This week’s chapter of The Mandalorian takes us to Corvus, a world covered in an eerie green mist, and a city surrounded by the burnt remains of a forest. It’s here that Mando / Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and the Child have been sent to find a Jedi and return the the Child home, but alas things are never quite that simple.
Corvus itself is wonderfully realised and looks surprisingly unique in the pantheon of Star Wars planets (which seem to consist of desert, forest, and ice worlds). The sickly green hues and the silhouettes of dead trees create a haunting atmosphere, while the thick fog makes for a perfect place to hide during the action sequences. It’s a true testament to the show’s virtual sets – this wouldn’t be nearly as effective shot either on location or against a blue/green screen – and makes for an interesting setting for Chapter 13: The Jedi.
The Jedi herself is Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), a key player in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels animated series, realised in live action for the first time. Given that writer/director Dave Filoni worked extensively on both animated shows, it makes sense that he is the one to bring Ahsoka into The Mandalorian, and he does so in a much more effective way than Bo-Katan’s inclusion in Chapter 11: The Heiress. Here, Ahsoka feels important to the story at hand, helping to develop the Child’s backstory. We learn that his name is Grogu, and that he was taken from the Jedi Temple on Coruscant around the time of the Empire’s formation (in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith), and that he has learned to hide his Force abilities from others in the time since. It’s surprisingly well-handled, with key facts casually revealed without the need for an overlong exposition-dump.
But Ahsoka does not want to train Grogu, concerned that his fears will lead him down a darker path (much like her former Jedi master Anakin Skywalker), and suggests to Din Djarin that they should travel to an ancient Jedi temple, where Grogu can decide his path for himself. Ahsoka’s exit feels oddly handled, openly refusing to join the series properly, but not getting much in the way of a conclusion for her character. Corvus isn’t her world, but there is the vague tease that she may be after somebody else – yet another character from the Star Wars animated series. In the end, it’s just another case of the Mandalorian flying away from a potentially interesting story, only to join another one next week, and I’m finding this formula a bit tiring. The series is consistently setting up storylines and not pursuing them further, which results in this season feeling unfocused and messy; a collection of ideas rather than a consistent story. If The Mandalorian was offering standalone stories each week, I’d be fine with a more varied approach, but every story ends with a “we’ll come back to this later” and no real resolution. Perhaps by the end of this season we’ll start to see these disparate threads come together.
Unlike last week, where the reveals were the centre of the episode and the adventure felt half-baked at best, the “saving the village” B-plot anchored Chapter 13: The Jedi in a much more satisfying way. There’s a clear beginning, middle and end, even if the plot is admittedly quite clichéd. The action sequences were pretty solid, even if the show’s consistently dark lighting – alongside the episode’s foggy atmosphere – made some moments hard to make out. Surprisingly – or maybe not, for those who have actually seen all of The Clone Wars or Rebels – Ashoka didn’t seem to use the Force much in her set-pieces, but it was nice to see some more low-key lightsaber action. Ahsoka and Din were paired off with different villains too, which was a neat touch – even if the lighting was so dark that I didn’t realise Michael Biehn (from The Terminator) was in the episode until the end credits!
Chapter 13: The Jedi felt like something of a return-to-form for The Mandalorian, but it also suffered from some recurring issues this season. There’s a lot more fan service than in Season 1, and a lot of dangling plot-threads which may – or may not – be resolved in a satisfying way later. At least this instalment felt like it told a mostly complete story in fifty minutes, even with the deliberately vague set-up for the next episode. Who knows? We might get a more exciting Jedi cameo in Chapter 14…