Hayden Christensen’s prequel performance has been heavily criticized and mocked for decades, mostly because of the way the character is written, with George Lucas imagining a particularly annoying and unlikable character — at first. By the time of “Revenge of the Sith,” it is hard to care about the character for his own sake, and not just because other people say they care about him. Anakin was supposed to be the key to the entire six-film saga, but he ended up being the least interesting part of them.
That all changed with “The Clone Wars,” a show that gave audiences a vastly different portrayal of the Chosen One than they had seen. Animated Anakin was a more adventurous, charming, funny Jedi knight who you could definitely imagine was admired by all his peers, feared by his enemies, and respected by his friends. The show made his fall to the dark side clearer and less of a left turn, and it made it sad and tragic because we came to know and love the character. He was a hero, a mentor, a husband, and a brother.
Having Christensen suddenly embody that version of the character in live-action, without any of that extra context, would be rather jarring — a clear nod to a part of the franchise not everyone was familiar with. Thankfully, the effect is the complete opposite, because the episode frames Anakin’s appearance from the point of view of Ahsoka and how she saw her master at two pivotal moments in her life. Here, we see a summarized version of the arc Anakin went through in the years between the films.