saving Thrawn from his exile will deliver them power beyond belief. But what does he want this power for? What will Thrawn give him that he couldn’t achieve on his own as a force user?
As Ahsoka lands in Corellia, Hera introduces her to the man in charge of the shipyard they are investigating. The man, whose name is Myn Weaver, says that all imperial assets were dissolved and redistributed for New Republic purposes. Despite this, Ahsoka and Hera still want to inspect the facilities. Before following Ahsoka and Hera, we get our first shot of Chopper warbling as they depart. Chopper was a key droid protagonist in Star Wars: Rebels and a fan favorite, similar to R2D2’s popularity. As Ahsoka and Hera tour the facility, Weaver informs them that Morgan’s facilities were responsible for creating the hyperdrives for Imperial-class Star Destroyers. This seems like a small mundane detail, but is key in understanding how Morgan can carry out her plan.
Ahsoka asks if any of Morgan’s former staff are still employed, which Weaver undoubtedly says yes to. He explains that to stay operational, they couldn’t replace everyone working during the time of the Empire. Many were also only trying to make a living, not working solely to support the Empire. This creates a tense atmosphere where anyone could be a potential enemy.
After a brief pause, Hera brings up how connecting with Sabine paid off because she managed to unlock the map. Ahsoka, at first, resents how Sabine lost the map after taking it away from her ship without permission. Hera continues to make a case for Sabine, even suggesting that Ahsoka should take her back as her apprentice. Ahsoka believes she and Sabine’s relationship is too fractured for that possibility. Hera says all she needs is structure and so does Ahsoka. She says Sabine isn’t ready, to which Hera asks how she knows if someone is ready. Ahsoka simply says that you just know, and so do they. This sentiment is nicely payed off near the end of the episode.
Back in Sabine’s hospital room, Huyang comes to check in on her injuries. He mentions how Sabine kept the lightsaber she was given by Ezra and used when she was training with Ahsoka. She insist the lightsaber is Ezra’s, not hers, adding to the theme of Sabine’s insecurity and guilt. Huyang acknowledges that it was Ezra who constructed the lightsaber. But, Sabine has made her own unique modifications to it, thus it is now her lightsaber. Sabine self-deprecates by saying it didn’t do her much good in the fight against Shin Hati.
Sabine continues to say how Ahsoka doesn’t want to train her, and she never had the same connection with the Force that Ahsoka and Ezra have. Huyang coldly, and humorously, agrees that she does not possess the same potential for the Force. The scene ends with Sabine saying she won’t waste Ahsoka’s time, to which Huyang responds by saying the only time she is wasting is her own. Natasha Liu Bordizzo does a good job portraying the inner conflict within Sabine, she wants to help, but she doesn’t know if she’s out of her element.
We cut back to Corellia, Hera looks out the air control window and notices a ship with a hyperdrive core attached in tow. She curiously asks about it and Weaver responds saying it is one of the cores that have been refurbished and is now ready to serve the New Republic. Hera, as a general in the New Republic, knows the defense fleet isn’t building anything big enough that this core could fit into. She demands to know what class of starship this core is for. Weaver stumbles with his words for a bit, eventually, he says he will pull up the information she is asking for. He finds the information, but it is in a classified document.
Hera, with a baffled expression, says she is a general so nothing is classified to her. She says she gives her authorization to unseal the document as a general, but he is insists that is not enough. This leads to one of my favorite moments of the episode when Hera passive aggressively smiles and asks, “Wanna bet?”, as Ahsoka crosses her arms and stares daggers into him. Weaver stands down and asks his droid, C-1, to unlock the document.
As the droid attempts to unlock the document, Ahsoka asks Weaver what kinds of droids they manufacture. A question that attracts the attention of one of the workers in the control room. She asks if they manufacture any HK models, also known as the assassin droids. Shocked, Weaver assuredly denies the possibility of them making HK models. This is when C-1 interjects, saying they catalogue inventory on transports, but an HK droid had stopped them from doing this task. The other workers in the room begin to visibly look worried.
Ahsoka asks where the droid is currently, and C-1 points to the ship Hera asked about and is throttling up to depart the port. Hera commands the air control officer to stop the ship from departing. However, the officer ignores her and says they’ve already been cleared for departure. She orders the officer to tell the ship to stop, and another officer shoots up from his chair as he aims a blaster and screams, “For the Empire!” Ahsoka draws her lightsabers and stops him before he can fire on Hera. The show is doing a great job setting up the fact that even though The Empire was defeated, its influence still lives in their everyday lives.
Ahsoka runs down the length of the port trying to get on the ship, but she is obstructed by Marrok, another mysterious mercenary in Morgan’s employ. This is our first substantial interaction with him. Hera, meanwhile, jumps in her ship and flies after the enemy transport. A tense scene ensues as it cuts back and forth between the duel on the port and Hera’s chase of the transport. Hera tells Chopper to get a tracker ready as she gets in position for it to throw one on the ship. The tenseness is definitely here, but I love the levity they sprinkled in when Chopper is looking for a tracking device and can’t find it among the mess in his droid pit, blaming Hera for going through its things.
During the fight on the port, Marrok gets an alert and retreats from Ahsoka. A shuttle fires down the length of the port to provide cover as he jumps in. Marrok and Shin Hati stand on the ramp of the ship as Ahsoka appears through the smoke. I’ll admit, I popped for that last little swerve Ahsoka did as Marrok’s lightsaber flew back to him. To end the scene, Hera flies over the enemy ship and Chopper successfully throws a tracking device onto it just before it jumps into hyperspace. I thought this scene ruled and capitalized on the rest of the episode’s slow investigating and character development
To close the show, we watch Sabine as she gathers her Mandalorian helm and displays it in front of herself. She then takes a knife and slices off her hair to resemble more of her short-haired appearance in Star Wars: Rebels. The symbolic transformation of cutting her hair to show she’s ready to become a Jedi like Ahsoka is great, it reminds me of other scenes when a warrior would lay down their weapons and clean up their appearance to show they were ready to uphold their creed.
In the next scene, Sabine is longingly looking at the mural of all the heroes from Star Wars: Rebels, particularly Ezra. Ahsoka appears in the doorway and comments on her new hair. Huyang comes out of the ship and says he received a transmission from Hera that she tracked the transport to Seatos. With that, they all hop on the ship, and Ahsoka finally addresses Sabine as her Padawan before jumping into hyperspace. Now, in my opinion, this is where the show should’ve ended. However, the show continues with a shot of Morgan on a mysterious ship/machine and ends with her ordering Baylan to take out Ahsoka with whatever means necessary.
Characters and Performance – Substantial Character Development
I thought all there performances were good in this episode, especially Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Hera. She got much more screen time than she did in the previous episode and it did wonders for her. Natasha Liu Bordizzo as Sabine also put in a good emotional performance. Nothing that will tug at the heartstrings, but a solid portrayal of one who’s self-deprecation is an excuse to not act upon an opportunity to better themselves. I’d like to start seeing more from the villains before they fall into the stereotypical box of villains who just want power for power sake. Chopper was also a welcome addition and I thought they did a great job capturing how it emotes and communicates with its arms and wobbly head.
Cinematography and Sound – World Building Is a Core Strength
The score for this episode delivered on every moment that counted. Whether it was a tense action scene, an introspective conversation, or an ominous reveal, the score conveyed the right mood and the right emotions. The environments were stellar, just like in the previous episode. My favorite location was the shipyard because of the huge industrial work that really puts into perspective how much work goes into creating the starships in the Star Wars universe. It also added great context that tells us Imperial influence is still alive and could be hiding everywhere. There wasn’t as much action in this episode as the previous, but the shipyard set piece fight was fantastic, definitely made Ahsoka look like a skilled fighter. I’m interested to see where they take Marrok, as his identity is still hidden to us.
Editing and Pacing – Back and Forth Character Development
The structure for this episode was mainly cutting back and forth between Ahsoka and Hera’s investigation and Sabine’s slow persuasion to begin her training again. The show also threw in scenes with the villains to set up future scenes and give some exposition on their goal. Overall, the episode was a bit slow, but that’s probably because they focused so much on Sabine and Hera’s character development. They’ll likely turn up the pace in the third episode when they come face to face with the villains. One scene I wasn’t particularly fond of was the scene where Sabine is hacking into the droid to find out where it came from. It just kind of seemed like a scene filled with false tension. No one believed that droid was going to blow and they would obviously succeed in extracting the location. It was a weak scene made to progress the plot, essentially. Also, I mentioned earlier I wish they had ended on the Ahsoka and Sabine team up as that felt like the natural conclusion to the episode.