The Mandalorian Chapter 13: “The Jedi” dropped not only one bomb, but multiple bombs in quick succession. Some may have a deep impact not only within the series but also within the entire Star Wars franchise. (As always, spoilers ahead – this time, massive ones.)
The Padawan Lost
Let’s start with the main focus of the episode: Ahsoka Tano. Who, contrary to the episode’s title, is not exactly a Jedi, but perhaps enough of a Jedi for all practical purposes.
I remember having some doubts when her appearance was first announced. More so because unlike Bo-Katan, Ahsoka was not to be portrayed by her voice actress. But after watching the episode, it became clear that such fears were baseless. Rosario Dawson did an amazing job. Obviously, she (and the directors) had tons of Ahsoka material to study, and she clearly studied them diligently. The posture, facial expressions, the delivery of the lines – everything was faithfully, endearingly Ahsokaish. Her outfit was flawless, and tiny nods such as a Convor owl sitting on a tree just before Ahsoka appeared can be only appreciated.
Battles in Woods, Duel in Gardens
The main subplot of the episode itself – that of a city ruled by a cruel Magistrate – was perhaps, in broad strokes, the same form we have seen in The Mandalorian before (and likely will see again). But it was done in an entertaining manner, making you interested in the place and in the characters. Diana Lee Inosanto managed to portray Morgan Elsbeth as a villain that commands respect, and Michael Biehn (whose appearance sure delighted old-school SF fans) made an equally respectable character out of an utterly non-respectable mercenary.
The visuals in this episode deserve extra praise. Ahsoka’s alien design worked well (this was, after all, not the first time a Togruta appeared in live-action), but it was the twin white lightsabers that looked absolutely stunning. Especially in the environment. The scenes where Ahsoka struck from the haze and darkness were a prime example of how to use pretty minimalistic landscape for an extremely atmospheric effect.
The design of the planet Corvus with its barren woods was also evocative, and Morgan’s “zen garden” was both a beautiful environment and a nice contrast with the dilapidated town and dying forest.
Both the duel between Din and Ahsoka and between Ahsoka and Morgan deserve praise. Having Morgan use a beskar staff provided the possibility for a “lightsaber duel”-style fight. At the same time, Din vs Ahsoka contained several nice nods to both Fetts versus Mace Windu (setting the cloak on fire with a flamethrower) and Luke (tying up with fibercord whip), respectively. But even the “casual” action scenes, such as Ahsoka hunting down
Hicks Lang and the Magistrate’s troops in the dark alleys, were made special because of their atmosphere, as opposed to an open shootout.
The Child’s Name
As for the remaining bomb-dropping, probably the biggest impact for the show itself was revealing the Child’s name. In my opinion, Grogu is a very fitting (in a fashion similar to Yoda) and pretty name (as far as Star Wars names go). I am very glad that the show is going the way of fleshing out the Child. He is becoming a person, newly with a name and a past.
We also continue to discover more parallels between Grogu and Din: both the survivors of a massacre when they were little. The whole story has many terrifying levels to it. Such as that Ahsoka was the Padawan of the very person who had failed to kill Grogu (as opposed to, er, all the other younglings). I am pretty sure Grogu’s survival story will eventually make an appearance somewhere (maybe even a comics, even though showing it on-screen in full would be preferable).
Is This Live-Action Rebels 5?
The episode was written by Dave Filoni and you can see it. Indeed, it now feels as if The Mandalorian was only a Trojan horse to bring all the protagonists of The Clone Wars and Rebels into live-action. Season 1 ended merely with showing the Darksaber, now we got in a quick succession a live-action Bo-Katan and Ahsoka, and a mention of Thrawn.
I do not personally put my hopes up for seeing Thrawn in The Mandalorian (or perhaps in a very far future and merely as a footnote). That is somewhat outside the scope of things. It is however theoretically possible that we might get a cameo of Ezra Bridger (I can easily imagine a Season 3 featuring him teaching Grogu).
But it may all serve as a good gateway for a spin-off live-action series that would feature Thrawn, Ezra, Ahsoka and maybe Sabine Wren. Imagine the “searching for Ezra” plot, now with a bonus baby Yoda (sorry, I mean Grogu).
From the marketing point of view, something like that would not have worked a year ago, but now it would: now even people unfamiliar with TCW have seen Ahsoka and may want a spin-off series just for her own sake, plus they have heard of Thrawn. Sabine would be easy to introduce to an unknowing audience as just another Mandalorian who used to bear the Darksaber. And the Baby would seal the deal.
Onwards to Tython
Speculations aside, where we are left now in The Mandalorian is a somewhat uncertain spot. However not unexpectedly, Grogu will not be parted from Din, and Ahsoka won’t train him. But the foundling’s path heads to Tython, a planet familiar to either only hardcore Legends fans or, perhaps more likely, Star Wars: The Old Republic players.
Is it going to look similar? How much Legends stuff and lore are Filoni et al going to pull out of their sleeves? Whatever it may be, if the story and its execution remain as brilliant as this episode has been, then we can only look forward to it.