This review contains spoilers for The Mandalorian season 2, episode 5, “Chapter 13: The Jedi.”
Here it is. The one we’ve all been waiting for. We’ve known that season 2 of The Mandalorian would feature more connections to the main Star Wars universe, but most fans were thrilled at the prospect of seeing an older Ahsoka Tano, let alone the first live-action rendition of the character, played by the always awesome Rosario Dawson. Because of this, “The Jedi” is a tale of two competing directions. If you’re excited to see what Ahsoka Tano has been up to since the events of Star Wars: Rebels, then you’ll be left extremely satisfied and with a giddy smile on your face. But this isn’t an episode of Star Wars: Rebels. This is an episode of The Mandalorian, and from that perspective, I can’t help but feel disappointed by “The Jedi.”
After being built up for more than half of the season, Mando (Pedro Pascal) has landed on Corvus where the Jedi he has been seeking is hiding out. Unfortunately, upon landing on Corvus and visiting the city of Calodan, he discovers that it’s essentially a police state under the control of the Magistrate (Diana Lee Inosanto of Star Trek: Enterprise). After meeting up with Ahsoka and delivering her the Child, under the assumed job of assassinating her, the two of them agree to take down the Magistrate and liberate the city under the condition that Ahsoka will train the Child upon completion of this job.
It’s been a while since we’ve last seen Ahsoka in-universe, and seeing her dramatic reappearance was truly a sight to behold. Under cover of fog and night, Ahsoka attacks the Calodan city guards. Ahsoka comes across as unstoppable, slaughtering them almost like she was a Predator. She stalks her enemies in the shadows not just in the kickass introduction, but during the final assault on Calodan with Mando. It’s frankly terrifying seeing just how ruthless she is in this episode — a far cry from her Clone Wars days.
Her presence also marks the first time we’ve seen a Jedi in The Mandalorian, and it really does show just the gulf between her and nearly every other character in the show thus far. The fight between Ahsoka and the Magistrate is a perfect example of this, with Ahsoka fighting her off effortlessly despite the Magistrate wielding a Beskar spear. In a series that prides itself on hand-to-hand combat, that fight was truly excellent, mostly due to the martial arts training of Inosanto.
I like the idea that Ahsoka doesn’t want to take on the Child as a Padawan. She was the Padawan of Anakin Skywalker and saw the dark path that he went down when emotions were able to get the better of him. It’s not dissimilar from the Luke we saw in The Last Jedi, a Luke who refused to take on a new Padawan after experiencing how someone he cared for transitioned to the Dark Side, unable to do anything to help or stop their descent into evil. “The Jedi” helps to reinforce some of the themes from that film that the Jedi themselves are a flawed group of people and how Ahsoka, like Luke, is resistant to wanting that lineage to continue. She instead pushes that responsibility onto another potential Jedi who may want to take the Child on as a Padawan (possibly Luke before he accepts Kylo Ren into his school?).
However, this isn’t a show about Ahsoka Tano. This is a show about Mando and his developing sense of morality and fatherhood. We’ve seen him grow and care for the Child, but that drama is put on pause for yet another one-off mission. We do learn more about the Child — such as his actual name being Grogu and that he was originally kept in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant before the events of Revenge of the Sith — and while that is good to know, it doesn’t really change anything. It serves as an explanation for why his powers are so wonky, (He was kidnapped after he was put into hiding, creating a great sense of fear.) but that doesn’t change the dynamic between Mando and Grogu. We just learn that Mando is better equipped to develop Grogu’s powers since he has established a strong bond with him over Ahsoka.
But all of the other elements that have been built up this season have received virtually no payoff so far, and the show isn’t fully committing to one direction over another. It’s as if everything matters, but at the same time nothing matters, since we’re flung from one potential plotline to another in each episode. Because of it the show is starting to feel aimless, almost like Jon Favreau wants to set up multiple storylines for the series to go whenever he’s interested in exploring them but doesn’t want to do anything with it now.
At the start of the season we had Mando tasked with the mission of finding a Jedi to train Grogu. From there, we had a possible Mandalorian revolution thanks to Bo-Katan (Katee Sackhoff), laying the seeds of the First Order, Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) up to whatever his long-term plans are, trying to figure out what the deal with Temuera Morrison is, and now the events of this episode with Ahsoka looking for Grand Admiral Thrawn, who is apparently still alive. Now, I love Thrawn to death, but his inclusion doesn’t have any weight to it. It just comes across as a pointless bit of continuity maintenance for long-term fans.
The Mandalorian’s personal arc in the first season became one of its most compelling elements, but that’s seemingly put on the back burner this season as the narrative becomes more about making pit stops and seeing what happens. However, the hallmarks of The Mandalorian are still here and remain engaging. Ahsoka’s stealth kills, among other things, deliver some of the best action all season, the set design is fantastic, and there were several shots that had me pause the show just to admire them. I know I may be a weirdo who likes to see good shot composition, but seeing Mando approach the Magistrate’s compound was strangely compelling, despite not much happening.
There wasn’t anything that dips this episode into unsalvageable territory like in the second episode, but “The Jedi” tried to be an Ahsoka-focused episode in a season that has barely given us any Mando development. Half of it was exciting; the other half was boring.
If you were to tell me that “The Jedi” was meant to serve as a backdoor pilot for an Ahsoka Tano live-action spin-off, not only would I believe you, but I would be hounding you for more, because that’s something I genuinely want more of. The action, Ahsoka’s character development, and the insight into the larger Star Wars universe served as a shot of adrenaline for a season that has taken things at a more lackadaisical pace.
But as an episode of The Mandalorian, a lot of it felt fairly unsatisfying. I don’t care about Thrawn being teased because he doesn’t matter in the story about Mando and Grogu. I want to see how Mando’s story progresses, and “The Jedi,” as well as most of The Mandalorian’s second season, has felt more like a sightseer’s journey into Star Wars than the pathos we saw last season.