Warning: This is the Way to our The Mandalorian season 2, episode 5 review which contains major spoilers – turn around to avoid having the new episode ruined!
The Jedi has arrived. After months of teasing, Rosario Dawson’s live-action version of Ahsoka Tano has turned up and her arrival is shocking. Quite literally. There’s no dilly-dallying around as Ahsoka emerges from the misty darkness with her lightsabers bright, swiping through enemies just seconds into the episode. From there, it’s a muddy, gloomy battle through a wave of nameless goons, leading to walls of a remote town.
The Mandalorian Chapter 13 has more than a few nods to the samurai movies that influenced George Lucas when he first made Star Wars: A New Hope. The townsfolk held ransom by an invader, with only a lonely, sword-wielding vigilante to save them is a tale known throughout the world. There’s even a major whiff of more recent movies, such as Princess Monakoe – about a forest princess who fights the industrial invaders. Of course, those samurai movies were also the basis of many Westerns, and, come the finale, we have two showdowns – a sword-fight and a quick-draw – that mirror the two influences.
Before that encounter, though, Mando arrives on the scene on Corvus and is tasked by the magistrate to hunt down Ahsoka. Talk about an easy way to find a lead! One brief walk later, Mando and Ahsoka have a brief scuffle that quickly establishes that Beskar is, in fact, lightsaber-proof, and the pair settle down as their actual interests are revealed.
Director Dave Filoni – who acted as showrunner on The Clone Wars, in which Ahsoka first appeared – has a brilliant way of delivering deep Star Wars mythos to us without ever making the lore impenetrable. While Ashoka may reveal a whole lot about Baby Yoda – now known as Grogu – in a monologue bordering on being an exposition dump, it’s still engaging enough as names broader fans will recognise (Yoda! Coruscant!) are littered in. For those who did watch The Clone Wars, there are some excellent moments of pay-off, such as Ahsoka referencing her tragic past with former-master Anakin Skywalker.
These scenes with Ashoka and the Snoke-referencing moments of Chapter 12 have surprisingly entwined The Mandalorian with the events of the wider Star Wars universe. It’s both joyous and worrying, though it appears that multiple spin-offs could be coming, thus leaving the tale of Din Djarin and Baby Yoda – sorry, Grogu – to The Mandalorian series and Ahsoka versus Thrawn to something different.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Djarin and Grogu’s relationship has been building to this father-son bonding for quite some time, and seeing the two become inseparable under the eyes of Ahsoka is particularly endearing. By the end, when the day’s saved, I was hoping Mando wouldn’t leave the Child behind. Well, actually, I thought Baby Yoda was going to have been stolen by Moff Gideon while Mando was busy saving the day. Lo and behold, Grogu was ok, and – rather than teaming up with Ashoka – the former Jedi gave Mando another place to travel to.
Of course, through the episode, the action was again excellent, and there’s a visceral thrill in seeing lightsabers spark up. Ahsoka’s move from animation to being a very real person was, at first, slightly uncanny, yet the episode gives us enough time to adjust to seeing her. Unlike Bo-Katan, she’s immediately a lot more likeable, with her meditative presence and admiration for Baby Yoda. A spin-off series seems likely and, frankly, a pretty great idea. There are so many minor references to the wider world that fans wanting to understand more will have a field day. But, for everyone who simply wants 45-minutes of Star Wars escapism, the episode delivers in droves with its epic scale. Tython, here we come!