Season 2, Episode 5: ‘The Jedi’
Baby Yoda has a name!
In “The Jedi”, the last chapter of “The Mandalorian”, Din Djarin finally arrives at the desolate forest planet Corvus, where he intends to leave the child with Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), a Jedi who may be able to to train the little guy. First, however, Ahsoka gains the power to communicate telepathically with his potential student. She learns about how he was taken from the Jedi Temple on Coruscant and how he spent many dark, lonely years in fear. And she̵
I admit to having some mixed feelings about this revelation. There’s nothing wrong with Grogu, which is no more or less silly than any other “Star Wars” name. (Honestly, every name had to seem relatively clear after 12 mysteries.) But it will be difficult from now on to justify calling the child “Baby Yoda.” It’s a bit of a bummer.
On the other hand, when Mando says, “Grogu,” the child looks right at him and makes a small gurgling sound as if to say “Yes?” This is a wonderful thing to see and hear. And then “The Mandalorian” gives, just as it takes away.
Because this week’s episode was the fifth in a season of eight episodes – and since Disney has already ordered a season 3 – there was little chance that Din would actually say goodbye to Grogu this week. Instead, not long after Ahsoka’s initial mind-blowing conversation, she tells Mandalorian that it’s a terrible idea for her to train the child. First, she fears his enormous power, which he has learned to hide ever since he left the temple. She worries that the lingering anger over how he has been treated will turn him over to the dark side if he ever unleashes the full potential of the force. Ahsoka, who was a Padawan teacher under Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, knows well how the powerful can be destroyed.
Another reason Ahsoka might not want to be Grogu’s mentor is that she’s pretty busy right now. She has tried to free the long-suffering citizens of the city of Calodan from the tyrannical rule of Judge Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto). The two have been locking horns for a while, each with maximum pressure to demand the other’s surrender – with Ahsoka regularly killing Elsbeth’s spooky masked goons and Elsbeth imprisoning and torturing any Calodanian who helps Ahsoka.
Although this episode adds significant new pieces to the show’s larger story, it plays almost like a backdoor pilot for a new live-action “Star Wars” series starring Ahsoka. (The character has been well represented in the animated “Star Wars” shows that appear in both “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels.”) After she meets Mando – and after they have a short but exciting battle – she helps him with understanding only a little more about Grogu before she returns to her daily job and fights evil. Mandalorian plays a minor role in the climatic sequence of action of this chapter. He helps with Calodan’s liberation and then gets stuck in an old – fashioned war shooter’s standoff with Morgan Elsbeth’s right hand man, Lang (Michael Biehn).
The main confrontation this week is between the judge and the Jedi, who have a fighting king in the Corvus equivalent of a zen garden, just like something from an old martial arts movie. (Inosanto is a veteran stuntwoman and stunt coordinator who knows the genre well.) Ahsoka duels with two lightsabers, while Morgan has a spear made from the lightsaber-safe metal pruner – aka “Mandalorian steel.” It’s a fantastic fight that ends with the villain revealing another important name: her master, Grand Admiral Thrawn, a character who appears in several of fan-favorite “Star Wars” novels.
Although Mandalorian is a spectator for much of the approximately 45 minutes of playing time, this is still a gripping and meaningful episode that gets its emotional trait and its excitement from the hero’s personal code – and from his relationship with Grogu. There is a lot of talk this week about contracts and promises, and how Din Djarin feels obligated to perform the tasks he has agreed, without taking any compensation unless he has succeeded. But he remains unsure of who to serve when it comes to the child, who in the end may be better off traveling around the galaxy in Razor Crest than being parked with a picky Jedi who won’t let him have it. fun.
There is a touching moment early in the episode when Ahsoka tries to test Grogu’s powers by asking him to move a small rock with his mind. When he refuses, she asks Mando to try – “to see if he listens to you.” He jokes, “That would be a first.” But then he has a bright idea and he pulls the ship’s gearshift button out of the bag. Grogu, who loves the little ball, immediately jerks it telekinetically through the air.
So here is this mandalorian, obsessed with respecting every deal right down to the last detail. And here is this child who does not speak. Yet for several months, this odd couple has taken care of each other and understood each other without the need for any common language – or even any names.
This is the way:
Unlike last week’s episode, which borrowed a lot of images directly from the “Star Wars” movies, this week’s seems more visually inspired by the “Star Wars” characters and video games (as well as by old western and samurai images). Writer-director Dave Filoni, however, includes a familiar bit of schtick from the films as Mandalorian explores his surroundings on the Corvus through a pair of electronic binoculars and wonders about some huge tree-eating animals … just before Ahsoka Tano attacks him. The scene repeats one from the first film when Luke Skywalker looks at a pair of Bantha on the horizon and a Tusken Raider grabs him surprisingly.