Season 2, Episode 5: ‘The Jedi’
Baby Yoda has a name!
In “The Jedi”, the final chapter of “The Mandalorian”, Din Djarin finally arrives on the desolate forest planet of Corvus, where he intends to leave the child with Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), a Jedi who could form the little man. First, Ahsoka taps into the Force to communicate telepathically with her potential student. She learns how he was taken from the Jedi Temple in Coruscant and how he spent many dark and lonely years living in fear. And she learns his name, which is … Grogu.
I admit having mixed feelings about this revelation. There is nothing wrong with Grogu, who is neither more nor less stupid than any other name in “Star Wars”. (Honestly, any name should sound relatively simple after 12 mystery episodes.) But now it will be difficult to justify calling the child “Baby Yoda.” It’s a bit disappointing.
On the other hand, every time Mando says “Grogu”, the Child looks at him straight and makes a small gurgling sound, as if to say “Yes?” It’s a delightful thing to see and hear. And so, “The Mandalorian” gives, just as he takes away.
Because this week’s episode was the fifth in an eight-episode season – and since Disney has already ordered a season 3 – there was little chance that Din would say goodbye to Grogu this week. Instead, shortly after Ahsoka’s initial conversation, she tells the Mandalorian that it is a terrible idea for her to train the child. On the one hand, she fears his immense power, which he has learned to hide since he left the temple. She fears that the lingering anger over the way he was treated will tip him over to the dark side, if he ever unlocks the Force’s full potential. Ahsoka, who was a Padawan learner under Jedi knight Anakin Skywalker, knows well how the powerful can be corrupted.
Another reason Ahsoka may not want to become Grogu’s mentor is that she is quite busy at the moment. She tried to free the long-suffering citizens of the city of Calodan from the tyrannical power of Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto). The two locked the horns for a while, each using maximum pressure to demand the surrender of the other – Ahsoka regularly killing Elsbeth’s creepy masked goons and Elsbeth imprisoning and torturing any Calodanian who aids Ahsoka.
While this episode adds some important new pieces to the series’ larger storyline, it almost plays like a backdoor pilot for a new live-action “Star Wars” series starring Ahsoka. (The character has been well portrayed in the “Star Wars” animated shows, appearing in both “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels.”) After meeting Mando – and after a brief but thrilling fight – she helps him out. only understand a little more about Grogu before she returns to her day job, fighting evil. The Mandalorian plays a minor role in this chapter’s climactic action sequence. He helps free Calodan, then finds himself stuck in an old-fashioned standoff with Morgan Elsbeth’s right-hand man, Lang (Michael Biehn).
The main showdown this week is between the Magistrate and the Jedi, who have a battle royale in the Corvus equivalent of a Zen Garden, much like something out of an old martial arts movie. (Inosanto is a seasoned stuntwoman and stunt coordinator familiar with the genre.) Ahsoka fights with two lightsabers while Morgan has a spear made from the beskar lightsaber resistant metal – aka “Mandalorian Steel.” It’s a fantastic fight, which ends with the villain revealing yet another important name: his master, Grand Admiral Thrawn, a character who appears in several of the fan-favorite “Star Wars” novels.
Yet even though the Mandalorian is a spectator for much of the roughly 45-minute span, it’s a gripping and meaningful episode, drawing its emotional pull and tension from the hero’s personal code – and his relationship with Grogu. There’s a lot of talk this week about contracts and promises, and how Din Djarin feels obligated to complete the tasks he has accepted, without taking any compensation if he doesn’t. But it remains unclear who he’s supposed to serve as far as the Child is concerned, who might be better off traveling the galaxy in Razor Crest than parking with tough Jedi who won’t let him have fun.
There is a moving moment at the start of the episode where Ahsoka attempts to test Grogu’s powers by having him move a small boulder with his mind. When he refuses, she asks Mando to try – “to see if he’ll listen to you.” He jokes: “It would be a first.” But then he has a brilliant idea, and he pulls his ship’s gearshift knob out of his pocket. Grogu, who loves this little bullet, immediately shoots it into the air by telekinesis.
Here is this Mandalorian, obsessed with respecting each agreement to the letter. And here’s this kid, who doesn’t speak. Yet for months, this odd couple took care of each other and understood each other, without needing any common language – or even names.
This is the way:
Unlike last week’s episode, which borrowed a lot of footage straight from the “Star Wars” movies, this week’s one seems more visually inspired by the “Star Wars” cartoons and video games (as well as the old westerns and samurai images). Writer-director Dave Filoni does include a familiar piece of schtick from the films, however, where the Mandalorian watches his surroundings on Corvus through a pair of electronic binoculars, marveling at huge tree-eating animals … just before ‘Ahsoka Tano does not attack him. The scene echoes that of the first film, when Luke Skywalker watches a Bantha couple on the horizon and a Tusken Raider surprises him.