It is safe to say that this episode of The Mandalorian was the most anticipated entry in the entire
series thus far. Entitled “The Jedi”, everyone was looking forward to the first live action representation of Ahsoka Tano…and no one had to wait long at all.
The Kung Fu and medieval undertones of “The Jedi” begins before the opening credits even grace the screen. On the burned, apocalyptic surface of planet Corvus, Ahsoka Tano is slaying and terrorizing faceless bad guys with ease. Portrayed terrifically by Rosario Dawon, Ahsoka and her more cerebral manner is on a mission to acquire some important information. At the onset, we the audience know what she is after; the only thing we know is that her journey has taken her to the fortress walls of an impoverished city.
It was a clever move by director and writer David Feloni to just immerse the viewers in the action right away. It is not readily apparent at the start of the episode if Ahsoka is protecting the city or trying to infiltrate the guarded town. Such a short mystery forces the audience to shift perspective and think a bit while also being dazzled by a pair of lightsabers incinerating themselves through some henchmen. The action is telling a story rather than just being action for action sake.
Mando and The Child land on Corvus and the guild bounty hunter remarks how there is nothing to really look at. The duo makes their way to the town gate to find the city’s social make up is an utter mess. The only person thriving in the dreary world of Corvus seems to be The Magistrate, Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Insanto). She has prisoners and betrayers caged and ready for execution while she lives in a caged in palace within the city walls that has the only healthy vegetation the eye can see.
This evil magistrate welcomes Mando into her domain and attempts to buy his services with frankly a very nice Beskar spear. If Mando kills this Jedi that has been tormenting this poor town she overseas, then Mando gets the spear. The next thing we see is Mando walking into an AWESOME looking forest to go find Ahsoka.
When Ahsoka and Mando first meet, there is a very classic cliché of a pair of heroes fighting each other without knowing they are on the same time. After they try to get the upper hand on one another, Mando blurts out that Bo-Katan send him to this planet. Civility ensues.
The skirmish between the pair is very quick and well edited. I will admit to a lack of Star Wars knowledge because I did not know Beskar could block lightsabers. This is something that is probably in Star Wars: Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels. But from the little I have watched of the pair of shows, nothing could have prepared me for what happened next.
WE LEARNED BABY YODA’S NAME. LIKE REAL NAME. Baby Yoda is named Grogu, which I actually do like at first utterance. But before we get to that and the exposition of his past, I have to address the simply GORGEOUS shot of Ahsoka holding Grogu in the moonlight. After what must have been a very heavy telepathic conversation, that scene was remarkable and poignant.
Okay, so here it is. Grogu was raised on Coruscant and was trained by many different masters. Ahsoka notes how The Child was put into hiding after the attack on the Jedi Temple, and now his power’s are being muted because Grogu has had to hide them from anyone he has been around. It appears that Anakin Skywalker did not kill ALL the younglings when he turned to the dark side.
The most touching moment of Ahsoka telling Grogu’s story to Mando comes when the Jedi says she has only met one other creature like The Child. That being the one and only Master Yoda. When Ahsoka says this, Grogu looks at Ahsoka, then Ahsoka looks to Grogu and nods, then Grogu gets sad and bows his head and coos. I hypothesize that telepathically Ahsoka told Grogu that indeed Master Yoda has passed. A super heavy moment for a child to learn something like that.
Keeping the distressing mood, Ahsoka tells Mando that she cannot train Grogu. She holds a bit of fear for the immense power that Grogu possesses but does not fully understand. Additionally, Ahsoka can sense the fear The Child has, and she herself fears the possible hidden resentment Grogu has toward those who treated him so poorly. As a former padawan of Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka knows that there are many avenues to the Dark Side.
The final portion of the middle bit of this episode centers around Ahsoka testing the strength and abilities of Grogu. The Child is tepid in showing its true potential, but there is a touching sequence that speaks to every single The Mandalorian heart. Grogu is not giving everything to Ahsoka when she is asking him to demonstrate his Force abilities, so the Jedi Knight asks Mando to help. She seems to think that Grogu will listen to its sudo-faceless father…and she is exactly right. Mando holds out the metal ball from the Razor Crest that Grogu is fond of, and the infant snatches it with ferocity. Mando cheers like a proud dad and it’s just fucking cute. Plain and simple.
Now comes the part of The Mandalorian episode everyone knows best. The deal. Mando offers his services to Ahsoka to help her take control of the Magistrate led city and learn whatever information she desires. In exchange, Mando asks for Ahsoka’s help with Grogu. The evil forces within the walls won’t expect this team-up at all because all history dictates that Mandalorians and Jedi are sworn enemies. But insert Lee Corso’s NOT SO FAST because Mando and Ahsoka are going to kick some ass!
Frankly put, this is now the Rosario Dawson show. Director Dave Filoni lets her cook as Ahsoka and together they whip a delectable killing spree. First thing first, the lighting of Ahsoka and all this violence is exceptional. The hue of the lightsabers guides the audiences’ eyes through the haze and darkness in the city. The emotions of the fight are shown through the facial expressions of Dawson. There are numerous close-ups show of her gritting teeth and cleaning up house with a swaggerific confidence. Dawson does a remarkable job expressing her thoughts and will through her eyes, and it is a magnetic pull no one can deny. The best two second moment from this invasion comes when Ahsoka is behind two henchmen and she unsheathes her lighsabers behind them to illuminate herself sneering just before slaying them. I yelped and paused the show to admire it.
Mando is strictly a decoy in this destruction, and no moment is his shadow cooler and more profound than when Ahsoka enters the home of Morgan Elsbeth. Mando is standing outside the doors like a bouncer, not allowing anyone to get near. He is flexing his gun hand like one would toss a coin between one’s fingers. Truly a space cowboy.
Inside the house of the Magistrate, Ahsoka and Morgan Elsbeth face off. Morgan wielding the Beskar spear and Ahsoka her two lightsabers, the duo dance in an honorable duel. They test each other’s skills and back off like a dance, paying respects and planning their next moves. I mentioned at the top that “The Jedi” as an episode reminded me of a Kung Fu movie, and none more so than this final confrontation. The two are battling on a bridge in the middle of a man-made body of water and they are treating each other with the utmost respect. It is like a pair of martial art masters dipping their toes into the waters and trying to ascertain what their opponent is trying to do.
The conclusion of action-packed climax wraps up this episode and also opens a ton of doors for the future. The knowledge Ahsoka kept asking magistrate Morgan Elsbeth about was the location of a Grand Admiral Thawn. This character is in Star Wars: Rebels and is incredibly famous from Star Wars novels (of which I have been inspired to get on Audible now, thank you).
Before the audience sees the credits roll, we all learn the next step in Mando and Grogu’s journey together. Ahsoka tells Mando to take the Razor Crest to the planet Tython, where Grogu must choose his own fate when he sits about the seeing stone of an ancient force sensitive temple. This plays along with the classic Star Wars motifs of fate and destiny. What do you choose to happen and what is meant to happen? Looks like The Mandalorian is putting its trust in The Force and this theme going forward.
P.S. There are random things from the episode I noticed/thought of
- Diana Lee Inosanto looks a lot like Kamala Harris to me. It may just be me, but that is what I think.
- I personally didn’t expect a direct reference to the dark saber this episode because it was not in the “previously on” segment.
- I am not to the point yet in Star Wars: Clone Wars or Star Wars Rebels to know the linage of how Ahsoka gets a pair of white lightsabers, but I know there is a cannon story behind it. But regardless, it still looks awesome.
- I want to walk through that forest on Corvus so bad. Like so bad. It is my type of forest filled with dying trees and pines. Just all up in my style.
- Will people still call “Baby Yoda” by that name…or will they convert to calling The Child “Grogu”?
- “I like firsts…good or bad they are always memorable…” – Was a line said by Ahsoka. I mean.
- It is awesome how Mando keeps on leveling up now with the Beskar spear. Just so cool.