Some of this magic fades when people talk: Anakin and Ahsoka’s reunion leans on facial expressions and the uncanniness of the trio being together again for its emotional weight more than on the dialogue itself. The lines themselves maintain that quality of straightforward Star Wars banter that can come off as either energetic and fun or flat and cliched. I’m inclined to think Anakin’s “I don’t believe it!” is the latter, but it doesn’t actually slow down the scene, so I’m not worried about it too much.
Mandalorian rebel leader Bo-Katan is especially complemented by the dialogue, which quickly establishes her motivation (political beliefs and the death of her sister) and her attitude. She’s as tragic as the Jedi in her own way, especially since we know from other Star Wars material this rebellion isn’t going to work. Bo-Katan pushes to hand her planet over to the Republic for good reasons, not knowing she’s going to end up a ruler in a rapidly-deepening twilight at best. “What’s one more [war]?” she asks. And we’re all about to find out.
After watching The Mandalorian, there’s a particular joy in seeing Bo-Katan and her armored allies and enemies fight. The battles throughout this episode are impressively messy, no expense spared when it comes to oily, smoky missile trails or corpses slumped against the Mandalorians’ massive quasi-brutalist architecture. Surprisingly, Ahsoka herself doesn’t move as fluidly as the others, her attacks looking slow and overextended as if she’s still stiff from all that time she spent not using the Force. And there are still limitations of animation, with all of the Mandalorians’ body types looking pretty much the same. But a tumbling battle in which Ahsoka drops from low orbit to the planet’s surface performing various gymnastics and heroics along the way was honestly pulse-pounding.
Each scene is near-perfectly paced, gesturing in a way this show usually does not to encourage the viewer to keep rapt attention on every expression and word, especially the loaded conversation between Ahsoka and Anakin. The burst of static before she speaks to him for the first time perfectly punctuates all the things unsaid between them. Admittedly, my pre-existing connection to the story carries a lot of weight here: Ahsoka, Anakin, and Obi-Wan have, at this point in canon, completed their transformations into symbols of what will come next. They’re also growing and changing; the reversal of Anakin being the less mature one in a scene with Ahsoka is arresting.
If you’ve been following these reviews long enough you know I’m not easily moved by this trio. But “Old Friends Not Forgotten” knows exactly when to lean on that weight. One exception: I might have liked the reveal of Ahsoka’s lightsabers later, as another twist of a knife, rather than a re-gifting near the beginning of the siege. Wondering what was in that box would have been another fun point of tension.