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The Mandalorian: Redemption

“You don’t have that kind of firepower, you won’t make it past daylight.” “That is not my objective.”

If there was one quibble with The Mandalorian that had any substantiation, it would be that it might be lacking depth. This show is a fast-paced, gorgeously shot, endlessly entertaining missile; it’s also my favorite of all the Star Wars tales, save maybe, The Empire Strikes Back. But while it’s true The Mandalorian is largely character driven, it may have come up a little short in terms of depth. Until now.

That’s a little funny to say, because this episode was a high-octane, blistering ride. Say what you want, but The Mandalorian always nails its prolific action scenes and there was more action here even than its previous episodes. It was a showstopper of a finale, and it was basically go, go, go from start to finish. The incredible thing is, this episode managed to slip in some truly touching and thought provoking scenes between the searing blitzes of gunfire.

The title of this episode was particularly apt, because at the heart of it, beneath all the breath-taking action sequences, it was about redemption- for IG-11, interestingly, and, of course, our favorite bounty hunter, Mando. At the start of this show, protecting the Child is something that happened almost accidentally; by the finale it was a cause everyone was consciously ready to die for. That’s because the Child is every child whose life was ruined by the Empire. He's a foundling who needs to be taken care of, exactly like Mando once was.

We finally understand Mando’s hatred for droids; as the child Din Djarin, everything he knew and valued was ripped away by relentless Imperial droids acting on command. When Din took the creed, it wasn’t because he was forced into it. He took it because a Mandalorian literally reached out a hand and pulled him out of a dark abyss. The Mandalorians saved his life when they adopted him as their own. I take that to mean, back in the second episode, when Mando says “Weapons are a part of my religion,” he meant that literally. The Mandalorian creed, The Way, IS his belief system. It’s not to curate a rep, or to make money. It defines who he is as a person.

Which is a perfect segue into IG-11. We finally got to see Mando’s face, and it was an extremely poignant moment. When he allowed IG-11 to take off his helmet with his blaster rifle aimed in shaking hand, we got to see Din Djarin, looking as exposed and vulnerable as the child in the cellar decades before. Mando was the one who terminated IG-11 in the premiere. He had every reason to hate droids and to be mistrustful of IG-11. The dialogue between them, before IG-11 took off his helmet, showed us clearly that Mando expected IG-11 to kill him and finish the job that was started so many years ago. It hit me in the feels when he basically told IG-11 he could drop the act and kill him, just for IG-11 to counter that he was a nurse droid. IG-11 was so endearing throughout this entire episode.

Part of the redemption on Mando’s part was this turning point. Somehow, it felt implied that Din Djarin expected to be killed by a droid just like his parents were, and despite being the greatest warrior in the galaxy, harbored a secret, almost child-like fear of that. Which led to his emotional shutdown and his discrimination against droids. In the end, IG-11’s redemption reflected Mando’s redemption. IG-11 saved Mando’s life, not once, but twice, righting the wrong done to Mando all those years ago and redeeming droids for him. The scene where Mando realized IG-11 was going to self destruct to save them, and they had that almost intimate conversation about the sadness in Mando’s voice packed a punch emotionally. Mando just gained perspective; that even if the droids had been the triggermen, it was the Empire to blame for the tragedy.

Mando’s redemption was all the more important because of his backstory- in "The Prisoner," we learned that he used to run with a rough crowd and that killing may not have been just an occupation for him in the past. Though at times polite and even bordering on friendly in previous episodes, it was firmly established he was a man that maintained distance from everyone else and mostly adhered to an “Every man for himself” mentality. Except when it came to his loyalty to the tribe. What a chord change it was then, to see him ready to die for Cara and the Child. His and Cara’s goodbye intimated that they really did care about each other- that they were more than war buddies, they were friends. Mando was able to make the ultimate sacrifice; to offer up his life so that the Child and Cara could live, just like IG-11 did later.

But the true sacrifice ending up meaning far more; Mando shed his walls and defense system, to accept the charge of the Child. Battle-hardened badass bounty hunter Mando, who now has his pick of the quarries, listened to the Armorer as one of his mentors and quietly accepted the duty of caring for the Child. He’s now as its father. He has the chance to pay it forward.

In a way, heroism was able to shine so brightly in this episode because we got to see the naked truth of the Empire yet again. Despite the initial, utterly hilarious conversation between the storm troopers when they had the Child, there’s nothing funny about the Empire, and Moff Gideon is its embodiment. We see this when he’s coldly disclosing details of vaporizing ranks of soldiers without batting an eye- and he was even on Mandalore during the Purge. Cara stated in the boat that she literally couldn’t surrender, and that’s the reason behind all the self-sacrifice. When unveiled, the Empire is pure evil, with millions of lives ended by its hands, and the one entity the Child cannot be possessed by. Mercs, bounty hunters, it makes no difference- at some point, everyone will be swept into the battle of good vs. evil.

There was truly a “wow” moment when the Child saved everyone by using the Force to deflect the fire trooper’s flame thrower. That was an even more impressive display than lifting the Mudhorn, and it caused a ricochet fireball. They did a really good job of capturing how epic that moment was; the Child looked so small surrounded by all that fire, and his victorious use of the Force there was just jaw-dropping. He definitely needs to be in the care of Jedi. But Mandalorians and Jedi are traditionally enemies. Huh. I wonder why. Here’s hoping more light is shined on the subject in the next season.

Touching on other plot threads, I was surprised by how sad I was when I saw the Mandalorian armor piled up in the sewers. (Are those some clean sewers or what?) Although it makes sense, if the Empire arrived right after the Mandalorians showed themselves; they couldn’t risk another extermination and the possibility of extinction. It was incredibly weighty to know what a tragic thing it was that they had to leave the creed to escape- although I hope we get to see them return and don that armor once again. I know, they can’t put it on after they take off their helmets, but maybe there’s a clause taking into account the necessity of survival of their race?

The Armorer is one of my favorite characters on the show; she's regal, poised, oozing integrity. It was so moving to me that she chose to stay down there to salvage the remains of the armor, and even in the face of impending death, took the time to give Mando his signet and his jet pack. He and the Child are a clan of two. The scene of her just destroying the storm troopers was incredibly satisfying.

I just love Cara too. She is the definition of a badass, taking names right along with Mando, but what struck me in this episode was her character. Even pinned down multiple times, she never showed fear or panic; she made it clear she would die without hesitation before surrendering to the Empire. She dragged Mando back inside and remained calm when Mando was mortally wounded. And she utterly refused to leave him. That really got me. She didn’t know Mando all THAT well- a lot of it had to be the New Republic soldier in her. Never leave a man behind, even when it could cost you your life. And of course, part of it was that Mando is her friend as well. I was very pleased to see she made it through the episode and is going to help clean up on Nevarro; a sure sign we’ll see her again. Maybe she can keep an eye on Greef as well. I still haven’t forgiven him for the previous episode.

This finale ended on a heartwarming and triumphant note, with Mando and the Child zooming off to find the Jedi, and Greef and Cara waving from the ground, about to rebuild. Mando even let the Child keep his necklace. I’m so glad they took a moment to show Mando give Kuiil a meaningful burial. But, of course, Moff Gideon survived the wreckage, clawing his way out with a weapon that looked very forbidding- almost like a black lightsaber.

The episode ended with the shot of Moff Gideon standing atop the Tie Fighter, instead of focusing on Mando and the Child. Foreshadowing. And now on to the next season!

Interesting details and tidbits:

The siege on Mandalore was also known as the Night of 1000 Tears.

Cara’s full name is Carasynthia.

I have to bring this up; why didn’t Din’s parents climb in the cellar with him? There looked like there was plenty of room.

Mando and Moff Gideon know of each other; Gideon was an ISB officer during the Purge and the only place Mando’s name was recorded was in the Mandalore registers.

Mandalorian is not a race, it’s a creed. So what do they call people born on Mandalore who don’t swear into the creed? Or does everyone swear into the creed at some point?

Something just occurred to me- are Mando’s flashbacks to the Purge, or to the desecration of his home planet? It was stated that Mando wasn’t born on Mandalore.

The opening scene between the storm troopers talking about Gideon’s heavy trigger finger and missing the can from five feet away had me in stitches.

Cara said if they caught her, the Empire would hook her up to a mind flayer. I don’t know what it is, but it doesn’t sound fun.

Greef was taking liquor shots while they were pinned down. I probably would have too.

The vaporizing gun was an E-Web. Mando was able to commandeer it for a few minutes.

Bacta spray is some seriously powerful stuff. If I were Mando, I’d have that stuff on me all the time.

Rising Phoenix is training with jet packs. And Mando got his signet in front of Greef and Cara. Awesome.

I loved how they put in Cara’s line “I don’t do the baby thing.” Take that, gender stereotypes.

Also loved Mando’s line, “I don’t suppose anyone here speaks droid.” As he’s standing right next to another droid.

And again, have to say it- it was very meaningful that the Child had Mando’s necklace. But speaking strictly in practicality, the first thing that came to mind was that it’s a choking hazard. :)

Memorable quotes and moments: (There were many)

Storm trooper #1: “Can I see it?”
Storm trooper #2: “Did you not hear that Gideon just killed a dozen of his own troops to make a point? I get that point. Do you?”
This whole scene was just incredibly self-aware and hilarious.

IG-11 (to the Child): “That was unpleasant. I’m sorry you had to see that.”

Moff Gideon: “Your astute panic shows you understand your situation.”

Moff Gideon: “The assurance I can give you is this: I will act in my own self-interest which at this time involves your cooperation and benefit.”

Cara: “Mandalorian is not a race, it’s a creed.”

Mando: “I’m not going to make it.”
Cara: “Shut up. You just got your bell rung.”

Mando: “Let me have a warrior’s death.”
Cara: “I won’t leave you.”

Mando: “Try it and I’ll kill you. It is forbidden. No living thing has seen me without my helmet since I swore the creed.”
IG-11: “I am not a living thing.”

IG-11: “You have suffered damage to your central processing unit.”
Mando: “You mean, my brain?”
IG-11: “That was a joke. It’s meant to put you at ease.”

The Armorer: “Show me the one whose safety deemed such destruction.”

The Armorer: “A foundling is in your care. By creed, until it is of age or reunited with its own kind, you are as its father.”

The Armorer: “You are a clan of two.”

The Armorer: “The songs of eons past tell of battles between Mandalore the Great and an order of sorcerers called Jedi that fought with such power.” Cool. I wonder who won?

Mando: “You expect me to search the galaxy for the home of this creature and deliver it to a race of enemy sorcerers?”
The Armorer: “This is the Way.”

Mando: “But you’ll be destroyed.”
IG-11: “And you will live and I will have served my purpose.”

IG-11: “There is no reason to be sad. I have never lived.”
Mando: “I’m not sad.”
IG-11: “Yes, you are. I’m a nurse droid, I have analyzed your voice.”

Greef: “Let’s make the baby do the magic hand thing. Come on baby! Do the magic hand thing!”
And then he waves. Cute.

Greef: “I think your Guild rates have just gone up.”

Greef: “Some of my favorite people are bounty hunters.”

Cara: “Take care of this little one.”
Greef: “Or maybe, it will take care of you.”

And maybe the best one:

IG-11: “You are protected.”

Simply amazing season finale.

Four out of four signets,
Valkyrie

3 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Valkyrie, congratulations on finishing the first season, and so quickly! I've only seen a few episodes and not this one, but you've clearly done a terrific job. It's a lovely review and makes me want to give the show a second chance.

Thank you for joining the site. :)

Valkyrie30 said...

Billie,

It was my honor. Truly. Thank you for taking that chance on me and allowing me to contribute to your wonderful site. I’m so glad you liked the Mando reviews.

lazybasterd said...

Mandalorians like to take on the biggest threats for the challenge - enter the Jedi.