Mando and The Child have finally made it to the forest planet Corvus, where Bo-Katan directed them in search of the Jedi known as Ahsoka Tano. On Corvus, the city of Calodan is under the iron rule of an Imperial Magistrate possessing a beskar spear and working for a mysterious master. Din Djarin seeks out Ahsoka, desperate to find a safe haven for The Child, but must agree first to help the Jedi free the townspeople of Calodan from the Magistrate and her enforcers.
"Show yourself... Jedi."
The episode opens with a depiction of Ahsoka that is somewhat threatening and scary, portraying her as an unstoppable force as she cuts through the armed soldiers occupying Calodan. It’s an interesting choice that is one of the multiple times in the episode where the character is somewhat ambiguous regarding her previously held (and somewhat abandoned) Jedi beliefs and overall motivations, but it’s also a bold opening that cuts to the chase, letting viewers known this is the episode many of them have been waiting for ever since the rumors broke of Dawson’s addition to the cast for this season.
While Ahsoka may be a new character for some viewers of The Mandalorian, she’s been part of the Star Wars universe since before the Disney purchase of LucasFilm and has a detailed history. While I encourage all readers to check out the animated series The Clone Wars and Rebels given the amazing amount of character development and world-building that take place in both, the basics are that Ahsoka is Anakin Skywalker’s former padawan. Disillusioned by what the Jedi became during the Clone Wars, she left the Jedi Order shortly before the events of Revenge of the Sith, and her status and whereabouts during the original trilogy and afterwards have been sketchy at best, although her voice did appear to Rey in The Rise of Skywalker. While, up until now, the character has been portrayed (and wonderfully so) by voice actor Ashley Eckstein, the live-action version of the character is being played by actor Rosario Dawson (Sin City, Daredevil, Clerks 2). For those looking to learn more about Ahsoka’s background, you can also visit the characters Wikipedia page.
There’s no denying that Dawson looks great as Ahsoka. The transition from animation to live-action isn’t as seamless as with Katee Sackhoff’s Bo-Katan (For example, Ahsoka’s character design seem a bit more reminiscent of her younger Clone Wars look than her more adult design from Rebels.), but the character still looks fantastic onscreen and is something that many Star Wars fans never thought they’d see happen. It may take some time for Ahsoka fans to get used to Dawson’s voice replacing Eckstein’s, but the actress depicts the confidence and control of the world-wise (galaxy-wise?) warrior that the character has become and when she launches into action and the Ahsoka character theme kicks in, it’s going to be hard for any fan to act unimpressed.
As mentioned previously, there’s quite a bit of mystery surrounding Ahsoka in this episode. For example, we know she left the Jedi Order and, when she confronted Vader in Rebels, she claimed she was “no Jedi.” Yet, in this episode, she is referred to as a Jedi twice, and while she doesn’t use the term to refer to herself, she doesn’t refute these two instances when she’s labeled as such by others. Have her opinions changed regarding the Jedi? Or does the mantle of Jedi others are giving her simply suit her current mission? The episode doesn’t answer these questions, and it doesn’t seem like we’ll be seeing Ahsoka again on The Mandalorian anytime soon, but Dawson’s performance seems to indicate that, despite her trust for Mando, much remains unsaid from the former Jedi about what’s happened in the recent past and where she stands now.
"Grogu?" "Yes. That's his name."
In addition to “The Child” and “Baby Yoda,” we have an actual name for the little guy. We also finally get some information regarding his origin; someone took him from the Jedi temple of Coruscant during the Clone Wars - but, much like with Ahsoka, this info raises just as many questions as it answers. If he was kept at the Jedi temple, are we to assume Yoda knew Grogu? What about others, like Mace Windu, Obi-Wan Kenobi, or Qui-Gon Jinn? Would Grogu have been kept secret for some reason? And why does his memory “become dark” before he met Mando?
Another interesting element regarding Grogu in this episode is the fact that Ahsoka senses fear in him. It’s a verbalization of an undercurrent that’s been part of the series since last season. Every being has the potential for good and evil, even something as cute and innocent looking as Grogu. While I’m not suggesting we’ll see Dark Baby Yoda anytime soon, the Star Wars powers-that-be are giving us a reminder that neither path is a guarantee of where one ends up in the end.
"He's formed a strong attachment to you. I cannot train him."
Ashoka states to Mando that Grogu’s attachment to him makes The Child vulnerable to his own fear and anger, and, because of this, she refuses to train him. While she doesn’t mention him by name, she refers to Anakin’s fall due to his attachments and offers that it’s better to let Grogu’s abilities fade than putting that much power in his hands.
There are a couple interesting elements to this scene. First off, it’s notable that Ahsoka refers to Anakin as “the best of us” - both because using the word “us” implies she is including herself as a Jedi and the very notion that Anakin was the “best” of the Jedi shows his former student still idolizes him to quite a degree. It also seems to speak to some complex feelings from the character regarding Anakin’s fall. Does she really believe it was Anakin’s attachments that led him astray, and does she believe that current Jedi should continue to avoid them as was the practice before the fall of the Old Republic? Does she feel guilt or blame herself for Anakin’s fall? And what was she doing during the original trilogy that prevented her from assisting with the fall of the Empire?
One thing that often gets missed unless one is looking at the Skywalker saga as a whole is the fact of how revolutionary a Jedi Luke Skywalker was and how much he turned his back on tradition and the instructions of both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda (such as their insistence that he kill Vader). Because of this, one has to wonder if Luke, and the padawans he trained along with Ben Solo, adhered to this notion that Jedi should be free of attachments. One has to assume not, as Luke clearly had strong attachments to his sister and his friends. Additionally, while it’s possible to argue that Anakin’s attachments did damn him, it’s also undeniable that his attachment to his children (and Luke’s attachment to his father) are what led to the Emperor’s defeat in Return of the Jedi. It’s hard to imagine Luke simply succumbing to the “old ways” despite how he previously carved his own path to victory, but then The Last Jedi may have some things to say to the contrary. Ultimately, maybe this is simply continued establishment of the varied interpretations of the Force and the Jedi, similar to the way Children of the Watch represent a specific sect of Mandalorians. While Luke cuts new paths elsewhere in the galaxy, perhaps Ahsoka follows the old ways (or her own ways) during her Outer Rim mission.
Finally, there’s part of me that wonders if Ahsoka ever intended to train Grogu at all or reveal the truth about her schism with the Jedi to Mando. Perhaps she simply offered to test the kid to ensure he wasn’t already a problem, but it’s quite possible that Ahsoka doesn’t believe in training anyone at this point. While I have no proof to back it up aside from her disillusionment with the Jedi Order and adamant statement to Vader that she “is no Jedi,” it doesn’t seem that unbelievable that Ahsoka no longer sees herself aligned with the Jedi or wishing to increase their ranks, but rather just someone who’s so far down the path that she’ll simply use her Jedi skills for her interpretation of good until she eventually fades away herself.
"A Mandalorian and a Jedi? They'll never see it coming."
The third act of this episode is pretty stellar, seeing Mando and Ahsoka team up to free the occupied town. Ashoka’s duel with the beskar spear-wielding Magistrate has flavors of Kill Bill’s garden battle between The Bride and O-Ren Ishii, and the scene plays out with a respect for the silent anticipation of the first strike, followed by the pronounced sounds of the clash of lightsaber and beskar.
Those sounds of conflict also echo throughout the streets of the town while we witness the final standoff between Mando and the Magistrate’s hired gunfighter played by actor Michael Biehn (Aliens, The Terminator). Biehn’s character is referred to as ex-military and almost comes off as a shadowy foil to the character of Cobb Vanth played by actor Timothy Olyphant earlier this season. (To be honest, in his prime, Biehn would have been the one playing Vanth.) Behn’s final shootout scene is a nice call back to his role of Johnny Ringo in Tombstone, but some will certainly say Beihn was wasted in this role and I don’t know that I can completely disagree with that.
So, let’s get to the enormous wamp rat in the room; Ahsoka is after Grand Admiral Thrawn and calls out the iconic character by name. While Thrawn was a much-beloved villain from the Star Wars “Extended Universe” that proceeded the purchase of LucasFilm by Disney, the character has since been reimagined into the canon, appearing in Star Wars: Rebels and now, very likely, in a live-action series coming to Disney+. Anything said at this point is simply speculation, but it seems very likely, given the success of The Mandalorian and the recent end of the Skywalker saga, that Disney would like to see Filioni showrunning a live-action series about Ahsoka and Sabine’s search for Ezra Bridger, and this episode of The Mandalorian is serving as a back-door pilot. Only time will tell…
- I will say that Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief (and notable Ahsoka super fan) Barbra Dillon pointed out that Dawson’s fight choreography did not mirror the animated Ahsoka’s reverse grip of her lightsabers. Looking into this further, it appears that while some of the choreography aligns with Ahsoka’s fighting style when we last saw her in Rebels, it is noteworthy that this iconic grip of the sabers, turning the blades backwards from her opponent, is not seen at all in the live-action fights in this episode.
- Did you catch that loth cat? Pretty wizard!
Final Verdict: Despite a few minor nitpicks, The Mandalorian delivers another stellar episode. While some fans who didn’t previously know the character of Ahsoka might consider her appearance overhyped, this is a fantastic start for the live-action life of the character and another thrilling addition to Season 2 of The Mandalorian.
Directed by: Dave Filoni
Written by: Jon Favreau
You can find my reviews of the previous episodes of The Mandalorian Season 2 at the following links:
‘THE MANDALORIAN: SEASON 2, EPISODE 1’ - TV REVIEW (THERE BE KRAYT DRAGONS HERE…)
‘THE MANDALORIAN: SEASON 2, EPISODE 2’ - TV REVIEW (ROUGH RIDE)
‘THE MANDALORIAN: SEASON 2, EPISODE 3’ - TV REVIEW (HEIRESS OF MANDALORE)
‘THE MANDALORIAN: SEASON 2, EPISODE 4’ - TV REVIEW (FINISHING THE JOB ON NEVARRO)