I called The Mandalorian good Star Wars when the first episode debuted last month. It wraps up this morning as great Star Wars. After the rushed mess that was The Rise of Skywalker, The Mandalorian’s season finale is a complete 180. Every scene gets a chance to breathe as Disney finally delivers the longest episode of the season at north of 40 minutes.
After two polarizing movies, The Mandalorian steps in as a unifying force for all Star Wars fans.
Spoiler time. Move along if you haven’t seen episode 8 yet.
Where The Mandalorian’s 8th episode kicks ass
Let’s give it up for Ludwig Göransson one more time. It can’t be easy trying to come up with your own version of Star Wars music. John Williams is Star Wars. But Göransson not only approached the fabled franchise with something different, he nails it. Here’s a couple of tracks from the eighth episode that stand out.
IG-11 saves Mando. After a hilarious intro that includes baby Yoda snacking on a Stormtrooper’s finger, and said Stormtrooper punching baby Yoda – IG-11 comes to save the day. After dispatching the pair of Stormtroopers, I figured IG-11 was taking baby Yoda back to the ship. Instead, the hunter droid hops aboard a speeder with baby Yoda in tow and storms the troops that are pinning down Mando, Cara Dune, and Greef Karga.
That’s when we get the best action sequence of the season. IG-11 swoops in taking out scores of Stormtroopers. Mando and crew join the fray until an explosion seriously injures Mando. With Cara, Greef, and baby Yoda escaping through the sewers, Mando finally overcomes his hatred of droids. Since IG-11 isn’t a living thing, he removes Mando’s helmets and treats his injuries.
Mando finally realizes the IG unit isn’t like the droids that attacked his family years ago. When IG-11 suggests he self-destruct to take out a platoon of Stormtroopers standing in there way, Mando is instantly against the idea. IG-11 notes sadness in his voice that Mando tries to say isn’t there. But as the Mandalorians like to say, “this is the way.” IG-11 goes ahead of the group and takes out the Stormtroopers.
Baby Yoda steals the show. From biting a Stormtrooper to using a Force wall to stop a flamethrower-wielding trooper, baby Yoda continues to steal every scene he’s in. But the best is a hilarious moment between Greef and baby Yoda. After seeing baby Yoda stop a wall of fire with the Force, Greef suggests they let it do the “magic hand thing” to stop a TIE-Fighter. The camera instantly cuts to baby Yoda waving back. It’s another wonderful baby Yoda moment amongst many.
Moff Gideon is a force to be reckoned with. We learn Moff Gideon was an ISB officer during the purge of Mandalore. He knows who the Mandalorian is (Din Djarin). And not only is he a decent TIE-Fighter pilot, but he also has something in his possession that means everything to Mandalorians – the Darksaber.
It’s a unique lightsaber created by the first Mandalorian ever to be inducted into the Jedi Order, Tarre Vizsla. In more recent history, it’s seen as a symbol of leadership. Whoever wields it can unite the Mandalorian tribes.
How does Moff Gideon have it? Perhaps we’ll learn more about that in season 2.
Where it stumbles
It really doesn’t, but if I had to nitpick on something, it would be the lack of a more compelling cliffhanger for season 2. I’m onboard regardless, but more casual viewers might not understand what the black blade was at the end. It looked more like a fancy vibroblade than the traditional lightsaber.
We do know Mando and baby Yoda will be exploring more of the galaxy as they look for baby Yoda’s homeworld. I want to see worlds that aren’t so desolate. How about Mon Cala (Mon Calamari homeworld), Ryloth (Twi’lek homeworld), or Bothawui (Bothan homeworld)?
The Mandalorian gave us an incredible season of Star Wars. It stumbled a little in the middle of the season when the overall plot didn’t move much, but it finished strong. The characters, music, action, and world-building were all outstanding. While the movies might struggle to capture the magic that made us all Star Wars fans, The Mandalorian doesn’t.
All of the main cast nails it. Special shout outs to Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, Carl Weathers, Taika Waititi, Nick Nolte, and everyone behind baby Yoda. You all did such a fantastic job bringing your characters to life.
Now let’s get season 2 fast-tracked.