Chapter 14 continues a thread from season one and, as promised, brings tragedy. Here be spoilers.
The Mandalorian Chapter 14: The Tragedy is the shortest episode of season two, but it might be the most consequential. Mando and Grogu arrive at Tython and the little one proceeds to reach out with the force (which is shown in the form of a blue, energy beam). Things seem to be going well at first, then Slave I shows up and things get interesting. The Imperial remnants, led by Moff Gideon, also show up and have come to play: bringing ships, Stormtroopers, and Dark troopers to get Grogu. A lot happened in this episode so let’s get right to it:
The Title Brings Anxiety, the Rest Brings Non-Stop Action
This season has been doing something a little different than last season with marketing by waiting to release the title of the chapters until the episode premieres. It’s understandable given that, more so than last season, the episode titles are also light spoilers of what lies ahead (and the recaps don’t help keep the mystery). So, when you watch the opening title sequence and see “The Tragedy” pop up, your heart might have dropped a little as an overarching dread started forming over the episode. I was wrong on two things in my past “Mandalorian Thoughts” posts: that we wouldn’t see Moff Gideon until the season finale and that the droid Zero would play a big part moving forward since Mando kept his parts on the ship. My wrongness converged in spectacular fashion when Gideon rolled up on Tython with a bunch of useless stormtroopers and more effective Dark troopers, took Grogu, and blew up the Razor Crest. Yes, the Razor Crest: the signature ship of the series and Mando and Grogu’s home. Well, I guess Zero really was just back to be a one-time translation device in Chapter 10 but there are bigger problems for Mando ahead. Because this was not a happy episode, it was nice to shave a lot of action as a distraction for the inevitable tragedies that occurred.
One Question from Season One Gets Answered
Mando does get unexpected help from two familiar faces, one from last season and one from the original trilogy. In Chapter 5: The Gunslinger, Mando goes up against a bounty hunter/assassin named Fennec Shand (played by the always great Ming-Na Wen). Shand is shot and left for dead on Tatooine but, in the end, we see a pair of boots (with spurs) walk up to her body. We never get the face but there was a lot of speculation online of who those boots could belong to and if we would find the answer this season. When Temuera Morrison was rumored to be appearing this season and then confirmed at the end of Chapter 9: The Marshal, it seemed like this was the mysterious stranger. I mentioned in my Chapter 10 thoughts that I wondered if Boba Fett was a one-and-done cameo this season so I am happy that returned and has been tracking Mando ever since his appearance at the end of Chapter 9. Slave I shows up just in time to save Mando from being killed but not in time to help save Grogu. Now, having his armor back, it looks like Boba and Fennec are joining the fight to track and bring back Grogu. I hope Moff Gideon is well trained in Darksaber fighting.
This is the Boba Fett We’ve Been Looking For
I was a little irritated when The Mandalorian was first announced because I thought it was a move by Lucasfilm and Disney to completely overshadow Boba Fett, who never really got a moment to shine and actually earn his popularity. One of the criticisms of fans towards Fett is that the bounty hunter was defeated too easily in The Return of the Jedi to be the most feared bounty hunter in the galaxy. In this episode, we finally get to see what all the fuss was about as Boba has two big fighting scenes, one without the armor where Morrison is wrecking Stormtroopers with a gaffi stick (aka a Tusken Raider death cane). I will get to the fantastic directing in a moment, but what a scene for Morrison! Then he gets his armor back and wreaks even more havoc with Mandalorian tools and even takes out two Imperial ships trying to escape with a rocket grenade (oh, the merchandise callbacks). We have not seen the last of him or Fennec so there are more Boba Fett action scenes on the horizon as we head towards the end of the season.
And that throwback line from Attack of the Clones (Attack of the Clones!) that Boba is just a “simple man trying to make his way through the galaxy.” The details that make The Mandalorian shine in the Star Wars content-sphere.
A Slight Retcon of Jango Fett’s Backstory
In season two of The Clone Wars, the Prime Minister of Mandalore claimed Jango Fett was not a Mandalorian, which shocked a lot of fans that the only two characters from the films who were wearing Mandalorian armor were not actually Mandalorian. This episode retcons that, giving Jango Fett the backstory of being a foundling…and that’s OK. It makes sense that they would be Mandalorian and glad that Lucasfilm realized this and said “my bad” and proceeded accordingly. There have been instances of changes made when things get translated from other mediums: Ahsoka’s showdown with Maul has not portrayed the same way in her novel as it ended up being realized in the final season of The Clone Wars and here Jango’s backstory has changed and both are for the better. This also further expands one of the themes that has developed this season of what it means to be a Mandalorian.
The Robert Rodriguez Appreciation Paragraph
It was a tough ask to follow last week’s live-action debut of Ahsoka Tano, but Robert Rodriguez leaned into his strengths. There are many things that Rodriguez does well and one of them is action in Westerns. So while Robert Rodriguez never crossed my mind as the PERFECT director for an episode of The Mandalorian, I am happy to see his name on the board. Boba Fett’s fight with the Stormtroopers begins with Morrison leaning on a rock waiting for them to come to him. That’s pure Robert Rodriguez and Lucasfilm have let the directors of these episodes bring some of their signature styles without it feeling out of place within the Star Wars universe. Not to be outdone by Fett, Fennec Shand has a killer move where she jumps backward off a rock shooting a Stormtrooper in the process, lands, and rolls into shooting a few more. This had some of the best-directed action sequences and that is all Rodriguez and the great Mandalorian stunt team working here. It was also a nice pace change to have an episode with almost back-to-back action vs. last week’s episode which had quieter moments in between. Rodriguez only directed one episode this season but I hope to see more “Directed by Robert Rodriguez” in future credits.
Moff Gideon’s look doesn’t work for me. He looks too much like a second-rate Darth Vader and it’s distracting. But, it doesn’t look like it is changing ever so I will get used to it. I also don’t care for the Dark troopers (they don’t look/feel like Star Wars) but hopefully those get taken out in the episodes to come, even though they are a perfect foil for Mandalorians since they have jetpacks in their feet. I accept that Fennec has a mechanical stomach but I kind of want to know how that works. Bill Burr’s character, Mayfeld, is returning next episode which means Rick Famiyuwa is returning as director. I’m guessing it will be a “gathering the crew” episode with a prison break scene so still more action and suspense to come!