Every Tuesday, Nate from @nateflixandchill_ will be revisiting The Mandalorian starting at the very beginning.
Hello there. If this is your first time clicking on The Mando Rewatch, my name is Nate, and over the past several weeks I have been revisiting The Mandalorian, starting from the very beginning. This week, I will be doing a deep dive into the key moments and thematic significance of “Chapter 13: The Jedi.” This is a spoiler-heavy recap. So, if you choose to read on, then I hope that you have not only seen this episode, but the rest of the series as well. It also helps if you have read my earlier reviews because I tend to circle back to previously established themes. With that out the way, let’s talk about Star Wars!
Written and directed by Dave Filoni, “Chapter 13: The Jedi” is easily one of the best and most important episodes of the entire series up to this point. Grogu’s name is finally revealed, Grand Admiral Thrawn is mentioned, and of course, this episode marks the live-action debut of one of the most beloved characters in the Star Wars universe – Ahsoka Tano. If you are unfamiliar with Ahsoka, then I strongly suggest you take the time to watch The Clone Wars and Rebels. Quite literally, some of the very best Star Wars comes from those animated series. However, some of the worst Star Wars stories have also come from them as well. But, the Force is all about balance – “darkness rises, and the light to meet it,” just like Snoke says. Be that as it may, the positives vastly outweigh the negatives. In fact, when Ahsoka first burst onto the scene back in 2008 with the theatrical debut of The Clone Wars animated film, she was met with massive outrage by many long time fans. Jar-Jar Binks levels of hate. Yet, with time, and great storytelling, Filoni was able to turn her into a fan favourite. Naturally, the moment when she would finally be seen in live-action had been eagerly anticipated by fans from all over the world. It is worth mentioning the fact that many young fans were first introduced to Star Wars by watching The Clone Wars as kids, and they grew up watching Ahsoka grow as a character. Therefore, Filoni could only trust himself to bring his precious character into live-action. Unsurprisingly, he absolutely nailed it. First of all, the casting is pretty much perfect – it is fan casting afterall. For years, fans have been saying that Rosario Dawson would make a great Ahsoka in live-action, and this is another example of fan service done properly. Sometimes the fans are right, it’s okay to listen to them once in a while. Still, beyond getting Ahsoka right, the rest of the episode is outstanding as well. It actually feels as if it was directed by a Jedi. Filoni has really upped his game since “Chapter 5.” Everything in this episode is balanced. The building of tension is balanced with moments of levity, and the slow pace is balanced with incredible action set-pieces. Moreover, the cinematography is beautiful, especially the scene when Ahsoka is framed by the light of the moon prior to revealing Grogu’s name. Filoni is a fantastic artist, and his visual storytelling skills are vastly improving. The set design in this episode is excellent as well. The city of Calodan resembles feudal Japan, and this is clearly intentional, as it helps to build upon the samurai motif throughout the episode. As I have mentioned before, George Lucas was strongly influenced by the samurai films of Akira Kurosawa when he created Star Wars, and Filoni is paying homage to those influences with this episode. At the same time, he also makes sure to stay true to the Western motif of The Mandalorian. This is highlighted with the climax of the episode when Mando has his Western stand-off with old man Kyle Reese at the same time that Ahsoka is having her samurai battle with Morgan Elsbeth. The slow kendo-style fight between Ahsoka and Morgan is very reminiscent of Vader and Obi-Wan in A New Hope. And it culminates with a moment that made me jump out my seat and fist pump the air in silence so that I would not wake my wife and kids when I originally watched this episode at 3am back in November – “Where is your master? Where is Grand Admiral Thrawn!?” Thrawn is one of my favourite Star Wars characters, and I was over the moon when I heard his name. I won’t spoil why Ahsoka is looking for him. You can watch Rebels and find out for yourself. The point is, Thrawn is awesome, especially in the novels. He is a brilliant tactician that knows his enemies better than they know themselves, and he is always ten moves ahead of everyone else. He is basically Sherlock Holmes but he works for the Empire. I cannot wait to see what they do with him in live-action. I was hoping for Benedict Cumberbatch or maybe Michael Fassbender, but Lars Mikkelsen is rumoured to be playing him. I am very much on board with that decision. Mikkelsen voices Thrawn in Rebels, and I really like the way he plays the character. However, Thrawn is supposed to be physically imposing, and Lars seems rather old and frail, but I’m sure they will make it look good. Anyways, let’s talk about some themes!
Attachment is a big one in this episode. Obviously this is a very important theme in the prequel trilogy, and a key issue that led to the fall of Anakin Skywalker. Ahsoka is the padawan of Anakin, and naturally has a connection to him. As well, Grogu was born in the same year as Anakin, 41 BBY, and many have speculated that there could be some sort of Force dyad between Anakin and Grogu. Considering this, it makes sense that Filoni would lean into the theme of attachment in this episode. He even has Ahsoka tell Grogu the exact same thing that Yoda tells Anakin in The Phantom Menace, “I sense much fear in you.” And, as we know, Yoda also says that “fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Grogu’s attachment to Mando is the reason that Ahsoka chooses not to train him. She explains this by saying that “his attachment makes him vulnerable to his fears. His anger . . . I’ve seen what such feeling can do to a fully trained Jedi Knight. To the best of us.” (she’s talking about Anakin). We have seen in previous episodes that Grogu does have some anger issues – such as the time when he Force-chokes Cara Dune. Like Mando, and Ahsoka for that matter, Grogu has had a traumatic upbringing. Ahsoka says that “he seemed lost. Alone” until Mando found him. Mando has become a father to Grogu, and the child is afraid to lose that connection. The problem with attachment occurs when it becomes a possessive form of attachment, such as Anakin’s attachment to Padme for example. And Grogu’s possessive nature is highlighted in this episode with his refusal to move the rocks when Ahsoka asks him to, but his willingness to use the Force to take the shifter knob from Mando’s hands. He uses the Force to take what he wants. Often this has been played for laughs in previous episodes, such as in “Chapter 12” when he uses the Force to take the cookies from the other kid in his class, or when he uses the Force to eat the unfertilized eggs from Frog Lady in “Chapter 10.” It all seems completely innocent, but that is not the Jedi way. He had been trained by many masters over the years according to Ahsoka, but after the Empire rose to power, and Grogu became lost, he repressed his powers due to the trauma. And so, his traumatic childhood coupled with his attachment to Mando brings out the fear within Ahsoka. Her refusal to train Grogu recalls the refusal of the Jedi Council to train Anakin in The Phantom Menace. Yet, unlike the Council’s cold refusal, Ahsoka is compassionate and offers another solution by telling Mando to take Grogu to Tython, and we all know what happens next. I cannot wait to talk about that. But, as Yoda says, “nothing more will I teach you today. Clear your mind of questions.”
I have spoken,