After months of rumours, weeks of build-up and more hints than you could shake a Womp Rat at, Star Wars fans were expecting a lot from this week’s episode of The Mandalorian – and not just the usual cute carnage from Baby Yoda.
You see, this week fans were anticipating the long-heralded return of beloved animated character Ahsoka Tano, appearing in live-action for the first time and tying the disparate threads of the Star Wars universe together more tightly than ever as Mando (Pedro Pascal) sought her out to bring his tiny green charge to the attention of the Jedi.
And happily, after a few false starts, fans finally get what they want this time around. In fact, following all the build-up Ahsoka (played onscreen by Rosario Dawson) arrives surprisingly early in this initially quiet and atmospheric episode, unleashing her dual, white lightsabers in a fog-drenched action scene before we’ve even checked back in with Din Djarin and The Child.
“Never had dealings with the Jedi before,” the bounty hunter murmurs when he does finally arrive on Corvus, and the same could be said for this series as a whole. It’s always been impressive how The Mandalorian has managed to create the world of Star Wars without relying on its flashiest, most popular breed of characters (or their lightsabers) – and now that it is finally introducing the Jedi, it’s equally impressive how casually and confidently it does so.
Oh, you wanted Ahsoka? Well here she is, calmly meting out damage as if she’s always been here. Though for the Mandalorian himself it’s not quite so easy to get her in his sights, with Mando greeted by a wall of silence on Corvus and only getting a solid lead when he’s hired to, er, kill the woman he’s been searching for by a local magistrate Ahsoka’s been hounding.
Still, after a little misunderstanding (and a clash of lightsaber against Beskar and flamethrower), Ahsoka and Mando are soon united… and that’s when things get really interesting. Not content with being “the episode where Ahsoka comes back,” Chapter 13 is also the episode where….we learn absolutely everything about Baby Yoda!
Yes, if you thought this episode would be all about Anakin Skywalker’s former apprentice you’re wrong, with Ahsoka revealing everything from The Child’s real name – Grogu, apparently, but we’ll probably stick with Baby Yoda – to his life story, which apparently involves years of training by Jedi Masters on Coruscant before a life of hiding from the Empire after the Clone Wars and beyond.
Clearly, Grogu isn’t quite the innocent babe we once thought (for one thing, he can communicate with Ahsoka) – and the attachment he’s formed to the Mandalorian worries her. Does his connection to his Beskar-suited father figure and general fears mean he’s vulnerable to the Dark Side? Ahsoka doesn’t want to take the risk, and refuses to train him (and this is without knowing about all the frog babies he ate a few weeks ago).
“His attachment to you makes him more vulnerable to his fears… his anger,” she says. “I’ve seen what those feelings can do to a fully trained Jedi Knight.”
Hmm, I wonder who she could possibly be referring to… still, Mando is insistent and the pair strike a deal – if he helps Ahsoka take down the Magistrate, she’ll train Baby Yoda.
“A Mandalorian and a Jedi? They’ll never see it coming,” he tells her – so yes, it’s time for another of The Mandalorian’s patented infiltration and/or battle scenes, now enhanced with the addition of the series’ first Jedi (well, sort of – Clone Wars fans could argue this point for a while).
While I had my concerns about how well-realised Ahsoka could be in live-action (and with a different actor, Ashley Eckstein having voiced the animated version in all her forms) this scene really cements how well The Mandalorian brings her to life. Dawson’s makeup and prosthetics are flawless, her moves fluid and believable, and with Ahsoka’s creator Dave Filoni behind the camera directing, the finished effect is perfect. The Mandalorian has rarely looked better, and when both heroes join forces it’s a powerful moment onscreen.
Plus, you know, there are some great pew-pew laser sword action scenes as Ahsoka flips, sabers and twirls her way through the Magistrate’s guards before facing off with the top dog herself. After a tense showdown, Ahsoka triumphs, only to drop another deep-cut hint for Star Wars fans.
“Now tell me… where is your master?” she asks. “Where is Grand Admiral Thrawn?”
Time to crack upon Wookkiepedia again, folks…
With the episode’s conclusion, it’s time for a fond farewell… or maybe not. Because despite Mando holding up his end of the bargain Ahsoka still refuses to train his young charge, instead offering yet another of the videogame-style quests this series is so fond of. To find out whether Grogu is truly able to be trained, Mando must take him to some Jedi ruins on another planet, place him on a “seeing stone” and let him choose his own path.
At this stage, another Jedi… assuming there are any around… will apparently turn up to help. Though of course, this could also all be a handy trick to get the pair to leave Ahsoka alone and hang around in some rubble far away.
Either way, it looks like we haven’t seen the last of the Jedi in The Mandalorian, or the Child’s destiny. At least we now know how to address his Christmas cards.
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