Warning: Spoilers ahead for the finale of "The Mandalorian" on Disney Plus.
Last week's episode 7 of "The Mandalorian" certainly set up an exciting season finale and Disney didn't disappoint with the concluding installment, which is also the longest so far.
Rumors were floating around the outer rim territories of the internet over the festive period that perhaps the feet we saw walking around the motionless body of Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) might belong to Boba Fett and that his appearance would be the gasp moment of the Season 1 finale.
Well, you can offer thanks to whatever god or gods you believe in, as that isn't the case and we'll get to the surprises that this episode does offer momentarily. The action picks up straight after the events of the previous episode with the two Imperial Biker Scouts who have snatched Baby Yoda and mercilessly gunned down one of our favorite characters, Kuiil the Ugnaught (voiced by Nick Nolte), who we can confirm is KIA.
The returning Biker Scouts (played by Adam Pally and Jason Sudeikis) reach the boundary of the city on Nevarro and wait to receive clearance to continue into town with their captured asset. The reason why they must wait is that apparently Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) is in a foul mood. "The Moff just touched down and already he’s taken out a squad of local troopers," their contact in town tells them over the comlink.
"These guys like to lay down the law when they first arrive into town, you know how it is," one Scout muses to the other in idle chit-chat and possibly a nod to one of the earliest "Star Wars" fan films called "Troops," made in 1997. All the while he's occasionally punching the contents of the bag slung over his shoulder, shouting, "Shut up!" which is distressing to say the least.
It’s all good fun and the dialogue is entertaining; the humor of Taika Waititi – who directed this episode – is obvious even if they do resort to a Stormtroopers-can’t-shoot-straight gag, which is getting tired now and based on a misconception. (The plan all along was to allow Leia, Luke, Han et al to escape – and believe it was genuine – so that they would lead the Empire to the Rebel’s secret base, on Yavin 4, since Leia wasn’t providing any useful information, even after torture. The Imperial Stormtroopers were therefore ordered not to hit them.)
The two blue collar Biker Scouts are still shooting the breeze when who should walk up to them, but the now-reprogrammed IG-11 (voiced by Waititi). He’s made good time walking to the city limits from the location of the Razor Crest, something that the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal), Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) and Cara Dune (Gina Carano) needed several hours to do. Regardless of this tiny detail, he makes short work of the Biker Scouts and his programming now dictates that he protect Baby Yoda at all costs… so he straps the cute and adorable child to a speeder bike and screams into town at full speed. Surely, the complete opposite of what his programming now dictates.
Meanwhile, in the city, the Mandalorian, Dune and Karga are still pinned down in what remains of the cantina, with 50 or so Imperial Stormtroopers outside. With limited options, they ponder an escape attempt through the sewers, if they can find a point of access inside the cantina.
The Imperial troops bring out the big guns, literally, and they assemble a BlasTech Industries E-Web heavy repeating blaster. What’s great at this point is that Moff Gideon gives another maniacal monologue specifically referencing it and its firepower.
"I would prefer to avoid any further violence and encourage a moment of consideration," Gideon announces. "Members of my escort have completed assembly of an E-Web heavy repeating blaster. If you are unfamiliar with this weapon, I'm sure that Republican Shocktrooper Cara Cynthia Dune of Alderaan will advise you that she has witnessed many of her ranks vaporized mid-decent facing the predecessor of this particular model. Or perhaps the decommissioned Mandalorian hunter Din Djarin has heard the songs of the siege of Mandalore, when gunships outfitted with similar ordinance laid waste to fields of Mandalorian recruits in the Night of a Thousand Tears. I advise disgraced magistrate Greef Karga to search the wisdom of his years and urge you to lay down your arms and come outside."
And … like that, he confirms the name of the Mandalorian. This was probably planned to have been part of this episode's reveals, but Pascal accidently let it slip in an interview back in November. We also learn Dune has a middle name and that she's originally from Alderaan, which would explain why she hates the Empire so much.
Gideon gives them until nightfall to decide. As they argue about their options, the Mandalorian says that he knows its Moff Gideon outside. Dune protests, saying that Gideon was executed for war crimes, but the Mandalorian is convinced because he knew his name. Some exposition follows and we learn that he wasn’t in fact born on Mandalore and it's revealed that Mandalore is not a race, but a creed. And that opens up some interesting new ideas and interpretations; what does it take to become Mandalorian? Could a member of any species theoretically become one? We look forward to this notion being explored more, as we’re sure it will be, in Season 2.
At this point we get the full-length flashback from Din Djarin’s childhood that we’ve only seen glimpses of so far; B2 super battle droids decimating a village and indiscriminately killing men, women and children, except now we also get to see how he survived. He's rescued by a Mandalorian and we can see a bunch of them using their rocketpacks to drop into the village and blasting the droids. They look like they’re from the Death Watch splinter group – a story arc from “The Clone Wars” animated TV series and another detail courtesy of “Mandalorian” writer Dave Filoni.
We cut to IG-11 who's reached the city and is tearing through the streets, blasting every Stormtrooper he sees, all with Baby Yoda being cute and adorable sitting more or less in the robot’s lap. Aside from an episode of "The Clone Wars" titled "Downfall of a Droid" (S01, E06) we haven’t really seen much of an IG droid in action until “The Mandalorian” and it’s been envisioned with great effect.
Karga and the Mandalorian seize the opportunity and rush outside while Dune lays down suppressing fire from the cover of the cantina. We love the noise her heavy blaster makes and it’s also got a great over-and-under barrel design.
The Mandalorian has to deal with a few Death Troopers outside and it’s nice to see them putting up more of a fight and in particular when it’s hand-to-hand, since they’re supposed to be the elite of the Imperial armed forces. Thankfully, Karga’s on hand with a blaster and saves the Mandalorian from getting his backside handed to him. Now free of any annoying distraction, he picks up the E-Web and lets rip.
Two Death Troopers breach the door of the cantina and Cara is pinned down at which point Gideon shoots the power supply for the E-Web and the resulting explosion sends the Mandalorian flying. Karga and IG-11 grab him and drag him back to the safety of the cantina, but he’s hurt badly. Cara tells the Mandalorian that she has to remove his helmet in order to treat him, but he refuses and pleads with her to let him have a warrior’s death. She reluctantly agrees at just as Gideon sends in an Incinerator Stormtrooper, but the cute and adorable Baby Yoda uses the Force to deflect the fire and instead blow up said Incinerator Stormtrooper.
Both Cara and Karga escape into the sewers, which we learn is where the secret Mandalorian covert is located on Nevarro. The IG droid takes off the helmet and we see, for the first time we see actor Pedro Pascal, who looks almost as bad as he did at the end of his run in "Game of Thrones."
Because no living thing has seen him remove his helmet, he maintains the Mandalorian way and simultaneously receives treatment and overcomes his distrust for droids. So it's win-win all round … until he and IG-11 catch up with the others in the sewer and find what remains of the hidden covert – a huge stack of Mandolorian armor, indicating that everyone who remained was hunted and killed.
Djarin is beyond furious and blames Karga until the Armorer (Emily Swallow) enters and explains that the Mandalorians understood the risk and let their existence be known (after the events at the end of episode 3)…but then the Imperials arrived. It’s possible that some may have made it off world, she says, so hopefully in time Djarin may meet survivors from the Nevarro Massacre. He tries to convince her to join them, but she wishes to remain.
“I will not leave this place until I have salvaged what remains,” she says and places some armor into a hazardously-placed beskar smelt. That’s a health and safety issue right there, someone's going to fall into that …
She asks to see the one that has caused this whole chain of events and Djarin explains that it has the power to move objects with its mind. The Armorer then mentions the Jedi for the first time; she tells of the ancient race that possessed the same power and was sometimes considered an enemy of the Mandalorians – see the Darksaber reference below.
However, this young one is not an enemy and is now bound by Mandalorian creed. In a similar manner to his own upbringing, Djarin must now must raise this foundling as a Mandalorian until he is of age, or return him to his own people. "This is the way," she says. So already we have an indication of where Season 2 might take us.
The Armorer creates a signet for the Mandalorian warrior with the melted beskar, one that he is now worthy of, and declares that he and Baby Yoda are now a clan of two. Finally she gives him a “Rising Phoenix,” which is just Mandalorianspeak for “jet pack” thus making him a full warrior.
The group makes their way to an underground lava river and finds an astromech droid – like R2-D2 basically – but with arms and legs, acting as a ferryman. This is a little weird, but hey, why not. Meanwhile, Imperial Stormtroopers have surrounded the Armorer and armed only with two heavy looking monkey wrench-type tools, she proceeds to absolutely pummel them in a masterful display of unarmed combat and even throws one in the smelt. See, told you. If there was ever an on-screen death crying out for a Whilhelm scream, it was this one.
Unfortunately, troops are waiting to ambush the fearless five outside, at the end of the lava tunnel. There are too many to be able to blast their way through so IG-11 makes the ultimate sacrifice and wades into the lava river so he can activate his self-destruct and save everyone.
His legs begin to melt as he wades toward the end of the tunnel and he starts to sink lower into the lava. At this point, the theme to “The Terminator” wouldn’t be out of place and it was obviously an influence as to how this scene would be filmed. We half expected IG-11 to make a "thumbs up" sign as he detonated.
But our gallant group is not in the clear just yet as out of the skies comes a screeching Outland TIE fighter piloted by Gideon himself. Even Dune’s heavy blaster is no match for this firepower and the situation looks dire once again. In desperation and with the persuasive skills of a rancor, Karga tries to get Baby Yoda to “do the magic hand thing” and hilariously, all the child does is wave back at him with a look of puzzlement on his face. Thankfully though, the Mandalorian is thinking straight; he throws on his jet pack, soars into the air and in an enjoyable and action-packed set piece, he uses his harpoon and a magnetic grenade-thingy and sends the Imperial fighter crashing to the ground.
The Mandalorian says his goodbyes to Karga and Cara, buries Kuill and flies off to start principal photography on Season 2.
And tragic as it was to lose Kuiil and even IG-11, it's nice to see that the writers aren’t afraid to kill off characters. However, we know Moff Gideon is still alive because the very last shot is of Gideon standing atop his crashed Outland TIE fighter holding no less than the Darksaber; an ancient, black-bladed lightsaber that was once held by the Jedi Order. During a period of collapse in the Galactic Republic's power, the Darksaber was stolen by members of the Mandalorian warrior clans – hence the enemies mentioned above – and used as a symbol of authority by the Death Watch. Once again, another story arc from “The Clone Wars.”
Plus, we strongly suspect the Armorer has also survived.
For the most part – a few small issues aside – we've thoroughly enjoyed the first season of Disney’s live action "Star Wars" series. It’s opened up some interesting possibilities and we’re excited to see where it takes us in the second season.
All eight episodes of the first season of "The Mandalorian" are available on Disney+. A monthly subscription is available for $6.99; annual subscriptions cost $69.99. You can sign up for Disney+ here. Amazon has announced that the Disney+ app will be available on devices including Fire TV, Fire TV Edition smart TVs and Fire Tablets (compatible ones). Disney+ won't be available in the U.K., Germany, France, Italy or Spain until March 31, 2020.
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