Season 1, Episode 8
Date of release: December 27, 2019 (Disney+)
Who would have thought that comedians Adam Pally and Jason Sudeikis would find their way into the Star Wars franchise and portray humanized troopers who for once have been depicted as soldiers trying to kill time? First of all, I didn’t even recognize the two’s voices and was astounded to see their names in the closing credits, which brought me straight back to the hilarious opening scene of the episode to watch it once more. I already realized during the first time watching it that it may be one of the more hilarious scenes of the Star Wars franchise, right behind “Holding for General Hugs” from STAR WARS: EPISODE VIII – THE LAST JEDI, and it worked in this episode, because there was time for it, and because it was necessary to show the troopers in a more idiotic fashion. They have always been famous to not hit their targets when they shoot, and to be prolifically unable to do their jobs as a troop of soldiers in a war. You could walk up against a battalion of stormtroopers all by yourself with just one gun and fifteen bullets in it and you would come out of this situation alive. You cannot trust a mission like picking up a child and delivering it to the Moff to two troopers with no ability to do jobs and think that everything will be okay and you will win. The Moff should have done the whole work by himself and maybe he would not have experienced this crash landing.
This was quite an entertaining season finale, which happened to not only put a premise into the show for its upcoming second season, but also closed the circle for this season. THE MANDALORIAN began with IG-11 doing its job to get to the asset and it ended its existence pretty much doing the same, as it was speeding straight into town to put holes into various stormtroopers. The Mandalorian began the series as a soldier who takes big guns to shoot it at the bad guys, and he ended the season with taking another big gun to shoot it at stormtroopers. The Mandalorian started this season by seeing a job in the asset, and the season ended with the armoured hero becoming the father to said asset, after a season full of adventure, in which both saved each other’s lives numerous times. But because this is still part of a greater narrative, more characters were involved, and they were placed into some sort of redemption arcs (hence the title of this chapter). IG-11 turned form a villain into a hero who sacrificed itself for the greater good, and even Greef Karga was able to show that he was not at all thinking about backstabbing the Mandalorian, although if Carl Weathers returns for the second season, the writers can still employ a storyline which has Greef go against the Mandalorian, especially since the man didn’t seem to have a greater purpose in the show than being the man who hands out contracts to bounty hunters. The same can be said about Cara Dune, but at least she has a back story that could be developed, as was the case with the Mandalorian, who finally found an opportunity to tell us all who he is and where he comes from — not that it was particular necessary for the narrative (it doesn’t change his character that he was a foundling, or now that he has a name). I would almost hope this wasn’t the last we saw of Cara and that she can easily turn into the Mandalorian’s right-hand woman. Someone who could bring a little comedy and sarcasm into the life of the helmet wearer. Who knows, maybe with Cara around, the Mandalorian learns to be funny? Similar to how John Connor trained the Terminator to be more human in TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY, and it would be an enjoyable story in this show, especially when THE MANDALORIAN starts making fun of some science-fiction story tropes.
Moff Gideon didn’t get to much doing this episode. Apparently he did more evil stuff while the two bike troopers were having a private moment, because as soon as the episode went back to Gideon and his blabbering (instead of storming the building and smoking out the people who brought him here, let alone giving them time until sundown for finding an exit), he wasn’t doing anything until he finally got the opportunity to shoot his blaster and fly his TIE fighter. The fact that he survived the crash obviously means the writers have found their villain for the next season (this one didn’t really have one, as the ones who hunted the Mandalorian and the child during this season were mostly faceless, and Greef turned out not to be an antagonist at all), but that essentially makes his appearance in this episode something of a teaser for things to come, and we got to learn that even THE MANDALORIAN does not like to just conclude stories and close the circle on some character arcs. Even the finale is just another one of those episodes trying to set up the premise and characters for future seasons, which is a practice TV writers really need to think about stopping.
The longest episode of the entire season at least knew how to focus on things, even if I was just a bit curious by some of the choices in the narrative: For the Mandalorian, Greef, IG-11 and Cara, it was all about getting off of Navarro and live to see another day. For Moff Gideon, it was all about getting the asset (and we still don’t know why he wants the child, although we can all assume he wants the power of the child for himself — think the robot in the reimagined LOST IN SPACE, which only listens to commands of the subject who turned it on or rescued it). For the viewers, it was all about learning about the Mandalorian creed, about the Mandalorian himself, about the hatred between Mandalorians and Jedi (which was especially helpful for those who never risked a look into the many animated shows in the Star Wars universe) — all setups for future seasons of the show. It’s not a surprise that the stormtroopers decided to wait until the heroes in their lava boat are out of the building to shoot at them, because otherwise there would not have been time to drop all this back story exposition into the episode. It would also explain why Gideon decided to wait until sundown for an attack, since he would not have found a time to deliver more back story if he had attacked immediately and not given the heroes time to escape. In a way, the season finale is not only pretty good at not closing the circle, but it could also win an award in the category “Most Exposition in a Season Finale to Set Up Future Seasons.” I don’t mind that, although one can wonder why it took Jon Favreau eight episodes to get to the deeper and more complex back story lore of the Star Wars franchise, simply by depicting the Darksaber.