The late Ray Stevenson starred in many TV series and films during his vast career, but the last role he’s credited with is Baylan Skoll in Ahsoka. Baylan is an intriguing and compelling character not only due to Dave Filoni’s writing, but he’s majestic, powerful, and graceful because of Ray Stevenson’s brilliant performance. This is a performance that makes Baylan the best new character introduced in Ahsoka and ensures that in his final role, Ray Stevenson is the star of the series.
Ray makes the most ordinary lines impactful, and I’ve found myself re-watching his scenes just to see the nuances in his performance. Not only does he stand out for his acting, but Ray excels in every lightsaber duel on the show. There are multiple duels, including two between him and Ahsoka. Baylan’s powerful, medieval style of fighting contrasts with Ahsoka’s samurai-like style. Both were alive during the prequels, lived through The Clone Wars, the Rebellion, and the Fall of the Empire, and both knew Anakin Skywalker. Baylan is around the age Anakin would be if he were alive, and Ray Stevenson adds the necessary grace and maturity for a man of Baylan’s age, to every interaction between him, and other characters.
Baylan’s direction isn’t clear at any point in the series, and his goals only become clearer towards the end. While he abandons Shin on Peridea, somehow it’s still impossible to dislike him as a character, a credit to Ray’s performance. He’s always somewhere in the middle of the light and the dark side of the force. Ray’s performance adds so much depth to Baylan’s every move that he makes the character seem trustworthy throughout, and his intentions never seem questionable. It’s hard to doubt that he wants the best for everyone, including Shin. In his last scene, Baylan is shown standing on the statue of The Father, the God of Mortis, who keeps the balance between the light and dark sides of the force. It’s a poetic ending for the character, because he’ll be very difficult to replace, so we have to imagine that this might be the end of Baylan Skoll.
It will be hard to match Ray Stevenson’s gravitas as Baylan Skoll. He owns the role from the start to the very end of Ahsoka, and he will be deeply missed should the show return with a second season. It’s wonderful to see how much Ray Stevenson’s performance as Baylan Skoll has been appreciated by critics and fans, not only because people are emotionally invested in him after he passed away earlier this year, but because as Baylan, Ray gave the best performance of the series, one that will be appreciated for years to come. The force will be with you always, Ray.
All 8 episodes of Ahsoka are now streaming on Disney+.