The Mandalorian (Disney+)
Season One, Episode Eight – “Chapter Eight: Redemption”
Written by Jon Favreau
Directed by Taika Waititi
It comes down to a shoot out in the streets, a showdown with the man in black, the sacrifice of one to save the rest. The Mandalorian gives in to its Western roots most completely in this season finale. Dyn Jarren is pinned down in a cantina with Cara Dune and Greef Karga. The odds are not in their favor as the Imperials set up some devastating weapons. But we know that despite how many times he gets knocked around or has his ass handed to him, Jarren always seems to luck out.
First, I want to say this episode was a lot of fun and got right back to the stuff The Mandalorian does best. When Jarren is outnumbered and outgunned, that’s when things get the most interesting, and the whole episode is that sort of thing. Cara Dune is a great supporting character who compliments our protagonist. Greef Karga is pretty good here too, and I wish we had spent more time getting to know him this season. I also wish Moff Gideon had been introduced earlier in the story so we could better understand his motivations. We know he wants Baby Yoda, but why? I can infer some things about how the child came to be, but I would have liked a little insight into what’s actually going on.
And that’s ultimately my problem with the finale. Yes, it delivered a fun, gunslinging theme park ride, but it failed to present a single complete story arc. If Jarren is the main character, then what was his arc that got resolved in this episode? I feel like his arc was resolved in chapter three, and we’ve just been doing plot since then. The one place I see a tiny bit of growth is the flashback to droids killing his family and Jarren accepting the helping hand of IG-11. It’s small and doesn’t really encompass the whole of the narrative here.
Nothing is addressed about the existence of Baby Yoda or why the Imperials want him. Did I want a long villainous exposition speech from Gideon? No. But I would have enjoyed some hint at what was happening. What’s even more annoying is that we get a cartoonish ending where not even the villain is going to stay dead. Jarren flies off again with the child to find where he should go. I guess this will be the plot of the second season? And Gideon will keep chasing them like a thinly plotted Saturday morning cartoon?
I enjoy the way British television dramas do a season of similar length but tell a complete narrative with an ending. The idea is that if the show doesn’t get picked up, then we still wrapped up the story. I wanted a series that kept the same protagonist but put them in a different dilemma each season. I liked the Lone Wolf and Cub style of tale this season but thought we might get something different next time. I guess more of Baby Yoda doing a cute face or touching something he isn’t supposed to.
One moment that stuck out to me that I wish people who make decisions about these shows noticed was the cold open with the speeder bike troopers. They were voiced by comedic actors Jason Sudekis and Adam Pally, and it was a fantastic, unexpected moment to start the episode with. In the comics, Tag and Bink were a recurring duo of Imperials who became the Rosencrantz & Guildenstern of the Star Wars universe. They always seemed to be bumbling around in the background of significant events. I would absolutely love for Disney+ to make a full-fledged comedy set in the Star Wars Universe. If you could find the right tonal balance of action and humor, it could be a fantastic and fresh addition to the franchise. I feel like post-The Rise of Skywalker I am done with Star Wars unless they can offer up something that doesn’t feel predictable or that it’s pressing the nostalgia button always.