The Legend of Samurai Tano?
First of all, it’s really difficult to have a spoiler-free conversation about this episode. So let’s cut to the chase, shall we? Reports earlier this year suggested that Rosario Dawson would be playing the live-action version of Ahsoka Tano in this season of The Mandalorian.
When it was announced that Chapter 13 would be written by Dave Filoni, most of us assumed this was the episode in which she would appear, as well as the teases and build up in previous episodes.
Low and behold, those assumptions were right. Since her creation 12 years ago, Ahsoka Tano has made her first-ever live-action debut.
Filoni wastes no time in bringing in the long-awaited Jedi, as we are given an amazing opening fight scene that sees Ahsoka hacking and slashing through soldiers with her iconic white blades. After the action, we see the Jedi confront a set of villains on the wall of a forest village, threatening she will return for the information she wants.
After our opening title card, we get back to Mando and The Child who arrive at Corvus via The Razor Crest. The story sees Mando visit the earlier seen walled village, located in the middle of the forest. There (you guessed it) he gets tasked with a mission to hunt down and destroy the Jedi plaguing the sinister crew, in exchange for a spear made out of pure beskar.
Mando eventually encounters Ahsoka and after a quick but entertaining fight, she tries to communicate with The Child, immediately being drawn to him.
Now, one of the big questions I'm sure many fans had was- how would Ashoka look?
This is a character we’ve known and grown with over the last 12 years so Rosario Dawson had a tough challenge. Did she manage to pull it off? The court might still be out on that one...
Visually, yes, Dawson looks like she was taken right out of The Clone Wars animated series. However, the look isn't without its problems. Her lekku (the head-tails), for example, often looked more like a wig rather than a natural part of her body. Due to her history in animation, it’s going to take some getting used to seeing her look and her physical performance in live-action.
It’s also interesting that the creative team have decided to go more with her look from The Clone Wars rather than Rebels, considering Rebels is a lot closer in the timeline to The Mandalorian.
The Mandalorian anxiously awaits the conclusion of Ashoka telepathically communicating with The Child, until we finally start to get some answers. After much mystery, we find out the name of The Child is in fact- Grogu. While many of us may have expected we might get his name at some point, I'm sure most did not expect to get it so soon.
The world will always look at him as Baby Yoda, as it’s stitched right into the fabric of our pop culture, so it will get some getting use to. I guess Yodle was already taken?
To add to the lore we also learn that Grogu was a member of the Jedi Order on Coruscant and was taken from the temple during Order 66 to be hidden away from the Empire. From there, the rest of the story is blank.
The next day, after no success connecting to the child, Ahsoka proceeds to ask Mando to try, as she recognizes how close they have become.
There is a lot going on in this episode, with bringing a beloved animated character to live-action and adding a ton of information relevant to the overall lore. In all of that, there is this scene where we see that after all they’ve been through, Mando and Grogu have carved a strong deeper connection. Something that seemed impossible when they first met.
We then head back to the village, where our allies split up to tackle the enemy lines and after some solid lightsaber action, the battle turns into a double duel, between Ahsoka and Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto), and The Mandalorian and Lang (Michael Biehn). Unfortunately the latter is quite uninteresting and ruins the tension of Ahsoka’s duel.
What did Lang expect to do against that beskar armour?
Ahsoka’s duel delivers on all fronts having all the grace of great samurai sword fights. The fight turns even more interesting when it ends by having the most unexpected reveal of the season.
Earlier, Ahsoka asked the magistrate “Where is your master?” Following up the question by asking "Where is Grand Admiral Thrawn?" Yes the blue imperial alien himself...
But wait. There's more... During the aftermath of the battle, Ahsoka tells Mando that she still won’t be able to train Grogu but she offers him (you guessed it again) another quest! Ahsoka tells him to go to the temple on the planet Tython (fans of the Doctor Aphra comics and the Old Republic video games will know this one) where the child's destiny will be revealed if a Jedi master is to reach out to him via the force. This, leading viewers everywhere to more speculation as to which Jedi could show up? No other Jedi characters have been reported to be in the show so it would be incredibly exciting to see if we possibly get a surprise cameo at the end of the season.
In conclusion, this was another fantastic episode. The score, VFX, and action scenes continue to astonish. Having Ahsoka’s theme return was particularly moving.
Dave Filoni provided some strong direction, making a huge improvement on his previous works on season 1, with this being his best episode yet. While he gets the tone, and atmosphere perfect, Filoni still seems to struggle in the effective direction of his actors.
Dawson is without question a great actor, but in this episode, she lacked guidance. When a scene started, it felt off, with her role and performance progressing each time the narrative would progress. Ahsoka is an extremely compassionate character but at times Dawson’s performance simply felt bland. It seems the animated Ahsoka would have had a lot more expression in certain scenes.
Regardless, it would be great to see more of her, as the seeds planted were strong enough to grow into something great.
The setting of the episode was also another triumph, looking visually very dramatic and like it was straight out of a Kurosawa movie. The fortress that surrounds the village being quite similar to the one featured in the film- Ran.
No one knows Star Wars like Filoni as he does an amazing job with the story, adding more depth to the overall lore, causing any die-hard Star Wars fan to lose their mind.
I fear this show could potentially lose a lot of casual viewers with the number of connections being thrown into the season but as a Star Wars fan myself, I have to say, this is gearing up to be something very special indeed...
If you enjoyed what you read, and want to support Jake and our commitment to fresh content, support Jake with a cuppa over
Follow Jake on Twitter @sweatyjake and Letterboxd @jakehart
Subscribe here to Fresh Take for more opinions on the world of film and television.
Don't forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
And subscribe to our new weekly Mandalorian podcast The Monday-lorians!
#TheMandalorian #Mando #MandalorianSeason2 #MandoChapter13 #StarWars #DisneyPlus #AshokaTano #AdmiralThrawn