The Turning Point: Review of “The Jedi” from “The Mandalorian” Season 2

 We’re in the back half of the second season and we’ve reached an intriguing point in the story. I use the word “intriguing” because I’m not entirely sure the direction the story is going at this point, but I have a few ideas. Episode Five of Season Two, entitled “The Jedi”, finally brings us the live-action version of Ahsoka Tano, played with quiet contemplation and underlying fury by Rosario Dawson. Be warned, there are spoilers ahead!

The cold open for the episode was shot well, presenting us with the level of physical danger and the threat that Ashoka provides to the villain of the episode, a magistrate named Morgan Elsbeth. The blasted wasteland of Corvus fits with the overall feel of this show. Few of the plants we’ve visited are unaffected by the recent war between the nascent-New Republic and the Galactic Empire. In the midst of this, we have Ashoka, who is attempting to get information from Elsbeth on her mysterious master and benefactor.

Ashoka Tano, as played by Rosario Dawson. Source

Dawson’s portrayal of Tano is calm (even in the midst of her dispatching a squad of mercenaries). Having seen Star Wars Rebels and just now watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars, this version of Tano is closer to her Rebels appearance: an older, battle-hardened, and weary Ashoka. Subtlety is not Ashoka’s go-to response for dealing with her enemies and given that her Master was one of the most unsubtle Jedi, it’s not surprising. But there are moments when you see Dawson carry the weight of Tano’s past in her expressions. This is someone who has lost a tremendous amount of people in her life and those burdens are never far from the surface, even though she hides it well enough under the stoicism one expects from a former Jedi.

Grogu, The Child. Source

We also finally have a name for The Child: Grogu. A fair amount of the episode is spent exploring Grogu’s backstory, providing insights into where he came from and how he ended up on the hit list of the Empire. Given that Grogu is at least 50 years old (despite still being an infant by our estimation), he was an initiate in the Jedi Order during The Clone Wars. This explanation fits to a certain degree, since the Order made a habit of finding and training Force-sensitive children. It’s anyone’s guess at this point on who managed to sneak Grogu away from Coruscant when Anakin led his deadly assault on the Temple during the execution of Order 66.

Special mention should go out to Dave Filoni for writing and directing this episode. Over the years, Filoni has shown himself to be masterful storyteller and that is on full display here. There are quiet moments throughout this episode that allow the characters to breathe and display what drives them. In Din Djarin’s case, there’s a moment where you get the sense that he’s relieved to find Tano and that his quest is at an end. For Tano, this is just another battle in a lifetime of battles that she has fought. The ending of the episode and the next destination of the journey are why I say this is a much more intriguing story. The inclusion of Tython, which played a large part in the Legacy continuity of Star Wars, piqued my interest. In the Legacy canon (including the MMORPG Star Wars The Old Republic), Tython was the home of the original Jedaii Order, the precursors of the Jedi. Since Ahch-To has been set as that thanks to The Last Jedi, there is a chance this is simply one of the older Jedi Temples from the early stages of the Order.

The remainder of the episode was a well-plotted fight sequence involving the mercenaries under Elsbeth’s employ, including Michael Biehn playing her gunslinging enforcer Lang. For anyone who grew up on 80’s action movies, Michael Biehn should be very familiar. If you don’t who that is, Google him. The standoff between Lang and Din while Ashoka and Elsbeth fight their duel was fun for me. There’s an increasing amount of tension as these two gunslingers stand off on main street, just like the old school Westerns (of which Michael Biehn has been a part of). The reveal at the end of the duel that Ashoka is searching for Grand Admiral Thrawn is an interesting development. When Ashoka was last seen in Star Wars Rebels, she and the character of Sabine Wren had set off to find Ezra Bridger, a young Jedi rebel who had taken Grand Admiral Thrawn somewhere into the Unknown Regions of space. I don’t think that particular story is going to come up again in The Mandalorian. This is very much the story of Din and Grogu but it was nice of Filoni to drop that little easter egg to pull at the heartstrings of long-time fans.

I enjoyed the episode and the revelations that came from it. Not sure where things are going to go at this point except that it’s entirely likely the final episode will involve getting to Tython. Where Moff Gideon and his Dark Troopers are going to come into play is up in the air at the moment but it should lead to a thrilling climax.

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