Well, people, it’s time to jump into what is likely the most highly anticipated episode of The Mandalorian since the introduction of the titular character. The Mandalorian Chapter 13 now marks the official first live-action appearance of fan-favorite Ahsoka Tano played by Rosario Dawson. And, like last week, before gushing over this episode, I would like to acknowledge the current controversy surrounding Rosario Dawson and the statement we made in response to this.
The Mandalorian Chapter 13, written and directed by Dave Filoni, pulls no punches throughout its 45-minute run. Filoni, often hailed as George Lucas‘ chosen successor in the franchise, co-created the titular Jedi alongside Lucas. Ahsoka, who made her initial appearance in the 2008 Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie, started out as the Jedi Padawan to a reluctant Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker. Over the time of the Clone Wars, Ahsoka gained skills in both the Force and in combat, serving as a commander and fighting alongside her master and fellow Jedi. After a terrorist attack on the Jedi Temple and a false accusation, Ahsoka lost her faith in the Jedi and decided to leave the order to walk her own path.
In Star Wars Rebels, also helmed by Filoni, she played a massive role in the rebellion and helping the rebels outsmart and face off against the Empire. The Mandalorian Chapter 13 has many moments that reference Rebels, including the climactic mention of Thrawn. In many ways, Chapter 13 feels like a call-out to all those fans of the animated series that had so many beloved characters and stories.
The episode opens with an outstanding fight sequence between Ahsoka and a group of guards in the misty, mustard-hued forests of Calodan. Dodging left and right through the thick air, she systematically takes out the scout guards outside of the city walls. This first shot of Ahsoka also shows her in a cloak with a similar silhouette to how we last saw her at the end of Rebels.
Dispatching with the guards, Ahsoka comes face-to-gate, and at the top of the gate stands Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) with her hired gun Lang (Michael Biehn) at her side. Ahsoka is here for information, but she can’t afford to attack head-on since the Magistrate has the entire town under her dominion, using citizens as hostages and prisoners against Ahsoka.
When Mando lands on Corvus and arrives in Calodan for leads to where to go, he is chosen immediately by the Magistrate to find and kill Ahsoka. Recognizing him as a Mandalorian, she assumes that he believes the Jedi to be his ancient enemy and Mando uses that assumed stereotype to his benefit. In exchange for killing Ahsoka, the Magistrate offers him a staff made of pure beskar. But, we know Mando is here expressly to find Ahsoka for the Child. When he comes across Ahsoka — or rather when Ahsoka gets the drop on him — the two fight briefly before he is able to reveal his intention.
Ahsoka communicates with the Child in an adorable scene where Mando is pacing in the background like the true dad he’s become. After bonding with the Child through the Force, Ahsoka reveals that the Child is actually named Grogu. We have a name, people!! She also explains that he was raised in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant where he was trained by Jedi Masters. When the Order fell, he was taken and hidden away. We already know that little Grogu can be a pretty temperamental kid. But learning that he spent much of his time lost and alone, his attachment to Mando makes a lot more sense.
Testing the Child’s abilities, we come to a key aspect of The Mandalorian. I actually think this scene is a very important scene for the episode (yes, even more important than Thrawn). Ahsoka states very clearly what we already know, as viewers: Grogu is very attached to Mando, so attached that Ahsoka refuses to train him. Where does this attachment stem? Yes, some of it is from his love and affection for Din Djarin, but much of it is also from his own fear. He was forced to hide his Force-sensitivity and abilities, he was hidden away, treated like a specimen, he was forgotten and abandoned. While Ahsoka turned from the Jedi Order, even she can recognize that the Child’s attachment to Mando can be a weakness.
She tells Mando, “His attachment to you makes him vulnerable to his fears. His anger. I’ve seen what such feelings can do to a fully trained Jedi Knight. To the best of us. I will not start this child down that path.” This is a glaring and clear reference to her master, Anakin Skywalker. For Ahsoka, Anakin’s turn to the dark side was a devastating blow. She looked up to Anakin, who was not only her mentor but her champion when the Jedi Council falsely accused her of being a terrorist. In her final encounter with Anakin, he returned her lightsabers to her before the Siege of Mandalore. She then faced him, this time as Vader, in an emotional duel during the two-episode arc in Rebels “Twilight of the Apprentice.”
But on the flip side of Ahsoka’s apprehension is Mando’s bond with The Child. No episode details the facets of their relationship quite so well. From teasing, to protection, to encouragement, to heartfelt love, Mando is basically the Child’s dad at this point. He wants the best for Grogu, even if that means he has to part with him and leave him with Ahsoka. In the final moments of the episode, we’re treated to a sweet and tender moment as Mando says goodbye to The Child. In this relationship, we can see the potential for good. Where Anakin was constantly told to suppress his feelings and became obsessed and possessive, Din and Grogu feel wholesome and familial.
In exchange for making sure Grogu is properly trained, Mando offers to help Ahsoka with Calodan. We learn that the Magistrate was a victim of the Clone Wars. After her people were massacred she got her revenge by joining up with the Empire, helping them build the Imperial Starfleet and plunder worlds (perhaps that’s how she got her hands on the beskar staff?). Working together, Ahsoka and Mando quickly turn the tide for the people of Calodan and take control back over the city. Mando kills Lang, and Ahsoka faces off against the Magistrate. In this final duel, we finally understand who it is that Ahsoka is searching for: Grand Admiral Thrawn.
Suddenly the Magistrate’s fighting style and prowess make sense. As a student of Thrawn, she was a powerful opponent even against someone as well-trained as Ahsoka, managing to disarm one of her hands. Thrawn was a major antagonist of Rebels. As a seasoned warrior and master tactician, he was able to get into the minds of his opponents. However, he disappeared alongside Jedi Padawan Ezra Bridger after a flock of purrgil attacked his ship in a fight with the rebels.
We last saw Ahsoka searching for Ezra alongside the Mandalorian and Ezra’s crewmate, Sabine Wren. Throughout Chapter 13, we are treated with easter eggs to Rebels and the rumored spin-off that involves Sabine and Ahsoka finding Ezra. Did we just get a backdoor pilot into a potential live-action spin-off? Or will we see Thrawn in season 3? After the fleeting sight of Loth-Cats, anything feels possible. And while I found the final duel between the Magistrate and Ahsoka to be poorly edited, taking away from the pacing of the climax, the reveal of Thrawn still had me captivated.
After saying his tearful goodbyes to the Child, Ahsoka comes to Mando at the Razor Crest. Still refusing to train the Child, she gives Mando the next best thing. She ends him to Tython, where he’ll be able to sit on a seeing stone and reach out through the Force. A Jedi might sense him and come find him. But, also, seeing as Sith are far more populous than Jedi, wouldn’t this also present a problem?
So, what about Tython? In both the Legends and current Canon, Tython is the location of one of the earliest Jedi Temples. Also, of note, it is found in the Deep Core region, a hop, skip, and a jump away from Coruscant. Does this mean we will see Mando coming into contact with more New Republic ships? Will we see Mando on some bustling streets? Who will Grogu reach out to when he gets on that seeing stone? Will we get some more lightsaber battles? Will we see Ahsoka again?
The Mandalorian streams new episodes every Friday on Disney+.