***WARNING: WHILE THIS IS A PREDOMINANTLY NON-SPOILER REVIEW, VERY MINOR DETAILS MAY HAVE FOUND THEIR WAY IN***
Weíve come to the end of Season 1 of The Mandalorian and Iím almost speechless. No, really, I donít know what to say except that itís the best 42 minutes of Star Wars youíll likely see for a while. At least until The Clone Wars comes back in February anyways.
Normally I do a bit of a recap, but not this time, I want to avoid any and all spoilers. Trust me; you want to go into this chapter knowing as little as possible and let the show reveal itself one glorious scene at a time.
Having said that, there is a synopsis of sorts and we of course know how Chapter 7 ended, so it gives us a place to start.
ďThe Mandalorian comes face-to-face with an unexpected enemy.Ē
On its own, thatís clearly ambiguous, but we know a little bit thanks to ďThe ReckoningĒ which ended with Kuiil getting blasted by two scout troopers, who then grabbed the Child and took off. Is our favorite Ugnaught quote machine dead? We donít know.
At the same time, the rest of our heroes are in an old-fashioned stand-off with Moff Gideon and his Death Troopers. Things looked bleaker than ever for our friends in what was the best chapter to date. Iím very happy to say that somehow, someway, they were able to top it with ďRedemptionĒ
This of course doesnít take anything away from Deborah Chowís second effort this season. Itís absolutely wonderful and has perhaps my favorite sequence of the season in it. But, that episode was the set-up, this is the closer, and boy does it close.
We start off immediately following last week and the opening scene is one of the funniest in Star Wars history. I know what youíre thinking, how is there room for comedy with the stakes so high? Trust me, youíll laugh out loud and understand that Taika Waititi is here for a reason.
There is a bit that will leave some feeling uncomfortable or upset, and I understand that feeling. But comeuppance comes in the form of something amazing, trust me.
Speaking of retribution, since thereís a Season 2 already underway, we know the Mandalorian survives, but will anybody else? Iím not saying here but thatís one of the great aspects of this show, there are consequences for your actions, and Favreau and Filoni havenít shied away from that motif.
The entire season has been about cause and effect, the causality that derives from poor, but necessary, decision making. This chapter, and last weekís, is in many ways the totality of those decisions.
There are real costs on display in this chapter, as each character makes decisions that not only propels the narrative forward, but maps out their future.
But their cards are on the table for the most part, and thereís nothing sneaky or furtive about the plot. Itís not box checking either like The Rise of Skywalker does at times, no, itís rewarding in a way that that brings true gratification.
And as such, the character work is excellent with everyone stepping up accordingly. This is each starís best work, Carl Weathers, Gina Carano, and Pedro Pascal for the good guys, Giancarlo Esposito for the bad. Esposito, as Moff Gideon, is exquisite and plays the heel so damn well. But everyone, top to bottom is good.
Jon Favreauís writing is on point and the screenplay is awesome. Itís every bit Star Wars without being derivative, and somehow doesnít have a hint of being contrived whatsoever. This is remarkable when you consider how much world building and lore he taps into, heís just able to do it in a way that feels familiar. Basically, he hits everything he aims at.
As for Taika Waititi, his fingerprints are all over this episode. His Force ability seems to be melding zany, off-beat comedy, sincere emotional beats, with slick action sequences. And in that regard; heís scores an A+.
His style and sensibilities seem perfectly suited for this genre (see Thor: RagnarŲk) and the emotional bits work just as well as the facetious ones do.
In fact, thereís a scene in particular where I did get a little emotional, and if you know me at all, it will come as no surprise, knowing my affinity towards a certain something or someone.
Itís a perfect example of the type of avant-garde storytelling that is so effective if you make it from the heart. And, if youíre able to take a step back, and look at this scene without Star Wars-tinted glasses, itís entirely absurd of course, but it just works do damn well. Youíll know it, when you use it.
And all this as Taika takes us through the streets and tunnels of Nevarro like never before, revealing its hidden passages. Itís amazing how heís able to breathe life into a town we thought we had seen enough of.
One path in particular leads us to a familiar face, where the exposition is again, dialed up to 11. This is all part of this masterful game of breaking down our heroes, breaking down the story elements, only to build them up again. Itís truly wonderful stuff and achieves great results.
The chapter moves from one beat to the next so seamlessly itís an incredible display of storytelling, especially when you consider how much exposition they fit into each scene.
The world-building is off the charts here and we learn so many important details about our lead characters, and the general state of things, itís hard to keep up. Multiple viewings are a must as we get a lot of the answers weíve been seeking since Chapter 1 and end on a very high note.
When one character in particular goes monologuing, itís literally hit, after hit, after hit, of datum. By the time itís over, you realize, now more than ever, that Favreau and Filoniís grand scheme is unfolding before your very eyes. Much of the season comes into focus early.
The ending is not so much a cliff hanger as it is a big reveal. And depending on how familiar you are with a certain part of animated Star Wars, it could be meaningless. But for those that do know, their mouths will surely drop, mine did. Of course, like any good season finale, it leaves you with a question, or two, or three, and immediately wanting more. This finale does that very well.
While we do get some (not all) answers, it does set up the premise for Season 2 beautifully. I was concerned going in that we would be getting more of the same for the sophomore season, thatís not the case.
This season finished on a huge high with the last two chapters being itís finest. Deborah Chow and Taika Waititi are at the top of their game and I look forward to more Star Wars from them. We know Chow is directing the Kenobi series, but what about Waititi? I would love to see him tackle his own project.
Bottom line is you canít end a season any better than they did in my opinion. They scratch a few itches all while leaving you with one or two you didnít know you had, or want.
The biggest, and only problem in my opinion, is that we must wait roughly a year to see more.
Till next timeÖMTFBWY.
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5/16 - Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones (2002)
5/19 - Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith (2005)
5/19 - Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace (1999)
5/19 - Peter Mayhew
5/19 - Claudia Karvan
5/21 - Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
5/23 - Barrie Holland
5/23 - Star Wars 10th Anniversary Convention (1987)
5/24 - Star Wars Celebration IV (2007)
5/25 - Frank Oz
5/25 - Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi (1983)
5/25 - Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope (1977)
5/27 - Michonne Bourriague
5/27 - Christopher Lee