This weeks episode of This he Mandalorian has been one of the most anticipated of the entire season for one reason, and one reason only: it is the live-action debut of Ahsoka Tano, former Jedi and Padawan to Anakin Skywalker. A mainstay of the animated universe created by Dave Filoni, and original creation of George Lucas himself, she is one of the most popular characters in the franchise. She’s a total badass, too.
Seriously. Spoilers galore are coming. You’ve been warned.
The episode opens to the sound of an alarm gong being sounded over a small village in the middle of a misty, ruined forest. A man stands atop the wall, looking out into the murk and seeing the telltale flashes of blaster fire. Mercenaries are running toward the village and shooting back and something. A flash of pure white lightsabers reveals Ahsoka, total badass., hunting the mercenaries as they scramble toward the village walls.
This whole sequence is great. Ahsoka and her pair of lightsabers make quick work of the mercenaries. The whole thing is played like a horror movie, where Ahsoka is the monster, which if you’re trying to set up a total badass works incredibly well. None of the people has a chance, and you know it from the first scene.
With the mercenaries dispatched she has a brief conversation with the man atop the wall, the head mercenary (played by genre cinema legend Michael Biehn!) and the magistrate of the village (played by legendary martial artist Diana Lee Inosanto). The Magistrate has information that Ahsoka wants, and she has a day to give it up.
Smash cut to our favourite lone wolf and cub arriving in the system and landing near the village. Every planet in the Star Wars universe is a single village. They head into town, and immediately the magistrate hires him to kill Ahsoka, offering to pay with a spear made of pure Beskar (the stuff of Mandalorian armour).
Heading out into the ruined forest, he stumbles across Ahsoka’s camp and after a brief altercation that sees his armour holding up against her lightsabers, he calls out her name and says that Bo-Katan has sent him and they need to talk. “I hope it’s about him” she replies, seeing the Child.
After a psychic conversation, we learn a bit more about the child, including that he has a name: Grogu. Finally. His early years were spent in the Jedi temple until the empire happened when he was hidden away. Grogu’s memories are dark from his time in hiding, but he was trained by many masters while he was at the temple.
Mando asks Ahsoka to train Grogu, and after she tests his level of ability, she says she cannot. His attachment to Mando opens him up to fear and anger, and she doesn’t want to open him up to that path. Mando asks again and offers to help with the problems in the village.
The next scenes see them assaulting the town. Ahsoka runs out of the forest and up the village wall to take out the guards, and slice the alarm gong in half. There’s a fantastic moment where she uses the force to pull a blaster from one guy’s hands and uses it to knock another guy out, and then looks back at the first guy who immediately puts his hands up and leaves.
After a tense showdown moment with Ahsoka at one end of the Main Street, and the magistrate and her small army of guards at the other, another fun sequence of cat and mouse ensues. Guards stalk down alleys and Ahsoka takes them out one at a time. It takes just a few minutes for her to dispatch them all except Michael Biehn, who is then left to face off against Mando while she faces off against the magistrate.
Ahsoka’s duel with the magistrate (armed with the Beskar speak) is tense and exciting and while it’s going on Mando and Michael have a conversation about who might win. Michael tries to convince Mando he knows he’s on the wrong side, or at least on a side that isn’t a cause worth dying for. When the chips are down and they hear Ahsoka winning, he makes to put his shotgun blaster on the ground but uses that as a distraction to try to pull a blaster pistol on Mando, who easily draws and shoots him dead.
Did you know that Star Wars is often, secretly, a western crossed with a samurai story?
Anyway, Ahsoka asks the magistrate for the information she seeks: where is Grand Admiral Thrawn? The town liberated, Mando heads back to the ship (with the Beskar spear) to get Grogu. Ahsoka reiterates that she cannot train him, but rather to take Grogu to a Jedi temple and to use that temples connection with the force to help him choose his own path and perhaps call out to another Jedi for training.
This episode continues the season’s tendency of Mando and Grogu going to a place, Mando doing a thing for a person for information, and then heading off to another place. Sure, the plot is a little simplistic, but Mando and Grogu are so damned cute together that it doesn’t really matter. Fans of the Clone Wars and Rebels animated series will be happy with the portrayal of Ahsoka by Rosario Dawson, and any fan of Star Wars will like the lightsaber shenanigans.
There are a couple of big revelations as well, including the Childs name. I adore how he turns his head whenever Mando says his name, and I love that I get to call him something other than The Child now.
I was really hoping that this would be the start of the endgame for the season though, and while being on a new quest to a new place to do a new thing with the child isn’t a dealbreaker I would have preferred to see some actual progress get made in the plot as much as it has in the characters.
That being said, fans of the old extended universe and Rebels will no doubt be excited to hear Thrawn name-dropped. He’s an excellent character and bad guy, and a long-standing favourite of many. My immediate hope is they get Lars Mikkelsen (brother of Mads!) to play him in real life, as he already voiced the character on Rebels.
Five episodes down, three to go. The child has a name, and the Razor Crest still has a tracking beacon on it. There is plenty of hijinx still to get up to!
- There’s a blink, and you miss it Morai in one shot. I like it.
- The moment when Ahsoka looks at the guy who immediately balks and runs at the start of the assault on the village, the looks he gives him is straight out of the animated series.
- I’m glad that the fight between Mando and Ahsoka was so short. Ain’t no one got time for this, and it doesn’t matter who might have one because they both could have.
- There was a Loth-cat in one of the alleys!
- Star Wars is always a mix of western and samurai tropes, but this episode really took those things to new levels. Quickdraw contest while there’s a duel of master martial artists going on in the background? Don’t mind if I do.
- Yes, I am aware I am using an image from The Clone Wars. Images of this episode of The Mandalorian were not available when I hit publish.