Spoiler alert: this blog is published after The Mandalorian airs on Disney+. Do not read unless you have watched season two, episode five
I like firsts. Good or bad, they’re always memorable – Ahsoka Tano
They call me Yoda. They call me asset. They call me kid. They call me It. That’s not my name. That’s not my name. That’s not my name. That’s not my name.
No, it’s Grogu, and a casually dropped reveal as to the identity and history of this most rare and precious of creatures is just one of the great moments in the best episode of the season so far.
Anticipated as being the live-action debut of Ahsoka Tano, Anakin Skywalker’s padawan, the star of the Clone Wars animated series and the wielder of two lightsabers, The Jedi delivers. Rosario Dawson is a stern, earnest presence, focused on her own quest and unwilling to compromise when Mando arrives on her world.
Also – and this is surely what people were really waiting to see – she’s a fleeting, ghostly, deadly fighter who will carve two scars in your back as quick as you can say “Where is Grand Admiral Thrawn?”
Mando and Baby Yoda (please, allow me this one last usage) land on the planet Corvus looking for Tano. Instead, they encounter a Kurosawa-esque set up with a stern magistrate and her familiar-looking gunman ruling with an electrified fist inside a militarised fort.
Immediately clocked as a bounty hunter, Mando is made an offer he can’t refuse. Kill Tano, says the magistrate, and you’ll get this lovely lance made of Beskar metal.
It doesn’t take too long wandering through misty woodland before Mando and Tano meet, but there’s not much of a fight. Mando makes clear that his quest overrides any desire for fancy new weaponry and that quest means getting Baby Yoda all trained up (OK, that was the last time).
Tano is soon deep in telepathic communication with Grogu, and she lays out his backstory. Raised at the Jedi temple on Coruscant, he was hidden after the Clone Wars from the reaches of the Empire. Which means he’s powerful.
She’s only seen one of his kind before, and that was Yoda. But she’s also seen what can happen when those who are able to channel the Force let it clash with unruly emotions (hi, Anakin). And unruly emotions is what Grogu has, because of his deep attachment to Din Djarin.
Now that’s cute, and surely a reminder that the relationship between the bounty hunter and the little green egg-eater is here for the long run. But Mando is having none of it, he wants Grogu trained up so the kid can go off and do Jedi stuff by himself.
Mando thinks he has a deal – the pair will sort out the magistrate and, in return, Tano will teach Grogu. They go back to the fort, storming it with ease and, in a synchronised denouement, Tano takes on the magistrate in a sabre/lance fight while Mando has a slow, itchy trigger-finger standoff with her henchman.
“Sounds like your side won”, says the henchman, well attuned to the sound of Beskar being knocked out of a fighter’s hand. He’s right, but he still can’t help himself and on laying down his big gun tries to get off a shot with his little one. Bad move, bucko.
So Mando blasts the gunman and Tano interrogates the magistrate as to the whereabouts of Grand Admiral Thrawn, a character who has turned up many times in broader Star Wars mythology (and a character whose real name is Mitth’raw’nuruodo, if you were looking to give your tongue a workout). She’s got what she wants – but will she give Mando his end of the bargain?
The answer is not quite. Tano refuses to train Grogu herself, but she will direct the pair towards an abandoned Jedi temple on the planet of Tython. Place Grogu on a seeing stone there, she says, and a Jedi will emerge to train him. If they feel like it.
The moral of the story
A dog is not just for Christmas. By dog, I mean Grogu, and by Christmas I mean “a period of time that suits you”. Mando, I suspect not entirely disappointedly, is learning that his relationship with Grogu is greater than just that of delivery man and package. As the bond between the pair has grown – just look at them argue over the knob on that gearstick – so has Grogu’s dependency on Din Djarin. As a result, that means Mando’s responsibility to the little one has changed, too. Don’t expect him to dump Grogu on a seeing stone and wander off whistling a Tattooine disco number.
There’s some kind of massive cow mooching through the woodland chewing on branches, but when even Wookieepedia has it down as an “unidentified herbivore” please don’t expect me to name it. Any ideas? Ahsoka Tano, meanwhile, is a member of the species known as Togruta from the planet Shili.
The magistrate’s henchman is played by Michael Biehn, pretty much a top 10 all-time military secondary character actor. He’s most famous for playing Kyle Reese in The Terminator and Hicks in Aliens in which he delivered lines such as “I want to introduce you to a personal friend of mine. This is an M41A pulse rifle.” Kudos for the casting, in an episode directed by the Clone Wars maestro Dave Filoni.
He may still love playing with his knob (OK, calm down), but Grogu is growing up. Or, more likely, he always was. His telepathic conversation with Tano reveals a long history and some emotional turbulence. According to Tano, the time will soon come when Grogu will have to make choices for himself.