This review contains spoilers for The Mandalorian episode “The Jedi”
The first time I watched “The Jedi,” I had a pretty negative reaction to it. I wrote it out in a longer post, so I’ll just sum it up right fast here. I had a very emotional response to seeing Ahsoka in live action, and it wasn’t a great experience overall. Looking back at the last few days, I’m glad I felt the way I did. It was an exercise in a lot of different things for me to process.
This is exactly what art should do. Art should make a person react in a way. It could be positive, negative, happy, sad. That is the power of art. “The Jedi” made me react negatively, but that’s not the fault of the episode.
It was mine.
There are some things we react to logically. While I’m not the biggest fan of Boba Fett as a character, I understand why he’s a good choice to have in The Mandalorian as he could be a great foil for Din’s character. I understand why people like Boba even if he doesn’t do much for me. I have come to terms with Boba in the series, because he’s a strong fan favorite that makes sense in the context of the narrative.
But there are things we react to emotionally. This was how I felt seeing Ahsoka Tano in live action. This character means everything to me. She is the reason I am a Star Wars fan. She’s the reason I started podcasting over a decade ago. She’s the reason you’re reading this site right now. I would watch Clone Wars episodes when I packed my things as we lost my childhood home to foreclosure. When I struggled with depression and thoughts of self-harm, she was the one I turned to for guidance. She is my inspiration and my strength. I knew I would have some kind of emotional reaction to her, but I didn’t know what it would be.
And as I watched “The Jedi,” Ahsoka gave me another test and I failed.
We see The Mandalorian through Din’s point of view. We’re seeing Ahsoka through his gaze. It’s not the Clone Wars or Star Wars Rebels presentation of her character that I was used to. It’s about the role she is playing at this moment in Din and Grogu’s story. We’re only seeing the surface of what’s going on, and there’s so much more of a story to tell. It’s about Din and Grogu, not me and my journey with Ahsoka since 2008.
I let my expectations and emotions of the character keep me from enjoying what was being presented to me. Throwing the logical side out the window, I ruined the experience of watching her for myself.
I also failed at the lesson that Ahsoka embodies most. It’s okay to love, be attached, and care for something, but you have to be able to let it go. Ahsoka learned this for herself when she walked away from the Jedi Temple. She taught this to Kanan and Ezra. She succeeded at this lesson where Anakin failed as he could never let go.
I so badly wanted The Mandalorian to be a certain kind of show, because it’s what I loved in Star Wars. I wanted this to be like Star Wars Rebels and Star Wars Resistance’s format where it stood on it’s own without needing the bigger franchise. I never wanted this show to be like Clone Wars where it was the fill in the blanks story of the Prequel Trilogy. But now with introduction of Bo-Katan, Boba Fett, Ahsoka, and the very important name drop of Thrawn, it seems to be going towards being in the fill in show. Thrawn means we’re priming for whatever has happened to Ezra Bridger after the Rebels finale.
I got caught up in myself. I needed to let go of what I wanted and my expectations. I wasn’t trusting the creators making the series, which is my fault. I love Dave Filoni. Animation was my gateway to this fandom, to my friends, and to my career. I owe him so much, and I didn’t trust him this time. I needed to let go of everything in the past and trust him right now in this moment.
So you know what? Let’s go all in. Let’s get as much as we can in this series if we’re going there. Sure, I’m biased towards animation. I want the Rebels sequel to be animated. But let’s throw in live action Thrawn. Let’s get Ezra. Let’s see what happens and where they take us on this ride.
Talking with my friends helped me work through my emotional reaction. My wonderful friend Arezou sat and actually listened to me. She let me spill out my feelings and rant about it. She let me be mad. She helped just from listening and not trying to rationalize why I shouldn’t be upset. I was able to get my emotions out to finally start thinking logically again. Sometimes you just need to rant for a bit and have someone just listen to you. Not enough people understand that, but Arezou did. With my friend Brad, who was going through similar feelings, we swapped our emotions and held each other up. As I gave him advice, I realized it was what I needed to tell myself. And then my dear Pink Milk family, particularly Emma, who was able to frame exactly what I needed to hear when I needed her. Listen to her. It’s all cued up for you below. Just hit play and watch until the head explosion. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you get there.
Looking back at the last few days, this is Ahsoka’s power. She teaches and directs you where you need to go. But you have to do the hard work yourself. Din and Grogu now need to analyze themselves too as they continue on their journeys.
This is why “The Jedi” is a success of an episode. It got an emotion out of me, made me feel something, forced me to think, examine myself, and grow. It made me look at the people in my life and realize how wonderful they were. It helped me give guidance to others who needed to hear it.
This is what Ahsoka Tano does. This is why she’s my favorite character.
Now, let’s actually talk about “The Jedi” as an episode.
The Thrawn name drop is for sure the meatiest part of this episode for me. I’m interested to see which Thrawn we get. In my opinion, the Filoniverse Thrawn is very different from the Thrawn that Timothy Zahn presents in the new canon books. They’re so different to the point where I wonder if it’s even Thrawn who was The Magistrate’s leader. My speculation is someone is using Thrawn’s name to wield his power. Looking at just what’s presented to us in the episode, all we know is that these people have symbols of the Seventh Fleet, which belonged to the Chiss Grand Admiral. Ahsoka never met Thrawn in Rebels. For all we know, she could be going off old intel from Sabine Wren. It makes me think Thrawn is actually a red herring, setting up for someone like Rae Sloane to step into the series.
Sloane would be a great baddie to bring in. Cobb Vanth opened the door for book characters to show up. And part of Sloane’s journey is her struggle in the ranks of the Empire. I loved in A New Dawn where she flat out acknowledges how the Old Guard tried to keep her out of promotions (I read this as her being a woman in a man’s world, but that’s just my interpretation). Sloane, while a Grand Admiral herself, could be using Thrawn’s name to make people listen to her. We know from the Aftermath books that it was Thrawn’s intel that got the Empire safely in the Unknown Regions to transition into the First Order later. Sloane was determined to rebuild the Empire, and she would do it right and her way this time.
This theory really depends on which Thrawn we end up seeing. If we see the canon books Zahn Thrawn, then I think this theory could hold weight. But if we get the Filoni Thrawn from Rebels¸ then Thrawn is the big bad of the series and probably Moff Gideon’s boss. This show will be a new take on Heir to the Empire from Legends.
Which begs the other question: Where is Ezra Bridger in all of this? Actually as I’m writing this review, today is the 1,000th day of not knowing what happened to Ezra. Could he be the Jedi that responds to Grogu’s call? We’ll have to wait and see and trust the story to play out.
I love that Din and Grogu’s stories are coming together. Both are now on paths where they get to choose their fate. This is such a classic Star Wars theme, and it’s showcased well in this series. There’s been a lot of focus on Din this season. The introduction of Boba Fett sets up a fated meeting. Cobb Vanth possessed Mandalorian traits while he was not one. Frog Lady reminded Din of his honor. Bo-Katan broke his convictions and presented a different kind of Mandalorian. Every character has challenged Din in some way this season.
Ahsoka challenged Din in a different way which was making him face his role in Grogu’s life. Din’s task was to get the Child to a Jedi. But that Jedi turned them both away and set them on a new path. So what do they do now?
Both have been raise by labels that have controlled their identities. Din is a Child of the Watch Mandalorian. Grogu was trained by Jedi. This has decided their paths up to this point. But what if they don’t want those labels anymore? What if Din and Grogu want to stay together? Both characters are coming up to a crossroads. They will either have to choose their past or choose each other. Or, as Ahsoka Tano has done before, they will have to find their own path they forge themselves. It will be interesting to see which occurs.
Honestly if I had any gripes, it’s one I have ongoing in the series. The show is dark, and I mean like actually dark and hard to see at times. Just about every image you see in this post and in most of my reviews, I had to brighten up. I know it’s a trick with being on a tv budget to help hide some of the effects. This was famously pointed out during Game of Thrones’ final season. But there are times where it’s actually difficult to tell what’s going on. When there’s so much detail put in this show like having the Seventh Fleet symbol on the heads of the droids, I would like to actually be able to see it without having to throw the image in a photo editor first.
Some random thoughts to round out the episode:
-I lost it hearing Ahsoka’s theme. I know that song so well. It was the version from her showdown with Darth Vader from Rebels. Those few little notes got me right in the heartstrings in the beginning of the episode. It never fails to make me cry.
-I adore Grogu’s name. I’m glad it broke the Y-name pattern from Yoda and Yaddle. Honestly, any name they gave the Child would have mix reviews. In our minds, his name has been “Baby Yoda” for so long that his real name would sound weird.
-AND IT WAS PRECIOUS THE FIRST TIME HE REACTED TO DIN SAYING HIS NAME!
-The entire scene of Din trying to help Grogu use his powers was my favorite. It had sports dad rooting on his son during the Big Game vibes to it.
-I will always scream and freak out when I see Tooka cats or Loth-Cats in live action.
“The Jedi” was a journey for me. I think it’s good to get your fandom views challenged from time to time. We can love something, but we should also be able to think critically about a piece of media. More importantly, we need to be able to think critically about ourselves. It’s how we grow as people.
And “the Jedi” did that for me. Ahsoka Tano continues to be important in my life for this very reason.
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