In the recap for last week’s episode, I talked about how the show played into video game lore by introducing the force-heal power into the live-action Star Wars universe, which most of us now know was a setup for what goes down in The Rise of Skywalker. This week’s finale, however, is essentially the greatest hits album of video game tropes, while also managing to be one of the most heartfelt, nuanced and entertaining episodes yet. We’ve got mini-guns, flame-thrower sub-bosses, and setting aside prejudices to form new friendships!! Taika Waititi, man. Taika Waititi. As always, *SPOILER ALERT* from here on out.
The episode opens with the greatest scene in the history of Star Wars? The two scout troopers who offed Uncle Ugnaught race back to the city with Baby Yoda in tow, stopping to await orders. Played by Jason Sudeikis and Adam Pally, the two chat idly, the subordinate trying to convince his superior to let him see the baby. It’s a funny scene that mocks what terrible shots Stormtroopers are. Ever since Obi-Wan snuck past some troopers talking about “the new VT-16” in A New Hope, the Empire’s faceless soldiers have always had a bit of a working-man vibe when you catch them having a chat. This scene lays into that hard enough to make you almost like these two dickheads, right up until they start punching Baby Yoda.
Enter my boy, IG-Taika Waititi, the reprogramed killer nanny bot. He drops in to murder the Tag and Bink wannabes and get his kid back. I’m sincerely worried dads are going to start asking their neighbor’s 12-year-old to demonstrate that wrist-breaking maneuver before trusting them to babysit for 20 bucks.
Anyway, back in town, things aren’t awesome for Mando and his crew. Moff Gus From Breaking Bad still has the space team cornered in the local bar…which, hey, things could be worse, right? The big bad drops some key points of information to intimidate our friends. He knows Cara Dune is from Alderaan, which is why she hates the Empire so much. He knows The Mandalorian’s real name! And he calls out Carl Wethers for…being kinda old, I guess? Dramatic stuff. Mando and Cara Dune explain to Carl Wethers than being a Mandalorian isn’t a race, because yes, race is a social construct, Ok boomer? Yes, even in a galaxy with fish-people.
We get the full flashback of Din Dijin’s family being killed during the Clone Wars, and Mando explains how Moff Gus was the Imperial behind the big Mandalorian purge we keep hearing about. He was supposed to have been executed for war crimes but it looks like the New Republic is already getting sloppy with paperwork.
Anyway, Moff Gus gives them until nightfall to surrender for no real reason other than it’s a television show. We don’t have to wait that long, though because IG-Taika Waiti saves the day, blasting in on his speeder to start a big ole’ gunfight. Before the fight, Moss Gus made a big deal about how cool his big gun was, so of course, Mando goes right for it and turns it on the Imps. The team hit the standard approx 75-to-1 ratio of kills during a fight with the Empire but is forced to retreat back to the bar when Mando gets hit with one of Moff Gus’ frags. I’ve been playing a lot of Fallen Order lately, and you just gotta watch out for those bonus attacks.
In the bar, a flame-trooper goes in to burn everyone alive (I mean…Jesus) while the team argues about how to get out of there. Mando wants everyone to leave him to die covering their escape, but Cara Dune’s not having any of that because Cara Dune is the best of all of us. Baby Yoda proves to be a Baby Yoda Of Action and saves the day by blasting the flame trooper’s fireball back in his face using the Force. Then, like me, after doing anything remotely taxing, he takes a little nap.
IG-Taika Waitit promises to take care of Mando while everyone else jumps into the
garbage shoot sewer grate. This, in my opinion, is the strongest moment of the series so far. All of the connections they have built over the season – Mando’s droid racism, IG-Taika Waititi’s obvious Mandalorian stand-in metaphors, the very question of who Din Dejarin is under that helmet – all come to this perfect, understated moment. Only the droid can save the Mandalorian. And since the droid “is not alive,” removing the Beskar helmet isn’t technically breaking with the code. We see Pedro Pascal’s face for the first time, and he’s just a person under all that armor after all. Fragile and vulnerable.
The team is reunited in the sewers, where they learn that the entire Mandalorian clan from the beginning of the season has been wiped out by the Empire for helping Mando escape in episode three. Only the Armorer survives, cleaning up the devastation Mando has left in his wake. She finally meets Baby Yoda and declares the child to be a foundling, just like Din was. Until ManDADlorian can train the kid in the creed, or return him to his own kind, they are officially father and son in the eyes of Mandalore. Mando finally receives his signet – the mudhorn monster from episode two that the Armorer tried to give him before. Only this time it is given with the understanding that Mando and Baby Yoda are a clan unto themselves. (Cara Dune and the rest of the gang don’t say anything about that, but like…burn.) He also gets a jetpack, which is less meaningful, but what’s a good cut scene without an equipment upgrade?
The gang leaves the Armorer to her cleanup on aisle 11, and soon Stormtroopers descend on her in what looks like a heroic, ceremonial end for the character. But she ends up beating the shit out of a whole squad of stormtroopers instead, which was just great.
Mando and co make their way out of town playing a big game of The Floor Is (Literally) Lava. With stormtroopers at the exit, however, it’s up to IG-Taika Waititi to save everyone by making the ultimate sacrifice. In episode one, Mando had to stop the assassin droid from blowing himself up for selfish reasons. Now, in the finale Din Dejarin again pleads with the same droid, but this time it’s because -even with no other choice- The Mandalorian wants his friend to live. Cyclical storytelling that highlights character growth: George Lucas 101. As the man himself once said, “It rhymes.”
Still, IG-Taika Waititi does what needs to be done and clears the path by blowing up his central processor and taking all the stormtroopers with him. Flights of Angels, buddy.
The finale of the episode sees the Mandalorian finally get to use a jetpack in a fun air fight with Moff Gus’ TIE Fighter. It’s a very Indiana Jones moment: Mando is badass, but he still drops his little bombs at first, you know, because getting yanked around by a starfighter in low atmosphere is probably kinda hard. Anyway, the ship goes down and Mandalorian gets a 7 for the landing, with a little flourish of his theme music that I’ll miss very much. It’s time to say goodbye to the space team and The Mandalorian flys off with Baby Yoda the same way we saw baby Din flown off to safety in the flashback earlier.
The big surprise cliffhanger tag of the episode is not that Boba Fett shows up, but that Moff Gus cuts his way out of his downed TIE Fighter using the Darksaber. Clone Wars and Rebels fans will recognize this particular “not just any lightsaber” as the legendary weapon used by the first (possibly only?) Mandalorian inducted into the Jedi Order centuries ago. (Mini-Spoiler Alert ahead, if you want to go back and watch those shows totally cold).
The sword has played a big part in Mandalorian culture over the years, passing hands among fan-favorite characters Darth Maul and Sabine Wren. There’s a lot to infer here since we know Moff Gus had some part to play in the Great Purge. His having the ceremonial weapon is probably not going to sit well with The Mandalorian in the future. Are we setting up a story where Mando will reclaim the sword and unite all Mandalorians? Will this all align with his growing beyond and expanding the dogmatic creed as he corrects the sins of the past? IS IT MAYBE GONNA BE LIKE A STAR WARS THING, YOU THINK?
Very frustratingly, we’ll have to wait until Fall 2020 to learn more.
- The Mandalorians who rescued baby Din Dijarin and brought him into the Creed are members of DEATH WATCH (Dun-dun-dunnnnnnnnn). In Clone Wars the Death Watch clan were all about bringing honor back to Mandalore, and generally speaking, they were sorta portrayed as bad guy terrorists who weren’t very chill with the Jedi. Still, the Jedi were stupid pricks about the Clone Wars in general, so it’s cool to see a more heroic side of the controversial clan of Mandos. It’s always about a certain point of view, after all.
- There’s a fun bit of narrative trickery when Mando has his flashback. We know that Moff Gus was part of the Mandalorian Purge, but we hear that story while also seeing the Mandalorians rescue Din from certain death during the clone wars. These two events are years apart, but the narrative sleight of hand emphasizes Moff Gus as a nemesis to Mando. It’s not that he was there during the raid on the village, but by learning about these two disconnected stories at the same time, we’re conditioned to see the Moff as an overarching villain in Mando’s story.
- I could go on all day about the unmasking scene. IG-Taika Waititi claims that because he’s “not alive,” it’s not breaking the Mandolorian creed to see Den’s face. But in seeing his droid buddy face-to-face for the first time, Den lets some of his hatred of droids go. That’s the moment Mando sees the droid as a person, even if not a technically living one. It’s bending the rules, to say the least, but in a way that suggests the growth, our main character is experiencing through this story.
- Absolutely love how the Armorer and Mando talk about the Jedi as this vague, mysterious band of sorcerers, and how they are “the enemy.” Playing into the Jedi/Mandalorian conflict is great fodder for the story as the Mandalorian dad raises his Jedi baby. Also, I know people who love to obsess over details will be like “how do people not remember the Jedi from like 30 years ago,” but the fact is Star Wars is cooler when the mystical stuff is kept in the shadows. The Jedi are just more interesting when they are unknown and mysterious, rather than a weird law enforcement agency.
- IG-Taika Waiti is the best version of the Spock character in like thirty years. Not to franchise-hop, but Taika nails delivering an inhuman performance who is subtly full of compassion and humanity. Everything the droid does, including explaining his own “jokes,” is cold and calculated, but it’s obvious that despite his saying otherwise, he was very much alive.