The Mandalorian raises the stakes significantly in the penultimate episode of Jon Favreau’s … [+]
Credit: Disney / LucasFilm
The penultimate episode of the first season of The Mandalorian ends in tragedy. But not before a tense, action-packed episode that brought back many characters from earlier in the show.
Mando (Pedro Pascal) has been offered clemency by Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) the leader of the bounty hunters guild on Nevarro. The Client (Werner Herzog) has apparently cracked down, imposing some form of Imperial rule over the city and making it very hard for Karga and his bounty hunters to do business.
So Karga offers Mando a deal: Come back and take out the Client and you get to keep the Child and have your record in the guild scrubbed. Karga gets to run business as usual, and Mando can stop running from the Client and the myriad hunters he’s sent after him.
The question is, can Mando trust Karga to keep his end of the bargain? Could this be a trap? “I have no choice,” Mando tells Cara Dune (Gina Carano) when he heads back to Sorgan to ask for her help. She doesn’t like the idea but when she learns he wants to take out an Imperial official, she says she’s in.
But they need to find someone to help watch The Child. They decide this after he almost crashes the Razor Crest while Mando and Cara Dune are belowdecks. I’m not entirely sure, but I get the feeling the Child didn’t want to go back to Nevarro and was throwing a bit of a tantrum. Either that, or he was just being a curious toddler.
So Mando heads back to Arvala-7 where he found baby Yoda in the first place. He wants to hire Kuiil (Nick Nolte / Misty Rosas) to help protect the child and eventually convinces him to come. But Kuiil will only do so if he can bring IG-11 (Taika Waititi / Rio Hackford) along with him. And his Blurgs.
“I have spoken,” he says gruffly.
Kuiil found the ruined shell of IG-11 back where Mando had left the droid for dead. Because he’s a kind and resourceful man, Kuiil fixed the droid and reprogrammed him and essentially did physical therapy with him until he was back in fighting shape—only now he’s not a hunter droid at all, and serves Kuiil peacefully in his newly peaceful valley.
Alas for Kuiil, he agrees to leave peace behind and go help Mando protect the Child. They set off—Mando, Cara Dune, Kuiil, IG-11, three Blurgs and one baby Yoda. When they make it to Nevarro, Mando insists that IG-11 stay on the ship, a questionable call that has its consequences. His dislike for droids is brought up on more than one occasion, but instead of admitting to disliking all droids, Mando insists it’s just this one he doesn’t trust. We know better.
Credit: Disney / LucasFilm
They meet Greef Karga and three of his hunters on Nevarro, and you can tell Karga is a little taken aback that Mando has brought his own muscle (and beasts). He tells them that they’ll camp outside the city and head in to meet with (and kill) the Client at first light.
“Nothing can go wrong,” Karga says over the fire, just as a huge, winged creature lurches down from the sky and gashes Karga’s arm. More of the winged beasts descend from the darkness. They’re powerful beasts—one lifts a Blurg right off the ground and flies away with it. One of Karga’s hunters is taken also before they manage to drive the dragon-like creatures away with blasters and Mando’s flamethrower.
Karga is badly injured. His arm is gashed almost to shreds, and Cara Dune moves quickly to tend to the wound. The real danger is the poison, however, and it’s spreading. Nobody has an antidote.
And that’s when we see the Child approach. “Get this thing out of here,” Cara Dune says, as baby Yoda raises his arm to the wound. “Wait!” Kuiil urges. The Child places his hand on the wound and a delirious Karga cries out, “He’s trying to eat me!”
The Child’s face scrunches up into a look of intense concentration and the Karga’s look of pain disappears. So do the gashes on his arm. Everyone looks on in wonder.
I’m pretty sure this is the first time we’ve seen Force Healing onscreen, though it is part of the wider Star Wars Extended Universe, and now even though the books are no longer canon, Force Healing is once again thanks to its inclusion here. It’s a pretty incredible moment, and a much more powerful use of the Force than baby Yoda’s mudhorn levitation.
Credit: Disney / LucasFilm
It’s also a powerful enough gesture that Greef Karga has a change of heart. As they look down on the Imperial-occupied city the next day, we see his two remaining hunters pull out their blasters behind Mando and his companions.
Karga is in front, and he spins around suddenly, two blasters drawn. He makes short work of his own men and then comes clean. It was all a trap from the beginning, but now he wants to help Mando help the Child. He can’t let baby Yoda go to some Imperial monster.
So Kuiil takes the Child back on his Blurg to the Razor Crest while Mando, Cara Dune and Greef Karga take an empty floating crib into the belly of the beast. The city is crawling with Stormtroopers and other ex-Imperial troops. They meet The Client at the cantina.
Werner Herzog remains absolutely creepy as hell, taunting Mando about his Beskar steel and asking why the Mandalorians didn’t simply cede to Imperial rule. The Empire, he says, makes every system they occupy better, more peaceful and prosperous. Compare that to the lawlessness we have now, he tells our hero. Mando, characteristically enough, has no witty retort. The Client asks to see the asset, but Karga tells him that he’s sleeping—a rather lame excuse that ought to immediately raise suspicion.
But then The Client gets a call. It’s from (finally!) Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) and the Client, who we discover is actually working for this man, tells him they have the asset but he’s sleeping. “Are you certain of that?” Gideon replies, and then the blasters start blasting. A big hole appears in the middle of the Client’s chest. The Stormtroopers in the cantina are taken down quickly, but Mando and company quickly discover the odds are even worse than they expected.
Credit: Disney / LucasFilm
Outside the blasted up cantina we see a row of Stormtroopers all in black. They’re quickly joined by dozens of regular Stormtroopers. Then a TIE fighter appears, landing slowly outside the cantina and Gideon emerges from inside.
Just before the TIE fighter appears, Mando calls Kuiil over this com-link and tells him to hurry back to the ship and lock it down. But two of the Scout troopers outside intercept the message and blast off in pursuit. Unfortunately, speeder bikes are much faster than Blurgs.
Gideon emerges from his ship and tells Mando that he has no idea how badly he wants the asset or what the The Child actually means in the bigger scheme of things. Neither do we, of course, but we have an idea.
Earlier in the episode, Mando and Cara Dune are arm-wrestling, and poor baby Yoda thinks his dad is in trouble. He thinks they’re actually fighting and, perhaps wanting only to stop the fight, force chokes Dune. It’s kind of shocking, but if you think about it it also makes a certain amount of sense. He’s just a toddler, and while he has innate Force abilities, he doesn’t really know when to use each of them appropriately. One minute he might be healing an enemy and the next Force choking a friend. He’s a loaded gun, in many respects, if also the most adorable loaded gun you’ve ever seen.
Imagine what practitioners of the Dark Side of the Force might be able to do with The Child. Could they turn him to the Dark Side since he’s so young, moulding him to their will? At the very least, they could destroy him, preventing another powerful Yoda-like figure from emerging sometime in the future.
Whatever Gideon wants with The Child, it can’t be good. And that’s what makes the end of this episode so painful. We see Kuiil reach the ship and the gangplank come open. Mando is hissing into the com-link “Kuiil do you copy?” We see the Scout troopers in hot pursuit.
Then we see The Child, swaddled in blue, laying alone on the sand. A Scout trooper speeds by and scoops the creature up. The camera pans to Kuiil, almost certainly dead along with his Blurg, blasted just before he could reach safety.
Mando, Karga and Cara Dune are pinned down in the cantina with an overwhelming force of enemies outside led by a formidable new chief bad guy. Baby Yoda has been captured. Kuiil is dead. The credits role and now we have to wait nine whole days to see what happens.
Credit: Disney / LucasFilm
One thing I loved about this episode is how it tied things back to what came before. Kuiil isn’t just abandoned after the first few episodes, he returns—tragically—to lend his service to his friend and to baby Yoda.
Cara Dune, who Mando finds fighting for money back on Sorgan, didn’t seem like she’d be a one-episode character. For all the worries about this show being too much of a procedural, now we have Mando circling back to find help from the friends he’s made along the way.
And now we’re thrust directly headlong back into the overarching plot of this season. Mando can no longer run and keep running, he realizes. They’ll just keep coming for him. So he has to take risk and fight the Imps head-on. It’s just a plan that hasn’t gone terribly well so far.
I’ll be honest, Moff Gideon is going to need to pull out all the villainy stoppers to top The Client. Herzog’s bad guy was just oozing villain. He’s going to be a hard act to follow.
I will also say, I happily have no idea what’s going to happen in the season finale, other than me becoming super bummed out that it’s over for lord knows how long. The Mandalorian has been a surprise treat, with The Child emerging as one of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen on TV—though, as today’s episode has taught us, not without his own special kind of danger.
As I noted last week, I didn’t mind the self-contained episodes of the past few seasons. We met interesting new characters, found ourselves in interesting new places and Mando faced some kind of new threat each week that led to cool action sequences and a growing bond between the bounty hunter and his new baby pet.
But I am very glad that this week returned to the larger story and gave those past episodes more meaning in the process. Now we just need Mando to bring everything he has and then some to get The Child back.
This is the way.
Also, in related Star Wars news, Rise Of Skywalker’s first reviews are rather harsh.