We meet an honest-to-god Jedi, and Baby Yoda finally gets a name, in an episode that links The Mandalorian even further to the rest of the Star Wars universe.
Last time on Bounty Hunter & Baby: Shaky parenting, space grandpas, and clones. Clones? Maker, weird clones! When will this franchise excise the concept of weird clones?! After a useful detour to Nevarro to get the Razor Crest back in fighting form, Mando learned a bit about why the Imperial remnant wants The Child’s blood, and that Moff Gideon is still alive. With that new intel, Mando, The Child, and the Child’s $50 space macarons made haste towards Corvus.
“Chapter 13: The Jedi” was written and directed by Dave Filoni, so I don’t think it’s any kind of a spoiler to say upfront that this is finally the episode where our boys meet Ahsoka Tano.
And here she is, straight off the bat! A warning gong tolls ominously over a walled village as people hustle themselves into their houses and armed and masked guards patrol outside. A man and woman (Michael Biehn and Diana Lee Insosanto) watch from the wall as Ahsoka (Rosario Dawson) takes out the guards. Ahsoka and the woman (Morgan Elsbeth, visiting from the corner of Star Wars where people have boring names) have a little showdown: Ahsoka warns Morgan that she has one day to give Ahsoka what she wants. Lang (Biehn) glowers.
This means, of course, that once Mando (Pedro Pascal) and The Child arrive on Corvus, they’re gonna have some helping out to do. On the descent onto the planet, Mando tells the Child to get back into his seat (okay, but he also needs the seatbelt on) and Kiddo uses the Force again to get his favorite silver ball toy back. This might be more of anything if we hadn’t seen him use the Force just last week to steal those cookies. Is he using it more freely now? With less physical repercussions, perhaps? Can’t wait till the “Stealing things: bad, interfering with universal politics: good” part of his Jedi training. When they land on Corvus the Child is not into the idea of leaving the ship. He sits on the gangplank to play with his ball (which Mando confiscates as if he didn’t give it to him last season) and he doesn’t want to go, Mando! He doesn’t want to leave you!!
The duo heads to the town, which is almost immediately 100% not okay: the people cowed and frightened, one man begs Mando not to speak to any of them in fear of punishment, and guards arrive to take Mando to see the Magistrate (Morgan), passing people in horrible electric cages along the way. Inside Morgan’s “I am crooked” water garden (compared to the chilly squalor outside), she offers Mando a job: to kill Ahsoka. Oh Mando, you do find yourself in sticky situations. Mando’s payment will be one pure beskar spear. Mando pointedly doesn’t say yes but gets Ahsoka’s coordinates.
Mando and the Child find Ahsoka, who does some Jedi communing with the Child while Mando paces in the background uncomfortably. And now, some Child backstory! Turns out, his name is Grogu, raised on Coruscant in the Jedi Temple. After the Empire rose and the Order abolished, he was taken from the Temple and hidden, though he can’t remember who by. Ahsoka at first refuses to train him (this will be a theme) because there isn’t a Jedi Order anymore but agrees to at least test him.
“The Jedi” is the first wobbly piece of this season, maybe too deep of a crossover dive even as it advances the big arc.
The next morning she tries to get Grogu to float a stone via the Force, but he refuses. Ahsoka explains that he has hidden his abilities for his protection for so long that it’s hard to convince him to use them (tip: cookies), but she gets Mando to stand in her place and ask Grogu to use the Force to get his beloved shiny ball. It works and Mando is a proud dad, but this further convinces Ahsoka that she can’t train the Child. It’s the old Jedi refrain: Grogu cares too much about Mando, and feelings make him vulnerable to fear and anger. She’s seen it happen (to “the best of us”) and she’s not doing it again. It’d be better for Grogu to have his powers fade. Mando asks “Did I mention that the Magistrate sent me to kill you? I’ll help you with that whole issue if you’ll train the Kid”. At least he’s the one making deals this week.
Ahsoka easily gets into the village and faces Morgan, throwing out one of Mando’s pauldrons as proof that he failed. Ahsoka again demands information from the Magistrate, namely, “Where is your Master?”. Never a good question. Morgan dispatches Lang, his men, and various droids to take out Ahsoka, ordering the remaining guards to execute the prisoners. Mando and the taciturn villager from earlier save the prisoners and get civilians to safety as Ahsoka takes out Lang’s men. Ahsoka goes inside to face Morgan while Lang and Mando stare each other down.
Lang pushes his luck and Mando takes him out, while Morgan and Ahsoka have a spear vs lightsaber battle that ends with Ahsoka prevailing and asking Morgan one final time where her Master is. And that Master? I guess there was a reason so many things were blue.
The villagers celebrate and Ahsoka gives Mando the beskar staff, over his protestations. He heads to the Razor Crest to collect Grogu and leave him with Ahsoka. She, once again, says that she can’t. She offers up a secondary plan this time: Mando should take Grogu to a Jedi temple ruin on the planet Tython. Once there, he has to put Grogu onto a seeing stone, which will help the Child to choose his path. He’s a baby, though. If Gorgu uses the stone to call out through the Force, maybe some other Jedi will hear him and seek him out. If we end up back on flipping Tatooine… Mando and Grogu board the ship, and Grogu says something telepathically to Ahsoka that makes her smile, probably “Thank you, nice lady, I love my dad!”.
We all knew Din wasn’t leaving his baby.
Whew. That was a lot. A whole lot! The Child has a name! People will yell “HE IS YOUR SON” at Mando until he gets it! “The Jedi” is the first wobbly piece of this season, maybe too deep of a crossover dive even as it advances the big arc.
“The Jedi” doesn’t give the audience nearly enough Mando/Grogu interaction for an episode that theoretically will end with them parting ways. The scene at the end when Mando packs up Grogu to take him to Ahsoka is heartbreaking, but there could have been more of it. This is the Clan Mudhorn show, and we need to spend more time with our boys.
This is the Clan Mudhorn show, and we need to spend more time with our boys.
The biggest issue with this episode is the long-awaited Ahsoka. Dawson plays her well, and it’s always a treat to watch a Jedi kick ass, but it’s so much ass, so effortlessly. Until she faces off against Morgan, no one (maybe Mando if they’d had to fight to the death) even comes close to being on Ahsoka’s level, meaning that much like her bud Bo-Katan before her, she’s a perfectly capable person using Mando as a convenience, once again. And this is before we even get into the Thrawn revelation which is lovely for fans of her character but is yet another layer of existing lore that we just don’t need. The Mandalorian stands best as a fresh series of stories, set within places and institutions we know, but not all mixed up in them. With every visit to a known planet (lookin’ at you, Tatooine), every winking reference to a pre-existing property, every cameo appearance by fan favorites from Clone Wars, The Mandalorian loses a little bit of itself.
- Ahsoka’s color palette is too much for this television program. We follow a little green dude every week but this blue lady shows up and it’s like she arrived for a rave.
- Bo-Katan got a pre-packaged party wig, Ahsoka is wearing a Togruta hat. The need to have them so recognizably their cartoon counterparts drags their costuming down.
- Fun fact, since he came up this episode: Anakin Skywalker and Grogu are the same age.
- So many Loth-cats, my gracious.
- In the grand tradition of bloodthirsty ex-military men, as sabers clash and men fall around him, Lang is into it.