Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) has returned to Disney’s Star Wars once again; Ahsoka sees the fallen Jedi appear from beyond the grave, sparking a mixed reaction from fans.
Christensen’s Anakin first returned in the Disney+ series Obi-Wan, for another battle with Ewan McGregor’s Jedi master, inserted in the timeline between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. But his appearance in Ahsoka was quite different.
Somehow, Anakin Skywalker returned
The fourth episode of Ahsoka sees the Padawan-turned-knight (Rosario Dawson) suffering an injury after losing a lightsaber battle against Baylan Skoll and being thrown into the ocean.
Ahsoka awakens inside a celestial dreamscape outside of time, and hears “Hello Snips.”
“Snips” is Anakin’s nickname for Ahsoka, and sure enough, she turns to see her former master, dressed in black, suggesting that he is still in his Dark Side era.
At this point in Ahsoka’s timeline, set after Return of the Jedi and before the sequel trilogy (most of the Disney+ Star Wars series require a bit of homework), Vader is dead but redeemed; he should be a Force Ghost dressed in Jedi robes, but he’s not. He’s lacking the distinctive blue glow.
Why isn’t Anakin a Force Ghost?
It’s a mystery, but their location opens the door to many possibilities. The strange landscape where they meet is known as the World Between Worlds, an intersection of time and space that exists within the Force, acting as something of an afterlife, or Star Wars limbo.
Anakin could have entered the WBW after he turned to the Dark Side, just before he fell to the lava and became Darth Vader. Perhaps this version of Anakin could be a representation of Ahsoka’s complicated feelings towards her former master, or even a malicious entity disguised as Anakin.
No doubt, the next episode will offer more clues to what Anakin truly is, but the appearance of a de-aged Christensen sparked backlash and mockery from Star Wars fans who have grown weary of the franchise’s reliance on fan-service, nostalgia, and uncanny VFX.
Others expressed delight that the two finally met in live-action, as major moments between the two were previously confined to the animated Star Wars spin-offs. Ahsoka, Anakin’s former Padawan, has become an important character in the Galaxy Far, Far Away, but is almost unknown to fans who have only watched the Star Wars films.
Ahsoka was created for the animated series The Clone Wars and didn’t appear in live-action until The Mandalorian, but she has become a major player in the story of Anakin’s fall, filling in the “gaps”left by the prequel trilogy.
Hence, Ahsoka is in an odd position in Star Wars canon, starring a character established in an animated spin-off, completely unfamiliar to some fans and nostalgic to others, but completely absent from the films.
In a way, the show boasts the best and worst of Star Wars, featuring increasingly impenetrable lore and fan-favorites resurrected with VFX, but also something of a new direction for the franchise.
Clearly, this version of Anakin is something very different from what we’ve seen before.