The Mandalorian season 2 answered major questions about Baby Yoda Friday, as episode 5 hit Disney Plus. After a sidequest led to revelations about the Imperial Remnant's plans in last week's episode, Mando (Pedro Pascal) continues his quest to bring Baby Yoda (aka The Child) to former Jedi Ahsoka Tano in the years following Return of the Jedi.
Episode 5, entitled The Jedi, was written and directed by Dave Filoni, the man behind CGI animated series The Clone Wars and Rebels (he also played a New Republic X-Wing pilot and directed two episodes last season).
Let's wade into a sea of spoilers.
Baby Yoda's real name
Mando tracks down Ahsoka Tano, the former Padawan of the late Anakin Skywalker, in the city of Calodan on the forest -- or deforested -- planet of Corvus. She's played by Rosario Dawson, as was reported earlier this year, whom you might remember playing Claire Temple in Netflix's Marvel shows.
She communes with Baby Yoda through the Force, and we learn his real name -- Grogu.
Sounds a bit like Hutt's name, but still better than Yaddle. Better change those "Baby Yoda" tattoos and reissue all that "The Child" merchandise. Ahsoka doesn't name his race -- she may not know -- so we'll just have to go on calling it "Yoda's species."
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Ahsoka reveals that Grogu was raised in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, and received training from many masters. He was hidden when the Empire Order 66'd the Jedi in Revenge of the Sith -- but by who?! He's hidden his powers to stay off the Empire's radar over the years -- we know from Rebels that Inquisitors hunted Force sensitive beings for Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader.
"I sense much fear in you," she says to Grogu, mirroring Yoda's line to Anakin in The Phantom Menace.
To be fair, Mando brings him into some terrifying situations involving murder droids, flamethrower-wielding stormtroopers and dragons. I'd be a permanent state of fear.
Read more: I've been living with a life-size Grogu
Ahsoka's live-action debut
Ahsoka's story was mostly most in CGI animated series The Clone Wars -- see this year's final season for some epic Ahsoka action -- and Rebels. It's our first time seeing Ahsoka in live action, and the first time she hasn't been played by voice actor Ashley Eckstein (who also did a vocal cameo in The Rise of Skywalker). I associated Eckstein so strongly with the character that it was a little weird hearing her with a different voice, but I totally accepted Dawson in the role by the end of the episode.
If you want to avoid spoilers for The Clone Wars and Rebels -- two shows I highly recommend you watch immediately -- maybe skip the next paragraph.
Towards the end of the Clone Wars, Ahsoka left the Jedi Order and survived the rise of the Empire, before showing up again during events of Rebels. She says "I am no Jedi" when she confronts Vader in Rebels, but doesn't deny it when people refer to her as one in this episode -- either she's accepted that she pretty much is a Jedi or she's just tired of correcting people (maybe she should get it printed on a t-shirt?).
Filoni noted fans' focus on the line from Rebels in a Nov. 30 interview with Vanity Fair.
"It's undeniable that she's trained by the Jedi. I think to most observers she is very Jedi to them," the director said. "I would argue in some ways-by being so selfless and rejecting a lot of paths that would have given her power-she's more Jedi-like than even some characters who claim to be Jedi."
We last saw Ahsoka in a Rebels epilogue that took place sometime after the events of Return of the Jedi -- it's unclear if that happened before or after this episode -- when she joined Mandalorian Sabine Wren in quest to find missing Jedi Padawan Ezra Bridger.
Also, her white-bladed lightsabers look dope in live action! These are the first traditional lightsabers we've seen in the show, since we've previously only seen the Darksaber. At 31:55, she activates them the same way she did before her fight with Vader in Rebels.
Read more: The Mandalorian season 2 episode 5 review: Way of the samurai
Attachment is forbidden
Ahsoka refuses to train Grogu because he's become too attached to Mando, fearing that the bond will bring him to the dark side.
"I've seen what such feelings can do to a fully trained Jedi Knight," she says. "To the best of us."
She's referring to Anakin, whose attachment to his mother and Padmé Amidala made him go all Darth Vader-y and engage in such antisocial behavior as threateningly activating his lightsaber in a room full of kids and Force choking his wife.
It's a good call, since Grogu's attachment to Mando already resulted in him choking Cara Dune.
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However, she offers Mando an alternative -- bring Grogu to the seeing stone on top of a mountain at the temple ruins on the planet Tython. There, the little guy can reach out through the Force and a Jedi might sense his presence.
"Then again, there aren't many Jedi left," she says.
Maybe name them Ahsoka! That'd be handy -- right now, we know of Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa. Ezra Bridger is likely alive, and we don't know what happened to Cere Junda to Cal Kestis. Both survived the events of Jedi: Fallen Order, which took place prior to A New Hope, but it seems unlikely that characters from a video game will play major roles in this show.
If Luke comes, the show would have to recast or de-age actor Mark Hamill (or hide his face). Going with Luke would also suggest a dark fate for Grogu, since the Jedi he was training were killed when Ben Solo turned to the dark side.
This episode also reveals that Ahsoka is hunting Grand Admiral Thrawn, the Imperial villain who disappeared with Ezra in the final season of Rebels -- this suggests that Thrawn has resurfaced in the decades since those events. Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto) is apparently his protege.
The Magistrate is super ruthless and mean because her people were killed in the Clone Wars. She went into the business of plundering worlds to help build the Imperial Starfleet, which presumably meant stripping planets of their natural resources and causing climate change. Adding insult to injury, she's reduced the people of Calodan to living in slum-like conditions.
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It's possible that she's continuing her work to build up a fleet for the future First Order, but Thrawn's place (if he has any) in that regime is unclear at this point.
She also plays up the ancient rivalry between the Mandalorians and Jedi to get Mando to hunt down Ahsoka, and offers him a sweet beskar spear (which he gets in the end anyway).
Her goon, Lang (Michael Biehn), is kinda set up as a dark mirror to Mando. He's a mercenary without compassion -- much like Boba Fett in the Original Trilogy -- hinting at what Mando could have become if he'd left Grogu with the Imperial Remnant in season 1.
The little guy gets a few nice moments in this episode. Grogu uses the Force to steal the stick shift he grew fond of in season 1, babbles adorably when Mando uses his real name, and sleeps soundly when Mando returns after liberating Calodan.
Easter eggs and observations
- Composer Ludwig Göransson works in Ahsoka's Theme, written by Kevin Kiner for The Clone Wars, in a few times this episode.
- This show seems to be following the structure of Rebels, in that the first season focused on introducing new characters and building up its own corner of the universe, then the second brings in familiar faces from the movies and other shows.
- Diana Lee Inosanto is the goddaughter of the late martial arts icon Bruce Lee.
- Michael Biehn played Kyle Reese in The Terminator and Corporal Dwayne Hicks in Aliens.
- "A Mandalorian and a Jedi?" They'll never see it coming." The action in this episode is top-notch, especially as Ahsoka hunts down the scout guards in the mist, activating and deactivating her white-bladed lightsabers to vanish between attacks.
- Ahsoka smiles fondly as she remembers Yoda. She also has to explain the Force to Mando because he's a noob (and possibly because his cult-like group of Mandalorians kept that knowledge from him).
- When she loses one of her lightsabers, she switches her remaining one to her classic reverse grip.
- The Magistrate's droid bodyguards are HK-87 units -- Knights of the Old Republic fans will remember HK-47 fondly, like the meatbags we are.
- Tython plays a major role in the Legends continuity, as the homeworld of the Jedi Order. It's also the starting planet for Jedi Knight and Consular characters in The Old Republic, and featured in the Dawn of the Jedi comics. In canon, it's considered a possible location for the first Jedi Temple -- a nod to the Legends material.
- Ahsoka fans will be pleased that Morai, a convor seen in The Clone Wars and Rebels, shows up here too (at 15:34, as Mando searches for Ahsoka). The owl-like creature has been a friend to Ahsoka since the Mortis arc in season 3 of The Clone Wars, and can usually be spotted in episodes where the former Jedi appears. Thanks to CNET reader Crousore for the timecode!
- We see a Loth-cat -- a regular sight in Rebels -- at around 31:48.
Check out my recaps for all the Mandalorian's Easter eggs and important Star Wars continuity references:
- Chapter 9: The Marshal recap
- Chapter 10: The Passenger recap
- Chapter 11: The Heiress recap
- Chapter 12: The Siege recap
- Chapter 13: The Jedi recap
- Chapter 14: Friday, Dec. 4
- Chapter 15: Friday, Dec. 11
- Chapter 16: Friday, Dec. 18
Join us for more Easter eggs and observations next Friday, after episode 6 of The Mandalorian season 2 hits Disney Plus.