The Mandalorian Gets an Unexpected Bounty in Chapter Thirteen, “The Jedi”

Imagine I said something pithy here to get you to click through, I am having too many feelings to be pithy?

Summary

Star Wars, The Mandalorian, Chapter 13, The Jedi

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) is trying to break into the town Calodan on Corvus where Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) is essentially holding the villagers hostage. Din and Baby Yoda land on the planet and are welcomed into Calodan, but no one will talk to Din, and he’s invited to the magistrate’s home by Lang (Michael Biehn). Elsbeth tells Din that she needs his help killing a Jedi, and offers him a spear of pure beskar as reward for the job. Din doesn’t agree to the terms, but leaves the impression that he’ll do it, setting out with the information he needs. He finds Ahsoka and tells her that Bo-Katan sent him. Ahsoka spends some time with the kid and tells Din that they can connect via thoughts, and that she knows his true name—Grogu.

She says that Grogu was being trained at the Jedi Temple during the Clone Wars, but he was taken from there when the Republic fell and has been in hiding ever since. She tests his powers the next morning, but Grogu isn’t too keen on using the Force; he’s has to hide his abilities for decades and the only person he really trusts is Din. Ahsoka refuses to train him—she believes that his fear and attachment to Din are too similar to another Jedi she once knew, Anakin Skywalker. Din tells her that the magistrate sent him to kill her, but that he’s willing to help her take the regime down if she’ll get Grogu the training he needs. Ahsoka accepts his offer, explaining that Elsbeth’s planet was destroyed during the Clone Wars, resulting in her allegiance to the Empire and her work destroying other planetary resources to build up the Imperial Navy.

The two form a coordinated attack against Elsbeth’s forces, and Din holds Lang at the gate in a standard one-on-one draw. When Lang tries to pull a fast one after indicating that he’ll set down his weapon, Din kills him. Ahsoka and Elsbeth have a duel in the magistrate’s garden, beskar spear against Ahsoka’s lightsabers. When Ahsoka wins, she demands a location on Elsbeth’s “master”—none other than Grand Admiral Thrawn. The rightful town official is reinstated, Governor Wing (Wing Tao Chao), and Din goes to retrieve Grogu and hand him off to Ahsoka. She again insists that she cannot train him despite the terms of their agreement. But she has a different suggestion: that Din take Grogu to the planet Tython where there is a ruin of a Jedi temple, place him on the seeing stone there, and let Grogu choose his own path. She says that if he reaches out with the Force, another Jedi might arrive and train him, though she notes that there are not many Jedi left. Din and Grogu set off for Tython.

Commentary

Star Wars, The Mandalorian, Chapter 13, The Jedi

HI, IT’S AHSOKA, EVERYONE, GOOD MORROW TO AHSOKA TANO THIS IS LITERALLY THE ONLY THING I WILL TALK ABOUT FOR THE REST OF THE DAY.

This episode is written and directed by Dave Filoni, the man behind Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels, and damn does it show in every frame. Filoni started out in animation departments for shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender, and adores Star Wars with a fervor that is palpable with every story he tells. His greatest asset creating narrative in this universe comes from understanding Star Wars’s visual strengths better than anyone alive. Many visuals from this episode look and feel very alike to the finale of The Clone Wars, which aired this year and was similarly gorgeous, particularly in frames centering on Ahsoka. It’s like candy for people who can see the through line, so much mood infused into each shot, incredible set ups, silence and stillness countered with flurries of action and light. It’s deeply impressive to see Filoni get the chance to overlay his eternally cinematic sensibilities onto a live-action canvas with a story he wrote using characters he conceived years ago. And this is a true full-length episode because it needs to be—the mythology to which it’s contributing is too vast.

Star Wars, The Mandalorian, Chapter 13, The Jedi

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Okay, so now we’ve got to do a brief detour for those who didn’t watch Clone Wars and Rebels: Ahsoka Tano was Anakin Skywalker’s Padawan during the Clone Wars, and the single greatest addition to the Star Wars universe outside the original films. (I said it. I meant it. I’m not taking it back.) She was a great foil for Anakin and also an anchoring point—one that was lost when the Jedi expelled her from the Order after she was framed for an act of terrorism against the Jedi Temple. She was eventually exonerated, but when given the chance to return to the Jedi, she opted out. Ahsoka rightly saw that something was wrong with the current system, and couldn’t in good conscience rejoin their ranks. Nevertheless, her lightsabers were returned to her by Anakin, and she was with a legion of clone troopers when Order 66 was executed. Later on, she became an informant for the fledgling Rebel Alliance by the codename Fulcrum. She helped the crew of the Ghost many times in their missions against the Empire, and offered up sage and helpful advice to Jedi Kanan Jarrus and his own Padawan, Ezra Bridger.

Following the events of Rebels, Ahsoka and the Mandalorian Sabine Wren went on a journey to look for Ezra, who was possibly dead, but appeared to have been flung to some unknown corner of the galaxy… along with Imperial mastermind Grand Admiral Thrawn. So this feels like a set-up for a whole other series here, possibly one where we get to see Ahsoka and Sabine looking for Ezra. Which is a definite possibility because there have been rumors that Lucasfilm is looking to cast Ezra as we speak. And if they wanted to give me that show, I’d be very much obliged, thanks.

Star Wars, The Mandalorian, Chapter 13, The Jedi

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

It’s almost impossible to imbue a live-action character with the level of fluidity and motion you can get out of animation, but they clearly tried their hardest here and it comes close, particularly for a character as skilled as Ahsoka. It gears up as it goes on, with the first few fight sequences trading more on mood and atmosphere (and doing so beautifully with that switch-off-the-lightsabers-in-the-fog move), raising the stakes as it continues. The pinnacle comes in the showdown between Ahsoka and Elsbeth, which is hilariously juxtaposed in the far less impressive showdown between Din and Lang. (And am I pleased that the only high-noon-esque scenario we’ve gotten from the show thus far was completely overshadowed in this way? You bet, I am ecstatic.) I feel the need to point out that this is the very first live-action fight sequence in Star Wars history that takes place between two female characters. The first, and currently only, example. It’s taken nearly forty-five years to get this on screen. For any other examples, you’ll have to head to Clone Wars and Rebels.

With Ahsoka, they are clearly trying to assure fans that this is the same character they’ve been loving for over a decade, and to that end they’ve employed a lot of excellent cues: Dawson is definitely pitching her cadence closer to the animated character’s delivery; we have her trademark sense of style and dramatics, her pointed and simple wisdom; there are even postural indicators, like the point where she loses her second lightsaber and responds by drawing up a fist, which was a signature stance of hers. It was always enjoyable to watch Ahsoka fight because she has a lot of moves that are purely her own, but she also has a lot of Anakin in her style, and it’s great to see those moments show up. Her history bleeds through in everything that she does. It’s also bemusing to see that she’s stopped correcting people on the Jedi thing—for a while she’d stop people from identifying her as such, since she was kicked out of the club. She seems to have given up that particular fight.

Star Wars, The Mandalorian, Chapter 13, The Jedi

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Moving on to get excited over the fact that Baby Yoda has a name now! I can stop calling him Baby Yoda! But also now we have to get into the thing that I didn’t want to get into from the first episode, which is—how does Yoda’s species age? Because Grogu seems to be roughly a toddler, but he’s got to be at least thirty-ish, and possibly as old as forty or fifty years old. Which… unless their species ages slower when they’re very young, that doesn’t quite work with Yoda’s age when he dies at all. Sorry, it’s just gonna bug me. I do appreciate that this gives some explanation as to how/when/why Grogu is using his powers. If he’s accustomed to hiding them for survival, it makes sense that it’s only happening in situations where he feels safe (when he’s alone with Din) or when he feels he has no other choice (when their lives are in danger).

But of course, the real question here is more about the overall arc of this series and where it’s trying to take us in the long run. It’s upsetting to hear Ahsoka giving Din the usual Jedi dogma against attachments, particularly because she’s more aware than anyone of what truly caused Anakin’s downfall—the fact that the Jedi system doesn’t really work. Moreover, she watched Kanan and Ezra accomplish a great deal together, and saw their attachment to each other and their little found family enable them toward great deeds. But it’s entirely likely that she’s telling Din all this toward a different end; she sees how much Grogu has grown fond of his Mando dad. It’s possible that this is her subtle way of saying “You know, he’s your kid at this point. Might be time to make peace with that and stop trying to offload him.”

Star Wars, The Mandalorian, Chapter 13, The Jedi

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

After all, she’s got a point—there aren’t many Jedi left out there. Who’s going to train this kid? Unfortunately, the most obvious answer (being Luke Skywalker, of course) would be a death sentence for Grogu, since we know what Ben Solo will eventually do to Luke’s students. Maybe it’s time for Din to acknowledge that the kid is right where he belongs.

Things and Asides:

  • Ahsoka says that she only knew one other of Grogu’s kind, referring to Jedi Master Yoda. Which is blatant Yaddle erasure, and I will not stand for it. I will not.
  • Ahsoka Tano was voiced in the animated shows by Ashley Eckstein. It’s probable that Dawson was cast in part because she’s a big name (and Ahsoka is a major role for the universe) and in part because she was an early fan cast for the role when the possibility of live-action came up. There were photoshops of it and everything.
  • One of my favorite things about Din Djarin is that he’s usually very good at keeping things under wraps in front of people he doesn’t know—telling Lang that Grogu is something he just carries around for luck is a master stroke in that class.
Star Wars, The Mandalorian, Chapter 13, The Jedi

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

  • Michael Biehn is a well-known character actor who is probably best known for the role of Kyle Reese in The Terminator. Diana Lee Inosanto is an actor who also does a great deal of stunt work, and has appeared on shows and films like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Trek: Enterprise, Blade, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, and more.
  • There has never before been an on-screen suggestion that beskar can deflect a lightsaber’s strikes because that’s supposed to be nearly impossible for any material. I’m not sure how I feel about it here, to be honest. Not sure I like it. There are other energy weapons that Elsbeth could have used that have already been shown in combat against lightsabers, is my point.
Star Wars, The Mandalorian, Chapter 13, The Jedi

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

  • Ahsoka’s lightsabers used to be green—the current set are white because their kyber crystals (the thing responsible for powering lightsabers) came from Sith blades. According to the current canon, Sith blades are red because Dark Side users essentially “break” their crystals to bend them to their will. Ahsoka found two crystals from Sith lightsabers and “healed” them, resulting in her dual white blades.
  • There is an owl-ish creature looking over the scene as Din goes looking for Ahsoka. This is Morai, a convor that looks after Ahsoka. It is essentially a spirit guardian that is connected to a figure known as the Daughter, the embodiment of the Light Side of the Force. During the Clone Wars series, the Daughter actually gives her life-force to Ahsoka to bring her back to life. (It’s complicated…) After doing so, Morai often appears wherever Ahsoka is.
Star Wars, The Mandalorian, Chapter 13, The Jedi

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

So now… off to a Jedi temple ruin? See you next week, everybody…

Emmet Asher-Perrin really needs them to get on that other possible series because they want to see Sabine Wren in live-action right very now. You can bug them on Twitter, and read more of their work here and elsewhere.

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