It’s time for another piece detailing all the “easter eggs” from the latest episodes of “The Mandalorian.” This go-around, we get to dig deep into the old Expanded Universe, classic Japanese cinema, and learn more about some of the best characters in all of “Star Wars” lore.
Chapter 13 — ‘The Jedi’
Directed by “Star Wars” veteran and fan-favorite Dave Filoni, this episode is chock-full of nods and references to other “Star Wars” properties, inspirations for the series, and features a great cameo from an icon of the 1980s cinema.
Ahsoka Tano — At this point, Ahsoka Tano is so much more than an easter egg. If you want to know more about my favorite “Star Wars” character, check out the earlier things I’ve written about her here, here, and here. There are several moments she has in this episode, however, which act as great easter eggs for additional things.
First of all, her coming out of the smoke and darkness of the forest at the opening of this episode is almost identical to the final scene of 2016’s “Rogue One” where Darth Vader comes out of the smoke and darkness in a corridor to slaughter a small band of rebels in utterly epic fashion.
Second, Ahsoka’s appearance through most of this episode in the hood may be a reference to the last times we’ve seen her on-screen. At the end of “Star Wars: Rebels,” she’s seen in a cloak much like this one when she greets Sabine Wren. Also, at the end of the final episode of “Clone Wars,” Ahsoka is wearing a similar cloak as she buries her dead Clone Trooper friends.
Michael Biehn — The town law enforcer is played by none other than the great Michael Biehn. I’ll be honest, I almost didn’t recognize him, but this in fact the same man who served as a star of many great action and sci-fi films in the 1980s and 1990s. He was in “Aliens,” the original “Terminator,” and even “Tombstone.”
Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth — The administrator of Calodan, the town that Ahsoka and Mando liberate as part of this episode is Morgan Elsbeth, played by renowned stuntwoman Diana Lee Inosanto. Elsbeth is from the planet Dathomir, a planet well-known to viewers of the “Star Wars” cartoons, or anyone who has played the video games. It also happens to be the home planet to Darth Maul and the giant Rancor who almost eats Luke Skywalker in 1983’s “Return of the Jedi.”
Shogun Style — This entire episode is a nod to the Akira Kurosawa films that inspired the original “Star Wars” in the first place. What makes “The Mandalorian” unique from other “Star Wars” properties in the post-George Lucas era, is that Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni have made a point that they are taking inspiration not just from “Star Wars” itself, but from the things that inspired George Lucas to create the series more than 40 years ago.
“The Jedi” creatively borrows from “Yojimbo,” a 1961 film written and directed by Kurosawa in which a traveling ronin frees a town from criminal gangs. Kurosawa’s style can also be seen in the architecture of this episode, from the arches to the Japanese-like garden where the final showdown takes place. This episode is Filoni’s love letter to those films, which Lucas has said had a profound impact on the original idea for “Star Wars.”
Assassin Droids — The droids that Elsbeth uses to hunt down Ahsoka and Mando in the streets of the city are HK-87 assassin droids. This is a reference to the HK-47 droid that features prominently in the now non-canon game, “Knights of the Old Republic.” Filoni has already taken several elements from that game that are popular with the “Star Wars” fanbase and incorporated them into his past projects. It’s nice to see him throw fans a bone here in “The Mandalorian” as well.
Morai — As Mando is walking through the scorched forest looking for Ahsoka, we get a brief glimpse of Morai, a female Convor bird that has been closely tied to Ahsoka ever since “The Daughter,” one of the Mortis gods, gave her life to save Ahsoka during the “Clone Wars” cartoon series. Previously, Morai made an animated appearance in “Rebels,” and now made her live-action debut in “The Mandalorian.” I could write an epic tome just about Ahsoka and her relationship with Morai, but I won’t…at least not yet. Just know that when you see this bird, Ahsoka Tano isn’t far behind.
Grogu’s Rescue — Ahsoka mentions that Grogu was a student at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant but was rescued by someone. This is perhaps the biggest mystery now posed by this episode. If you’ll remember back to the “Revenge of the Sith,” Anakin Skywalker killed most everyone in the Jedi Temple after he became Darth Vader, including Younglings the developmental level of Grogu.
There were only a few Jedi who could have gotten him out. It may have been Yoda himself if Grogu was able to hide until Yoda arrived at the Temple. It could also have been Jocasta Nu, the Jedi librarian who we know escaped the Temple but was later killed by Darth Vader. A really interesting theoretical, however, is if was Grogu not saved by a Jedi, but instead by Darth Vader, the Grand Inquisitor, or even Emperor Palpatine? This possible scenario may explain why Ahsoka doesn’t want to train The Child.
Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Line — At one point when Ahsoka is talking to Mando about The Force, she uses the exact same line that Obi-Wan Kenobi used to Luke Skywalker in the original “Star Wars” film. She says that the Force is “an energy field created by all living things.” We get the exact same explanation from Obi-Wan as he begins to educate Luke in the ways of the Force.
A-350 Blaster Rifles — These rifles are the successor to the A-300 blaster rifles that the Rebels use all throughout the Galactic Civil War. They can be seen prominently in “Rogue One” on the Battle of Scarif.
Grand Admiral Thrawn — This was, despite the naming of Baby Yoda, this episode’s biggest moment. Grand Admiral Thrawn will be familiar to anyone who read a “Star Wars” novel in the early 1990s and was the main antagonist in a series of stories by author Timothy Zahn.
A member of the Chiss race from the Unknown Regions of the “Star Wars” galaxy, Thrawn, whose full name is Mitth’raw’nurodo, was a Grand Admiral in the Imperial Navy. His blue skin and red eyes made him stand out in a crowd. He was one of the few people who the Emperor truly respected, and one of a very select group who knew the true identity of Darth Vader.
Thrawn is — without much debate — the smartest, most cunning, and richest villain ever created for the “Star Wars” universe. He doesn’t have the force powers of Darth Vader, but his keen intellect could tie knots around any opponent. When he was brought back into canon as part of Dave Filoni’s “Star Wars: Rebels” series, Thrawn became the show’s Big Bad for the final seasons. At the end of that series, young Jedi Ezra Bridger sent Thrawn, himself, and the admiral’s star destroyer into the Unknown Regions as part of a wayward hyperspace jump. He hasn’t been seen since, but it seems like this episode is a clue that we will soon see the Grand Admiral in the live-action “Star Wars” universe.
Tython — It’s fascinating that Dave Filoni chose to bring the planet Tython into “The Mandalorian.” Tython was, in the old Expanded Universe, the birthplace of the Jedi. In the new canon, it’s a planet that has been visited by Darth Vader in the “Star Wars” comics, and it houses the remains of an ancient Jedi Temple.
Chapter 14 — ‘The Tragedy’
This chapter of Mando’s story features one gut punch after another. Directed by legendary cinematic maestro Robert Rodriguez, it features nods to earlier episodes in the series, old favorites from the Original Trilogy, and another famous George Lucas property. Ready?
Blue Butterflies — When Grogu first sits down on the Seeing Stone on the planet Tython he’s treated by blue butterflies. At first, they may not seem like anything special, but blue butterflies have served as messengers in “Star Wars” lore. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Grogu is supposed to be reaching out through the Force to find a Jedi and is immediately greeted by insects that represent messengers. In the past blue butterflies have even appeared to Ben Solo, who became Kyo Ten, the key antagonist of the Sequel Trilogy. Could Ben Solo be the Jedi who answers? Probably not. Depending upon exactly when “The Mandalorian” takes place, Ben Solo is little more than a toddler, but it is an interesting connection.
Slave I — As Mando and Grogu sit atop the Temple and hope for The Child to reach out to a Jedi, we see a ship fly into view. That ship is the infamous Salve I, flown first by Jango Fett, and for a long time now by his son, Boba Fett. This was one of the most iconic ship designs of the Original Trilogy. The way it flew and landed were unique, and its design is unmistakable. It’s a heavily armed bounty hunter’s vessel with missiles, multiple guns, and even prison cells to keep his bounties.
Boba Fett — If you’re even a casual fan of “Star Wars,” you probably know who Boba Fett is. A legendary bounty hunter from the Original Trilogy, and a minor character in the prequels, Boba Fett was the one who brought in Han Solo and gave him to Jaba the Hutt. The last we saw of the man in his Mandalorian armor, he was being swallowed whole by the Sarlacc in the Great Pit of Carkoon during the battle at the beginning of 1983’s “Return of the Jedi.” We did see a brief glimpse of him in the closing frames of “The Marshall” at the beginning of this season, but we didn’t know until now, that it was in fact him.
We learn a lot about him, and his father, the bounty hunter Jango Fett in this episode. There was plenty of debate in the Star Wars community whether or not the Fett’s were true Mandalorians or if they were merely imposters. In “The Tragedy,” we find out that Jango Fett was indeed a Foundling, just like Mando is. In fact, towards the end of the episode when Boba Fett is showing Mando his chain code that is embedded in his armor, he shows him some Mandalorian text. Because (of course) there are people on the internet who know the Mandalorian alphabet, several have translated the text we see in this episode, which leads us to the reveal of another big legends character, but we’ll get to that in a minute…
Fennec Shand — Boba Fett brings with him someone from season one of “The Mandalorian”: sharpshooter Fennec Shand, last seen left for dead in the Tatooine desert after she was shot by Toro Calican. If you’re an avid reader of this column, you’ll remember that I analyzed the sound of the boots of the man in black we saw walking up to her body at the end of that episode and said that the sound exactly matched that of Boba Fett from his appearance in “Empire Strikes Back.” Well, it turns out that was him, and he saved Shand.
Gaffi Stick — The weapon Boba Fett uses with such epic ferocity in this episode to demolish one Stormtrooper after another is a Gaffi Stick, the traditional melee weapon of the Tusken Raiders found on Tatooine. Up until now, we haven’t seen anyone do much with one, but Boba Fett absolutely decimates a squad of Stormtroopers with it, splitting some of their helmets in half.
The “Indiana Jones” Boulder — At one point in this episode, while battling the Stormtroopers, Fennec Shand kicks loose a large boulder that rolls downhill and runs over several Stormtroopers as they run from it. This is a direct reference to the second most famous property that George Lucas helped create, “Indiana Jones.” In the original “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” movie, Indiana Jones is chased by a giant boulder as he tries to flee a jungle temple at the beginning of the movie. And, I have to say, watching this boulder crush Imperial troopers is strangely cathartic.
Boba Fett’s Knee Rockets — Once Boba Fett gains his armor back, he uses his famous knee rockets to kill a group of Stormtroopers. The coolest of knee-related accessories used to be filled with a deadly poison in the old Expanded Universe. Whatever they’re filled with here, they pack a wallop, and several Stormtroopers have the misfortune to be on the receiving end.
Atmospheric Assault Lander — The ship that the Stormtroopers land in is an early version of the First Order’s Atmospheric Assault Lander (AAL). We first saw these in the opening moments of the J.J. Abrams’s “The Force Awakens,” on Jakku.
Dark Troopers — Glimpsed in a previous episode this season, this is the real debut of Dark Troopers into the new canon of “Star Wars.” Originally designed for the 1995 video game “Dark Forces,” Dark Troopers began as augmented Clone Troopers but eventually evolved into combat droids. The Dark Troopers we see here are much closer to the combat droid version from the old Expanded Universe. If they’re anything like those old droids, in addition to the flight abilities they show off in this episode, they’re also heavily armed, and quite difficult to kill. If Moff Gideon has a ship full of these Dark Troopers, that will make for a truly formidable obstacle for our heroes to overcome if they want to rescue The Child.
Jaster Mereel — Remember that Mandalorian text I mentioned? Buried within that text is a mention of Jaster Mereel, a legendary Mandalorian Warrior, who served as a mentor for Jango Fett in the old Expanded Universe. Jaster was once the ruler of Mandalore and hails from Concord Dawn, the same homeworld as Jango Fett. You’ll recognize that planet name from episodes of “The Clone Wars” and “Rebels.” If Favreau and Filoni are re-canonizing Jaster, it opens up a number of exciting doors for further exploration of the background and history of the Fetts.