Tuesday, December 8, 2020

The Mandalorian Season 2, Episode 5: The Jedi

This week on The Mandalorian we get the best episode of the season (so far), and possibly of the entire series!

After weeks of wheel spinning and side trips, The Jedi turns up the storytelling to eleven. It's chock full of action, surprise appearances, startling revelations and plot advancement. It's about time, too!

The highlight of this episode has to be the very first live action appearance of fan-favorite character Ahsoka Tano, from The Clone Wars and Rebels animated series. She definitely lives up to all the pre-episode hype here, as she looks and acts as if she stepped right out of the cartoon.

This should come as no surprise, since the episode was written and directed by Dave Filoni, who was a writer, producer and director on The Clone Wars. He also created the character of Ahsoka, so it was only fitting that he got to oversee her live action debut!

With Bo-Katan's appearance a couple weeks ago and now Ahsoka, The Mandalorian's beginning to look a lot like The Clone Wars 2.0, as it not only features characters from the show but is picking up loose plot threads from it as well. Not that that's a bad thing, mind you— I just thought it was worth noting. 

This episode also addresses the matter of Baby Yoda's name— something fans have been clamoring to know since the series began. Welp, be careful what you wish for! His name turns out to be a doozy, and not necessarily in a good way! I'm honestly surprised they addressed the issue this soon. I figured they'd drag it out for another season or two.

Star Wars has always been a thinly disguised Western dressed up in Space Fantasy garb. And Westerns are all basically samurai films with guns and horses. This episode pays homage to both genres, as it features what are basically cowboys shooting it out in the equivalent of a Medieval Japanese village— in space! It's an interesting mix, even if it's a little too obvious and on the nose at times.

Sigh... Once again, a prediction I made turned out to be wayyyyy off. A couple weeks ago in The Heiress, Bo-Katan gave told Manny where to find Ahsoka Tano, suggesting he take Baby Yoda to her for training. At that time I said:

I'm calling it right now— the rest of the season will involve him making his way to her, and we'll finally see her in the season finale. Most likely in the closing seconds.

Boy, did I call that one wrong! Here we are just two episodes later and Manny's already tracked down Ahsoka and asked her to train the Child. What can I say? Based on all the filler episodes we've had this season, I was sure they'd make us wait till the season finale to finally see Ahsoka.

I also made a second prediction in The Heiress:

I can also guarantee that when Manny finally finds the Jedi, he's not gonna leave Baby Yoda with them and fly off by himself. That "adorable" green Muppet is the only thing keeping Star Wars afloat these days, and Disney knows it. There's no way in hell they're gonna write him off the show, and will keep milking every merchandising dollar they can from him.

I'm gonna give myself partial credit for that one. I KNEW there was no way in hell that Ahsoka would train Baby Yoda offscreen and deprive the audience of his cutesy antics. And I was right! Ahsoka ends up refusing to train Baby Yoda, for the flimsiest and lamest reason possible!


The Plot:
We open on the walled city of Calodan on the planet Corvus. Several soldiers in protective gear stand atop the wall as they stare into the gloom, while others patrol the burned-out forest below. 

Suddenly former Jedi Knight Ahsoka Tano appears and slashes the troops to ribbons. She stands at the gate of the village and confronts the Magistrate, who looks down from above. Ahsoka demands she tell her what she wants to know, or face the consequences. She gives the Magistrate one day to make up her mind. She then disappears back into the mist.

Meanwhile, the Razor Crest exits hyperspace and heads for Corvus. As Manny starts the landing sequence, Baby Yoda gazes longingly at the gearshift knob again. He reaches out and uses the Force to unscrew it.

The ship lands, and Manny and Baby Yoda exit. They're surprised to see that Corvus is a desolate world filled with dead trees, rather than a lush, planetary forest. Mann notices Baby Yoda has the gearshift knon and tells him it's not a toy. He takes it from him and sticks it in his pocket. Believe it or not this will become a Plot Point later on.

Manny tucks the Child into his satchel and heads for the village. He stops before the city gate as Lang, the Magistrate's enforcer, stares down at him. Lang recognizes Manny as a Mandalorian, and asks if he's in the Bounty Hunter's Guild. Manny lies and says yes, and Lang allows him to enter.

Manny walks through the city, where he sees the citizens are poor and oppressed. He spots a man named Wing and asks him for info.  Wing begs Manny not to talk to anyone or they'll be punished, and scurries back into his hovel.

Just then one of the guards appears and tells Manny the Magistrate wants to see him. They lead him through another gate. which opens into a beautiful courtyard filled with abundant greenery. A moat surrounds the Magistrate's mansion, and she stands on a bridge spanning the water.

The Magistrate tells Manny she has a Jedi problem, and wants him to kill Ahsoka for her. He balks, claiming the job's too difficult. She points out that Mandalorians and Jedi are sworn enemies, suggesting he should jump at the chance to murder one. She offers him a large staff made of pure beskar if he succeeds. Manny pretends to agree, since the only reason he's here in the first place is to find Ahsoka.

Lang escorts Manny out of the city, gives him coordinates for Ahsoka's location (not sure how he'd know that, but whatever) and wishes him luck.

Manny traipses through the dead forest till he reaches the coordinates. He looks around but all he sees are a couple of wild beasts in the distance, foraging for what little food there is. Suddenly Ahsoka bursts from the gloom and attacks. She slashes at him with her twin lightsabers, but fortunately he blocks them with his beskar gauntlets— which are impervious to plasma energy.

The two continue to fight, until Manny tells Ahsoka that Bo-Katan sent him to Corvus to find her. Upon hearing this, she immediately stands down. She then spots Baby Yoda and is instantly intrigued.

Cut to Ahsoka and Baby Yoda sitting around a lantern at night. Manny asks if the Child is talking to her, and she explains that they can communicate telepathically. She says Baby Yoda's real name is... "Grogu." No, really! That's his name! Grogu! I sh*t you not!

Anyway, Ahsoka says Baby Yoda was raised and trained in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. When the Clone Wars ended and the Empire rose, he was taken from the Temple by "someone" and hidden. The Child doesn't remember much after that. Ahsoka also mentions she's only met one other of his species— Jedi Master Yoda.

Ahsoka asks Manny if Baby Yoda can still use the Force. Once again he acts like he's never heard the word before, and asks if she means his "powers." He tells her he was tasked with bringing the Child to a Jedi for training. Ahsoka looks sad and says the Jedi Order fell a long time ago.

The next morning, Ahsoka decides to test Baby Yoda. She uses the Force to float a rock over to him, and asks him to levitate it back. He refuses, dropping the rock. She says she senses fear in him, and he's hidden his powers in order to survive over the years. She then tells Manny to test him. He holds out the rock and tells Baby Yoda to "take" it from him. Again, he refuses.

Just then Manny gets an idea, and pulls the gearshift knob from his pocket. He holds it up and Baby Yoda uses the Force to yank it through the air and over to him.

Ahsoka says it's obvious Manny has a special bond with the Child, which would make it hard for her to train him. She says she's seen what fear and anger can do to a fully trained Jedi (gosh, I wonder if she's talking about Anakin Skywalker?), and says she won't lead Baby Yoda down that same path. She says it's better to just let his powers fade away.

Ahsoka says she needs to return to Calodan to confront the Magistrate. Manny tells Ahsoka that the Magistrate sent him to kill her, but adds that he didn't agree to do it. He makes her a deal— he'll help her eliminate the Magistrate if she makes sure Baby Yoda gets properly trained. Ahsoka agrees. Manny marvels at a Mandalorian and a Jedi working together, saying the Magistrate will never see it coming.

Manny asks who the Magistrate is. Ahsoka says she's Morgan Elsbeth— a woman whose people were massacred during the Clone Wars. She plundered worlds to help build the Imperial fleet. Manny looks at the desolation around him and says it appears she's still in business.

Sometime later, the soldiers are guarding the walled city. Suddenly Ahsoka approaches, and they sound the alarm. They fire at her, but she scales the wall and takes out the soldiers. She cuts the massive warning bell in half, and it crashes to the ground.

Ahsoka strides through the village toward the Magistrate's home. Elsbeth and her posse come out to meet her. Ahsoka tosses one of Manny's pauldrons on the ground and says she defeated her bounty hunter. Once again, Ahsoka demands to know where to find the Magistrate's Master. Elsbeth refuses and orders her troops to kill Ahsoka.

The soldiers open fire on Ahsoka and she leaps onto the village's rooftops. The Magistrate orders Lang to take two of her assassin droids and kill the Jedi. She tells her remaining men to execute the prisoners she's been torturing, and returns to her garden.

Before there are any executions though, Manny lands and wipes out the soldiers. Manny sees Wing watching from the shadows, and tells him to free the prisoners and get them to safety.

Meanwhile, Lang and the droids chase after Ahsoka. She slices up the droids and eventually disarms Lang. He runs back toward the Magistrate's garden, but comes face to face with Manny.

Inside the garden, the Magistrate turns and sees Ahsoka standing before the door. Elsbeth takes out her beskar staff, which is apparently her weapon of choice. The two face each other for a few seconds, then engage in a fierce battle.

On the other side of the gate, Lang tries to convince Manny to join his side. He lays down his weapon as a gesture of good faith. Sure enough it's a trick, and he pulls a pistol from his holster and aims it at Manny. The Mandalorian's quicker though, and shoots Lang in the chest.

The two women continue to fight, and the Magistrate knocks one of Ahsoka's lightsabers from her hand. It lands in the pond, and she continues the fight with just one saber. She eventually disarms Elsbeth and holds her lightsaber to her neck. Ahsoka then asks again where her Master is, saying, "Where is Grand Admiral Thrawn?" GASP!

Sometime later, the citizens of Calodan celebrate their freedom (as Ahsoka apparently killed Elsbeth). They name Wing the new Magistrate. Ahsoka offers Manny the beskar staff, but he refuses, saying he didn't hold up his end of the deal. She insists, saying the priceless metal artifact belongs with the Mandalorians.

Manny goes back to the Razor Crest to retrieve Baby Yoda, so he can give him to Ahsoka. He sits for a while holding the Child, suddenly reluctant to part with him. Ahsoka then appears and says she can't train him. Manny points out that they both made a promise, and he held up his end. 

Ahsoka pauses a moment, then tells Manny to take the Child to the planet Tython. There he'll find a seeing stone on top of a mountain. If he places Baby Yoda there, another Jedi may sense him and come. Then the Child can choose his own fate.

Manny thanks her, enters the ship and takes off.

• As I said in the intro, this episode is a love letter to Kurosawa and samurai films in general. Virtually everything we see onscreen is inspired by the genre.

For example, the walled city of Calodan, with its rounded, temple-like buildings, is most definitely inspired by samurai epics. 

Walled cities with arched gates like this were a staple of the genre...

As were massive warning gongs like this.

And the samurai battling one another while scampering across the city's rooftops.

Heck, even many of the residents of Calodan are Asian!

Also note that this episode's deliberately dreary color scheme even apes Kurosawa's early black & white films!

The Jedi is packed to the brim with quite a few notable guest stars.

First and foremost is Rosario Dawson, who's plays Ahsoka Tano. Dawson's also a huge comic book fan and a self-professed sci-fi geek, making her the perfect actress to play Ahsoka.

She previously starred in numerous genre films, such as Josie And The Pussycats, Men In Black II, The Adventures Of Pluto Nash, Sin CIty, Clerks II, Grindhouse, Descent, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Zombieland: Double Tap and the Daredevil TV series. She's also voiced various characters in animated projects such as Spongebob Squarepants and The Lego Batman Movie.

Unfortunately a year or so ago she was involved in a court case involving some sort of transphobic business (which has since been dropped), which of course has caused the unforgiving SJW posse to condemn her and demand she be dropped from the show. 

I doubt it's gonna happen, because at this point virtually every working actor out there has been denounced by these cretins. If they got their way and cancel-cultured everyone they deem unsuitable, there'd be no one left in Hollywood.

The Magistrate (aka Morgan Elsbeth) was played by Diana Lee Inosanto. While her name isn't a household word, she definitely has an impressive lineage. She's the daughter of Dan Inosanto, the man who introduced Filipino martial arts to the American film industry. He taught many actors how to fight in various films, including Brandon Lee, Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker and more.

Diana's also the goddaughter of the late Bruce Lee! So when she wields her beskar staff at the end of this episode, she's definitely knows what she's doing!

Lang, the Magistrate's enforcer, is played by actor Michael Biehn. He's no stranger to the sci-fi genre, as he's starred in some of the biggest blockbusters in movie history, including The Terminator, ALIENS and The Abyss.

Lastly, Wing, the Asian man who eventually becomes the new (and hopefully more benevolent) Magistrate, was played by Wing Tao Chao. He's a former Disney Imagineer and was recently named one of their Legends. Cool!

• In The Heiress, Bo-Katan told Manny to take Baby Yoda to the "forest planet of Corvus." I gotta admit when I heard that I was expecting the place to be a bit more... lush.

Kudos to Filoni for subverting out expectations and giving us a bleak, nearly-lifeless world filled with dead trees.

Most worlds in the Star Wars Universe feature one planet-wide environment. Tatooine's one vast desert, Hoth's covered in ice, Dagobah's a massive swamp, etc. 

So what's Corvus then? A forest fire planet? As the Razor Crest approaches the world, you can actually see what appears to be huge fires burning on its surface.

We get a clue as to what happened to Corvus midway through the episode, when Manny asks about the Magistrate:

Manny: "Who is she? She offered me a staff of pure beskar to kill you."
Ahsoka: "Morgan Elsbeth. During the Clone Wars, her people were massacred. She survived and let her anger fuel an industry which helped build the Imperial Starfleet. She plundered worlds, destroying them in the process."
Manny: (looking around at Corvus) "Yeah, it looks like she's still in business."

So apparently the Magistrate came to Corvus, set up her industrial machinery and began ransacking the planet's natural resources for the remnants of the Empire, polluting the world and leaving it a lifeless husk.

• Also in The Heiress, Bo-Katan told Manny he could find Ahsoka on the planet Corvus. Wait, what? How the hell did she know that? When we see Ahsoka this week, it appears she's just paying a short visit to the planet to threaten the Magistrate and ask where to find her Master. It's not like she bought property there, for corn's sake!

And bear in mind that Manny didn't go directly from Trask to Corvus— he took a side trip to Nevarro in between, which likely took a day or two. And yet amazingly Ahsoka was on Corvus when he finally got there.

There's only two ways any of this can work. Either Bo-Katan knew it'd take a week for Ahsoka to question the Magistrate, or she somehow has a detailed itinerary of her schedule and knows where she'll be at any future moment.

Plot Trickery Alert! As the Razor Crest approaches Corvus, Baby Yoda uses the Force to steal the gearshift knob again. After they land and exit the ship, Manny sees he has the knob. Rather than return it to the bridge, he stuffs it in his pocket. 

Later on Manny tests Baby Yoda's powers by holding up something he desires— in this case the knob— and telling him to use the Force to take it from him.

Note that they very deliberately gave us the pocket stuffing scene to justify why Manny would be carrying the knob around with him. Plot Trickery!

• Although I enjoyed this episode quite a bit, it failed miserably in one particular area— the depiction of the city of Calodan.

All through the episode we only see one tiny street of the "city." This walkway appears to be little more than an alley, and ends at the gate of the Magistrate's mansion. Based on what we see onscreen, it seems like this one street is all there is of the city.

Unfortunately this makes the Magistrate look less impressive than intended. It looks for all the world like she rules over one tiny street! Big deal!

Turns out though that there's much more to Calodan than meets the eye. We get a couple of overhead shots of the place, in which we can see it actually IS a vast and populace city. We just never get to see more than a tiny slice of it. 

I assume this was a budgetary limitation, but it's too bad we didn't get more of these expansive views to illustrate that we were seeing a large metropolis.

• These Oriental-style arches are apparently all the rage in the Star Wars Universe. We see one here in the walled city of Calodan.

And there was another in Nevarro City last week in The Siege...

And there was another one on Jakku in The Force Awakens. Good design never goes out of style, I guess.

And before anyone points it out, I know that I've often said I'm ignoring the Sequel Trilogy because I consider it to be nothing more than elaborate fan fiction. But I can sort of tolerate parts of The Force Awakens though, so I'm counting it here.

• As Manny enters the walled city, he passes a white 8D droid. similar to 8D8, the torture droid in Jabba's palace in Return Of The Jedi.

• Man, that Magistrate's quite the piece of work. As with most despots, her subjects live in abject squalor while she dwells inside a luxurious mansion. Even worse, she has a courtyard filled with abundant greenery, which no doubt takes huge amounts of scarce and precious water to support.

We also see that the Magistrate likes to torture her citizens just outside her courtyard. These unfortunates are trussed up on tall electronic poles, and periodically zapped with arcs of crackling energy.

You know, you've got to reeeeeeally shock someone pretty hard to make their skeleton become visible!

• Is there something wrong with Michael Biehn's neck? Every time we see him as Lang he's got this huge turtleneck collar pulled all the way up to his chin. Maybe I'm just imagining it, but it's almost like he's hiding some physical ailment.

• As Manny heads into the dead forest looking for Ahsoka, we see an owl-like bird sitting in a tree. I'm told this is Morai the Convor, which is apparently Ahsoka's spirit animal.

• Even though he's done it in previous episodes, I still chuckle whenever Manny looks through his spyglass while wearing a helmet. That's like trimming your nails with gloves on. 

Plus, we've seen before that his helmet features an infrared mode so he can detect footprints and heat signatures. So how hard would it be to build a telescopic function into his visor as well?

• Assuming he's come to try and kill her, Ahsoka leaps from the brush and ambushes Manny. She attacks him with her twin lightsabers, but amazingly he uses his beskar gauntlets to block the energy blades!

I gotta admit, that surprised me! I'm not up on my Clone Wars (I watched the first couple seasons years ago), so I didn't know that beskar can withstand lightsaber plasma. Suddenly I understand why the metal's so priceless!

• If nothing else, this episode will go down in history for the live action debut of fan-favorite character Ahsoka Tano.

As I said above, Rosario Dawson plays Ahsoka in this episode and perfectly brings the character to life. She gives this more mature version of the character an interesting mix of calm wisdom and savagery. 

Kudos as well to the FX and makeup team that brought Ahsoka to life. They did an amazing job in translating her from animation to live action. She looks absolutely perfect, as if she stepped right out of the cartoon series. Well done!

I've seen complaints around the internet (natch!) saying that the live action Ahsoka's head tails are much too short. Give me a f*cking break once. She looks great!

Ahsoka made her debut in The Clone Wars animated series in 2008. It'd take a good 100,000 words to adequately explain her history, so I'll do my best to be brief. 

Ahsoka Tano is a Togruta female from the planet Shili. During the Clone Wars, Jedi Master Yoda assigned Anakin Skywalker to train her as his padawan. The two often clashed, as Anakin had a reputation for being reckless, while Ahsola was more by the book and eager to prove herself.

During the Clone Wars she faced a variety of opponents, including General Grievous, Sith Lord Asajj Ventress, Cad Bane and Aurra Sing. 

Over time Ahsoka matured and became a respected leader, and was instrumental in Republic victories at the Second Battle Of Geonosis and the Battle Of Mon Cala. 

Ahsoka even died (!), but got better after a powerful Force user know as the Daughter sacrificed herself to bring her back to life. 

At one point Ahsoka was framed and arrested for the bombing of the Jedi Temple. Anakin helped her find the true culprit and clear her name, but the event soured her on the Jedi and she refused to join the Order. She went into hiding after Darth Sidious enacted Order 66(aka the slaughter of all known Jedi). 

Once the Galactic Empire rose to power, Ahsoka worked with Senator Bail Organa to form the Rebellion. This action led her to a confrontation with Darth Vader, who, unknown to Ahsoka, was actually her former master Anakin Skywalker. She was saved by Ezra Bridger (from the Rebels series). Which brings us to this episode, where she's seeking the location of Grand Admiral Thrawn for some reason.

• In The Clone Wars series, Ahsoka was known for her weird, signature "reverse lightsaber" grip. To my knowledge we never saw anyone else in the entire Star Wars Universe hold their weapon that way.

Armed with that knowledge, I wondered if they'd include that particular quirk of hers in the episode. Sure enough, Filoni didn't disappoint, and live action Ahsoka demonstrated her reverse grip! Well done!

• Welp, at long last we finally learn Baby Yoda's name in this episode, and boy is it a doozy. His name is (drumroll please)... "Grogu." Yeah, Grogu. Huh. I was sure his name would turn out to be "Cosmo."

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm not thrilled with that name. In fact after hearing it I think it'd have been better to leave his moniker a mystery, and continue having Manny call him "Hey, Kid." 

This is one of those divisive "damned if you do" situations, in which no matter what named they picked, half the audience will love it while the other half howls. There was no way to win.

Since I'm not a fan of the name "Grogu," I've decided I'm gonna keep on calling him Baby Yoda. Hey, it's my blog and I can do what I want. If you disagree, then remind yourself how much you paid in admission.

I did like the way Grogu's ears perked up and he'd gaze adoringly at Manny whenever he said his name.

• Ahsoka communicates telepathically (I guess?) with Baby Yoda, and discovers he was raised and trained in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant— a place we saw numerous times in the Prequel Trilogy. She says he was hidden by "someone" shortly after the Clone Wars ended.

Remember the infamous scene in Revenge Of The Sith in which Dark Side Anakin cuts down all the "younglings?" Did Baby Yoda narrowly miss that same fate? It sure sounds like it to me!

So who's the mysterious "someone" who rescued Baby Yoda? Was is Obi-Wan? Bail Organa? Yoda himself? Or someone we've not yet met? Tune in during the season finale to find out. Or next year.

 Ahsoka asks Manny if Baby Yoda can still wield the Force. Once again Manny acts like he's never hear the term before and says, "You mean his powers?"

The writers can't seem to decide whether Manny knows about the Force or not, and what it can do. In Season 1 he'd never even heard of the Jedi, much less the Force. Then a couple episodes back in The Passenger, he's confronted by X-Wing pilots Captain Teva and Trapper Wolf, and sends the two on their way by telling them, "May The Force Be With You."

So which is it, guys? Does he know what the Force is or not?

I suppose I could be generous here and say that "May The Force Be With You" is a standard farewell that people say all over the galaxy, without actually knowing what it means. Sort of like us saying "shalom" without realizing it means "peace" instead of "later, dude!"

 After studying Baby Yoda, Ahsoka says, "I sense much fear in you." 

A bit later she and Manny have the following conversation:

Ahsoka: "His attachment to you makes him vulnerable to his fears. His anger."
Manny: "All the more reason to train him."
Ahsoka: "No. I've seen what such feelings can do to a fully trained Jedi Knight. To the best of us. I will not start this child down that path. Better to let his abilities fade."

All her talk about "fear" and "anger" sounds a lot like Yoda's line in The Phantom Menace. You know, the one where he says, "Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."

And when she mentions what fear can do to a fully trained Jedi Knight, she's VERY obviously referring to Anakin and his fall from grace.

• When Ahsoka decides to test Baby Yoda, she brings him to an area of the forest that still has a tiny bit of moss and greenery growing in it. I guess the Magistrate and her machines haven't killed all of the planet yet.

While there's nothing out of the ordinary about this scene at first glance, it's actually pretty significant. The Force is described as "an energy field generated by all living things." It would follow then that the Force would be stronger in a place with more life in it— like this small patch of surviving greenery. Which is no doubt why Ahsoka brought Baby Yoda here to test him!

Tiny details like this prove that Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau truly understand Star Wars, and should be the only ones at Disney who are allowed to touch it.

• Not a nitpick, but an observation: When Ahsoka enters Calodan, she tosses one of Manny's pauldrons (the one with the mudhorn sigil) at the Magistrate's feet, to "prove" she killed him. 

A bit later, Manny enters the city and sure enough he's missing his priceless beskar pauldron. Once he helps free the Magistrate's prisoners though, he's suddenly got it back. 

As I said, this isn't a mistake, as there was plenty of time for him to retrieve it and put it back where it goes.

• At one point Manny walks through the streets of the city and startles a loth cat, causing it to scamper off.

We've seen loth cats before on the show— specifically in Sanctuary, where one growled at Baby Yoda.

• Late in the third act, there's a wonderful pair of parallel scenes between Manny & Ahsoka and their respective adversaries. 

Outside the courtyard, Manny and Lang confront one another, exactly like two Old West gunslingers having a shootout at high noon.

At one point Lang says, "I got no quarrel with you, Mandalorian."

This line is similar to one spoken in Tombstone, in which Johnny Ringo tells Doc Holiday, "My fight's not with you, Holiday." It's probably no coincidence that Michael Biehn played the role of Ringo in that film!

Inside the courtyard, Ahsoka confronts the Magistrate on the bridge over her koi pond.

Most fans will probably see this duel as an homage to the fight between The Bride and O-Ren in Kill Bill: Vol. 1. And it is virtually a carbon copy of that entire sequence. But it's also a nod to earlier samurai epics (which of course inspired Kill Bill), such as Lady Snowblood.

• During their battle, the Magistrate knocks one of Ahsoka's lightsabers from her hand, and it plops unceremoniously into the koi pond.

So... why doesn's Ahsoka just Force-yank it out and back into her hand? There's plenty of time to do so, especially while the Magistrate demonstrates her martial art poses.

• Eventually Ahsoka manages to disarm the Magistrate and defeat her. She then demands an answer to the question she's been asking the whole episode, as she says, "Where is your master? Where is Grand Admiral Thrawn?"

This definitely came as a shock to me, as I'm somewhat familiar with the character but had no idea he was part of the official canon— or that he'd eventually be appearing on the show as well.

So who the heck's Grand Admiral Thrawn? Again, I'd have to write a novel to adequately explain him, so I'll condense as much as possible.

Thrawn first appeared in the 1991 Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Heir To The Empire, by Timothy Zahn. He appeared in two more novels, Dark Force Rising and The Last Command, which formed the Thrawn Trilogy.

As a member of the Chiss race, Thrawn has blue skin, red eyes and an angular face. He's a Grand Admiral in the Imperial Navy, and is a brilliant and ruthless strategist. 

Thrawn appeared in various other novels, comics and videogames. Unfortunately many of these projects were declared non-canon when Disney assimilated, er, I mean bought the Star Wars franchise.

In 2016, Thrawn was reintroduced to the Star Wars Universe in Season 3 premiere of Rebels. In the series, which is set five years before the events of A New Hope, Thrawn offers his alligiance to Emperor Palpatine and joined the Imperial Navy, eventually gaining the rank of Grand Admiral. 

Thrawn served as commanding officer of the 7th Fleet, and sought to wipe out a group of rebels led by Jedi padawan Ezra Bridger. During one battle, Bridger attacked Thrawn on the bridge of his Star Destroyer. For reasons, the ship— along with Thrawn and Bridger, was pulled into hyperspace. The ship ended up in a realm called the Great Unknown, Leaving Thrawn and Bridger's fates inclear.

Based on the events of this episode, Ahsoka apparently has reason to believe that Thrawn is alive and well and back in the regular Star Wars Universe.

• After Ahsoka kills Elsbeth, we see that Wing's been elected the new Magistrate of Calodan — to the delight of the populace.

Annnnnnnnd then he immediately moves into the Magistrate's mansion and begins executing citizens for thought crimes.

OK, so that didn't really happen, but it'd have been funny if it did.

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