THE MANDALORIAN EPISODE 8 SEASON 1 FINALE: SPOILER REVIEW
In the words of the legendary Louis Armstrong, "What a wonderful world". It has been a whirlwind, magical, wonderful week where the forty plus year Skywalker Saga drew to a close at the same time that season one of The Mandalorian wrapped up an eight episode arc - the first time this has happened (in live action) in the history of Star Wars fandom. As a fan, it is exciting, if not a bit exhausting, to take it all in. For a time we leave old friends behind, but as we've learned no one's ever really gone. With the finality of two disparate Star Wars stories now upon us, the future of Star Wars still seems as bright as the twin suns of Tatooine.
As we closed out The Mandalorian episode seven, the situation seemed dire and entirely hopeless for our titular hero and his supporting crew. With an entire platoon of storm troopers and Moff Gideon's best Death Troopers having reigned down upon their pinned position, it was an apparent Kobayashi Maru exercise (sorry Star Wars fans I had to reference Star Trek here); an unwinnable situation.
When we pick up the season finale, we are met with the Scout Troopers who struck down one of our favorite vapor farmers in Kuiil, which was a heart-breaking revelation as Kuiil had become a beloved entry in to Star Wars lore through his few appearance this season. The upside of his death was the engagement of protection protocols by the assassin-turned-nurse droid IG-11.
This last episode brought The Mandalorian's story full-circle as well. Din Djarin, as we now know him to be, was not born on Mandalore. No, he was rescued by the blue clad Mandalorians, Death Watch (Bo-Katan's?), in fact as revealed by their insignia, during a conflict with the Trade Federation. His distrust of droids stems from his rescue, when a Super Battle Droid almost shot the little Din as he huddled frightened and alone underneath an exposed bulkhead. We learn that he was raised as a foundling as one of the Mandalorian's own in the Fighting Corps. We also learn that Mandalorian is not a race; it's a creed. Tied in to this time period is the diabolical villain of the series; the fearsome Moff Gideon.
Moff Gideon was an ISB officer during the height of Imp reign. That is, he was Imperial secret police, a nasty and ruthless directorate charged with ensuring security and compliance to Emperor Palpatine. During the Purge, Gideon raided the Mandalore Registry and found out who this youngling was. This is most likely when he stole the Darksaber; an amazing reveal at the culmination of this action packed finale that will surely have repercussion in future seasons. From Darth Maul to Sabine the Darksaber has travelled, its last seemingly Bo-Katan before winding up in the hands of Moff Gideon. While Din Djarin isn't necessarily from Clan Vizsla, he might be from House Vizsla, as his mate Paz Vizsla would seem to indicate which would give him a claim to the Darksaber. Might this be explored in Season Two?
So Din Djarin's story comes from this humble beginnings to be truly full circle in the present when IG-11 uses the speeder bike to carry the Child back to his friends, cutting a deadly swath of blaster fire through an entire legion of Stormtroopers. Mando's (I know that's not his name but I cannot help but call him that sometimes) roots in distrust of droids are seemingly defeated by his experience with IG-11; he is forced to place his life in this droid metal hands and it's then that he realizes that they are not all the same. It was the droid itself, and solely the droid who was able to save his life with a bacta infusion. Just before this is when we see Mando unleash the fire and fury of the E-Web heavy repeating blaster rifle on Gideon's forces. It was an awesome scene, but it was taken to another level as Caracynthia Dune of Alderaan brought her blaster to bear and Greef Carga brought his akimbo blasters out to play. It was then balanced nicely with the quieter moment between Din and IG-11.
The visuals in this episode were stunning from the flame trooper slowly breaching the cantina door, to the brief first person perspective of IG-11 on the speeder to Baby Yoda rising up to face the fearsome flame trooper. It was all visually striking and entirely cinematic in all the best ways.
As Din and his crew make their way underground, attempting to find the Covert of the Mandalorians, we are met with a horrific realization. They find a pile of Mandalorian armor on the ground, a mass of shattered glass, burnt Beskar and empty helmets. And for a moment we think it is because they were all slaughtered at the hands of either Greef or Moff Gideon.
But no, most of them escaped and the female Armorer, in her gloriously golden helmet, is left to salvage the remains. The Armorer tells Din that he is now the father of The Child, by Creed, and goes one step farther by making them a Clan of Two, their sigil being that of the Mudhorn that brought them together earlier in season one. Din also mastered the Rising Phoenix and earns himself another upgrade, a Mandalorian Jet Pack. She then seemingly gives Mando his mission orders for season two: Search the galaxy fo this little Child's race and his planet and return it to it's people. Din's story with the droids comes fully complete when IG-11 has to sacrifice himself to save the Child by self-destructing at the mouth of the lava tunnel to take out the storm trooper unit waiting to jump them upon exit from the tunnel.
But the fight is not over, as Moff Gideon in his Overland T.I.E. fighter strafes their position. Mando is able to use his new Jet Pack to take him out. He then does a superhero landing, a similar style to the one that Cara Dune used as Angel Dust in the Deadpool movie. That's when we see Moff Gideon emerge from this T.I.E. fighter wreckage wielding the Darksaber, a powerful legendary weapon in Star Wars lore.
For me, this episode was a perfect conclusion to season one. Where the season felt like a rudderless ship in the night mid-season, it all came together seamlessly at the end. Unlike it's cinematic counterpart, it felt like, once all the pieces were on the table, it was a consistent and coherent vision from the start. This first season wrapped up in all the ways I hoped that it would, full of action, full of answers, Pedro Pascal's wonderful visage and yet still with enough mystery and intrigue to yearn for a second season. The season as a whole had some lulls, some brighter moments and some slower moments but overall we ended on an absolutely high note that will carry us happily in to a new decade as we await season two in fall of 2020.
Jesse lives in Fort Lauderdale Florida and enjoys the beach, film, Star Wars, and creating content for YouTube.
He is thrilled to join the Beyond the Blast Doors crew to share his love of Star Wars with everyone else who lives in the Dagobah System.
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