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The Mandalorian

The Jedi (The Mandalorian - S02E05) - Live Action Series

Series: The Mandalorian

Title: Chapter 13 - The Jedi

Season: Two

Episode: 5

Original Air Date: November 27th, 2020

Runtime: 44 minutes

Credits: Review & Text: Thomas; Page layout & Design: Chuck Paskovics

"I keep it for luck!" SPOILERS.

Calodan, a place you don't want to spend your vacation

Chapter 13 "The Jedi" may be one of the most imporant Mandalorian episodes yet. Not only do we get to meet a fan favorite character for the first time in live action, the series keeps on revealing crucial things that will be extremely important further down the road. No one will ever accuse "The Jedi" of being a filler episode. After last week's substantial teases and reveals "The Jedi" ups the game big time by not only finally revealing Baby Yoda's aka "The Child's" actual name, the further plot for the series is also laid out. And in the process the galaxy in The Mandalorian is getting bigger and bigger.

Tano, Ahsoka Tano

"The Jedi" opens on a dark and rather forsaken looking planet. It's the place Bo-Katan told Din Djarin about: Calodan on the planet Corvus. Calodan seems to be home to some serious industrial activity, but it has certainly seen better days. The forest surrounding the city is all burned and everything looks bleak and uninviting. And it is in this burned forest that a hooded figure is hunting down masked mercenaries like a fearsome predator. That hooded figure is almost immediately revealed as being none other than Ahsoka Tano, who makes her live action debut after countless animated appearances in The Clone Wars and Rebels. I have to say that I awaited Ahsoka's appearance with some trepidation. For well over a decade Ahsoka Tano was Ashley Eckstein, her voice at least. So how would Rosario Dawson do? I immediately believed that she is Ahsoka, that one revealing shot of her face sold her to me. While Rosario's voice is of course different from Ashley's it absolutely helps that Rosario's appearance and overall look is a dead ringer for Ahsoka, if she were a real person and not animated. You look at live action Ahsoka and all you see is a flesh and blood version of her. I have to say that Rosario is a perfect fit for the role. Ashley Eckstein's voice will forever be an integral part of Ahsoka, but Ashley simply would have looked wrong in the role, since she looks nothing like Ahsoka. I believe most fans will be absolutely fine with Rosario Dawson in the role. Anyway, Ahsoka has to eventually break off her attack, since the Magistrate keeps the citizens of Calodan as quasi hostages and to prevent further harm from them Ashoka retreats back into the darkness.

The Razor Crest on its way to this week's adventure

After the first few minutes that introduced Ahsoka as a fearsome predator the action cuts to Din Djarin who is on his way to Calodan. It turns out Baby Yoda is still very fond of his most favorite toy in the galaxy: the metal knob from the cockpit lever, when he removes it from the lever with the Force. But Din is not too happy that Baby Yoda wants to play with it, takes it away from him and then the two make their way to the city.

You definitely don't want to spend you vacation here

And while we still know nothing about the planet really or what is actually going on it's pretty apparent that the city is under hostile rule. Citizens cower in fear and are not allowed to talk to strangers. Din Djarin learns that when he tries to ask around for the Jedi he's looking for. Then there are people in cages along the main road that electrocute them every now and then. What will the Mandalorian do?

The subtle art of not really lying

Din is lead to Magistrate Elsbeth who tries to make an offer the Mandalorian cannot refuse. If he kills the Jedi he will get a priceless Beskar spear. The Mandalorian takes great care not to really accept the offer, instead he makes Elsbeth believe he agrees to the deal by merely asking where he can find the Jedi. Din has a code and he makes very sure he doesn't need to violate it. I want to spend a quick work about the camera work for the scene. While Calodan is shown to be extremely ugly the garden of the Magistrate's villa is the only place with some beauty, and the camera subtly emphasizes the zen like beauty of the place with symmetric framing of the scene. The episode was written and directed by Dave Filoni and that man thinks about the smallest details, so I believe the framing of the scene was very intentional and carefully planned.

Baby Yoda is a good luck charm?

Before Din heads out to find a Jedi he has a brief chat with Lang, who is the leader of the mercenaries. Lang is portrayed be genre icon Michael Biehn whom you certainly know from his role in the first Terminator movie. Lang would like to know what that creature in the bag is, Din is carrying around with him. He merely quips it's his good luck charm... let's hope it didn't hurt Baby Yoda's feelings too much.

There's Morai in the tree in the upper left corner, watching over the scene

Din makes his way to the forest, trying to find Ashoka. And while the place is absolutely desolate and bleak the set design has to be praised, they put some serious money into the show, nothing here reminds you of "tv", the episode (all of the season more or less) has a cinematic style. While the camera pans across the forest eagle eyed viewers may discover the Convor sitting in a tree. The owl-like creature we first met in The Clone Wars on Mortis. This particular Convor is Morai, who has been with Ahsoka for a long time, we last saw her in the Clone Wars finale (and she appeared in Rebels).

Hello there?

It doesn't take long for Din to find Ahsoka. She first assumes he's after her to kill her, not an unreasonable assumption. But Din can eventually defuse the situation after a somewhat heated first encounter when he reveals he was sent by Bo-Katan and is a friend.

The metal knob of destiny

What follows is the thing we have all been waiting for: Ahsoka finally meets Baby Yoda. And she has some kind of telepathic chat with the little frog menace and Ahsoka learns several vital things about the child. It turns out Baby Yoda does have a name. And it's "Grogu". I am still undecided on whether or not I like that name. "Baby Yoda" has been his nick name for over a year now, so I think "Baby Yoda" will not go away entirely, but as things are his name is now Grogu. And Grogu was at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant where he was trained in the ways of the Force before Order 66. Once the purge began he hid away and he tried to conveal he has Force powers. Ahsoka wants to find out what part of his training Grogu still remembers and performs a little test with him.

She won't train him

Ahsoka wants Grogu to levitate a small rock to her. But Baby Yoda, I mean "Grogu", won't comply, he simply drops the small stone and does nothing. Din is convinced Grogu simply doesn't understand, but Ahsoka will have none of that and asks Din to repeat the test, but this time he should ask Grogu to levitate the stone from his hand. The child still won't comply though and Din is about to give up when Ahsoka asks him to connect to Grogu, she certainly has an idea what is going on here. Din eventually takes out the metal knob he had hidden in a pocket and offers it to Grogu who finally wields the Force to levitate the knob into his hands. As it turns out Grogu has formed a close connection to Din, who has become something of a father to little Grogu (to no one's surprise). To Din's amazement Ahsoka says she cannot and will not train Grogu, because this attachment to Din makes him vulnerable to fear and nager and she knows what that can do to even a trained Jedi Knight. That's the first ever somewhat oblique reference to Anakin in The Mandalorian. One word about the metal knob here. I don't know if Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni have everything mapped out for the series, but how a simple metal knob can turn into this crucial thing that stands for the deepening bond between Din and Grogu is amazing. We first saw that back in season 1 when the metal knob was the final trigger that convinced Din Djarin to rescue Grogu from the Imperials. And now it's once more used as a symbol for the love and attachment. It gives confidence that after the haphazard nature of the sequels we finally have a showrunner and writers who really know what they are doing and that even the smallest details have a deeper meaning.

The bad guys, little do they know...

Din won't give up easily though and absolutely wants Ahsoka to train Grogu. Ahsoka would rather that Baby Yoda's, I mean Grogu's Force powers fade and that he forgets his teachings, so he cannot become a danger to himself and others. Din then reveals that he was sent to kill Ahsoka, but that he never technically agreed to the offer and that he will help with Ahsoka's problem if she sees to it that Grogu is properly trained. So here we are... once more we have the situation where Din is offering to help someone in return of a favor. He only did that for Cobb Vanth and Bo-Katan this season alone. So the two head to town. Ready to take down the bad guys.

Star Wars Street Fighter: Ahsoka vs. Elsbeth. Round One!

Ahsoka storms the city walls, disposes of several mercenaries, spares the life of the one mercenary who has some sense and quits his job, avoids getting killed by HK-87 droids (a nod to KOTOR!) and finally meets Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth in her lovely Zen garden. Once more I want to talk about the camera work her, as previously in the scene with Din in the garden the framing is very symmetrical, and it's an almost perfect side view actually. The entire scene looks like some live action version of an old school fighting game like Street Fighter or the Star Wars version "Masters of Teras Kasi". That is certainly intentional and makes for a really different aesthetic here. It perfectly fits the very stylized fighting between the Beskar spear wielding Elsbeth and the dual lightsaber wielding Ahsoka. Also, it turns out Elsbeth is indeed well versed in Teras Kasi. That Filoni pays hommage to an old Star Wars video game here by the way he positions the camera and frames the scene is nothing but amazing. Again, you can see that a lot of thought goes into the smallest details on the show. Favreau and Filoni don't shy away from referencing old legends material, they love to incorporate small details that longtime fans will absolutely love but that never detract newer fans from the story. The same with the HK-87 droids that are a later model of the famous HK-47 model from Kotor.

You fool!

Outside the villa Lang has a nice chat with Din and appears to lay down his weapons when it becomes clear that Elsbeth is on the losing side of the duel. Of course Lang is a sneaky bastard and tries to kill Din with a quick shot of his hand blaster, but Din wasn't born yesterday, sees that coming and blasts Lang instead. Michael Biehn once more does not survive one of his roles.

HK-87 is getting decommissioned

Things seem to turn out really in favor of our heroes when the sole surviving HK droid tries to sneak up on Din from a rooftop. But a helpful citizen alerts Din who quickly disposes of the droid. If Stormtroopers could shot as well as Din the Empire would have never lost!

It turns out Ahsoka is looking for Thrawn

Meanwhile in the garden Ahsoka has won the duel and wants to get some information from Elsbeth. Who was instrumental in building the Imperial Navy during the days of the Empire. And it turns out Elsbeth knows Thrawn. And Ashoka is convinced Elsbeth knows where he is and uses her lightsaber as an argumentation aid to retrieve the information. But Elsbeth refuses to talk. We don't see what happens next but chances are Elsbeth did not leave the garden alive.

Father and son

With the baddies out of the way, the city and its inhabitants freed, the rightful Magistrate reinstated, the story is still not over. There's still the matter of Grogu's training. Din is ready to part ways with him so Ahsoka can train him. Din walks back to shis ship, where the toddler is sleeping. Din picks him up in a very tender moment that once more underlines the bond and attachment that has formed between the two characters.

Ahsoka still won't train him

Din is about to hand over Grogu to Ahsoka, but it turns out Ahsoka still won't train the child. She certainly knows what Grogu really needs and tells Din that Grogu must choose his own path. Din must bring him to an old Jedi temple on Tython, there he needs to put Grogu on the seeing stone and then Grogu can choose his own path, embrace the Force and call out to other Jedi who may then find him... or not reach out and stay with Din, Ahsoka doesn't really spell it out but that is the only other option Grogu has. So now the Mandalorian has a new goal. Find Tython.

Ahsoka is smiling at Grogu for a reason

When Din goes up the ramp of his ship Grogu and Ahsoka exchange looks for a final time and Ahsoka smiles fondly at the child, but maybe it's also a knowing smile because Ahsoka, along with the viewers, most likely already knows what path Grogu will eventually choose.

And that concludes "The Jedi". A remarkable episode in many ways. Not only is it the first appearance of Ahsoka in live action, but we finally learn about Baby Yoda's backstory and we learn his name: Grogu. Will it be easy to get familiar with that name? Maybe not, Baby Yoda is just too catchy, but Grogu it is then. Grogu's backstory seemingly proves several fan theories wrong. He's apparently not a clone of Yoda, instead he was at the temple the whole time and already received training. But then again, nothing says that Grogu was not found on Kamino, taken on by the order and trained. But the chances of "Baby Yoda" being a clone have certainly greatly diminished. Which still leaves open the question about his parentage. Is Grogu just a random toddler from Yoda's home planet? Could he be some kind of love child between Yoda and Yaddle (unless that species creates offspring Gremlin style???). Chances are we'll find out eventually. Grogu's story has not been fully told yet, even if we know a lot more now.

I talked about Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka already. If there was any trepidation and fear it was unfounded. Rosario is a perfect fit for the character and it was really, really great to see a Jedi in a live action Star Wars series. We need more of that. Maybe we will get an Ahsoka series eventually. Or maybe she will appear again on the show in times of need. Either way I feel we have not seen the last of her.

I talked about the camera work already, it really has to pointed out how cinematic everything looks. And the way Filoni framed various scenes, especially the hommage to old school video games, is nothing short of amazing.

The Mandalorian started out rather small, very personal. But especially season 2 has greatly broadened the scope of the show. Not only is the Force now a much more impactful element, we were introduced to various elements that could greatly expand the story. There is Bo-Katan and her wish to reclaim Mandalore. Then we have Moff Gideon and his nefarious scheme and experiments that ties in to much bigger things. And now we also have Ahsoka who is searching for Thrawn. Back in the day they would called "The Jedi" a backdoor pilot. Lucasfilm could certainly develop a show about Ahsoka now, her adventures throughout the galaxy as she tries to find Thrawn (and Ezra).

The episode also sets out the path for the next episodes, maybe even next season. Grogu is to choose his own fate. No one can really know what it will be, but it's not just Ahsoka's knowing smile in the final scene that hints at the choice Grogu will make. Din and he are family. And the little frog menace will never go away to become a Jedi. I would put my money on that.

"The Jedi" is one of the best Mandalorian episodes yet. It opens up so many new possibilities, not just for the show itself, but also for a potential spin-off. This episode had everything you can ask for: great action, great characters, major world building and important revelations. And we still have another three episodes left in season 2.

One final word about Dave Filoni: some fans don't like him, don't like his "obsession" with Ahsoka. But she is one of, if not THE most popular "new" character that was created after the original six movies. To see her in live action must have been incredibly rewarding for Filoni. His direction was also innovative and flawless, a lot of thought went into how scenes were set up and even though it may be subtle, it's still something that tells you that someone knows what he's doing. Filoni, along with Favreau and a few others who worked on The Mandalorian, will be difficult to overlook when new movies need to find a director.

Added: November 27, 2020
Category: The Mandalorian
Reviewer: Thomas
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