Friday, November 27, 2020

REVIEW: 'The Mandalorian' - Mando Meets Ahsoka Tano, Who Reveals More of the Child's Backstory in 'Chapter 13: The Jedi'

Disney+'s The Mandalorian - Episode 2.05 "Chapter 13: The Jedi"

The Mandalorian journeys to a world ruled by a cruel magistrate who has made a powerful enemy.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Disney+'s The Mandalorian.

"Chapter 13: The Jedi" was written by Dave Filoni and directed by Dave Filoni

Ahsoka Tano's live-action debut was heavily anticipated because she was such a fan favorite character from the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. She was mentioned as the Jedi the Mandalorian could track down to provide training and care for the Child. In the end, he does ultimately learn a lot more about the Jedi, the Force and his young traveling companion. And yet, it is all further complicated by the mythology at large. Ahsoka was trained by Anakin Skywalker. As such, she is fully aware of how close personal attachments can lead to disaster for any Jedi knight. More importantly though, she is focused on her own personal quest. She is trying to free the enslaved people of Calodan. She succeeds because Mando agrees to help her with this mission. Moreover, the show does an impeccable job in capturing just how powerful this warrior truly is. The opening sequence is devoted entirely to her introduction. She isn't being seen from Mando's perspective. Instead, it is all about the eery mode set by fog rolling in on this destroyed planet. The glow of the lightsabers pops up at random to show just how skilled Ahsoka is in battle. She dispatches these troops with relative ease. The Magistrate fears this soldier determined to destroy the life of luxury and opportunity she has built for herself. The action is influenced by samurai films as well as the horror genre, with Ahsoka seemingly able to travel great distances to prove just how lethal she is in this particular situation. The final battle between Ahsoka and the Magistrate is phenomenal as well. It's the great showdown between two expert swordsmen. In this case, Ahsoka is armed with her dual lightsabers while the Magistrate has a seemingly indestructible Beskar staff. Ahsoka's victory is one to simply track down the location of an even more ominous threat: Grand Admiral Thrawn. She is on a mission. But all of this effectively showcases how the Empire's influence is still deeply felt throughout the system. Their leadership may have been defeated. That didn't inherently welcome a new era of peace and prosperity. There are still people living under oppressive regimes. The citizens of this community are being tortured and abused. That just happens to be one of the benefits that comes from Ahsoka and Mando meeting on this planet and engaging in this battle. They do so for their own personal reasons. However, they also help free this community of people. They are grateful as well. And yet, this is never a conclusion for anyone. The threat of the Empire is still out there. Moff Gideon is still tracking the Razor Crest. That threat looms. It could create destruction at any moment. Ahsoka can have a conversation with the Child though. As such, she learns his name and backstory. That is a huge development. Mando has cared for this foundling for the entire series. This personal connection was lost on him. Now, Grogu may not be as affectionate as Baby Yoda for the fans. However, it does establish a personal connection. It's one that is growing as well. Ahsoka senses fear in the child. She knows that he was raised in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. He was forced into hiding at the end of the Clone Wars that saw the rise of the Empire. After that, his mind is conveniently dark and blank. That may only set up more mysteries to be revealed later on. But it also enhances the dependence that Grogu now has on Mando. He can access the Force but he can't do it on command. He is afraid to use it and reveal his true powers. He is being hunted regardless of that. Gideon still wants to harness his blood to create even more powerful weapons and soldiers. Those experiments loom as well. Mando has to protect the child. But now, it's fundamentally being stated that he has become a father figure. One who can convince Grogu to showcase his abilities. One that may sway his ultimate decision on whether or not he continues to be trained as a Jedi. The Order has been destroyed. Ahsoka is disillusioned about the good that they can still do. But she doesn't stand in the way of Mando and Grogu finding another Jedi who could have a different perspective. This episode throws the main characters deep into the mythology of Star Wars. It's very rewarding as a result. The show has proven that a series set in this world doesn't need to have epic lightsaber battles and miraculous uses of the Force in order to thrill and entertain. It still pays homage to the various Western themes while also being an allegory for life in today's world. It grows more personal because of the connection between Mando and Grogu. That acknowledgement enhances the storytelling while never taking away from the spectacle. It's wonderful to watch Ahsoka and Mando team up. They save this village. They have separate antagonists to deal with in battle. They do so in their unique ways. It's not their place to challenge or question those methods either. At the moment, they serve as allies. People who can only offer so much but still work towards a collective goal. One that has complexities because of the threats that exist in this universe. However, one that can glow even brighter because of the personal stakes and the need to do right by each other. That is a powerful message to send that makes this one of the strongest episodes The Mandalorian has produced to date.