What a great way to kick off the second half of The Mandalorian Season 2. Mando has a fully repaired ship (though also equipped with a tracking device) and is headed to search for Ahsoka Tano on Corvus. We see her first. Let’s just get right into it and talk initial thoughts:
We See Ahsoka Right Away
Given the fact that Disney never actually confirmed that Ahsoka Tano was going to be in this season or that Rosario Dawson was playing her, we were never really sure how many episodes she would appear in. As we got into the season, there were rumors that it might just be one episode so, if those were true, then I could bet on two things: Dave Filoni would be directing that episode and he would make it count. Both were true but I didn’t expect to see her in the opening scene and for that scene to be an action-heavy one. Right away. Right away we see that she has her own battles she is fighting, externally and internally (but we’ll get to that later) and has a worthy yet cold opponent in Morgan Elsbeth who makes it clear that she will leverage the citizens of her town to keep Ahsoka in check. She is a survivor of the Clone Wars (like Mando himself) that went into business with the Empire, helping to exploit worlds for their resources. And Ahsoka needs to get some information from her, which is made clear in the first five minutes of this episode as she destroys hired guns and gives Elsbeth one day before walking off into the mist like a boss. Again, first five minutes. Epic.
An Epic Fight…But Not The One Expected
Speaking of epic, the opening scene was great to watch but the ending fight (both Mando’s stand-off with the hired gunfighter and Ahsoka’s battle with Elsbeth) was truly special in their own ways. The scene between the gunfighter, played by action legend Michael Biehn, and Mando was tense as the gunfighter was trying to negotiate his way out of the stand-off and sneak in a surprise attack. It doesn’t work out well for him and Mando once again takes a back seat to the main fight after last week’s canyon escape. On the other side of the wall, it was nice to see a lightsaber fight even if it was against a Beskar spear in the faster-paced fight between Ahsoka/Elsbeth. Elsbeth is an interesting character that knows a lot about Mandalore and might have connections to it given the fact that she even has a Beskar spear. Perhaps one of the worlds she stripped of resources was Mandalore, which might also mean that she knows Moff Gideon. And of course, speaking of the Moff himself, I was expecting to see him in this episode. The setup of him showing up on Corvus looking for one Jedi and finding another was there, but it was a nice surprise that we didn’t go that direction and got some proper time with Ahsoka. I now think Gideon might show up again in the season finale.
Baby Yoda Now has a Name and a Backstory
The time has come to say goodbye to Baby Yoda. After one and a half seasons of Baby Yoda talk on the Internet and The Child merchandise in stores, we have a proper name for the little one…Grogu. He is a 50-year-old child that was taken care of by someone so he had to have a given name but, I am not going to lie, I thought his name would start with a “Y.” But this wasn’t even the craziest reveal: not only is Grogu familiar with the Jedi, but he trained at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant with many Masters before the end of the Clone Wars. Obviously, he survived the purge but how is still a mystery to be unraveled. Grogu has been through a lot and is dealing with some major trauma. Enough so that he has kept his powers hidden, not because he doesn’t know how to control them (which we kind of got the sense of when he force-choked Cara Dune), but to protect himself. And he seemingly has blocked out his memories from after he was rescued from the temple. Ahsoka was the perfect gateway to getting some much-needed depth for The Child/Grogu. Hopefully, Mando and he can find a way to communicate with each other so we can find out more about those blocked memories. As Ahsoka stated, “there aren’t many Jedi left” so they will either learn how to communicate with each other or it might be a while until we get more answers.
Ahsoka Has Been Through a lot and There is Still More Story to Tell
Even though there are some great action sequences in this episode, there are equally great quiet, subtle moments. The scene where Ahsoka is sharing thoughts with Grogu is one and gave us some much-needed backstory to The Child, but the next scene gives us some insight into where Ahsoka is at in her life. She tests Grogu’s abilities by asking him to return a stone she has force moved to him but he does not return it. After encouraging Mando to give it a go, which he figures out to use the circle part of his ship that Grogu has been obsessed with since the beginning instead of the rock. Ahsoka senses the attachment between the two and says that is a dangerous thing for a Jedi to have, that it makes him vulnerable to his fears and anger. Attachments are a common flaw when talking about Jedi in the Star Wars universe but Ahsoka recognizing it in Grogu and then using that as her reason for not training him is interesting considering that she is not technically a Jedi anymore but still believes in that core element of being a Jedi. She is probably referring to Anakin Skywalker as “the best of us,” knowing that his attachments to Padme, and her, led to his downfall. I figured that Ahsoka was ultimately not going to take Grogu and her reasoning is fair enough, but she also has her own mission so she sends Mando on another adventure, looking on with a slight sadness. I hope we see more of her in live-action (I think we will as there is much to fill in between and after Rebels) but that is likely all we get of her in The Mandalorian.
This was the left-field reveal of the episode because it was the only one that had pretty much avoided any leaks from the major trade outlets. The information that Ahsoka needs from Elsbeth is the location of Thrawn. There was speculation of where Ahsoka (and Sabine) would be in their search for Ezra Bridger or if they had even found him. While Sabine is nowhere to be found in this episode, Ahsoka is definitely looking for Thrawn to find Ezra. Since I believe that we have seen the last of Ahsoka in the series, I have to believe we might also not get any answers to this in the series either, unless somehow Thrawn is also involved with Moff Gideon. But if Thrawn is still out there and communicating with Imperial remnants and allies, then we should be seeing both him and Ezra in live-action at some point. Months before The Mandalorian season two premiered, Bob Iger hinted at spin-off series from characters introduced in the show. Although Ahsoka wasn’t introduced in The Mandalorian, her first live-action appearance played by a notable actress in Rosario Dawson suggests that Disney is not finished with her yet. Dave Filoni has also said that he brought in Thrawn, working with the creator Timothy Zahn, for a reason and Lucasfilm Publishing has invested time and money in telling his backstory in canon novels. So is it all leading up to a live-action series that picks up where Rebels left off? Seeing a live-action Thrawn would be surreal but, given how well they just handled Ahsoka, I look forward to the possibility.
The production design in this episode was also quite impressive and nice to see The Mandalorian lean into both Western and Samurai influences. And more creatures! Though I don’t believe we got the names of the massive, dinosaur-like beings that were in the background minding their own business. Next week will take us to the Jedi Temple on Tython, which also has some Star Wars history. And Moff Gideon is still waiting in the wings. I still think we won’t see him until the final episode of the season but I now think we might see Bo Katan again sooner than expected. Otherwise, how else is Mando going to go up against all those Dark Troopers? Meanwhile, Bo Katan is looking for Gideon and wants the Darksaber. All this hints at a Mandalorian/Empire scuffle for the finale. Three more episodes!
**Addition: I completely missed the Morai sighting. Well played Filoni.