The Mandalorian is one of those aspects of Star Wars that is thriving now the Sequel Trilogy is over. It feels the people at Disney and Lucasfilm have showrunner Jon Favreau considerable leeway. No doubt there is a plan, and no doubt decisions have to be approved yet with every passing episode The Mandalorian is becoming more, showing parts of Star Wars we have not seen before and expanding those parts that we have. Right now the lore of The Mandalorian inextricably linked with the animated series The Clone Wars by Dave Filoni. Filoni is now a producer and writer for The Mandalorian so plenty of unresolved storylines are carried over. That means fans have been getting a lot of they wanted. Katee Sackhoff reprises her as Mandalorian warrior Bo-Katan and now Rosario Dawson playing Ahsoka Tano – Anakin’s former apprentice.
Chapter 13: The Jedi starts much as you would expect. Actually, it does, before we see Mando and Baby-Yoda we get a scene on the planet Corvus. Soldiers clad in dark uniforms are running through what looks like a petrified forest. They are being hunted, and then one-by-one they are cut down by Ahsoka wielding two lightsabers. It is a no-nonsense intro for a no-nonsense character. It raises loads of questions. Why would Ahsoka be hunting them. Who do those soldiers answer to? One observation is that despite being outmatched by a Jedi they appear aware they fighting a Jedi. At the end of scene Ahsoka strolls to the nearest settlement – Calodan – and parleys with its sinister leader Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth. She demands information on Elsbeth’s master, but receives no response. And now the episode starts as you would expect, with Mando Baby-Yoda arriving at Corvus.
The return of Ahsoka Tano, and Grogu
What happens next is somewhat predictable. Mando attempts to ask around fore direction but it shunned by the obviously frightened citizens of Calodan. Mando also plays his cards close to his chest, after being duped nearly a half-dozen times in the series. Before long he meets Magistrate Elsbeth. She makes an offer, kill the Jedi lurking in the woods and he will receive a staff of Beskar steel. Mando accepts, luckily for him his mask hides his actual response from the Magistrate. We know Mando will never go through with it, but he has ended up in a predicament. If he returns empty handed, he will have to fight his way through Calodan, with Baby-Yoda vulnerable due to not having a pod. Or, he could join Ahsoka and take on the Magistrate. They stand good a chance, but he has no way of knowing if she would accept his offer.
Before long Mando is walking through the woods. After a brief fight with Ahsoka Tano he manages to get the message through he is not there to fight her. Instead she observes Baby-Yoda. What follows is the origin story of Baby-Yoda. His real name is Grogu and he was actually with the Jedi on Coruscant before the Order 66. Somehow, he managed to get away, with help of course. Ahsoka is intrigued by Grogu but refuses to take him. She cites his strong bond with Mando as being an important factor. With Mando gone he will start to worry and that could lead to the dark side. This is an obvious reference to Anakin’s fall. But Mando insists, so they make a deal. If Mando aids her in capturing the Magistrate she will take in Grogu. And so, starts the final act.
A good fight for The Mandalorian
And so, starts the final act. Mando fights Elsbeth’s guards while Ahsoka fights the Magistrate. All of the fight scenes and cinematography are imbued with a Samurai theme. The magistrate wields the Beskar staff and manages to put up quite a fight. Meanwhile, Mando challenges her captain of the guard played by none other than Michael Biehn. The captain tells Mando this is not a cause worth fighting as he listens to the clang of Beskar and lightsaber in the background. Yet, the fight ends in favor of Ahsoka as well as the death of the captain. Then The Mandalorian ups the ante even further when Ashoka demands an answer to her question, “Where is your master, Grand Admiral Thrawn?”. It is an unexpected question, one filled with implications. On some level it had to be expected. Thrawn is popular with fans and Filoni already worked him into Rebels.
The episode does end in the way I expected. Despite his help Ahsoka still refuses to take in Grogu. Instead she sends the two on a new quest to a long-abandoned Jedi temple. There Grogu will be able to meditate on what he wants to do. It feels like another twist in the tale, but now Grogu has a name. As for Ahsoka, I bet she got her answer. As with the other episodes this season it goes by quickly. The wonderful acting by Rosario Dawson gives it a special vibe. She isn’t just playing a Jedi, she is a Jedi. Every sentence spoken and very look she gives is electrifying. I did wonder about her costume, they appear inspired by Asajj Ventress. The choreography of our first proper lightsaber fight was also spectacular. Though not every scene in The Mandalorian looks as good as theatrical movie it comes close.
Grand Admiral Thrawn
But then there is that question. Ahsoka Tano asked about the location of Grand Admiral Thrawn. I would assume if we still followed the original Thrawn lore that he hiding somewhere in the Unknown Regions. Before long he will take up command of the Imperial Remnant and begin his reconquest of the galaxy as depicted in Heir to the Empire Trilogy. That trilogy of novels by Timothy Zahn released between 1989 and 1991 was the first serious foray into the expanded universe after the release of The Return of the Jedi. I consider it still amongst the best pieces of Star Wars along with the Original Trilogy, Knight of the Old Republic and Dark Forces 2. The mere idea we might actually see a series adaptation is just crazy. Heir to the Empire saw the return of Luke, Han and Leia as well as the introduction of Mara Jade.
A live-action recasting of classic characters is a seriously dangerous step. What is more likely is new story involving Thrawn that will eventually tie-in with the Sequel Trilogy. Otherwise fans might just get too confused. That said, Disney and Lucasfilm cannot ignore a recasting of Luke, Han and Leia so who knows. Right now, we got The Mandalorian and I am already happy.