"Chapter 13: The Jedi"
Air date: 11/27/2020
Written and directed by Dave Filoni
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
On Corvus, Jedi Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) arrives at the gates of an occupied city and demands an audience with the Magistrate, Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto), with whom she has unsettled business (*). It's a standoff, with the guards unable to kill or capture Tano but holding her at bay by threatening the city's innocent hostages. In between two nights of this standoff, Djarin arrives at the city and is hired by Elsbeth to assassinate Tano. His reward: a staff made of pure beskar. Of course, since Djarin has come here specifically to bring the Child to Tano, Elsbeth has no idea that she has basically set in motion her own defeat.
* Tano wants to know the whereabouts of Grand Admiral Thrawn, of apparent significance in the larger Star Wars universe, but unknown to me.
"The Jedi" is a masterpiece of cinematic style, mood, and photography, executed in the spirit of an Akira Kurosawa samurai epic, with nods in the editing, cinematography, production design, and the amazing atmosphere that suffuses every scene. I'm no expert on East Asian cinema, and I can't call out individual shots and match them to their source films, but Dave Filoni has taken an episode of pop-culture television and brought an artistry to it that's cumulatively effective in how it evokes an overall aesthetic, whether it's with the composition of particular shots (for example, the long-shot side view establishing Tano about to face off with the Elsbeth on the bridge), or the smoke from the charred forest that hangs in the air in every scene.
I'm reminded of how Quentin Tarantino used Kill Bill to brilliantly meld his favorite martial arts movies with the spaghetti western. If most episodes of The Mandalorian are in the western template, we here get the definitive episode of the East (*). The middle passages, where we spend time in the charred forest with Tano, Djarin, and the young Grogu (yes, we officially learn the Child's name!), have an eerie and serene quietness to them that isn't simply a setting for exposition (although we do get that, satisfyingly), but serves up stillness as its own aesthetic reward.
* But we get our western gunslinging as well, with Mando facing off against the Magistrate's top mercenary, played by Michael Biehn.
The episode gives us some details on the Child's origins: He was born on Coruscant, and hidden for decades as the Empire rose and fell. Tano says she can't train Grogu because he's too filled with fear and too attached to the Mandalorian. So she gives Djarin a different mission, involving a quest to a mountaintop. (Djarin's plight in this series is destined to follow one lead to the next.)
I realize Tano has a long history in the animated tales, and I can't comment on how her presence here tracks with all that came before. But Dawson is very effective as a Jedi warrior with her own mission, and here finds an unexpected partnership with a Mandalorian. The episode culminates with an action sequence that's a master class in tension and technique. I again have to hand it to the way this show envisions action as a full tactile experience: The way Tano's lightsaber clangs against the Magistrate's beskar staff allows us to feel the action rather than just watch it. This is possibly The Mandalorian's finest hour.
Previous episode: Chapter 12: The Siege
Next episode: Chapter 14: The Tragedy
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37 comments on this post
Fri, Nov 27, 2020, 12:11pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 27, 2020, 2:26pm (UTC -5)
How are you getting Dosney plus? You are paying full price, or yiubjave some kind of discount? If so, can you hook us up, your loyal long time readers lol.
Fri, Nov 27, 2020, 4:28pm (UTC -5)
IMO opinion, this was the best episode of 'The Mandalorian' yet!!
Rosario Dawson was frakin OUTSTANDING as Tano! Really, she should have played Michael Burnham like was initially planned. She has more acting prowess in her pinky than SMG has in her whole body.
I haven't seen all of 'The Clone Wars' but I remember her.
I don't know all the players, like who she was looking for and all that but man, this episode had me gripped for the entire 31 minutes. Everything was fantastic. The pace, the acting, scenery, the fighting... all of it.
4 stars easy!
Sat, Nov 28, 2020, 9:57am (UTC -5)
Thrawn getting a name drop was amazing as well. I read the EU books that first came out in the 90's with him in so the potential for him to be in this series is super exciting.
Sat, Nov 28, 2020, 10:46am (UTC -5)
#1. Why was the Jedi's light saber white?
#2. Was Baby Yoda (I like that better than Grogu) on Coruscant when Anakin flipped out? I think that happened in the third prequel movie.
#3. Both the Jedi and the Mandalorians both seem to be generally "good" actors on the galactic stage Why are these 2 groups enemies instead of allies?
Sat, Nov 28, 2020, 10:48am (UTC -5)
Man, that would've been a lot better casting.
Sat, Nov 28, 2020, 8:05pm (UTC -5)
Jedi’s lightsabers colours are determined by the natural colour of the crystal they get for them, generally green or blue. Sith, however take a crystal and use the dark side to “bleed” it, corrupting it and turning it red. Ahsoka’s crystals are from the lightsaber of a dark side user she killed and she essentially purged the dark side energy from the crystals, which turned them white. It’s also kind of symbolic because of her status as neither Jedi nor Sith.
Can’t really confirm whether Baby Yoda was in the temple when Anakin went on his rampage so that’s uncertain.
Mandos used to have like a big time warrior culture and fairly aggressive foreign policy I think, which brought them into conflict with the Jedi. Whereas by the time we see them in the Clone Wars they’re totally pacifist but then descend into civil war again.
Sat, Nov 28, 2020, 9:50pm (UTC -5)
This is two 4/4 episodes in a row for me. The 1-on-1 fight at the end was great, especially when she flipped her lightsaber around! I turned to my wife and said “oh, she dead.” Grogu’s name was.... eh? But it definitely sounds like it could come from the same place as someone named “Yoda.”
Any theories as to who the previous owner of the second lightsaber was? It couldn’t be Anakin’s could it? I never finished the cartoon.
Sun, Nov 29, 2020, 6:55am (UTC -5)
"Rosario Dawson was supposed to portray Michael Burnham?!
Man, that would've been a lot better casting."
I should clarify. Bryan Fuller had expressed that he always wanted to write a Star Trek series centered on her. I don't know that she auditioned or not. Probably not, because I think it would have been an easy casting choice.
Sun, Nov 29, 2020, 10:55am (UTC -5)
I think I've seen her wield two sabers at a time in the shows. I think the second lightsaber is hers. Except for hers.. I didn't see other lightsabers
Sun, Nov 29, 2020, 11:01am (UTC -5)
Sun, Nov 29, 2020, 11:53am (UTC -5)
Thanks so much!!! I appreciate the explanations: I haven't seen all of the movies (I never saw Rogue One or Solo) or any of the TV shows so watching the Mandalorian raises a lot of questions (which I'm happy to see have logical answers).
I know Mando has his mission and I don't believe he would just give Baby Yoda away to a stranger, but I still the spent the whole episode praying the Jedi would turn him down.
One thing I LOVE about this show is how the hand-to-hand combat is easy to follow. Many movies are ruined with a ton of jump cuts and music blasts punctuating the punches (like 60's Batman). It's nice to see fights choreographed with the viewer's perception in mind.
I also like how this show has a wide ranging cast but yet resists the urge to "Mary Sue"/saintify the characters. As I said while I watched The Orville, I find programs with flawed protagonists/ antagonists portayals to be much more plausible and enjoyable to watch.
This is how programs should be cast and filmed.
This show is actually making me more interested in the Star Wars universe (after 40 years of me not being interested whatsoever), so I'd call that good filmmaking.
I'd have to give this episode ⭐⭐⭐⭐. I was engrossed from start to finish. (I watched it twice!)
Sun, Nov 29, 2020, 3:17pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Nov 30, 2020, 3:00am (UTC -5)
Mon, Nov 30, 2020, 2:08pm (UTC -5)
Just blown away by the last couple of episodes and how good they are.
Can Disney please just give Jon Favreau the top spot for Star Wars and let him run the ship for anything they do going forward? The man knows how to deliver Star Wars.
Tue, Dec 1, 2020, 11:47am (UTC -5)
Tue, Dec 1, 2020, 4:01pm (UTC -5)
My first thought is Bradley Whitford, but I could see Jason Isaacs too, @hiddensun. If he doesn't mind playing such a similar character to the Operative, Chiwetel Ejiofor would be friggin fantastic- also he'd look super sexy with red eyes, which is important to all of us who have a crush on thrawn.
While Thrawn's role in disney canon is much less interesting than in the old EU, if thrawn is discovered, we'd probably get Ezra from Rebels brought over to live action as well, which is pretty cool.
Tue, Dec 1, 2020, 4:10pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Dec 1, 2020, 6:04pm (UTC -5)
This review is one of the reasons I really enjoy your insights. I hadn't even thought of Rashoman or Ran until you brought up Kurosawa, but you are ABSOLUTELY correct!!!! (I'm annoyed I didn't make that connection, but that's why I read your reviews.).
This episode was as much a meditation how one's honor, duty and personal biases may conflict with each other.
I'm going to have to watch the episode again. There's a whole other layer of allegory for me to examine now.
Tue, Dec 1, 2020, 7:14pm (UTC -5)
I've watched this thing 3 times now and well it was.... what Jammer said! :-)
Hey, I've heard wanking in the social media universe that Tano isn't a Jedi?
Tue, Dec 1, 2020, 8:48pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 2, 2020, 9:12am (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 2, 2020, 10:24am (UTC -5)
Wed, Dec 2, 2020, 2:11pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Dec 4, 2020, 8:29am (UTC -5)
I think Jason Isaacs will make a fantastic Grand Admiral Thrawn.
Bradley Whitford is too much of a nice guy.
For the benefit of those who asked, Thrawn is the key character from a trilogy of novels called "Heir To The Empire" which were supposed to take place after Return of the Jedi. He was an Admiral who started to put the empire back together after their defeat and a very compelling character.
Dave Filoni used him in the Star Wars Rebels cartoon (also featuring Ahsoka) which took place prior to A New Hope.
His presence in the Madalorian suggests he is behind Moff Gideon's actions and will become increasingly important.
Ahsoka's presence links with the previous backstories of the Clone Wars, where she starts out as Anakin Skywalker's padawan and ends up leaving the Jedi disillusioned, to Rebels where she comes back to start the rebellion and protect them from Vader.
For my money, this is a much better sequel to star wars than the simply horrid trilogy Disney gave us. I hope they continue down this path without ever linking to that dumpster fire.
Sat, Dec 5, 2020, 9:07pm (UTC -5)
But you see how each of the series works, what they are trying to establish and how they do it and yet SW Mandalorian gets high praise for SO MUCH LESS. I don't get it.
It is the same SW as always. The same races, the same kinda helmets, blaster shots and terrible misses, stupid droids, towns in nowhere, jedi in a swamp, plus idiotic metal, a voice actor trying his best to build character without a face (good job under a harsh condition) but who's character doesn't get true development. He and everyone else pretty much just IS. The constant bounty hunter turned involuntary nice guy cowboy plot. That's as much character as the Mandalorian got in 2 seasons so far. There is more going on in a single e.g. ST:DIS episode.
The praised fight between jedi and magistrate is rediculous. Jedi not using her powers and downgrading her speed and agility to make someone with a metal stick look even the least bit threatening. And that stick is what made that magistrate boss of the town or what? She does not have a character besides "evil person" either.
None of the story arc's make sense. 1. Spent resources incl. Mandalorian metal to get metal to spend metal. Meet more Mandalorian to then leave them as easily and not go to Mandalore. Bring a child to its family that is not its family at all nor does he know the least bit about them. The one thing he should know is that force sensitive beings are born into many species across the galaxy time and again, some turning out benevolent, others seeking power for themselves, going on and on for thousands of years. What is he doing other than playing lineman gunslinger ruining his ship instead of earning credits?!
Sat, Dec 5, 2020, 10:48pm (UTC -5)
Regardless, I am a lifelong Star Trek fan certainly with a bias for Trek but Mandalorian's "The Jedi" was a fantastic science fiction showpiece. I hope Discovery can find creative leadership to make Trek great again and keep it honest and faithful to the series that came before it by growing the universe, not shrinking it.
Thu, Dec 17, 2020, 5:26pm (UTC -5)
A few interesting things. The world still feels more alive then Discovery. When you see a guy point a thing at the ship or see a giant animal in the background eating something. It creates the illusion that this could exist.
Also the thought that Baby Yoda is really old but also a toddler is interesting.
Thu, Dec 17, 2020, 10:48pm (UTC -5)
You could've phrased that spoiler a little better. I kept seeing the movie referenced the last few weeks so it was on my must watch list.
Thanks for that. 😟
Fri, Dec 18, 2020, 4:31am (UTC -5)
Also while being the most famous in the USA I would say that Rashomon and Ran are superior films from Kurosawa. If Star Wars is your focus then you should watch the Hidden Fortress which had a major influence on Lucas.
Sat, Dec 26, 2020, 1:45pm (UTC -5)
Really didn't like the makeup design on Ahsoka- the Togruta makeup design from the prequels is so much better. The wrinkling might have been included to show aging, but to me it just made her look like a cheap prosthetic.
When comparing Mandalorian and Discovery, of course Discovery comes out negatively. The sparse dialogue in Mandalorian feels rich and realistic, whereas Discovery feels schmaltzy and try-hard. The Mandalorian has some insane worldbuilding, including grazing animals and bustling marketplaces every episode, keeping its characters on the periphery of authority. It all comes down the the writing room, the ideas being bounced off the wall. It's so hard for me to get through an episode at this point, whereas I binged Mandalorian in a few days over the holidays. I want Discovery to be this good so bad but it just... isn't...
Fri, Mar 5, 2021, 10:59am (UTC -5)
Tue, Aug 10, 2021, 1:28am (UTC -5)
Ex-Jedi Tano was outstanding. She moved like one would expect from a classically trained Jedi. I'm going to have to watch Clone Wars and Rebels now. Everyone please refrIan from spoilers. 🙏🙃
But the best part was the Grand Admiral Thrawn name drop. He was the best character in the Extended U. Very smart, very competent, not actually evil. A truly worthy antagonist. I hope they roll his story in. Mara Jade would be great fun to see as well.
Excellent episode. Looked fabulous too. And now Mando has a magical metal staff that repels lightsabers. Who knew?
Mon, Dec 13, 2021, 11:48pm (UTC -5)
On a side note, Timothy Zahn, when tasked with writing the books, was given the entire WEG Star Wars RPG collection to use as background information.
The name Thrawn was huge for a while - it was in later books, video games, and mentioned everywhere. When Disney bought the franchise and relegated all that to non-canon "Legend", well.. it was like a kick in the head to the fans who stayed with Star Wars for the long haul.
That one name, Thrawn, in a canon product, brought back some of that wonder. Some of that feeling that Star Wars could rise again, into something special, like the original movies, without the sins of the later movies intruding. It's a weird feeling, but a good one.
Or, at least, that's how I see it.
Sat, Jul 23, 2022, 5:04pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 22, 2023, 10:24pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Apr 3, 2023, 7:36pm (UTC -5)
Also starting to feel at this stage I need better knowledge of the Star Wars-verse (so to speak) to have the background on the clone wars, this "magistrate" etc. and the events that lead up to this tale.
Reminded me of the best fight scene I've ever seen in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" when the Jedi and the magistrate fought, though this was nothing near that calibre when the Jedi fought the Magistrate. But the atmosphere created here was fantastic -- again excellent execution all around.
Interesting this notion of Grogu can't be trained due to his attachment to Mando and what the consequences could be for a Jedi/Grogu. Need some more background on that.
I think there's a hint of how Grogu might have suffered greatly prior to his current adventure. Really liked the quieter scenes between the Jedi/Grogu as they communicate telepathically + the training exercises in the burned out forest.
3.5 stars for "Chapter 13: The Jedi" -- this is the model MAND should aim for with a lot more emphasis on the bigger universe, motivations, history etc. instead of the usual action scenes. Now getting the sense that there's a good deal of history behind the events currently unfolding which is pretty cool.
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