The Mandalorian Episode 8 Review
The Mandalorian's first season came to an end last Friday just in time to snap you out of the Holiday Hangover. The episode was masterfully directed by Taika Waititi helping to bring the season full circle. With many different plot strings to pull together, "Chapter 8: The Redemption" is able to successfully pull it off and not feel overstuffed or rushed like its franchise brethren The Rise of Skywalker (still a very good movie).
Favreau was able to deliver a season finale that didn't disappoint while also keeping some mystery of what we will see in Season 2 (Fall 2020). With plot parallels, fantastic action and sacrifices, The Mandalorian delivered a finale that showcases what the future of Star Wars on TV can be.
The episode picks up right where we left off. The two scout troopers have acquired the Child and Mando, Karga, and Dune are pinned down in the cantina by Moff Gideon's (Giancarlo Esposito) small army. Things are looking dire until IG-11 (played by Waititi himself) shows up to save the day. Reprogrammed by the late great Kuiil, IG has a new program directive, he is now programmed to protect the Child. In some feverous paced action, IG disposes of the scout troopers.
Kuiil may have reprogrammed IG to nurse and care for people now, but the droid determines that the only way to complete its objective is to now be on the offensive. Now with the Child in its custody, they take off the cantina to get Mando and the crew out of the pickle their in. Waititi took some nods from Deborah Chow with the fast-paced action in the next scene. Scintillating speeder action as the Child is strapped to IG's chest and it blasting away every stormtrooper on the way into the town of Nevarro.
Waititi really flexed his directorial skills just within the first few minutes of the episodes, combining his knack for humor and action. There was an extended scene between the scout troopers exchanging workplace small talk and of course his own vocal delivery of the stale droid dialogue.
Before anymore real action takes place, we learn more about Mando and the crew's past and it's thanks to Gideon's stereotypical bad guy talk. Karga was a magistrate who switched career paths, Cara was a native of Alderan (the planet that was blown up by the Death Star), and we learn Mando's real name.
We learn a bit more about Gideon too from Mando. Gideon knowing Mando's real name and his family name identifies himself as an Imperial Security Bureau Officer during the Great Purge. Gideon was supposed to have been executed for his war crimes but for reasons unknown so far, he is still alive. This triggers a flashback to the day Mando's parents are killed but this time we get the full memory. Mando's parents hide him in a cellar when battle droids kill his parents. The droid opens up the doors and is about to fire at Mando before Mandalorians come to save the day.
Mando is saved and we officially know that the Mandalorian isn't a race of people, but a belief and a creed that they all believe.
"This is the way."
IG finally gets to the cantina and a dazzling blaster fight ensues. IG with the Child strapped to its chest is nothing but a nervousness filled scene.
Get the Child out of there!
The image is very similar to the Marvel comics character of a gun-toting Cable with an infant Hope Summers strapped to his barrel chest. Perhaps a little nod by Waititi to his Marvel work. Mando, Dune, and Karga come out to help IG and stave off the wave for a short while before things get dicey. Mando gets critically injured from blasts from Gideon. The crew retreats back into the cantina as Gideon sends a torch trooper to burn them up. Mando feels he is on his way to death and gives Dune the Child to take with her. Mando wants to be left for dead and die an honorable death.
That torch trooper finally makes it into the cantina and the crew is toast until the Child steps in. Using all of his mighty force, the Child sends back to roaring flame and blows up the torch trooper. Dune and Karga finally have seen the power that Mando has told them of.
After cutting through a grate, the crew heads into the sewers while IG stays back to heal Mando. Mando is still hesitant to trust a droid even as he is about to die, and of course, we know why. IG needs to remove the helmet to heal Mando. Mando tells it no living thing has ever seen him without the helmet. IG has to remind him he is not a living thing and we finally get the reveal of the face underneath the helmet.
Mando has a head injury that IG heals with a bacta spray. Mando has changed his thinking. He is no longer wary of droids. A droid once tried to take his life and now a droid is trying to save his life. Mando shot IG in the head at the end of episode 1, that same droid is now trying to save Mando from a shot to his head. It really is a touching little scene that completes Mando's character arc. Mando was a hardened bounty hunter with no heart and hatred of droids. In this finale, Mando has completely changed from the man we saw in the premiere.
A crippled Mando is now back with the crew as they travel through the sewers trying to find their way to the Mandalorian covert. They run into the Armorer who sheds more light on the Child's background. She tells the brief story of Jedi and how they were once enemies of the Mandalorians. She also gives Mando his next mission; to return the Child back to its people and home planet. She refers to the Child as a foundling and is now Mando's responsibility.
"This is the way."
Before they take off, she completes Mando's armor with his own signet, it is the mudhorn. Mando rejected the signet earlier in the season because it was not deemed an honorable kill but Mando has redeemed himself by liberating the Child and putting its safety ahead of his. Mando also gets one of those (jetpack) finally. Shortly after the crew heads down to the lava river to the ship, the armorer kicks the absolute living shit out of a few stormtroopers. It really was one of the most grisly fight scenes we have seen this season.
The crew heads down the lava river but have been tracked by stormtroopers that are awaiting them at the end of it. IG realizing that the situation isn't survivable for it and the Child, he initiates his self-destruct protocol to take out the stormtroopers. Mando has a very emotional turn that can be seen even through the helmet. Mando is pleading with IG to not self-destruct but fails to win him over. The exchange between the two really shines as Waititi is probably the only person who can get some humor out of this situation.
IG tells Mando to not be sad and of course, Mando denies it, but IG quickly tells him he is indeed sad as it has analyzed sadness in Mando's voice. IG wades through the lava to the end of the river, self destructs and takes out the stormtroopers. Mando and the crew get out the other side but is met by Gideon trying to gun them down in a tie fighter. Mando puts on the jetpack and takes out the tie fighter with a well-placed explosive on the wing of the ship.
Dune and Karga decide to stay behind on Nevarro to oversee the new Empire-less developments. Karga offers Mando membership back into the guild but Mando knows his mission. He must find the Child's home planet and he takes off with his jetpack in a scene that mirrors his flashback.
Mando takes off with the Child on his shoulder, an image that parallels the foundling cycle Mando went through and completed. Mando is now the Mandalorian with his own foundling to care and watch over for. Mando buries Kuiil and takes off in his ship with the Child who is wearing the necklace with the Mandalorian Sigil. The Child is now the titular Mandalorian. The story has come full circle and cleanly ends the season on a focused note after a few episodes that didn't really fit the narrative wheel.
Favreau and Waititi delivered an episode that was able to capture every single aspect of what we love about Star Wars; adventure, peril, fantasy, mythology, while also incorporating new things to love. The western motifs throughout the season helped deliver a story that kept us invested throughout despite the filler episodes. For the most part, Star Wars has been paced very fast and The Mandalorian was able to throw a first-pitch changeup to a fanbase that has been torn in recent years.
The new trilogy of films has divided fans on whether or not its a copy of the OG trilogy, too different from the OG trilogy or too much fan service. The Mandalorian was able to deliver everything we could've asked for from content exploring a new time period. We saw the familiar AT-STs, tie-fighters, and stormtroopers, but we also saw new creatures, planets, and concepts added to the Star Wars Canon.
Not only did we see the inclusion of concepts and ideas familiar with the films, but we saw concepts from the animated series burst through to the live-action. Anyone with a brain would've been able to know that this episode would not be the last time we see Gideon. Jawas are pillaging his crash tie-fighter for parts when we see Gideon cut through the wreckage with the darksaber. The dark saber was first introduced in The Clone Wars and wielded by the Mandalorian, Pre Vizsla (voiced by Favreau). The darksaber is a Mandalorian artifact that was explored further in Rebels which will hopefully see more of in season 2 of The Mandalorian.
The Mandalorian was able to deliver for Disney+, being the one reason you needed to get an account. Now after an excellent first season, The Mandalorian will be the reason why you keep your Disney+ account.