Star Wars has explored most classic sci-fi concepts, but time travel is relatively new. Ahsoka has been reasonably accused of living in the past enough already without literally going back in time. The franchise survives today on the power of nostalgia and the occasional new idea. The new trilogy left the franchise terrified to push forward, and now it’s inventing new ways to go back. Ahsoka offers time travel as a solution that poses too many new problems.
Star Wars Is Moving Forward to Move Backward
Episode 4 of Ahsoka introduced many Star Wars fans to the World Between Worlds. The concept first appeared in Rebels. The World Between Worlds is a central terminal that connects all known points in space and time. Ezra Bridger wanted to use it to save his master from a heroic sacrifice. Ahsoka uses time travel for the franchise’s favorite trick, bringing a member of the Skywalker family back for another cameo. Anakin steps out of the darkness for an episode-closing teaser. We acknowledge how important Anakin is to Ahsoka’s story, but given that the man has been dead for some time, his presence is questionable. The big reveal of his existence in the World Between Worlds suggests a level of purpose beyond a simple cameo.
By our reasoning, there are two good explanations for Anakin’s appearance here. He’s either a gratuitous cameo to sell the show or the reason it was created. Ahsoka can finally use time travel to settle her emotional issues with the man who taught her everything she once knew. She can’t learn anything from a new hero or learn to process the loss with others who share her grief. She has to talk to the recognizable character so that fans can rave about his return. It’s understandable why we’d want to see Ahsoka talk to a post-Vader Anakin. Still, the appeal pales in comparison to the desire to see something new. Anakin died as Vader before anyone came up with Ahsoka, and then new writers devised her story. Time travel gives Star Wars an opportunity to resolve that. It also offers the most tempting excuse to do what they’ve already been doing.
Time Travel Will Be a Gimmick Star Wars Can’t Pass Up
Science fiction concepts are usually tools that can be used to bridge narrative gaps, explain details, or solve problems. Lightsabers repel and redirect blaster fire because if they didn’t, everyone would use blasters. Time travel allows characters to fix mistakes or undo terrible events. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, Disney’s other gigantic franchise, depicts characters using time travel to save half of all life from Thanos’s snap. Star Wars and Ahsoka aren’t planning to travel back in time and save Alderaan or un-execute Order 66. They just need a new way to slap all their favorite action figures together.
The Star Wars timeline, as depicted by the movies and TV shows, is only a few decades long. There are flashbacks and lore details, but the story takes place over the lives of Anakin and Luke Skywalker, with a few years to either side. Almost no characters survive that length of time, but they don’t all get to interact. The new series can bridge the gap and let fans know what Yoda would have said to Boba Fett. Many characters were exempt from that, but time travel brings everyone into the mix. There are no limitations, as anyone can come back at any time. The World Between Worlds can become an all-purpose toy chest that can produce any marketable figure they want to pull out of storage. It’s hard to imagine they’ll use it sparingly.
Time travel could be the final straw for a portion of the Star Wars fanbase. Some might be eternally excited to see an actor or a character they loved 15 years ago. On the other hand, many admirers of what the series could be would rather not watch the things they love collapse in on themselves. Imagine the digital recreations of actors they’ll drag back into the franchise through this wide open door. Ahsoka is far from the worst Star Wars project ever made, but if its use of time travel sticks, it could be a turning point. We may all wish for a chance to go back and change things very soon.