Make no qualms about it, I’ve had some nitpicks about the last two episodes of The Mandalorian. While still fun episodes at heart, the story of this season is an eight chapter arc, and they spent two possibly three chapters muddling around with other stories. Chapter four was perhaps the best of the season, at least introduced us to Cara Dune (Gina Carano) and gave us a sense of claustrophobia that even in such a large galaxy, the Mandalorian is hunted and in danger as long as he chooses to do the right thing and care for Baby Yoda.
We finally got more story and character development in this episode, where our good old pal Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) contacts the Mandalorian to say he’s glad that ole’ Mando is still alive and kicking, but the warlord he betrayed (Werner Herzog) is causing trouble and they need to work together to nip this in the bud. Knowing full well that this is a trap, Mando jets off to gather his Friends That He’s Made Along the Way™ for some help. As someone who scoured IMDB pretty regularly to see who would appear and when this episode was pretty fun, seeing Carl Weathers, Werner Herzog, Taika Waititi and Nick Nolte’s characters all return when they weren’t shown as having any further roles within the series. That’s fun.
That’s why our hero made the friends he did along the way, though, right? For some help when he needed it. He needed to learn to accept help.
He jets back to pick up Cara Dune as his help because, well, who wouldn’t want Gina Carano doing muay thai in space with a light machine gun at her side? We get a great view of her inside of the same bar we met her in involved in some kind of tether brawl with a giant dude and absolutely beating the snot out of him. Mando offers her a job, but she’s not interested considering the price on her head, until she finds out that it’s messing with the Empire, then she’s in. Who will care for the baby, though? Easy! Kuiil (Nick Nolte) and his pets complete the set. It turns out that he’s quite good with his hands and repurposed the bounty hunter IG-11 (Taika Waititi) to be his pal. We get a little bit more back story on Kuiil, finding out that he worked for the Empire, which upsets Cara, only for him to snap back that it wasn’t his choice and he served his time.
There were a lot of moments where the beady red eyes of IG-11 came into focus, which worked especially well considering that the Mandalorian really hates droids and that he was the one that blasted him into oblivion before. There were a few moments where Baby Yoda used the Force around other people, including force choking Cara Dune while arm wrestling with the Mandalorian because he thought she was hurting him, then healing Greef Karga after a mynock attack on their way to the rendezvous.
It was, of course, all a trap. Greef Karga somewhat redeems himself by killing his pals intent on turning Mando in, only for them to all head into the city with a plan that almost worked before Giancarlo Esposito’s Moff Gideon appeared, killing Werner Herzog and surrounding our heroes. They sent the baby off with Kuiil but two scout troopers caught up with him before he could make it to the Razor Crest, possibly killing him and snatching Baby Yoda as we get a cliffhanger.
I get it, some people really hate cliffhangers.
In the day and age of streaming everything and instant gratification I’m fine with waiting a week for the conclusion to this story, which will undoubtedly leave things open for the second season. This was the episode that needed to happen to get the momentum flowing for this show again. I’d almost theorize that those middle episodes were so out of place because they booked guest stars in advance and needed to find a way to slot in these single-episode guest stars in a meaningful, fun way while not making these characters integral to the main plotline.
Released on a Thursday in preparation of Rise of the Skywalker’s midnight release, it’s a strange dichotomy of where the Star Wars franchise is heading. The mainline films are a mess, overwrought with characters, stray plotlines, conflicting ideas and that desire to market to the widest audience possible that could only happen by a lot of corporate oversight going into the creative process. I haven’t seen Rise of the Skywalker yet and, honestly, I’m not sure when I will. Not out of interest or lack thereof, but because having twin toddlers and going to the movies exist on different ends of the spectrum. There’s an investment to be made in paying for a babysitter for three hours, the need to rush home and then everything involved with going to the movies. Needless to say, we only go to the movies a few times a year, whereas in the past it was whenever we wanted.
I’ll get to it, hopefully sooner rather than later, but for now I’m happy with having the Mandalorian, for all of its quirks, hits and misses, it’s still entertaining. This also gives me hope for the upcoming Obi Wan series with Deborah Chow at the helm, with this episode under her direction, as was the other very plot-focused episode three. On top of that, we’ll be getting more of Dave Filoni’s vision for Star Wars in The Clone Wars getting a proper finish next year as well. We’re living in a world where the TV/streaming Star Wars will probably be infinitely more interesting and exciting than anything on the big screen.
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