The Mandalorian Chapter 13 advances Din Djarin’s and the Child’s journey to its apparent end goal, when they finally meet someone who shares the baby’s sensitivity to the Force.  It also kicks off a string of Mandalorian episodes hidden from the trailers, though I read some leaks for this one beforehand.  While the leaks proved surprisingly accurate, they didn’t prepare me for the sight of Din and his “new” partner squaring off against a Filipina-American martial artist.

The Jedi

Airdate: November 27, 2020
Director: Dave Filoni
Writer: Dave Filoni

A Mandalorian and a Jedi? They’ll never see it coming.-Din Djarin

Din Djarin and the Child land on the forest moon of Corvus, where they rendezvous with former Jedi Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson).  With Ahsoka’s help, Din learns the Child’s real name – Grogu – and backstory, but both adults find Grogu unwilling to leave Din for Jedi training.  Ahsoka agrees to continue Grogu’s training if Din can help her liberate the city of Calodan from magistrate Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto), who earlier ordered Din to kill Ahsoka.

By a long shot – no Western pun intended – “The Jedi” objectively tops the previous Mandalorian episodes Dave Filoni directed, Chapters 1: “The Mandalorian” and 5: “The Gunslinger”.  While Chapter 1 accomplishes the lofty goal of endearing new Star Wars characters to viewers, Chapter 13 mines what the viewer has since learned about Din and the Ch-er, Grogu for a high level of emotional resonance.  I’ve noticed Din’s voice and body language deliver a broader range of expressions this season, the more time he spends with Grogu; the most joyous and melancholy scenes of this episode continue that trajectory.  Din also plays with the show’s fetch quest-like formula, by rejecting the magistrate’s order to kill Ahsoka, and by teaming up with the latter without her needing to ask him first.  Par for The Mandalorian by now, this story delivers a fascinating atmosphere and suspenseful fight scenes.

I only knew the bare minimum about Ahsoka Tano before this episode dropped, with a forgettable Forces of Destiny short marking my most substantial exposure to her.  Regardless, The Mandalorian turns her into a refreshing addition to Star Wars‘ growing lineup of Jedi mentors.  While Luke Skywalker’s mentors seemed inactive from war by the time they had to teach him – as did Luke when he had to teach Rey in the Sequel Trilogy – Ahsoka proves that she doesn’t need Din’s encouragement to continue fighting evil, when the episode opens with her essentially declaring a solo resistance against the magistrate.  Off the battlefield, Ahsoka also demonstrates customary wisdom and kindness towards Din and Grogu.  Her description of Grogu’s backstory draws a parallel to Din’s childhood, without contriving any connections to iconic Star Wars characters.

Diana Lee Inosanto seems better known for martial arts than for acting, which might make it sound surprising for Lucasfilm to cast her as a Mandalorian Villain of the Week.  It could disappoint that all of the show’s female Asian co-stars so far – a class also including Ming-Na Wen – landed malicious roles, but the Star Wars franchise has a track record of positively memorable villains; The Mandalorian itself exists as an indirect result of Boba Fett becoming more popular than Lucasfilm expected.  Most of the magistrate’s depth comes from a speech Ahsoka delivers to Din about her backstory, but she exudes a menacingly regal presence.  Her dynamically choreographed duel with Ahsoka proves herself a worthy opponent, who doesn’t even seem to die at the end.

Said duel does end with a potentially frustrating tie-in with some lesser-known Star Wars media.  When Ahsoka name-drops the magistrate’s “master”, she reveals him as someone who’s never appeared in The Mandalorian – or the Skywalker Saga.  The viewer can gather that Ahsoka hates him, but not much else.  However, if he eventually appears in person, whether in The Mandalorian or in an Ahsoka-centric spin-off, this name-drop at least helps hype that up.  Even writing as someone who knows little about Star Wars in the grand scheme, “The Jedi” proves an emotionally powerful extension to Din’s and Grogu’s journey.

Plug

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By NJ

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