The Mandalorian

"Chapter 13: The Jedi"

4 stars

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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33 comments on this post

Chris Lopes
Fri, Nov 27, 2020, 12:11pm (UTC -5)
That was a good one. Action with some Star Wars lore. Filoni is definitely an EU fan with the reference to Admiral Thrawn. And yeah, Baby Yoda has a name. I still prefer Baby Yoda.
Leif
Fri, Nov 27, 2020, 2:26pm (UTC -5)
Jammer,

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.
Yanks
Fri, Nov 27, 2020, 4:28pm (UTC -5)
This series is going to make me a Star Wars nut. Grogu!!

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.

Just fantastic!

4 stars easy!
Latex Zebra
Sat, Nov 28, 2020, 9:57am (UTC -5)
Oh man, that was amazing.
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.
Dave in MN
Sat, Nov 28, 2020, 10:46am (UTC -5)
Could a Star Wars fan help me out again?

#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?
Dave in MN
Sat, Nov 28, 2020, 10:48am (UTC -5)
Rosario Dawson was supposed to portray Michael Burnham?!

Man, that would've been a lot better casting.
Fish
Sat, Nov 28, 2020, 8:05pm (UTC -5)
Hey Dave,

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.
Austin
Sat, Nov 28, 2020, 9:50pm (UTC -5)
Fantastic episode. Completely different from the last episode where the action was jam packed from start to finish to a point where it allllmost felt rushed. But this episode took its time to breathe, some real long pauses while Ahsoka pondered over Grogu.

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.
Yanks
Sun, Nov 29, 2020, 6:55am (UTC -5)
@Dave in MN

"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.
CaptainMercer
Sun, Nov 29, 2020, 10:55am (UTC -5)
@Austin
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
John
Sun, Nov 29, 2020, 11:01am (UTC -5)
The fights were fun in this one (and they aren't always in Star Wars, especially in prequels/sequels) but kept thinking when she was holding off the bescar staff with two lightsabers why she didn't just swing one of them around and slice her opponent in half.
Dave in MN
Sun, Nov 29, 2020, 11:53am (UTC -5)
@ Fish

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!)
Leif
Sun, Nov 29, 2020, 3:17pm (UTC -5)
Will Thrawn appear in this series..does anyone know?
Daniel Nugent
Mon, Nov 30, 2020, 3:00am (UTC -5)
@Leif - At best we could hope for a brief shot of him in the season finale, a holo message to Moff Gideon maybe. I imagine the casting on this would be big news so the lack of that makes me think it might be next season he'll appear.
dave
Mon, Nov 30, 2020, 2:08pm (UTC -5)
The Mandalorian is getting damn good. Wow. I enjoyed it before but didn't expect it to get this good and go down the universe building path towards the First Order and all that.

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.
Jammer
Tue, Dec 1, 2020, 11:31am (UTC -5)
Review now posted.
hiddensun
Tue, Dec 1, 2020, 11:47am (UTC -5)
Jason Isaacs for Thrawn, please.
Elise
Tue, Dec 1, 2020, 4:01pm (UTC -5)
Who would you like to see play Thrawn in a liveaction appearance?

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.
dave
Tue, Dec 1, 2020, 4:10pm (UTC -5)
4 Stars!
Dave in MN
Tue, Dec 1, 2020, 6:04pm (UTC -5)
@ Jammer

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.

Thanks!!!! 👍
Yanks
Tue, Dec 1, 2020, 7:14pm (UTC -5)
Fantastic review Jammer!! What a great read!

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?

Anyone?
Elise
Tue, Dec 1, 2020, 8:48pm (UTC -5)
@Yanks she was drummed out in season 5 of TCW, was offered the chance to rejoin but didn't take it. She's definitely an ex-jedi, but doesn't count as one of the "Lost Twenty" because she was only a padawan when she left, which is way more common than a fully fledged jedi knight either leaving or being expelled
Burke
Wed, Dec 2, 2020, 9:12am (UTC -5)
I'm really enjoying Thr Mandalorian, something I never thought I would say before watching it. Just goes to show that in the right hands, there is hope for the future of our favourite franchises. As for Trek, I'm afraid is going to take a little longer.
Yanks
Wed, Dec 2, 2020, 10:24am (UTC -5)
Thanks Elise
Greg M
Wed, Dec 2, 2020, 2:11pm (UTC -5)
I'm currently watching Clone Wars mainly because of Ahsoka and wanting to see her journey. This Mandalorian episode was so good that it motivated me to continue Clone Wars. Great Review Jammer.
djkazaz
Fri, Dec 4, 2020, 8:29am (UTC -5)
@Elise

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.
Sebastian
Sat, Dec 5, 2020, 9:07pm (UTC -5)
Can't believe ST Discovery meager rating while this show gets so many stars. If your, Jammer's, reviews sounded like giving preference to an only visually smart VFX Western of the Star Wars mill, sure, why not.
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?!
Z
Sat, Dec 5, 2020, 10:48pm (UTC -5)
@Sebastian in my opinion, Star Trek and Star Wars are often wrongly compared against one another. They are two very different shows. For that reason, they should be reviewed differently. Trek is not about CGI or action set pieces, so emphasis should not be put on those.

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.
Booming
Thu, Dec 17, 2020, 5:26pm (UTC -5)
This is nothing great. In the end it is the same story we have seen 10 times on this show but what it does it does very effectively. Even though I'm starting to tune out in fight scenes. Jammer compared this to Kurosawa, probably seven samurai but in that movie there are actual stakes, apart from a far more complex story. Spoiler for a 70 years old movie. Four of the seven Samurai die. When we see fight scenes in this I know that non of the good guys are going to die. The fight between the Jedi and the lady was baffling, I guess they had to pretend that there is danger, still why the Jedi wouldn't slice her in half in 0.3 seconds is beyond me. Same goes for the merc captain. I had hoped they would let him walk away but cliches in Italo Western being what they are...

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.
Dave in MN
Thu, Dec 17, 2020, 10:48pm (UTC -5)
@ Boomimg

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. 😟
Booming
Fri, Dec 18, 2020, 4:31am (UTC -5)
Sorry that this will lessen your enjoyment of the film. It is a 70 year old movie, though. And I wrote spoiler. It is 200 min long and has many themes besides the body count. ;)

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.
Naomi
Sat, Dec 26, 2020, 1:45pm (UTC -5)
Great review, Jammer! Star Wars was my gateway into sci-fi, and it's great to see Favreau, Filoni, & co carry the spirit of the original trilogy after the sequel movies had the wrong emphasis.

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...
The Emissary
Fri, Mar 5, 2021, 10:59am (UTC -5)
"She (R. Dawson) has more acting prowess in her pinky than SMG has in her whole body."

No.

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