The Mandalorian: Who Is Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth?

Diana Lee Inosanto brings Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth to The Mandalorian, but who is the mysterious villain? Here's what we know...

The Mandalorian Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth
Photo: Lucasfilm

This Star Wars: The Mandalorian article contains spoilers.

“The Jedi” is an action-packed episode of The Mandalorian that takes many of its cues from classic samurai and Western movies, two of the genres that heavily inspired George Lucas’ vision for the first Star Wars. Here, we see as two brave warriors take down a cruel warlord hidden within the walls of an oppressed city, all while covered in the thick fog that’s undoubtedly meant to evoke the look of an Akira Kurosawa film.

At the center of the episode’s story is Ahsoka Tano, a former Jedi who needs information from the magistrate of the city of Calodan. Located on a ravished planet called Corvus, the city is surrounded by dead forest in every direction, and a green fog that could very well be poisonous from the way the magistrate’s soldiers wear gas masks and full HAZMAT-like suits. (Lang, the enforcer played by Michael Biehn, seems to breathe the air just fine, though, as do the people inside the city’s walls.)

As we learn in the episode, Ahsoka’s mission isn’t just to liberate the city from a tyrant but to get information on the whereabouts of Grand Admiral Thrawn, a classic Star Wars villain who is the key to the former Jedi’s current quest: to find Rebels protagonist Ezra Bridger, who went missing while fighting the Chiss commander. Whether Magistrate Morgan Elsbeth actually knows where “her master” is located is unclear since the episode cuts away before the villain has a chance to respond, lightsaber at her throat. But from the way the people of Calodan celebrate by the end of “The Jedi,” it’s clear that Elsbeth’ rule — and likely her life — has come to an end.

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But who was Morgan Elsbeth before her demise at the wrong end of a lightsaber? The character played by martial artist and actor Diana Lee Inosanto is new to the Star Wars canon. Ahsoka describes Elsbeth as one of the chief architects of the Empire’s war machine, helping build the Imperial Navy that the Emperor used to subjugate the galaxy. We also learn that the magistrate has a tragic past that goes all the way back to the Clone Wars. At some point during the galactic conflict, Elsbeth’s people were slaughtered, which seems to have paved the way for the hatred the magistrate seems to have for other people.

While it’s unclear what exactly she did to the planet’s surface, it’s pretty obvious that the wasteland that stretches beyond Calodan was her doing. Perhaps Elsbeth mined all of the planet’s resources in order to build the Emperor’s fleets. The only patch of nature left on Corvus seems to be the garden and man-made lake inside the walls of her private abode on the other side of the city. There, lavish green plants grow while the people she rules live in squalor.

The image of a powerful warlord who has immeasurable riches while their subjects have so little is not an uncommon one in the Japanese films writer and director Dave Filoni emulates in “The Jedi.” It’s appropriate, then, that the fate of Calodan is decided by a clash of blades, Elsbeth’s beskar spear proving a formidable match for Ahsoka’s lightsabers.

Inosanto was cast perfectly in the role of the magistrate. Not only does she have the acting chops for the villain but also displays her considerable martial arts skills in the climactic duel with Ahsoka. She’s trained in Jeet Kune Do and Eskrima, and her father, the martial artist Dan Inosanto, was Bruce Lee’s student and training partner. The actor is also an accomplished stuntwoman and stunt coordinator, and she brings all of that experience and skill to the screen, turning in a performance that ranks among the best on the show so far.

Keep up with all of The Mandalorian season 2 news here.