Quote of the week: “A Mandalorian and a Jedi? They’ll never see it coming.”
Well, it finally happened. After 12 episodes, the warring factions of “The Mandalorian” fans can lay down their arms — the battle over the correct title for Mando’s (Pedro Pascal) small, green companion has come to an end. He now has a name, and it’s — drum roll, please — Grogu.
Grogu? Grogu. That’s the word we’ve been waiting over a year to hear spoken aloud. Qualms aside, it’s an exciting development in an even more exciting episode. “Chapter 13: The Jedi” introduces us at long last to Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), the former Jedi and “Star Wars” universe mainstay who’s been teased as the potential answer to the question of where Grogu comes from.
“Chapter 13” wastes no time in placing Ahsoka at the center of the story. The episode opens on a walled city shrouded in darkness, surrounded by the charred remains of a forest. A group of soldiers ventures into the trees, illuminated only by scattered blaster fire. Suddenly, a hooded figure materializes, ignites two iridescent white lightsabers and cuts down her attackers with chilling fluidity.
By the light of her weapon, we can see Ahsoka’s face. She wears her familiar deadly scowl, but she’s a bit wearier and more battle-worn than when we last saw her. Dawson does a commendable job of bringing Ahsoka to life; she stays true to the groundwork laid by her predecessors, but she also adds a believable perspective that grounds the character in the new environment.
After dispatching the squadron, Ahsoka exchanges words with the Magistrate of Calodan (Diana Lee Inosanto), who rules the city with an iron fist, imprisoning and torturing citizens with total impunity. She threatens to execute them by the hundreds unless Ahsoka leaves, but Ahsoka is after a valuable piece of information, and she won’t let the tyrant or her threats stand in her way.
The next morning, Mando and Grogu land outside the city and gain passage through the gates. The Magistrate asks Mando to bring Ahsoka’s head, and while he has no intention of killing her, he’s happy to let the Magistrate lead him to her location.
He finds Ahsoka’s camp, but she ambushes him before he notices her. She goes for the kill — Mandalorians and Jedi aren’t exactly the best of friends — but he’s protected both by his apparently lightsaber-proof Beskar armor and his endorsement from the Kryze clan.
Ahsoka lets her guard down, but she’s not fully at ease until she notices Grogu, at which point a familiar smile crosses her face. She and Grogu chat telepathically into the night, and when they’re done, she reveals his name and his past to Mando.
Grogu was in training at the Jedi Temple during the Clone Wars, but was successfully hidden before Order 66 precipitated the murder of the rest of the younglings. In the decades since, he’s repressed his connection with the Force to avoid detection by the Empire.
But Ahsoka detects something in Grogu: an attachment, a fear of loss that’s resulted from his close relationship with Mando. After watching her former master Anakin Skywalker’s descent into the Dark Side after succumbing to these same emotions, Ahsoka knows it’s too dangerous to train a powerful creature in the ways of the Force if they might someday use their powers for evil.
But she offers Mando a deal: If he helps her defeat the Magistrate, she’ll train Grogu. They infiltrate the city together, and in a charming homage to the genres from which the show derives so many of its aesthetics, Ahsoka faces off with the Magistrate in a Samurai-inspired duel while Mando bests the Magistrate’s lieutenant (Michael Biehn) in a Western shootout.
Despite their victory, Ahsoka tells Mando that she still cannot train Grogu. At least, not until Grogu travels to the planet Tython and tries to reconnect with the Force from within the ruins of an ancient Jedi temple.
So, off we go, headed for another far-off planet to try and uncover the mysteries of Grogu’s past. This time, however, our heroes’ path is clearer than ever before — although Mando and the audience might need some time to acclimate to his friend’s new name.