Chapter 13 of The Mandalorian kicks off the second half of season 2, and here is the interesting part – we haven’t seen anything from it. The trailers debuted before the show started only showed off footage from the first four episodes, so besides some speculation and some rumors going around the web, we know nothing about what’s to come now.
Before you continue reading, make sure to check out the new episode of The Mando Fan Show (LIVE tonight 8:30 ET on youtube.com/starwarsnewsnetvideos), where our Resistance Broadcast friends John, James, and Lacey will break down Chapter 13 with guest Yoshi Vu (VFX artist – The Mandalorian, The Rise of Skywalker), discussing everything that went down, as well as a deep dissection of all the Easter eggs in the episode.
Chapter 13 was written and directed by Dave Filoni, and it was the second episode the Lucasfilm veteran has written for The Mandalorian, the first being Chapter 5: The Gunslinger. For now, the review will stay completely spoiler-free, so fear not. The conversation will switch into spoiler territory after a warning and a picture of Dave Filoni on set.
First of all, I have to say, it is really complicated to have a spoiler-free conversation about this episode. And let me warn you, there are a lot of huge spoilers here, so try to keep yourself out of social media until you watch it. First of all, this is probably the best episode out of the three Filoni has directed for The Mandalorian, and his live-action directing skills are clearly improving. He still has some areas to master, though, especially when it comes to working with actors.
I feel like the episode as a whole was a solid one. Not the best of the season so far, but not the worst either (Chapters 11 and 10 respectively for me today, although that may vary depending on the day). In terms of a thumbs up/thumbs down, I give it a thumbs up, but to go into a deeper explanation than what follows, I need to talk spoilers.
The story has Mando visit a village located in the middle of a forest, where (you guessed it) he will be tasked with a mission. The setting of the episode seems taken right out of a Kurosawa movie, with the fortress that surrounds the village being quite similar to the one featured in Ran, or maybe even Zhang Yimou’s Hero. Filoni is known for his love for anime and Japanese culture, so this comes as no surprise.
To me, the most positive thing about this episode is that, among all of the crazy stuff that is going on, Filoni still managed to have a couple of moments that deepened the connection between the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda, which after all, is the heart of the show. The episode ended and I couldn’t wait to talk to everyone about the massive ramifications that it had, both for this series and for the Star Wars lore as a whole.
I know I haven’t talked much about anything, but I can’t be more specific without switching the spoiler alert on. So hear me – go watch it, and come back. Avoid all types of headlines, because most sites are posting spoilers in them. Let’s move to spoiler territory now.
THIS IS A SPOILER WARNING. FULL SPOILERS COMING UP
I’m just gonna cut to the chase because there is no other way to do it. Ever since we learned Chapter 13 would be written by Dave Filoni, and given the reports from earlier this year saying that Rosario Dawson would be playing live-action Ahsoka Tano in The Mandalorian, we assumed this was the episode in which it would happen. The character is probably Filoni’s dearest thing about Star Wars, and it made sense he would be the one who wrote and directed her debut in live-action. Well, those assumptions were right! Ahsoka was pretty much the main character of the episode, with Din Djarin almost taking a backseat here. Let’s dissect everything that went down.
First of all, the episode is called The Jedi, confirming a rumor that surfaced the Internet earlier this week. Let’s dive into the story.
After Bo-Katan told the Mandalorian in Chapter 11 that Ahsoka Tano was the Jedi he was looking for, and after he got the Razor Crest fixed last week, Din Djarin and the Child went to Corvus. We see this after an amazing opening scene in which Dave Filoni couldn’t wait any longer, and showed us Ahsoka Tano within the first 20 seconds of the episode. And she was not standing still. Din Djarin and the Child go into town and there they learn that the leaders of the village, who apparently enslave their people, are at odds with the Jedi he is looking for. They send him to find her and bring them her head (not literally, but quite).
One of the big questions for me about Ahsoka finally appearing in live-action was how she would look. She is a character we’ve known for many years, and who has grown up in front of our eyes, so Rosario Dawson had pretty much an impossible job. I’m going to be honest here – I didn’t love it. I didn’t hate it either. But I still have to get used to her look and her physical performance. Ahsoka Tano has a very characteristic look and feel to her, but since we’ve only known her in animation (and a novel, yes), it is hard to tell if those distinct characteristics are just because of the medium or not.
First of all, there is no way around it. She looked just off to me. I can’t think of anything that I’d change about her because, in picture, she looks right out of The Clone Wars. However, to me, this looked like Rosario Dawson cosplaying as Ahsoka, not Ahsoka herself. And I feel it’s mostly because of the lekku (the head-tails), which looked totally fabricated and not natural to her. Almost like a wig. And there were a couple of scenes in the episode in which it threw me off.
Also, they decided to go with a Clone Wars look rather than her Rebels appearance – that is, they used a cloak like the one she wears in the final scene of The Clone Wars, and they went with shorter lekku and shorter montrals, instead of the longer ones she had in Rebels, especially in the finale. I’m not saying this is better or worse than a more Rebels-esque look, but I thought it was worth bringing up. This confirmed our exclusive report from June about her appearance.
Let’s talk about her moves as well. It is true that we are now dealing with an Ahsoka Tano in her 40s, so she is much older and probably wiser. But she still didn’t feel like the Ahsoka we know. She was much slower, especially when she was moving her lightsabers on camera (see the picture above). Whenever we saw Ahsoka wield the sabers from behind, she looked a bit more like what we know, so to me, it was very clear when they were using a stunt-double. But then Filoni cut to her face, and the magic was lost again. Once more, this is something I will have to get used to, especially if they are planning to use her more in live-action (more on that later).
Finally, let’s talk about Rosario Dawson’s performance. As I stated earlier, this was Dave Filoni’s third directorial effort in the live-action medium, and we are clearly seeing some progress, but there are still some areas he must improve. And working with actors is one of them. There is no question that Rosario Dawson is a great actress, but in this episode, she lacked a lot of direction. Whenever she had to initiate a scene or a conversation, she felt a bit off for me, but then, as the scene went on, and she was basically reacting to everything else going on, she got into the role a bit more. Almost as she was a bit lost at first, but then found herself.
Ahsoka Tano is a very passionate character, and in this episode, Dawson’s performance was almost bland. Her reaction to The Child (yes, Grogu, but we’ll get to that) was not what I imagined, and I feel like the animated Ahsoka would have had a much expressive reaction. It is not clear to me whether this was Dave Filoni’s intention as the guy who pretty much thinks like Ahsoka Tano, or if it was his not-so-developed directorial skills. All of that being said, I’d still like to see more of her, at least to see how she develops. Even though I didn’t love the character here, I thought the seeds were strong enough to grow something good.
Let’s move on. We will be coming back to Ahsoka, for obvious reasons, but there is a lot more to dissect here because there was another big revelation in this episode.
After the Mandalorian encounters Ahsoka in the forest, they have a brief fight that quickly stops. Ahsoka then tries to communicate with the Child, and here we learn a lot of interesting stuff.
Baby Yoda has an actual name! This is something we knew could happen at some point, but at least I was not ready for it so soon. I expected that once Ahsoka saw the Child, we would learn something about him or the species. For now, it seems like they are choosing to keep the species name a mystery, which I’m totally fine with. Maybe they are planning on revealing it down the line, but if they were to do it this season, I don’t think the chance was better than the former Padawan name-dropping Yoda as a Jedi of the baby’s species (and Ludwig Göransson did not disappoint, and gave us a few notes of Yoda’s theme when it happened – that put a smile on my face).
However… Grogu. Quite honestly, I didn’t like the name at first, and I’m still getting used to it. I also fully intend to keep calling him Baby Yoda, because that is a much cooler name to me, but call me crazy. I also feel like the name should have started with a Y, following Yoda and Yaddle, but that’s probably dumb.
Another interesting fact we learned here is that Grogu was a survivor of the Clone Wars, taken from the temple and hidden away from the separatists and the Empire. This answers one of the big questions raised at the end of Chapter 1 for me, but it still managed to bring up other possibilities with what Ahsoka told the Mandalorian at the end (we’ll come back to that). It also told us that Grogu is a baby, but even at a young age for him, he still was able to figure out what was going on when he was in his “teens”. And after that, his memory was in the dark.
Part of me believes that if season 2 of The Mandalorian had been written after season 1 premiered and the entire world went crazy for Baby Yoda, perhaps they wouldn’t have given him a name, or at least waited a bit more. However, I do appreciate the fact that they went this route, and season 2 was not affected by the fans’ reaction to the show. The story is the story, and that always comes first.
One of the interesting things about the scene in the forest where Ahsoka tries to connect with Baby Yoda (sorry, Grogu) was that she wasn’t able to. This scene reminded me of the one in Chapter 1 that had Mando learning how to ride a blurrg. He tries it, he fails. He says he can’t do it. Then the mentor (Kuiil/Ahsoka) tells him to try again because [blank], and Mando figures it out. Both scenes were directed by Filoni, and they are pretty much an animation trope. Nonetheless, this is why this scene was very interesting to me.
This was a big episode overall. It is the first time the Star Wars fanbase is seeing a beloved animated character translated to live-action, and they also managed to tie in a lot of information relevant to the overall lore, both of the franchise and the show. And in the middle of all of that, there is a scene in which we actually learn that after all they’ve been through, our favorite Mandalorian has managed to carve a connection to this baby who the audience loves. Something that seemed impossible when Mando met him. And yet, after they saved each other’s lives several times over, we learn now that it doesn’t matter that Ahsoka is a Jedi, Force-sensitive like him. Mando is the only one that has an actual connection to him.
It almost seems like a callback to Leia’s line to Han in The Force Awakens: “Luke is a Jedi. You are his father.” After all, Star Wars is like poetry, right?
We then head back to the village, where our allies split forces to tackle the enemy lines, and after some solid lightsaber action, the battle turns into a double duel. A quick note about the lightsaber fight. It included a shot of Rosario Dawson creeping up on two thugs, and killing them from behind after opening her lightsabers in front of her face. This is a very animation-esque shot that Ahsoka has done in the past, but I still feel like it came off cheesy when translated to live-action. It was a very cool visual, but if she was going to attack them from behind and only made herself visible once she opened the sabers, why did she open them in front of her eyes and then moved them to kill them? And why did they have to be crossed? A much efficient way would be to place the hilts of the sabers behind each back, and open them, as Kylo Ren did to the last Praetorian guard in Snoke’s throne room.
Moving on, the story quickly turned into a double face-off, between Ahsoka Tano and Morgan Elsbeth, played by Diana Lee Inosanto , and the Mandalorian and Michael Biehn’s character. The latter one was probably the least interesting one, because Biehn’s character, Lang, was only interesting because of the actor playing him, and he had virtually nothing to do against Din Djarin and his Beskar armor. The interesting one was Ahsoka vs. the Eisbeth. And that one delivered, but I still feel like there was much more potential there. But the face-off became even more interesting when it ended, and the T-name was dropped. Here it is folks.
When Ahsoka showed up in front of the enemy forces after teaming up with Mando and said “Where is your master?,” I assumed there was more to it than she was saying, and it was clearly another one of Filoni’s tropes he used so much in animation – to say something generic, and then repeat it again later when it is convenient again, but this time following it up with juicy information to the audience. I didn’t know what I was expecting, but it was probably something like the reveal of her chasing down some former Sith-wannabe that was causing trouble to a near-by village, or something small like that. My jaw hit the floor when Rosario Dawson mentioned the big blue guy himself, Grand Admiral Thrawn.
Star Wars: Rebels ended a couple of years ago in a pretty satisfactory way, but they left some of the story open-ended, with the main character, Ezra Bridger, and the main antagonist of the last two seasons (and arguably of the show), Grand Admiral Thrawn, flying away from the rest of the cast into outer space. After that, Sabine Wren, the Mandalorian of the show, teamed up with a recently-“resurrected” Ahsoka Tano to chase down their friend. And that was the last we heard of all of those characters. Up until now.
We are only left with the power of speculation now, but I think it is safe to assume that The Mandalorian is taking place around the time where the two ladies are still looking for their friend, and with Ahsoka now chasing Thrawn, perhaps they have found a lead that told them that the Chiss was the key to find Ezra. Or perhaps they just figured that the two went missing together, and if they are still alive, maybe Thrawn managed to contact one of their alumni, and finding him would mean finding Ezra. Perhaps it is a different thing altogether, but what is clear to me is one thing. This is what Deadline was referring to months ago when they said that Ahsoka’s appearance in the show would be the test for her own series.
That line was not necessary at all for the story of the episode or the show, and Filoni clearly included it just in case. Just in case fans like Rosario Dawson and he finally gets the chance to tell a story he clearly has mapped out, much like he had figured out the Siege of Mandalore from The Clone Wars season 7. And even if Lucasfilm doesn’t give him that chance, nobody was hurt from Thrawn’s name being thrown (pun intended) around, because it gives Ahsoka’s role in the show a lot of context within the overall canon. I still wonder if there was ever talk to include Sabine Wren in the episode, because that is another question – where is she?
There are a lot of questions in the air, and plenty of time to answer them in the next few years. I don’t think we’ll be getting the continuation of the Rebels story in The Mandalorian, and quite honestly, I wouldn’t want that. If they are thinking about doing it, but are waiting to see the fans’ reaction to the live-action Ahsoka, count me as a thumbs up. It is true that I didn’t love all about her, but I do feel like the foundations are strong, and a four-episode series of Ahsoka and Sabine going after Thrawn to find Ezra is something that could work. I just hope they fix Ahsoka’s lekku just a bit first.
I still have one question, though. If this is just an intersection of Mando’s and Ahsoka’s paths, almost in a coincidental way, how did Bo-Katan know that Ahsoka would be there? For her to know, Ahsoka should have been on that planet for a while now, unless they coincidentally spoke on the phone the day before Bo-Katan met Mando. I feel like there is something deeper there than we might think at first sight, but I don’t believe it is a question that might ever be answered, because there are clearly bigger ones on the table.
But the episode didn’t end there, folks, because Filoni probably thought it still didn’t have enough in it, and he decided to add a bit more. After telling Din Djarin she cannot be useful to his quest, Ahsoka tells him to go to the temple on the planet of Tython, where he might find out whether the baby is worthy of the Jedi training or if he is just a lost cause. Two very interesting things here.
This is the second time the planet Tython has been mentioned in canon, and the first time it appears in live-action. It first popped up in Doctor Aphra #40, where Aphra lies to Vader, telling him that the rebel base, which was actually located on Hoth, is on Tython. The planet has a very deep background in Legends, first appearing in the second novel of the Darth Bane trilogy by Drew Karpyshyn, and then in the PC game The Old Republic.
But the most interesting thing to me is that Ahsoka said that once the Mandalorian placed Baby Yoda in a specific place in the temple, Jedi out there in the galaxy would be able to feel him and would come to help. The question is clear – who is showing up? No other Jedi have been reported to appear in the show, so I really hope we get a surprise cameo here in the final scene of the season or something like that. I’m really excited about this.
The episode concluded with that, a clear set up for what’s to come. I have a feeling we might have another side quest next week, and then the final two episodes will act again as a two-parter, much like what happened in season 1, and that’s where we’ll get Tython, and most likely Moff Gideon, although it is still possible he shows up again next week. And now that Din Djarin is armed with a Beskar stuff that can hold a lightsaber, and after Giancarlo Esposito repeating over and over again that he will be using the Darksaber in action, everything is set up for a big confrontation between the Mandalorian and Moff Gideon.
Before I sign out, I want to mention something about this season as a whole, because I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of weeks now, and The Jedi did it again. The show as a whole, but especially the second season, has a structure very similar to that of a videogame. Let me explain. Mando has an initial goal that he must achieve – he’s been quested to bring the Child to others of his kind. He goes after a guy who might know something. He sends him somewhere else, where he finds that to get a small reward that might help him later on, he must solve a mission (quite literally, a video game mission, as the krayt dragon sequence was taken directly out of Knights of the Old Republic). He goes back, and to get a piece of information, he must do another mission first. He gets that information, uses it, and asks for more, but you guessed it, to get new information, he must help new people in a new mission. And so on.
I’m not saying this is necessarily bad, because I actually find this season even more interesting than the last one, with every episode being relevant to the overall story (I think that is something that keeps us trying to watch the newest episode as soon as possible, to know what is next for our hero). Nonetheless, it is a structure that is repeating itself many times over and is becoming quite predictable.
Let’s see what the next episode holds.
Interesting facts and easter eggs:
- Ahsoka Tano’s dear friend Morai managed to make a cameo in some shots inside the forest.
- Loth-cats also made their way into live-action, briefly appearing inside the village. According to Wookiepedia, this is not the first time they show up in The Mandalorian, as they already appeared in Chapter 4: The Sanctuary.
- Ahsoka’s lightsabers were apparently white after all, despite some reports over the summer saying that she would be wielding at least a blue one. However, one of the sabers does appear to have some blue-ish tones, so maybe this was something they changed in post-production and our information was always correct, or perhaps they are and were always white. Other rumors that surfaced earlier this week said the sabers were indeed white.
- Besides that, our report from June regarding Ahsoka’s appearance on the show was pretty much accurate.
- We finally learned what was Michael Biehn’s role in the show, and it turns out he was not a bounty hunter like many were speculating when his casting was reported months ago.