Nearly every episode of season 2 of “The Mandalorian” gets better, and “Chapter 13: The Jedi” is no exception. “Chapter 13” includes some revealing backstory and the phenomenal live-action debut of Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson). The episode also answers questions that’ve been around since the show’s beginning but also prompts many new ones.
On the desolate forest planet of Corvus outside the walled village of Calodan, guards prepare for an invasion, but they’re no match for their adversary: the one and only Ahsoka Tano. Her two white lightsabers pierce the fog of the burned down woods as she strikes down trees and guards.
Ahsoka’s appearance and combat style translate perfectly from the animated series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars: Rebels” to the live-action format. With such high expectations from dedicated fans, kudos to the show’s makeup, costume and stunt departments for a job done amazingly well.
Ahsoka approaches Morgan Elsbeth, the cruel Magistrate of Calodan (Diana Lee Inosanto) and her lieutenant, Lang (Michael Biehn), and serves her an ultimatum: surrender the information she needs or face consequences. Ahsoka sheaths her lightsabers and disappears into the night.
The following morning, the Child and Mando (Pedro Pascal) arrive at Calodan, identifying himself as a Bounty Hunters’ Guild member. The villagers live in constant fear; some are scared to talk to outsiders like Mando, while others are imprisoned in electrified cages. I anticipated Corvus being similar to Kashyyyk or Endor, forest planets that served as vibrant and lush settings for the “Star Wars” films, but Corvus is more devastated and dreary.
Elsbeth sends guards to Mando’s location to bring him to her palace. Knowing he’s a hunter, she offers him her beskar staff as a reward for finding and killing a Jedi — Ahsoka. Mando doesn’t explicitly agree to a deal, but he asks her where to look and begins his search.
Mando heads back to the forest to find Ahsoka, but in reality, she’s the one who finds him. Ahsoka attacks Mando with her sabers, but she’s unable to cut through his beskar armor, a property that’ll be useful if Mando faces off against Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) and his Darksaber. Mando quickly explains he found her with the help of Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff) and introduces her to the Child. The quick action in this moment was fun to watch and balanced out the earlier scenes of exposition, reflecting the episode’s natural back-and-forth of storytelling and fight scenes.
Ahsoka is able to communicate with the Child via the Force, and she learns some critical information about the Child’s backstory. He finally has a name — Grogu — and was trained by Jedi during the Clone Wars era but was hidden after the Jedi were executed in Order 66 and the Empire rose to power.
Ahsoka attempts to test Grogu’s knowledge, but he only listens to Mando’s instructions. The Jedi insists she can’t train Grogu, for his attachment to Mando will make him vulnerable to the fear he’s harbored for years. In the wise words of Jedi Master Yoda, “Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Ahsoka worries that developing Grogu’s abilities will send him down the same dark path as her master, Anakin Skywalker, AKA Darth Vader.
Mando offers to help Ahsoka take down the Magistrate if she trains Grogu; they agree and return to Calodan. Ahsoka leaps over the village wall, chopping through the guards and lands in front of the Magistrate’s palace. She then distracts the guards so Mando can free the prisoners from their cages and remove Elsbeth’s lieutenant Lang from the equation. The face-off is reminiscent of a Western shootout, playing up the show’s space Western theme. Lang tries to trick Mando into retreating, but the hunter’s no fool; Mando draws his blaster and shoots Lang instead.
Meanwhile, Ahsoka duels with Elsbeth and her beskar staff outside the palace. The Magistrate gives Ahsoka a challenge, but the Jedi ultimately defeats Elsbeth and demands to know the location of Grand Admiral Thrawn. This suggests that Elsbeth, who funded the construction of Imperial starships, worked with Thrawn and that he’s alive following his mysterious disappearance on “Star Wars: Rebels.” Jedi Ezra Bridger, another “Rebels” character, was with Thrawn when he vanished, so it seems likely that the two of them will join Ahsoka in live-action appearances someday.
The following events happen quickly: Calodan is free of the Magistrate with one of the villagers becoming the new leader; Ahsoka gives Mando the beskar staff; and Mando goes back to the Razor Crest to give Grogu to Ahsoka. This isn’t the end for Mando and Grogu though — Ahsoka declines to train Grogu and separate the pair, but she directs them to the planet Tython where they’ll find an old Jedi temple. There, Grogu can send a message to other Jedi via the Force — if there are any left — and ask for their help.
Since Dave Filoni, who was heavily involved in “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels,” serves as an executive producer for “The Mandalorian” and directed and wrote “Chapter 13,” I wouldn’t be surprised if Ezra Bridger appears soon. A spinoff show could also happen in the future involving Ezra, Ahsoka, Thrawn and maybe even Bo-Katan, as their story might stray from what creator Jon Favreau is trying to accomplish with Mando.
I want to point out Emmy-winning composer Ludwig Göransson’s talent that shone through in the score of the episode. The Western phrases in the music during Mando’s showdown with Lang, as well as the beautiful snippet of Ahsoka’s Theme that originated in her animated appearances, during the end of the episode were the additional touches that made “Chapter 13” and in general, “The Mandalorian” such fantastic art.
Like always, I look forward to seeing what happens next. With so many possibilities left in store for this season, I have no doubt that “The Mandalorian” will continue to thrive.
Contact Michael Russo at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter and Instagram @Breeze_Culture.