Each week, Anthony Breznican and Joanna Robinson will break down the latest episode of The Mandalorian—and speculate about what’s to come. You can find their thoughts on “Chapter 12—The Siege” here. Ahead you’ll find their discussion of “Chapter 13: The Jedi.” In other words, spoilers ahead …
Anthony Breznican: This is a landmark episode, possibly the most consequential one since the pilot. Not only does it feature the live-action appearance of a character who is beloved in the Star Wars fandom, but she also reveals the backstory of Baby Yoda, who we’re going to have to get used to calling by a different name.
So much of significance happens in this chapter, written and directed by The Clone Wars and Rebels producer and George Lucas padawan Dave Filoni, that I hesitate to mention any of it this high in our recap. It deserves another spoiler warning!
I’m going to throw it to you, Joanna. What did you think about Rosario Dawson’s performance as You-Know-Who? And how does Baby’s new moniker sit with you?
Joanna Robinson: I think I’m going to have a tough time calling him anything other than Baby Yoda. Just like I have a tough time remembering to call Pedro Pascal’s character Din Djarin instead of “Mando.” I can promise to try, though!
I think Dawson was fantastic. I know fans have been both eagerly excited, and is some cases cautiously nervous, about her arrival almost all year. Ever since Bo-Katan mentioned the name Ahsoka Tano (I think we can safely say that now) a few weeks ago, I’ve been going deep on refreshing myself on Anakin Skywalker’s old Padawan and her entire journey. That means I was re-reading that excellent oral history you did on Ahsoka Tano and in it Dave Filoni calls her character a “kind of wandering Samurai” in her appearance on Rebels. This episode, which Filoni directed, is a perfect Ronin-type story with Ahsoka as the world-weary fighter trying to protect a village from an evil overlord.
Of course Japanese cinema and the Hollywood Westerns were in constant dialogue with each other about this trope for years. I appreciate the way this episode of The Mandalorian acknowledges that dialogue by cutting back and forth between the Samurai-style fight between Ahsoka and The Magistrate in the garden and the classic Western showdown between Din Djarin and The Magistrate’s henchman in the street. It’s also brilliant to see Tano slide so easily into that lone gunslinger mode. It’s a role we’ve seen Din Djarin himself play so it felt natural that these two would be able to understand each other fairly quickly.
Anthony Breznican: I have to admit that Baby Yoda became indelible to me too, and I even had a hard time calling him The Child. Grogu is going to take some time getting used to, but I think it will. Part of what makes it challenging is that Grogu sounds like a grown-up’s name. Baby Grogu is easier for me. I’m already getting used to Baby Grogu.
The origin of this 50-something being has been one of the main mysteries of The Mandalorian, and now we know courtesy of Ahsoka’s mind-meld with the little fellow that he was nurtured at the Jedi Temple during the prequel era decades before, and was spirited away to avoid the Purge when Ahsoka’s friend and mentor Anakin Skywalker joined with Emperor Palpatine to exterminate the order of Force-wielders.
Joanna Robinson: It can be hard to remember, given his adorably weird toddler behavior, that Baby Grogu is 50 years old so, yes, is old enough to have almost been snuffed out by Anakin. You know I’ve always struggled with my empathy for Anakin Skywalker and it’s going to be even tougher to do so now that I have to consider he almost wiped out little Baby Grogu. (Still tough to type!) By the by, what’s with Ahsoka saying she had only met one being like Grogu before. This is Yaddle erasure and I won’t tolerate it. Okay but seriously, we know how Ahsoka (barely) survived Order 66, but how did Baby Grogu gave Anakin the slip?
Anthony Breznican: Right and where has he been since? Each answer that The Mandalorian provides raises a new question. Now we know more about the past of this being, and Ahsoka thinks she knows something about his future, too. She doesn’t want him to be a trained as a Jedi because she senses fear in him, and she knows how that emotion corrupted her friend Anakin and transformed him into the merciless Darth Vader.