Every week, Anthony Breznican and Joanna Robinson will break down the latest episode of The Mandalorian – and speculate about what’s to come. You can find your thoughts on Chapter 12 – The Siege here. In front of you is the discussion for Chapter 13: The Jedi. In other words, spoilers ahead …
Anthony Breznican: This is a landmark episode, possibly the most momentous since the pilot. Not only does it show the live-action appearance of a character loved in the Star Wars fandom, but it also reveals the Baby Yoda backstory that we have to get used to when we mention another name.
There is so much importance going on in this chapter, written and directed by The Clone Wars and Rebels producer and George Lucas Padawan Dave Filoni, that I hesitate to mention any of it so highly in our summary. It deserves another spoiler warning!
I’ll throw it at you, Joanna. What do you think of Rosario Dawson’s appearance as You-Know-Who? And how does Baby’s new nickname fit with you?
Joanna Robinson: I think I’ll have a hard time calling him anything other than Baby Yoda. Just as I have a hard time remembering Pedro Pascal’s character Din Djarin instead of “Mando. However, I can promise to try!
I think Dawson is fantastic. I know the fans were both very excited and, in some cases, cautiously nervous about their arrival for most of the year. Since Bo-Katan mentioned the name Ahsoka Tano a few weeks ago (I think we can safely say that now), I’ve been studying Anakin Skywalker’s old padawan and her entire journey extensively. That said, I’ve reread the excellent oral story you wrote about Ahsoka Tano, and in it, Dave Filoni calls your character some sort of wandering samurai in her appearance on Rebels. This episode, directed by Filoni, is a perfect ronin type story with Ahsoka as the world-weary fighter trying to protect a village from an evil overlord.
Of course, Japanese cinema and Hollywood westerns have been in constant dialogue about this trope for years. I appreciate the way this episode of The Mandalorian recognizes that dialogue, going between the battle between Ahsoka and The Magistrate in the samurai-style garden and the classic western showdown between Din Djarin and the magistrate’s henchman on the street and cut here. It’s also great to see Tano transition into that lonely gunslinger mode so easily. It’s a role that Din Djarin himself played, so it felt natural that these two would get along pretty quickly.
Anthony Breznican: I have to admit that baby Yoda has become indelible to me too, and I had a hard time even calling him the child. It will take Grogu some time to get used to, but I think it will. Part of what makes it challenging is that Grogu sounds like an adult’s name. Baby grogu is easier for me. I’m getting used to baby grogu.
The origin of this 50-year-old being was one of the main secrets of the Mandalorian, and now we know thanks to Ahsoka’s mind-melding with the little guy he’d nursed in the Jedi Temple decades ago and determined to avoid the purge as Ahsokas Friend and mentor Anakin Skywalker teamed up with Emperor Palpatine to root out the orders of those in power.
Joanna Robinson: Given his adorably weird behavior in toddlers, it can be difficult to remember that Baby Grogu is 50 years old, so yes, old enough to have been nearly wiped out by Anakin. You know, I’ve always struggled with my empathy for Anakin Skywalker, and it’s getting harder to do now, considering that he nearly wiped out little baby Grogu. (Still hard to type!) By the way, what does Ahsoka say that she has only met a being like Grogu before?. This is Yaddle deletion and I will not tolerate it. Okay, but seriously, we know how Ahsoka (barely) survived Order 66, but how did Baby Grogu give Anakin the slip?
Anthony Breznican: Right and where has he been since then? Every answer the Mandalorian gives raises a new question. Now we know more about this being’s past, and Ahsoka believes she knows something about his future too. She doesn’t want him to be trained as a Jedi because she senses fear in him and she knows how that emotion corrupted her friend Anakin and turned him into the merciless Darth Vader.
Joanna Robinson: Man, now you’re making me think of a bad baby grogu. That breaks my heart. Wait, is that what they were trying to tell us about the egg thing? I thought that part of Ahsoka’s hesitation might have something to do with her own distrust of the Jedi Order – which turned her back on her when she was a Padawan and led her to resign from the Order. It’s funny that this episode is called « The Jedi » because when I think of Ahsoka I always say « no Jedi » with the same cadence as Janet from The Good Place « no girl! » But Anthony, you didn’t say what you thought of Dawson in this highly anticipated live-action debut from Ahsoka Tano.
Anthony Breznican: I have to say I loved everything about her. I can see why her face, voice, and toughness led Filoni and Jon Favreau to cast her in the role. I found the action spectacular and her encounter with The Magistrate (martial artist and stuntwoman Diana Lee Inosanto) was exciting and stylish. We’ve followed Ahsoka from in between through twenty, and now, in her forties, I feel a deeper connection with her than ever. I have always admired this character for their optimism and fearlessness. I respect how she opened the Star Wars fandom to more girls and women, but this story doesn’t show a hero in winter, but let’s say . . . end of August.
She’s not quite as worn out as Alec Guinness’ Obi-Wan in the original film, but you can feel the tiredness in her, the loneliness. She still follows the Jedi promise to protect the innocent, but the path she has taken is her own. And she’s still looking for her own place in the galaxy and, as we find out, something else too: Grand Admiral Thrawn.
Joanna Robinson: When I tell you, I squeaked when I heard her mention Thrawn. But maybe not as much as I squealed when I saw the extraordinary action treasure of the 80s, Michael Biehn, in this episode. He may have played Heavy on this episode, but it’s nice to see Biehn doing what he’s always done best: supporting badass women like Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley.
Okay, sorry for that Biehn tangent, I’m just such a big fan. We talked about Thrawn. He’s voiced in Lars Mikkelsen’s Rebels, and now I dream about if Mikkelsen or someone else will play him when we see a live-action version of Ahsoka getting her husband.
Anthony Breznican: That’s what I mean by the meaning of this chapter. Not only do we get the full download of Baby Yoda Grogu, but we can reconnect with this fearsome beloved character.
He’s another fan favorite who starred in the Rebels and Timothy Zahn novels, where the Star Wars fires burned in the ’90s. Zahn has written new stories for the blue-skinned Imperial and the potential to see him on either this show or any other live action project is something to look forward to too.
Anyone who’s watched the Rebel finale knows that finding Thrawn likely also means finding someone else – Ezra, another outcast and almost Jedi whose self-sacrifice led him to disappear at the end of that show and Thrawn took.
Joanna Robinson: Yes yes yes! The connection between Ezra and Ahsoka is so good and deep. Your beautiful promise to find him, which Rebels ended so hopefully . . . I would kill to see this on either The Mandalorian or their own Disney show. I’m actually pretty disappointed to see how Ahsokas and Din part ways so quickly. Will we see her again on this show? Will she, as is so often the case, engage in the power play that Bo-Katan would like to perform on Mandalore?
– The sad, narrow-faced droid who crosses Mando’s path when he enters the village of Calodan is the same type of robot that branded the Gonk droid’s feet in Jabba’s palace in Return of the Jedi.
– When Din Djarin first approaches Ahsoka, he tells Baby Grogu to keep her eyes open. At that moment we see what an owl-type bird could be in a tree, but is more of a Morai bird that is often seen when Ahsoka is around.
– This furry alley dweller who distracts the bad guys during the firefight is a Lothcat, a favorite creature of Filoni.
– Composer Ludwig Göransson borrows a few lines from John Williams’ « Yoda Theme » from The Empire Strikes Back when Ahsoka made the Jedi master drip.
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World News – USA – The Mandalorian: Baby Yoda Revelations from a fan-favorite character
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