‘The Mandalorian’ brings a major fan favorite into the ‘Star Wars’ live-action universe

The worst-kept secret in the “Star Wars” universe brought a huge fan favorite to “The Mandalorian” — moving the show further into the orbit of the animated series “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars Rebels,” while adding details about the merchandising bonanza alternately known until now as “Baby Yoda” and “The Child.”

After considerable build-up, the second season’s fifth episode, “The Jedi,” introduced Rosario Dawson as Ahsoka Tano, the Padawan to Anakin Skywalker in the animated programs. The latest chapter was written and directed by Dave Filoni, who oversaw the “Star Wars” animated series — where Ahsoka first appeared in 2008 — before joining Jon Favreau as an executive producer on “The Mandalorian,” the first live-action TV series in the franchise.

Fans had been eagerly awaiting Ahsoka’s live-action debut — and the sight of her twin lightsabers — and it didn’t disappoint, as the title character finally found her and brought the Child to her. Through her Jedi powers, she was able to communicate with the baby, revealing his name — Grogu — and the fact that he had been trained as a Jedi before the rise of the Empire, hidden for his protection when the Jedi were routed.

Ahsoka said she wouldn’t continue that training, suggesting that Grogu had already formed a strong attachment to the Mandalorian. Because the child felt fear, she said, there could be dangerous consequences, noting that she had seen what fear can do “to the best of us” — a reference to Anakin Skywalker’s fall to the dark side of the Force in becoming Darth Vader.

The episode — which also featured “The Terminator” actor Michael Biehn in a guest role — closed with Ahsoka sending the Mandalorian on a new stage of his quest to find a home for Grogu, while leaving the door open to her return. In the climactic sequence, she mentioned her pursuit of Grand Admiral Thrawn, a villain from “Star Wars Rebels.”

While advancing the story on several fronts, “The Jedi” was notably slim on details about what Ahsoka had been doing since fans saw her last. Based on the initial reaction, that would seem to create a number of possibilities for her future and past adventures — establishing one more piece of ammunition, potentially, for Disney’s “Star Wars” universe.

“The Mandalorian” is available on Disney+.

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