Star Wars fans have been patient, but now is the time for The Mandalorian to give up its spoils.
Ahsoka Tano, in all her glory, has arrived, leaping out of her animated form in The Clone Wars and Rebels series, and into the realm of live action. She’s played by a famous, and instantly recognisable actor. And it’s all anyone will want to talk about for the next week – her look, her words, her choices.
But the episode, titled “The Jedi”, doesn’t play like some cynical cash-in. Placed in the hands of Dave Filoni, who created Ahsoka and guided her story, this is a heartfelt, triumphant salute to her legacy. It’s a gift, too, to the fans who embraced Ahsoka as their own and helped make the animated series as central to the franchise as they are today.
Read more: Who is Ahsoka Tano?
There are nods and hidden treats at every turn – take note of the familiar creatures that scurry around the edges of frames.
The Ahsoka that Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) meets is one who carries the great burden of betrayal. She was once a young and eager Padawan, a Jedi apprentice, who was accused of a crime she didn’t commit and forced to watch her master, Anakin Skywalker, fall to the dark side.
But there is peace within her, too, a knowledge that she was right to leave the Jedi Order behind and forge her own path. Her emotions have coloured the way she moves through the world – swiftly, silently, like a phantom. The Ahsoka of today is wise, but wary of placing trust in those she doesn’t know.
“The Jedi” reveals two significant pieces of information. One is tied to the Child’s past, the other to Ashoka’s future. Season two has, so far, been shaped by a strange push-and-pull of connective threads. Here, Filoni is pursuing an unresolved storyline from Rebels.
Last week, it was suggested that Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) has something to do with the creation of Snoke (or else why would the clones Din discovered look so much like him?).
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Will The Mandalorian create a direct, narrative bridge between the animated series and the sequel trilogy? “The Jedi”, at least, gives us a good sense of The Child’s place in all this. It’s the first time we’ve ever really seen any depth to his character beyond “ravenous gremlin” – there’s a touch of sadness there, a sense of loss even.
“The Jedi” is a busy, complicated episode, but that doesn’t mean it necessarily leaves casual viewers out in the cold. There’s still a villain-of-the-day to be defeated, hiding out in a beautiful, unfamiliar world.
Filoni lets the city of Calodan, on the forest planet of Corvus, draw inspiration from Ahsoka herself – if she is the Rōnin, the wandering warrior, then Calodan is the fortress, heavily inspired by the architecture of feudal Japan.
A magistrate (Diana Lee Inosanto) keeps its people frightened, cowering in their homes. The streets are lined with dimly lit lamps, like fireflies suspended in a thick fog.
Beyond the gates lies a dead forest. It’s a sumptuous canvas on which to place one of the franchise’s most beloved characters, as she stalks her prey, two white lightsabers gleaming in the night.