Rick the Star Wars Heretic here and what a week for The Mandalorian.
So far Season Two has had incredible reveals, massive action set pieces and enough fan-candy to cause Space diabetes. It has also, despite fantastic production, music, art, action and visuals, been stuck in a story rut. I’m not sure how many people would still understand the reference of the record spinning and the needle stuck, but that is what it has been, waiting for someone to come in and pick up the needle. Like the story-train on Rick and Morty. It has simply rinsed and repeat a very basic, video game style, story formula.
:get interrupted and have a chat,
:get side quest and save the village/passenger/baby/robbery,
:sorry Mario your princess is in another castle,
It’s become so obvious it prompted the parody below.
Well, this week John Favreau hoisted it off the tracks, and took the story off-road for a wild and crazy ride, with no seat belt and a possibly a bottle of tequila rolling around in the back. If you have not seen this episode……Then go and watch it because.
The short version? while Grogu reached out in the force, the Mando, Boba Fett and Fennec Shand team up against the Imperial Remnant. Boba vows to protect the child, in return for his armour back. Two dropships full of Stormtroopers are annihilated in spectacular fashion, but it is a distraction as Moff Gideon deploys four of the highly awaited Dark Troopers to capture the child.
This episode is a transition from the seven samurai story, to the Blues Brothers. Because Mando is now on a mission from God and he’s getting the band back together. The episode closed on him enlisting Cara Dune, and presumably Greef Karga, and I’m betting that nearly every guest character will be returning by the finale.
I think it almost 100% likely that in the next episode we will see Bo-Katan and her crew. Their storyline is completely locked in with Din Djarins, the child and the dark sabre macguffins should be bringing both together.
With Boba in a sort of life debt to Grogu now, due to failing to protect the child, he and Fennec will likely see out the series beside the Mandalorian. I would love to see Timothy Olyphant again, but with Boba in the armour, that may be pointless.
Keep in mind, that Giancarlo Esposito did let slip that he had broken several prop dark-sabers in production, meaning he will fight someone. But the Beskar Spear fight between Ahsoka and the Magistrate is a pretty big foreshadow that it will be used, by the Mandalorian, in hand to hand combat against Gideon, rather than Ahsoka in a light sabre battle.
One other potential ally that could be included in the finale, is the Armourer, possibly with a new covert of warriors. Any meeting between her and Bo Katan is going to be interesting, so it’s a good time to bring her back.
Who was Grogu communing with? there’s a few possibilities. The most logical would be Luke who was probably about to set up his Jedi Academy, but that seems more an end goal for a final episode and there are more seasons to come.
The second possibility and I think most likely (given Dave Filoni’s track record) would be Ezra Bridger. My reasoning on this is, that it means that no Jedi is going to come and help the child.
In fact, conversely Grogu is going to be telling Ahsoka that Ezra is still alive, prompting her decision to grab Sabine and go hunt for him. Filoni has been hinting pretty heavily that the events of the Mandalorian precedes the finale of Rebels.
Why does this make sense? Because there’s a season three and they are going to want to reset the board again. Grogu is never going to find his home until the very end of the Series, and to keep that story moving it will always be one step forward two steps back for Din Djarin. He is the Sysyphus of this tale, doomed to roll that rock up the hill, only to have it roll down to in front of another great big hill.
There is also the possibility of force ghosts like Yoda or Obi Wan. However there is also a dark horse on the field, from the same material as the Dark Troopers is another quasi canonical character…Kyle Katarn.
As the hero of the dark forces games, Kyle is both linked to the Dark Troopers and is at this point in the timeline, a trained Jedi in Legends. Anyone who was a Star Wars gamer in the 90’s will know the name and would probably love to see him realised into canon.
So what was the tragedy of the title? Well despite being an antique that was stripped by jawas, survived a free fall re-entry, fell into the ocean, was operated on by Mon Calamari mechanics, was attacked by giant spiders and New Republic X-wings and survived…she finally succumbed to of all things….Imperial Accuracy.
Goodbye Razors Crest, almost a character unto itself.
You could see it coming a mile away, the show telegraphed it earlier in the episode where the Mando was forced to park it a mile away and jet-pack in to the Jedi, Seeing Stone altar. They also managed to telegraph the return of Fennec Shand, the super sniper played by the popular Agents of Shield actress Ming-Na Wen, by showing the scene where Boba Fett rescuing her first up in the Recap.
Speaking of Boba Fett, I have been very reticent about the use of older established characters like Boba Fett and Ahsoka in the Mandalorian. Filoni is infamous for his criss-crossing stories and retcons to add cameo appearances, particularly in Rebels and to a lesser extent The Clone Wars. It detracts from the main cast, a character like Boba Fett can easily overshadow the Mandolorian.
But it gets really hard to complain, when they do it this well. Temuera Morrison’s ten second appearance in the first episode nearly set the internet on fire. In this episode Temuera is a visceral presence. He has brought to Boba some of the semi spiritual Maori noble warrior. The Gaffi stick may as well have been a Taiaha and the Stormtroopers the British Redcoats, because this is exactly how the Maori battled the British Army to a standstill. Bludgeoning them with hard wood staffs.
Temuera channels a bit of Jake the Muss from Once were Warriors in the fight scenes, he is absolutely in his element and dishes out probably the most severe punishment stormtroopers have had to take in melee combat. Even including Donnie Yen’s efforts in Rogue One. Similarly in Once were warriors he dished out fight scenes that were…well….uncomfortable to watch, and every bit as brutal as seeing that helmet smash into a thousand pieces.
I was curious originally if we had seen the last of Boba, it made no sense to me that he would try to get the armour off the Mandalorian, when Cobb Vanth seemed a much easier target. The answer is this is not the cool costume, do very little Boba Fett from the Original Trilogy.
Legends Boba may well have simply gunned down Cobb and taken the armour for himself. But now, Boba is officially a Mandalorian complete with the creed and moral code, because Jango is now canonically a foundling. So noble warrior Boba isn’t going to steal the armour. It actually seems important to him that he obtain it legitimately, and preferably from another Mandalorian.
This really places Boba as a good foil and potential mentor for Din Djarin, and a powerful ally. And going up against the Dark Troopers he is going to need all the firepower he can get.
The Dark Troopers are another throwback to the old Legends timeline. They appeared in the games “Dark Forces” one and two, and appear to be more machine than the legends version. Like the planet Typhon they are yet another example of the former Legends stories leeching in to what’s really the new Expanded Universe.
It’s been nearly eight years since Lucasfilm sent the old Expanded Universe to the glue factory. That decision deeply affected a certain percentage of the fanbase, and at a level somewhere between annoying and forming a terrorist group, they’ve been complaining about it ever since. However, it’s probably also fair to say it was the first sour grape that tainted the taste of the sequel era for some.
The other thing about the former Expanded Universe fans, is that they were nearly all, highly inclined to spend a lot of money on Star Wars merchandising. And it’s merchandise which seems to have suffered the most in the “Sequel Wars.” There is a swathe of Grogu merchandise coming through the works by the way, how fortuitous. Probably hold off buying the Razor Crest just yet.
So is this series meant to be healing those wounds? Is Lucasfilm short on ideas, or just willing to use the more worthwhile parts of Legends, picking at it like a herb garden to spice otherwise flat stories? Or is the Mandalorian a fan-service fueled love letter, to the guys who used to buy all the toys? Has this season been used as a litmus test for the possibility of an Ahsoka or Boba Fett movie or spin off series?
Or was it all just part of the plan?
In Season one, Kuiil and IG11, two, very much fan favourite characters, died to give that finale the gravitas it needed. You kind of knew Kuiil wasn’t going to make it, but losing two major and popular secondary characters as well as Werner Herzog’s “The Client” (who had a huge impact early in season one) was a major commitment to providing a significant cost to their victory.
So who is potentially going to die in Season 2? Most of the characters have far greater plot armour than Kuiil and IG11, I think Filoni is determined that Ahsoka (his cash cow) will live forever, Bo Katan is unlikely, unless they are planning on Din Djarin taking up the dark saber. Bo Katan also comes with potential Red Shirts, her crew are all largely expendable, I’d be surprised if at least one of them doesn’t die.
Fennec Shand is another potential death. She’s an expendable character, but I kind of hope not because we haven’t had a lot of time with her, there’s still territory to explore there.
My number one pick for who might die by the end of season…? It’s got to be Boba. (possibly from a heart attack)
It just makes too much sense. The biggest complaint from Boba Fans was a meaningless cheap death, unceremoniously dumped into someone’s garbage disposal unit by a blind man with a stick. What if… the only reason they have brought him back, is to correct that wrong and have Boba go out in a blaze of glory? He can’t stay in the series too long, he’s an uncommonly popular character, it will become the Boba Fett show. Temuera stole every scene he was in without even trying.
My biggest piece of evidence, the fact they were willing to blow up the Razors Crest. Mando needs a new ship. There is no reason to blow up the Razors Crest if he isn’t going to move on to Slave one. The series has been fairly easy to predict so far, simply look around for loose threads.
Another question I have for next episode is does Boba Fett know Greef Karga? We know Greef is the middleman for the Guild and starwars.com lists Navarro as a major hub for the guild. Gideon described Greef as a failed Magistrate, but is it possible that they have worked together before? Is it possible that Greef was the guy who organised the bounty hunters for Vader in the Empire Strikes Back?
The final scene with the child is both hilarious and disturbing. The fact he is tossing two stormtroopers around like rag dolls is a great scene, but what it implies about the well being of Grogu and his mental state is not good. He is lashing out from his fear. I honestly think that the child should be capable of talking by now, he certainly understands speech well enough. I think he has a sort of post traumatic stress induced muteness, or he has simply been alone for so long, he’s had no-one to learn from. We know he was at the Jedi Temple when Order 66 went down, who knows what horrors he witnessed first-hand?
And for those who always claim the Empire was really the good guys, they had child sized manacles, think about that. They had them ready to go.
So while this was a relatively short episode, which from one perspective not a lot happened in actuality and from another perspective a hell of a lot happened toward opening up the story. The important thing is that it really pulled the rug out from under Din Djarins feet. The Abduction of the Child will dominate the last of the series, and it will give an opportunity to break down the Mandalorians calm resolve and maybe even get an emotional response from him. The ball scene was touching, but I hope we get a moment when Mando actually loses control, really, loses control.