Oh, that was fun, wasn’t it? The season-ender of The Mandalorian had a bunch of different elements combining to deliver a story that had plenty of action, some fun twists, and unfortunately somber notes as well. In the end, a new chapter is about to begin. But what a wild ride we had to the conclusion of The Mandalorian’s first season.
Be forewarned, there are SPOILERS ahead. So if you haven’t seen episode 8 of The Mandalorian, there will be SPOILERS ahead. If you’re cool with that, then join us on a free-wheeling romp through episode 8. For the record, I thought this was a fantastic episode that gave us all kinds of insight into who these people are and how far they’ve come.
I thought the world-building in The Mandalorian was delightful from start to finish. It was the world of Star Wars with enough call-backs to kind of thrill the soul, but also plenty of new species, places and situations that were fun to get into. The work of Jon Favreau, Kathleen Kennedy and their crew has been a joy to watch. Taika Waititi (who directed this finale), Bryce Dallas Howard, Deborah Chow, Rick Famuyiwa, and Dave Filoni were all excellent in the director’s chair.
I don’t think there was a “clunker” in the bunch and each episode brought a unique feel to the overall The Mandalorian (and Star Wars) aesthetic. No, the work done was wonderful and I enjoyed The Mandalorian episode to episode. With each new episode, I was anxious to see what the next would bring. And that’s my measure of a good show.
Bringing this show to the screen must have been quite a fun journey, but not without peril. The Star Wars fandom is a passionate, and finicky, one. This offshoot of the main vine was a risky proposition, but I’d say it was successfully done and should allow Disney and everyone else involved to utter a collective sigh of relief. It worked. You did it. Now, let’s have some more, please. However, that effusive praise on my end comes with a caveat – don’t try to do what comes next on the cheap.
The Mandalorian succeeded because of the resources of time, money and talent that have been put into it. The next shows that are created (as well as season 2 of The Mandalorian) in the Star Wars realm need that same care and consideration. At this point, no other effort will do. Make sense? It does to me.
When last we saw Cara Dune, Greef Karga and Mando, they were bottled up in a cantina at the hands of the ominous Moff Gideon, who I must say is a calm and steadying influence in the realm of menace. Turns out he knows the names and history of all three of our heroes in the cantina. It’s a bit unnerving (Karga even has a wee nip while looking nervous), to say the least, as he rattles off facts about their lives. Mando, knows who it is (apparently, Gideon was supposed to have been executed. Didn’t take, I guess). It’s a great scene and we see just how confident Gideon is. “Your astute panic suggests that you understand your situation. I would prefer to avoid any further violence and encourage a moment of consideration,” he tells them. It’s a marvelous line of dialogue.
Karga asks what kind of assurances Gideon will give them if they talk and he matter-of-factly tells them “If you are asking if you can trust me, you cannot.” It’s so wonderfully bold and arrogant, a statement that he will work in his own best interests, which for now includes their assistance. And why does he need their assistance? Well, I’ll tell you in a bit. First, though, let me say this – Giancarlo Esposito delivers this wonderfully nuanced, menacing performance. It’s just so delightfully threatening in a calm and cool way. Well done, Giancarlo.
Gideon needs a bit of help because the two ex-Imperial soldiers on the speeder bikes don’t make it back. They await outside the city with Baby Yoda in a napsack and do a bit of kibitzing, which is funny in itself. Fortunately, the two soldiers are played really nicely by Jason Sudeikis and Adam Pally, who give us a fun little dude-talking-to-dude moment. They try some target practice and both are crappy at it. You get the feeling through the conversation and poor marksmanship that they are not at the upper end of the intelligence pool. One wants to see Baby Yoda because he feels he didn’t get a full look before. It just kind of goes on like that in a fun way until who should show up but IG-11 – in full nurse droid protective mode.
He demands Baby Yoda and when our two soldiers don’t hand him over, IG-11 takes them out. And then the real fun begins. A firefight breaks out in the town around the cantina when IG-11, Baby Yoda in a backpack, comes storming into town on one of the speeder bikes, a’shootin’ just about any Imperial uniform it sees. It’s a battle royale in the city street and it’s going pretty well until…well, it doesn’t. And in the scrum, Mando is seriously wounded by Gideon, who rallies his considerable troop numbers.
We also get another glimpse into Baby Yoda’s power with the force as he turns back a flame thrower at one point. It’s a moment that is impressive as it is vital to saving everyone. Baby Yoda may have the cuteness factor going, but the little guy also has some serious force game. And they needed it.
Mando is badly wounded and feels its time for a “warrior’s death.” Cara Dune isn’t having any of it, but she knows he’s badly hurt (You know, blood out the back of his head). Thanks to a sewer grate that’s been cut open (I love IG units, too, Karga), there’s an escape route at last into the sewer. An interesting thing happens, though. IG-11 decides to stay with Mando as the other two make their way into the sewer. It’s here we start to see that the IG unit is definitely on a new path. “I am no longer a hunter, I am a nurse droid,” he tells Mando. And in the saving moment, we finally get a look at Pedro Pascal without a helmet.
“No living thing has seen me without my helmet since I swore the creed,” Mando tells IG-11, to which our droid responds that it is no living thing. So at last, a Pedro Pascal sighting has been made. It’s kind of an exciting moment and one that, given the creed and religion Mando lives by, was nicely built up to. You wouldn’t think the simple removing of a helmet would be so thrilling, but I admit that I was touched by it.
Needless to say, Mando gets a little medical attention and he and IG-11 make their way into the sewer to join Karga and Dune. I will digress here for a moment to offer my heartiest congratulations to Carl Weathers and Gina Carano for bringing to life two such fun and interesting characters are Greef Karga and Cara Dune, respectively. It’s funny because when you first meet them, you wondered if they had any scruples or principles at all – they seemed very superficial and cynical. They seemed very satisfied to live the way they were living, but as they’ve been sucked into Mando’s world and this Baby Yoda adventure, you see another side of them, a side that they themselves had maybe forgotten was there.
I think both these actors have done a very nice job of developing their characters as the season has gone along, even though there were episodes we didn’t see them. I, for one, have enjoyed the heck out of Cara Dune and Greef Karga in season 1. I hope we have not seen the last of them, though it seems that Mando’s life will be on the road in season 2.
Another character I find fascinating is the Armorer, played with such a nice, subtle touch by Emily Swallow. Our quintet of heroes stumbles onto what was left of the Mandalorian covert in the sewers. With the arrival of the Imperials shortly after Mando had fled, most of the Mandalorians had been killed. Some may have escaped, but the Armorer was still there, melting down their Beskar.
It’s a somber sight and one that Mando probably blames himself for bringing onto his people. As we saw in the flashback to his parent’s death, he was ‘this close’ to dying at the hands of an Imperial droid when the Mandalorians showed up to stem the tide of battle and eventually save him. He was trained and eventually joined their ranks. Again, love the backstory. We have seen snippets of that attack three different times and each time a little more is revealed. Fun storytelling technique, I think. Again, leaves you wanting more and then finally we got it. Mando was saved by the Mandalorians, trained and took the creed.
Thanks to the Armorer, the relationship between Mando and Baby Yoda is now official. “You are as its father,” she tells Mando. She also gives him his signet, telling him he is now a “clan of two.” So, that makes it clear that Baby Yoda and Mando are bound to each other until he is able to find that species and return it to them. He will train and care for Baby Yoda until that time comes….or perhaps as Karga says, Baby Yoda will care for him? And in a fun addendum, the Armorer also gives Mando a jet pack. Who doesn’t think that’s cool?
Again, the role of the Armorer is really enjoyable. There’s a calm wisdom to this character, a knowing acceptance of things from the past and the present. Emily Swallow really delivers with this character in those few moments she’s on screen. Just a lovely character who, as we see later, is also something of a badass warrior, taking out a bunch of Imperial soldiers with a hammer and tongs. She is not one to be trifled with, it would seem. And that makes it all the better in my eyes. Hopefully, we see her again, too.
We also get a reference to the Jedi from the Armorer. A story from the past recalls songs of eons past – battle with an order of sorcerers with these mind powers. It’s a nice little moment that shows us that the Jedi (and the force) are not as well-known on the outer reaches of the galaxy as we might have thought. The powers of the force are considered “sorcery” by many in these realms. I’d never considered that prospect, so it was a great reminder that in the farthest reaches of this galaxy, things are not as clear-cut and obvious as I’d assumed.
So Mando, Karga, Dune, IG-11 (wonderfully voiced by Taika Waititi), and Baby Yoda head off down a lava river to what they hope will be a quick and safe exit. Unfortunately, Moff Gideon is no fool and has an ambush awaiting at the mouth of the lava river. Mando’s visor spots the mass of troops and it looks like a shoot-out will ensue, a shoot-out that our five-some have no hope of winning.
It’s here we see that in a world of many creatures, even a reprogrammed droid can demonstrate honor by making a sacrifice that will save the others. I have to admit, I’d grown to really like IG-11, the nurse droid. It had healed Mando, cracked a joke, and looked after Baby Yoda with a wonderful maternal instinct. To see it come to the conclusion that his sacrifice was the only way to fulfill his mission of taking care of Baby Yoda was bit of gut-punch.
“Sadly, there is no scenario where the child is saved in which I survive,” he tells his companions. Man, what a moment. Even Mando gets a tad emotional, and you know how he felt about Droids before this all went down. Another great moment that demonstrates development and re-examining ones own prejudices. Loved it.
But this Moff Gideon is nothing if not persistent. Who should show up in a Tie-Fighter but our old sinister friend. Another battle rages as he shoots at the boat. “Hey, let’s make the baby do the magic hand thing. Come on baby, do the magic hand thing,” says Karga. Now that was funny. I think Baby Yoda thought Karga was playing with him. “I’m out of ideas,” Karga laments.
Fortunately, it would appear that Mando is quite the fast learner. He straps on his power pack and meets the Tie-Fighter in mid-air. He attaches some explosive devices to the ship and it shears off the wing and the ship crashes. Notice I didn’t say explodes. It crashed, which led me to believe that Moff Gideon was not killed. And that was confirmed at the end when Jawas were ransacking the wreckage. It would appear that Moff Gideon is a practitioner of the force.
Using what looked like a light saber, he cut his way out of the wreckage and stood atop the ship with a look at anger and determination – apparent light saber in his hand (that WAS a light saber, right?). I honestly thought he was going to shake his fist at the heavens and utter some sort of threat. With that, It would appear that Gideon knows exactly what Baby Yoda is and it becomes a little clearer as to why he might want the little tyke.
We can also assume that we haven’t seen the last of this ‘Mad Moff.” It feels as though the chase will be on for season 2. Unfortunately, I don’t know what will happen to Karga and Dune. It looks like Karga is staying on Navarro and is hoping to enlist Dune as his “enforcer.” Re-establish the bounty hunter guild and get things rolling. “Navarro is a fine planet. And now that the scum and villainy have been washed away, it’s very respectable again,” he tells Mando. So it may be some time before we see this dynamic duo again. I hope not as I have a great deal of affection for those two characters – and the actors that play them so well. Ever notice how often the word “scum” is used in Star Wars shows? Just a curiosity, I suppose.
And with that, Mando and Baby Yoda are into the stars to search for the Yoda-like species. That should take them on plenty of fun adventures in season 2, with Gideon nipping at their heels, as well as who knows what other dangers they might encounter. Hopefully, Baby Yoda continues to develop its Force powers and the bond between it and Mando continues to grow.
And with that, first season of The Mandalorian comes to a close. I admit to you here and now that I rewatched the episode two more times. I loved that it was a little longer in length (about 45 minutes) and closed out the season is such a spirited, yet reflective, tone. Lot to process, but also a lot to learn. Should be good fun in season 2.
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