Wow. If you've followed Star Wars at all over the past 10 years and haven't watched the most recent episode of The Mandalorian stop whatever you're doing and do it. You won't be disappointed.
*******SPOILER WARNING FOR CHAPTER 13 OF THE MANDALORIAN, Star Wars rebels, AND THEORIES FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON***********
Three words..... Asoka Motherfucking Tano. Everyone and their mother saw this coming in this episode so I won't say I called it or anything but I still totally did. I'm so glad the episode opened the way it did, not waiting all episode for some grand Asoka reveal but instead instantly showing how badass she has become since we last saw her in Rebels. (I go into her last on screen appearance in my last Mando blog check it out here)
She dices her way through the swamp to the gates of a town under oppression from a tyrannical figure called The Magistrate. Asoka hasn't changed one bit, clearly still following her Clone Wars mantra,
"In my life, when you find people who need your help, you help them, no matter what. I guess it's just who I am." - Asoka Tano to Rafa
Damn do they nail it right off the bat. She's mature, skilled and fucking BADASS. The entire scene I sounded like R2 with all the inexplicable noises coming out of me, but I wouldn't want it any other way.
It's fucking perfect there's no other way to say it. Rosario Dawson (nailed that prediction too btw) was of course perfect for the part capture the iconic charm that Asoka and Anakin both shared while displaying her own maturity as she's 45 years old but since she's a Togruta we're not exactly sure how far long in her life she is. Something to point out though is Anakin/Darth Vader was 45 when he died in Return of the Jedi... do I smell a parallel coming??? God I hope not, I've waited 10 years to see her in live action I'll be rips hit if she dies anytime soon. Also now that it's officially Rosario we can finally talk about how Asoka and her master Anakin (Hayden Christiansen) have totally porked.
So the episode continues, Mando meets Asoka and name drops Bo-Katan to avoid getting sliced and diced. Mando actually holds his own for being ambushed by a Jedi Master deflecting the lightsaber with his Beskar gauntlets and not immediately dying like most people on the other side of that saber. This also makes the Beskar spear Mando gets at the end of the episode even more important because now he can fight against enemies with light(or dark)sabers. And with the reveal at the end of Chapter 12, seems like it'll get some good use. More importantly from this conversation we finally get Baby Yoda's name, Grogu. Asoka is able to communicate with him through the Force and understands he was raised in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, trained by many masters. Asoka reminisces about how cool Yoda was for a moment which was a payoff we've been waiting for since the first episode of the show.
Mando and Asoka team up, taking back the city after an intense duel between Asoka and The Magistrate. When Asoka lost one of her sabers and finally went to her infamous backhand lightsaber style to kick her ass I lost my shit. It was also 3:30 AM when I was watching so I'm sure I woke up most the house but fuck it its for Star Wars man. Asoka finally gets the information she was looking for, the location of Grand Admiral Thrawn.
In an episode filled of constant WTF moments, this takes the cake. Thrawn was a Legends villain who was brought into cannon during Star Wars Rebels as the main antagonist. He's ruthless and a serious problem for anybody looking go against the Empire. Last we saw him, in the series finale of Rebels, he gets jumped to hyperspace in a half destroyed destroyer by the space octopuses (octopi?) along with to our protagonist Jedi in training Ezra Bridger in their final confrontation. No really, if you don't believe me watch the clip here its actually badass. So the fate of Thrawn and Ezra seemed grim as there's no way someone can survive that, right? But ya know it's Star Wars and if Asoka is asking about Thrawn 9 years after his disappearance she either knows he's alive and active, or looking for to return the favor to Ezra by rescuing him. Either way, it looks like there will be some serious cross over between Rebels and Mandalorian.
Who will train Grogu/Baby Yoda?
With the addition of Thrawn to the narrative it seems to push this in one definite direction. Ezra Bridger. Asoka tells Mando that she can't train Grogu as a Jedi due to his relationship with Mando. She says she's seen what that attachment can do to even the greatest of Jedi Knights, i.e. Anakin, and doesn't want to bring that back to the galaxy. However she tells Mando to bring Grogu to some force mountain so he can reach out to other Jedi through the force and possibly find the right master who can connect to his emotion in a way Asoka wouldn't be able to. Que Ezra. Not you're typical Jedi trained by probably the most off the book Jedi Master Kanan Jarrus (RIP). He carries around a blaster in addition to his lightsaber and has even purposefully tapped into the Dark Side before and even was able to study a Sith holocron. So if Grogu needs to learn how to control his powerful connection to Mando and even use it to his advantage, Ezra is the guy.
When Asoka mentions that she isn't the only Jedi in the galaxy, instantly everyone had to have thought Luke Skywalker. This would place him 5 years after the Battle of Endor presumably while he is trying to lay the ground work for his new Jedi Academy which is ideal. Luke has had his dealings with draws to the Dark Side and due to being trained at such a late age for a Jedi, may be able to offer unique perspective to Grogu as he deals with his personal attachments. I'm sure Luke cares about Han, Leia and Chewy just as much as Grogu does Mando. The only limitation would be practicality. Mark Hamill looks every bit as old as he is right now and without extremely expensive top of the industry de-aging tech they use in blockbuster movies, I don't see how this could be possible. I guess we'll really see how much Disney wants to invest in Mandalorian in the future.
This is easily the most far-fetched but excitable possibility for the future of the show. Kyle Katarn was a Legends character who was known from the Jedi Knight video games. He was a former stormtrooper who defected to join the rebels and discovered his force sensitivity. Yes, I know they stole his origins to give them to Finn and I'll never forgive them for that. In the second installment, Jedi Academy, Kyle works with Luke to train the next generation of Jedi and honestly is just way cooler than Luke. He's a Obi-Wan type of Jedi, dedicated to the Jedi Order but also understands that emotion is all part of being human and is unavoidable for a Jedi. It also looks slightly more likely when combined with my Shadowtroooper theory (read more about that below). I'm not sure how many people would be rooting for this so I'm not sure they'll pull the trigger but I promise you if they do, this show will instantly elevate.
And finally because I missed it last week...
What were those suits with Moff Gideon at the end of Chapter 12?
Most theories on the internet have deemed these suits to be Darktroopers.
They are known in legends as the superior stormtroopers, having some iterations as complete cyborgs, and others as manned mech suits. Sounds badass and they suits seem to resemble the suits of the ones depicted in Legends.
However, with the context of the episode, I believe they are actually Shadowtroopers.
Shadowtroopers are also from the Legends as well as the Jedi Knight games with Kyle Katarn and are not born force users but created. In Legends, they use the Valley of the Jedi, but in Mandalorian they swap that mythology out for the blood transfusions from force sensitive individuals such as Gorgu/Baby Yoda to increase the midichlorians in the person and imbue them with force powers. Gideon is creating an army of Sith soldiers. They're definitely gonna need some competent Jedi to help them out with that. Whether it be just Asoka, or Ezra, Luke, or Kyle Katarn too, I'm sure this season of Mandalorian is only going to get better as it goes.