The Mandalorian Explained is our ongoing series that keeps an eye on Lucasfilm’s saga about the Galaxy’s most dangerous single dad. In this entry, we look at what went down in The Mandalorian Chapter 13 — the fifth episode of Season 2 — and contemplate its extensive revelations. Yes, there be spoilers here.
There are many gifts to Star Wars fans in this week’s episode of The Mandalorian, but none greater than the name-dropping of Grogu. Yes, yes, yes, we can finally stop referring to the kid at the center of the story as “Baby Yoda” (or even “The Child”). He’s not a clone (well, most likely), and he has a tragic origin linked to the Imperial rise and the eradication of the Jedi.
The Mandalorian Chapter 13, mischievously entitled “The Jedi,” does not eek its information slowly. Its writer and director, Dave Filoni, is here to party. The one-time showrunner of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels finally gets to usher his most cherished character into the glorious realm of live-action, and he does so within the first few frames of this episode.
Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) rips through the opening scene slashing through a sorry lot of henchmen. We find her just where Bo-Katan Kryze told Mando Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) she would be, on the forest planet of Corvus. She’s on a mission herself, freeing a persecuted village from the tyrannical rule of Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) and prying the whereabouts of an old enemy from the gangster’s twisted brain.
The Magistrate is no simple mark, and despite Tano’s tremendous skill, she’s unable to get the job done on her own. Enter: Mando. After a quick tour through town and a chat with the Magistrate, Mando seemingly takes a job to hunt down the duel lightsaber-wielding pest who hides in the woods. If he does so, the Magistrate will give Mando her impressively pointy staff made from Beskar steel.
Mando and Ahsoka have a Marvel meet-cute, where introductions cannot occur without a slight tussle first. He calls out her name and mentions Bo-Katan. Ahsoka takes a beat to think, spots our favorite li’l hungry goblin kiddo, and lowers her blades.
The child and Ahsoka share a moment of solitude. They commune through the Force. Words are not spoken, but information is exchanged between them.
Tano relays the news to Mando. The kid is Grogu, a youngling from the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, the central city-planet where all your favorite senate hearings were held during the prequels. After the Empire rose to power, Grogu was hidden away. During the aftermath of The Clone Wars, someone stole Grogu from the temple. The child’s thoughts are shadowed around the event, as his memory is too dark in places.
Mando implores Tano to take the child. He belongs with his kind; he belongs with the Jedi. Tano tells him that the Jedi fell a long time ago, but she does not mention how she turned her back on their order during The Clone Wars’ final days. She’s no Jedi.
Many years ago, Tano was accused of a crime by the Jedi. She saw how their fear could infect their judgment. She knew their actions during The Clone Wars led them down a dark path they could not escape. Of course, Tano did not realize that even her Master Anakin Skywalker could succumb to the worst fears imaginable and damn the galaxy with his will.
Knowing the fate of Darth Vader, Tano is reluctant to train Grogu in the ways of the Force. She tells Mando that it’s better to wait for these powers to fade.
Mando says he will help Tano take down the Magistrate if she raises the kid. She lets him think she’ll follow through on this promise, but we know Din Djarin is not getting rid of Grogu any time soon. The Mandalorian is the saga of a father and son now.
Grogu is a kid who had his family stolen from him. Mando is a kid with the same backstory. He’s become more than a protector over these last two seasons. We see the love he has for Grogu in the tiny gestures he offers, the way he cocks his head toward the kid, and in the manner that he carries Grogu by his side. Tano tells him at the climax, “You’re like a father to him.” We know it’s true, and it’s looking like Mando is coming around to that way of thinking as well.
Tano and Mando obliterate the goons who rule Corvus. The action is mighty and swift. While Mando frees the imprisoned citizens from their electro stocks outside the Magistrate’s gate and squares off with a gruff mercenary (Michael Biehn), Tano clashes with the Magistrate. Her Beskar staff easily stands against Tano’s two lightsabers, but the Magistrate cannot match Tano’s ferocity.
With her throat inches away from being slit, the Magistrate reveals the location of her master, Grand Admiral Thrawn. Whoa, whoa, whoa. As if witnessing Ahsoka Tano in action, and learning the name of Grogu was not already enough, The Mandalorian Chapter 13 re-introduces the most feared Imperial officer in the galaxy!?
The revelation is practically a death warrant for Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito). Think about it for a second. The moment the Darksaber-carrying baddie arrived on the scene also meant the annihilation of Werner Herzog‘s more-than-slightly intimidating, although nameless client. Gideon suddenly appears to be merely this season’s boss battle with Grand Admiral Thrawn back on the board.
Thrawn is probably a new name to those who’ve never explored the Star Wars Expanded Universe. He originally appeared in author Timothy Zahn‘s trilogy of novels that began with Heir to the Empire. Written in the time between Return of the Jedi and The Phantom Menace, Zahn’s books were a life preserver for the fandom. While they have since been removed from the canon — thanks to Disney — the books’ big bad was readmitted via some new Zahn novels and the Star Wars: Rebels animated series.
Thrawn is a blue-faced Chiss, a regal military genius who commanded the Imperial Navy and answered only to the Emperor. The key to his many victories was a total understanding of his enemies. He fetishized his prey, obsessing over their culture. For Thrawn, there is no greater pleasure than consuming a species’ history before obliterating them from reality.
In the Star Wars: Rebels Season 4 finale, series hero Ezra Bridger confronts Thrawn on his Star Destroyer bridge. He defeats the Imperial scum by summoning Force-friendly creatures known as Purrgil. These massive space whales tear through the ship’s hull, exposing the combatants to space, but Bridger forms a Force bubble around himself and Thrawn. The whales drag them into hyperspace where they are presumed lost.
Ahsoka Tano swears a pact, along with that series’ Mandalorian badass Sabine Wren, to spend her days hunting for Ezra Bridger. If Thrawn made it out of that weirdo space whale hyperspace, then it stands to reason that Bridger did as well. Tano is less concerned with striking down an old enemy than she is in relocating an ally.
The Mandalorian Chapter 13 concludes with Tano refusing to train Grogu. She will not make the same mistakes committed by Obi-Wan Kenobi. She will not raise another Vader.
Tano does not squash Grogu’s Jedi possibility completely. She instructs Mando to take the child to Tython, where he’ll find the ruins of another Jedi Temple. If Mando places Grogu on “the seeing stone” at the top of the mountain, and he reaches out with the Force, there’s a chance that a proper Jedi might sense his presence and come calling.
With no other options, Mando and Grogu, father and son, set off on their next step.
The Mandalorian Chapter 13 gives more than a sense of the great many battles occurring on the fringes of this series. While Mando and Grogu trek the stars, Bo-Katan fights the leftover remnants of the Empire so she may restore her people’s pride. Ahsoka Tano desperately fights to find a friend, and Moff Gideon and Grand Admiral Thrawn thirst to make their scraps whole.
It’s a lot for a show to put out there, and one could easily see The Mandalorian splintering into several spinoff programs. However, Star Wars‘ grand appeal is its vast canvas. From A New Hope forward, the sense of an unseen epic has always been there. It’s what Luke Skywalker imagined as he stared intently into the two setting suns of Tatooine.
There are no sidelines. Get busy living, or get busy dying. Join the fight. It wages without you.