This article contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, episode 7.06, “Deal No Deal.”
The opening narration of this week’s episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, titled “Deal No Deal,” begins with a single word — crossroads. That just about sums up everything that Ahsoka Tano is going through during this arc of the final season of the show. With her life at the Jedi Order behind her and a newfound partnership with the sisters Trace and Rafa Martez whom she met in last week’s “Gone with a Trace,” Ahsoka is at a pivotal point in her life where her actions are going to dictate everything that comes next. And though her actions might not always be fully thought out, her decisions in this episode come from a righteous place, and they show how she has a future using her exceptional Force powers to support the greater good outside the confines of the Jedi Code.
“Deal No Deal” kicks off with some really great characterization between Ahsoka and Trace as they work on the latter’s starship, aptly named the Silver Angel, considering it’s a shining beacon of hope amidst the dank, drab shadows of Level 1313. The banter between the two oscillates between sharing their pasts and flirting, and it’s really nice to see our hero find some semblance of this kind of relationship outside of the occasional episode featuring Lux Bonteri. I loved it when Trace asked Ahsoka where she learned all of this, and the Jedi quickly came up with the answer that she learned it all from Skywalker Academy. This reiterates how important the bond between her and Anakin remains, which we see more of later on in the episode.
Trace replies to this moment with a line that seems so throwaway, but it really made me think about the Star Wars saga as a whole. She replies to Ahsoka’s lie about the Skywalker Academy with the simple line “Skywalker? Never heard of it.” It’s so easy to get lost in the thick of these stories and assume that the rise, fall, and rise of Anakin Skywalker is at the center of this universe. But Trace’s reaction only fleshes out the fact that this is a massive universe filled with countless planets and lifeforms that all have their own lives and stories that don’t concern the fabled Skywalker lineage. As much as I will always love this central story, I can’t help but be excited for future Star Wars tales that have absolutely no relation to what’s come before it.
Back to the episode, Rafa needs Trace’s help with a mysterious job, considering her original crew had to bail. She ends up also taking Ahsoka along too, although she isn’t thrilled about it. Rafa and Ahsoka both care deeply for Trace but are clearly hardwired to go about it in different ways. Rafa doesn’t trust Ahsoka, pulling her aside and asking her what her angle is in all of this. The Jedi tells her she doesn’t have any ulterior motives, only to keep Trace out of trouble, to which Rafa replies, “You ever thought you might be the trouble she needs to stay away from?” This line has a foreboding air to it, and I get the creeping feeling that Ahsoka’s relationship with Trace is going to come to a tragic ending in the coming weeks.
As Trace flies the ship off the planet, Ahsoka warns her that they’re in a military lane. A transmission comes through from Admiral Yularen, who’s about to send a group to go arrest the crew of the Angel before Anakin walks up and inquires about the situation. As the ship passes by, we get an amazing moment where Anakin reaches out through the Force, and though they don’t share any words, it’s clear that he makes a connection with Ahsoka. This is reminiscent of the end of The Empire Strikes Back, when Vader is able to make an inseparable connection with Luke through the vacuum of space. This time around, Anakin tells Yularen that it’s nothing, and there’s no need to arrest the crew of the Angel. It feels like he knows his Padawan is on the ship, forging her own destiny through the universe, and he has no place standing in her way.
With Coruscant safely behind them, the crew makes its way to its destination, which turns out to be a familiar planet: Kessel, one of the most infamous planets in Star Wars lore and home to Han’s Kessel Run that we saw play out in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Like last week’s unexpected tie-in with the canceled Star Wars 1313, I didn’t expect to see connections this week to the Solo movie, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense given who Ahsoka is destined to collide with by the end of this final season.
As we can guess, it turns out that Rafa’s job is to transport “medicine,” aka spice, for the king of Kessel. But seeing as how they’re just lowly drug mules, they aren’t granted an audience with the king, but rather his majordomo. The banquet that he’s prepared for them is a tense clash of ideologies that is probably the second most awkward dinner scene in Star Wars history after Han and Leia stumbling into Vader’s dining room trap in Empire. It’s great to see how the different characters react to the artificial opulence of the whole thing. Trace is completely floored by the decadence, Rafa is smug in the fact that she organized it all, and Ahsoka doesn’t trust a single bite of it.
There’s a great moment where they leave the bright, opulent artifice of Kessel and transition immediately into the ugly, smoky wasteland of the mines. Like Coruscant, the planet has a geographic juxtaposition between the haves and the have-nots. On their way to pick up the cargo, they pass what Trace thinks are thousands of droids, but Ahsoka corrects her that it’s actually slaves. This ties directly into Solo, where L3-37 and Chewbacca helped lead a revolt on the planet during their mission to snag the unrefined coaxium from the mines.
With the spice on board, Ahsoka finally learns that their job is to deliver it to Marg Krim, the Pyke Syndicate crime boss on the planet Oba Diah, which is another callback to Solo. Rafa and Ahsoka get into an argument over this, with Rafa saying that they need to complete this job because they have too much money invested into it and too many debts back on Coruscant, and Ahsoka saying that they should deliver the spice to a planet that can actually use it as medicine.
Amidst this clash of idealism vs. realism, neither of them are listening to Trace, who grows increasingly worried that her ship could be in danger. The Silver Angel is one of the only things in life that is uniquely hers, and parting with it would be tantamount to giving up a part of herself. As the two continue to argue, she slams on a button to open the cargo bay doors, dumping the spice into the vacuum of hyperspace. It’s funny to watch both Ahsoka and Rafa look on in disbelief and finally agree about something — that jettisoning the cargo is the one thing they definitely shouldn’t have done.
But what’s done is done, and Ahsoka has a plan for how to make it through the situation with the Pykes in one piece. She uses her Jedi mind trick to convince the crime syndicate to take the empty cargo containers without checking them, hand over the payment, and let them be on their way. It almost works, but the scheme is uncovered before they can make it far off the planet, and the ship is pulled back in using a tractor beam. And knowing the Pyke Syndicate’s direct connection with Darth Maul, there’s little doubt that Trace, Rafa, and Ahsoka Tano are on a collision course with the Dark Lord of the Sith.