by @holocronJosh for @sw_holocron
WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Chapter 13 of The Mandalorian
Our reaction to the newest episode of The Mandalorian could be summed up in a single word: speechless. Written and directed by Dave Filoni, Chapter 13: The Jedi was arguably one of the series’ best, most breathtaking and unpredictable installments. This episode sees Din Djarin, following the guidance of Bo-Katan, pursuing Ahsoka Tano to deliver the Child to her. However, upon finding Ahsoka, Djarin finds himself stuck in the middle of a conflict between the former Jedi and a villainous magistrate.
Chapter 13 gripped us from start to finish. The audience is welcomed to the city of Calodan on the planet Corvus, a dark, foggy, incredibly designed landscape. The episode’s superb production design is on full display from the moment the episode kicks off. The dense and mysterious foggy forest surrounding the imposing gates of Calodan, brought to life by the stunning cinematography of Baz Idoine and director Dave Filoni’s steady hand, made Chapter 13 perhaps the most visually impressive episode of the series so far. Dave Filoni does not wait around to introduce Ahsoka Tano, with the Jedi making a grand entrance mere moments into the episode. While Rosario Dawson’s appearance in The Mandalorian was reported back in March, it was still breathtaking to see the iconic character be brought to life in live-action. The costume designers and make-up artists nailed Dawson’s look, creating a seamless transition for Ahsoka from animated appearances to her live-action debut. Her opening sequence feels like something out of a Star Wars fans’ wildest dreams. Ahsoka stealthily navigating the forest landscape, systematically taking out mercenaries one at a time, was incredible to behold. Ahsoka’s dual white lightsabers looked amazing in live-action and really stood out amidst the darker cinematography of the episode. The confrontation between the magistrate Morgan Elsbeth and Ahsoka was tense and introduced a bit of mystery as to why Ahsoka is interested in this tiny town, a fact that is not revealed until the end of the episode.
The episode then shifts to Din Djarin and the Child. Seeing Djarin be a father figure to the Child is still really beautiful to see and one of the understated highlights of the season so far. Upon receiving coordinates from the magistrate regarding the location of the Jedi, Djarin confronts Ahsoka in another stunning sequence. Just seeing a lightsaber wielding Ahsoka battle the beskar wearing Mandalorian felt too good to be true. It’s upon the convergence of Djarin and Ahsoka that Chapter 13 truly excels. Unexpectedly, Ahsoka is able to communicate with the Child through the Force and reveals his surprising backstory. Not only is the Child’s real name finally revealed (Grogu!!!), but we find out that he was raised and trained in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, before being taken away following the rise of the Empire. In testing Grogu’s Force abilities, Ahsoka refuses to further train the Child, citing that his strong attachment to Djarin could lead him to the dark side as it did with her master Anakin Skywalker. It’s this kind of dialogue that makes Star Wars so interesting project after project. A few lines of dialogue from Rosario Dawson’s Ahsoka immediately makes the entire Star Wars universe feel connected, as if we’re watching yet another chapter of the same, big history book. It’s somewhat questionable, however, that Ahsoka came away from the downfall of her master with the lesson that attachment inevitably leads to the dark side, as it is this same reductionist attitude that the Jedi Order wrongly adopted, which forced Anakin to choose with no healthy middle ground. Regardless, this episode had some great revelations, executed beautifully by writer Dave Filoni and Rosario Dawson.
Speaking of beautiful execution, the entire battle sequence in Calodan was just that. Once again, the amazing production design of the city, evoking iconic Akira Kurosawa films, was on full display. Djarin’s confrontation with Lang, played by Michael Biehn, mirrored standoffs in classic Western films like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, continuing The Mandalorian’s pattern of paying homage to tropes from the Western genre. Ahsoka’s duel with the magistrate was one of the best action sequences we’ve seen in The Mandalorian so far. From the gorgeous night setting, with the glow of Ahsoka’s lightsabers reflecting in the water below, to the stunning silhouettes when the camera panned back, to the intimate close ups of Ahsoka and the magistrate speaking, this entire scene was amazing And, just when you thought the episode couldn’t get any better, it is revealed that Ahsoka pursued the magistrate in order for her to disclose the location of her master – none other than Grand Admiral Thrawn. This reveal was jaw dropping and definitely teases what’s to come, potentially in an Ahsoka standalone series.
As the episode concludes, Ahsoka affirms that she will not train Grogu, but sets Djarin and Grogu on a path to the planet Tython, which contains a Jedi temple that will guide Grogu’s fate and, potentially, draw other Jedi to him through the Force. This conclusion sets up where The Mandalorian will go from here, but also gets us speculating, as any good Star Wars project does, as to the direction the show will head from here. What Jedi will seek Grogu? Could this be Luke? Are there others? The possibilities are endless.
Chapter 13: The Jedi is a rare episode of television that has few, if any, notable flaws. As we’ve grown accustomed to with The Mandalorian, the episode is full of great little easter eggs and references, including the planet Tython and HK-series assassin droids from Legends. Ahsoka’s live-action debut couldn’t have landed more perfectly. Any time a character is brought from one medium to another, it can raise concerns about continuity across projects and if the character still feels like the same person. This was not an issue whatsoever with Rosario Dawson’s performance as the actress expertly portrayed the empathy, wisdom, and bravery of the character initially brought to life by Ashley Eckstein. Dawson really honors Eckstein’s legacy, while adding a new dimension of her own to the character, something that isn’t easy to do. The episode also triumphs in furthering the relationship between The Mandalorian and the Child. As we’ve noted in previous reviews, their bond is really the emotional crux of the series and to see this bond be further developed is touching to see. You can see and feel the difficulty Djarin was having in readying to give Grogu to Ahsoka. You can see and feel the tangible bond between the two as Djarin urges Grogu to take the knob from him using the Force. Every little, intimate moment like this between the two characters subtly adds so much to the show.
With Chapter 13: The Jedi, Dave Filoni and company delivered one of the best episodes of The Mandalorian yet. Chock full of surprising reveals and easter eggs, the episode delivered on pretty much every level with incredible action, production design, emotional moments, and the live-action debut of Ahsoka Tano. Star Wars doesn’t get much better than this.
Images courtesy of Disney+ and Lucasfilm