“Far Far Away,” episode 6 of Disney Plus’ Ahsoka, delivered on style, giving us a new planet, new creatures, and a strikingly adorned company of castaway stormtroopers. The army is lead by Enoch, an officer who has replaced the faceplate of his helmet with what looks like a creepy golden death mask.
What do we know about Enoch? What do we know about these troopers? It’s not much, but it’s already ominous in a way live-action Star Wars usually steers clear of, leaving us with a little theory.
[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers from Ahsoka episode 6, “Far Far Away” through the season 1 finale, “The Jedi, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”]
What’s the deal with Enoch and Thrawn’s troopers?
Thrawn’s forces in episode 6 make a big appearance in his big entrance. We can immediately see a military force that’s been isolated from everything designed to keep it fighting fit. Although Ahsoka isn’t precise about when it’s set, Thrawn’s star destroyer has been stranded in a different galaxy for at least nine years. His troopers’ armor is dirty with age, lashed together with fabric, and repaired with metals, some even in a kintsugi style that really emphasizes the need to keep equipment going without replacements available. It looks cool!
Now forget about the armor — what’s kept these troopers together for a decade? That question isn’t exactly answered, but they sure do seem cult-like in a way that the pushy, griping troopers of their Rebellion era didn’t, chanting “THRAWN, THRAWN, THRAWN, THRAWN” when their leader walks across a cargo deck to meet his own allies. Something about their isolation has understandably changed how this army operates.
On the other hand, they’re still recognizably stormtroopers, fading into the background of scenes and taking orders without comment, even though their commanding officer, Enoch, has a weird robot voice and a shiny mask. Silent, ever-present stormtroopers are one of Star Wars’ most reliable pieces of set dressing, and these troopers are one of the ways “Far Far Away” really delivers on design.
On the other other hand... what if something very wrong is going on here?
Hey Thrawn, what’s in the box(es)?
Let’s take a look at some of the other, more subtle ways that “Far Far Away” is telling us these troopers — which the subtitles refer to as “Night Troopers” — are different.
First, it’s how Thrawn is reluctant to use a large force of them. “During this exile, our numbers have dwindled,” he tells Elsbeth, as an excuse for sending only two squads to back up her mercenaries. So it’s not just the visuals: Ahsoka took a moment to tell us that something’s wrong with Thrawn’s guys.
Furthermore, we don’t see any bridge officers or other command folks on this star destroyer. There’s nobody in the classic high collared and capped imperial uniforms, only helmeted troopers, and other than Enoch’s very cyborg voice, we don’t hear any of them speak.
witch which — haha, we have fun here — Enoch begins that scene by talking to the troopers in some language other than Imperial-standard Basic.
On top of all that, the fabric bands wrapped all around the Night Troopers’ armor is the same red as the Dathomiri Great Mothers’ robes. And the “Nightsisters” are another name that the Witches of Dathomir go by. And remember a few episodes ago when Baylan and Shin’s masked ally Marrok got hit with a lightsaber once and dissolved into dust? And at the end of this episode Thrawn says “Great Mothers, I shall once again require the aid of your dark magic,” implying that he has used their magic before? And Enoch is a biblical figure notable for having crossed over to the afterlife without dying — for being dead, but not dead in the way that people who are dead usually are? “Die well,” he says to Sabine as parting words, like maybe he’s got some personal experience with that?
So, now might be a good time to mention that one of the specialties of Dathomiri magic is raising zombie armies.
It really seems like Thrawn has at least a partially zombie army, man
The Witches of Dathomir whipped this particular ability out of their pocket in a 2012 episode of Clone Wars called “Massacre.” In a last ditch (and ultimately unsuccessful) effort to push back Count Dooku’s droid onslaught, the mummified bodies of dead Nightsisters were raised to snarling zombie life. And that was a sect of Dathomiri witches practicing secretly and targeted by Sith ire. It’s easy to imagine that the power of three Great Mothers from the religion’s homeworld would be even greater. They are, after all, sitting in a space whale graveyard.
“Far Far Away” doesn’t say as much, but it drops what seem like very telling hints. Before Thrawn can leave the planet, he has to hold up his end of an “agreement with the Great Mothers,” by transporting some cargo for them. Elsbeth has has a very specific reaction to this, saying “I have seen the catacombs. It will take some time.” And boy, oh, boy, the cargo we see Night Troopers toting around later in the episode sure looks like coffins.
Do Thrawn’s forces consist mostly or entirely of zombified stormtroopers? Are the Witches of Dathomir bringing a zombie army to the main Star Wars galaxy? We won’t know until Ahsoka season 1 finishes out its final two episodes. But honestly? It would whip ass.
Update: Ahsoka’s season finale delivered on its undead promises, when the Great Mothers raised a squad of stormtroopers from the dead in order to keep Ahsoka, Sabine, and Ezra from all making it into Thrawn’s ship. Green lights glowed from the eyes of their helmets, covering the decayed flesh beneath.
Now, thanks to Thrawn, those great mothers have reached Dathomir, and with all of their suspiciously coffin-shaped “cargo” from the catacombs. That seems like it’ll probably be fine.