Season 2, Episode 5: The Jedi
Baby Yoda has a name!
In The Jedi, the last chapter of The Mandalorian, Dean Jarin finally reaches the desolate forest planet Corvus, where he intends to leave the Child with Asoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), a Jedi who may be able to train the little boy. First, however, Asoka joins the Force to communicate telepathically with his potential student. She learns about how he was taken from the Jedi Temple of Coruscant and how he spent many dark, lonely years living in fear. And she learns his name, which is … Grog.
On the other hand, whenever Mando says “Grog”, the child looks at him straight and makes a slight bubble, as if to say “Yes?” This is a delightful thing to watch and hear. So the Mandalorian gives, just as he takes.
Since this week’s episode was the fifth of an eight-episode season – and since Disney has already ordered season 3, there was no small chance that Dean said goodbye to Grog this week. Instead, not long after Asoka’s initial conversation, she tells the Mandalorian that it is a terrible idea for her to teach the child. On the one hand, she fears his enormous power, which he has learned to hide since leaving the temple. She worries that the prolonged anger at how he was treated will divert him to the Dark Side if he ever unlocks the full potential of the Force. Asoka, who was a fallen student studying the Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, is well aware of how the powerful can be corrupted.
Another reason Asoka doesn’t want to become Grog’s mentor is that she’s pretty busy right now. She is trying to free the long-suffering citizens of the city of Kalodan from the tyrannical rule of Magistrate Morgan Ellsbeth (Diana Lee Inosanto). The two have been locking horns for some time, each using maximum pressure to demand the surrender of the other – with Asoka, who regularly kills the sinister masked Elsbet, and Elsbet closes and tortures every well that helps Asoka.
Although this episode adds significant new tracks to the show’s larger history, he almost played as a back door pilot for a new Star Wars live series starring Asoka. (The character is well portrayed in Star Wars animated shows, appearing in both The Clone Wars and The Rebels.) After she meets Mando – and after they have a short but exciting battle – she tells him it helps you find out just a little more about Grogu before she returns to her daily work, fighting evil. The Mandalorian plays a minor role in the climatic sequence of actions in this chapter. He helped liberate Calodan and then plunged into an old-fashioned confrontation with Morgan Ellsbet’s right-hand man, Lang (Michael Bien).
The main confrontation this week is between the magistrate and the Jedi, who have a royal battle the equivalent of a Zen garden in Corvus, just like something from an old martial arts movie. (Inosanto is a veteran stuntwoman and stunt coordinator who knows the genre well.) Asoka duels with two lightsabers, while Morgan has a spear made of light-sword-resistant metal beskar – also known as “Mandalorian steel”. This is a fantastic battle that ends with the discovery of another important name of the villain: her master, Grand Admiral Thrawn, a character who appears in several of the fans’ favorite Star Wars novels.
And yet, although The Mandalorian is a bystander for much of the approximately 45-minute performance time, it is a compelling and meaningful episode that draws its emotional attraction and tension from the character’s personal code – and from his relationship with Grog. There is a lot of talk this week about contracts and promises and how Dean Jarin feels obligated to perform the tasks he has agreed to without taking compensation unless he has succeeded. But he remains unsure who he should serve when it comes to the Child, who may end up traveling the galaxy in Razor Crest rather than parking with some vain Jedi who won’t let him have fun.
There is a touching moment at the beginning of the episode when Asoka tries to test Grog’s strength by asking him to move a small rock with his mind. When he refuses, she asks Mando to try – “to see if I can listen to you.” He jokes, “That would be the first.” But then he has a brilliant idea and takes the gear knob out of his bag. Grog, who loves this little ball, immediately pulls it into the air telekinetically.
So, here is this Mandalorian, obsessed with following every agreement until the letter. And here is this child who does not speak. Yet for months, this strange couple has been taking care of each other and of course, without the need for a common language – or even names.
This is the way:
Unlike last week’s episode, which borrowed many images directly from Star Wars movies, this week looks more visually inspired by Star Wars cartoons and video games (as well as old western and samurai photos). However, screenwriter Dave Filoni includes a familiar snippet of the films, although the Mandalorian explores Corvus’s surroundings with a pair of electronic binoculars, marveling at huge wood-eating animals … just before Asoka Tano attacks him. The scene echoes one of the first films, when Luke Skywalker watches a couple of Bantas on the horizon and Tusken Raider catches him in surprise.