The Mandalorian Chapter 7 and 8 Review
When it was announced that Jon Favreau had began development on the first live action Star Wars show, there was a whole lot of hype, as well as worry and speculation as to what a live-action Star Wars series would entail or look like. The first four episodes of The Mandalorian introduced us to a very intriguing storyline and group of characters, but episodes five and sixserve little in the way of narrative progression or character development. I personally began to worry that the series would just fall into a place of nothing but filler and one off adventure episodes. But episodes 7 and 8, marvelously directed by Deborah Chow and the remarkable Taika Waititi respectively, return to the story that the first four episodes so uniquely set up, delivering an epic ending to what is sure to be only the first of many seasons of this hit show.
Chapter 7, titled The Reckoning, sees the return of Chapter 3 director Deborah Chow. With her return, she tops her last episode, which was also the preview best episode of the series, with another episode full of tension, action and some of the best character moments the series has to offer. It follows the Mandalorian reteaming with fan favorites Cara Dune, Kuiil and a reprogrammed IG-11 after Greef Karga extends him an invitation to make peace and eliminate the Client played by Werner Herzog. This episode really benefits as being the first time that the series really gets to flex the star studded cast that it had showed off so much in the marketing. It really feels like an Avengers style coming together of all these established characters. For a long time I felt this shows biggest flaws was introducing these really awesome characters and either killing them off or having them exit the show. This episode finally brings the “main” characters together and it is oh so glorious. Baby Yoda is cuter than ever and gets to really show off just how truly powerful he is in the force in this episode including a very dark scene of him force choking Care when he thinks she is hurting the Mando, and a scene in which he heals a recently injured Greef. It is also the first time Baby Yoda is in legitimate danger and peril, which I’ll get to soon. The Space Avengers are short lived as they are eventually split up, and the plan to kill the Client goes horribly awry when they are intercepted by none other than Star Wars Gus Fring, here dubbed Moff Gideon, played by the legendary Giancarlo Esposito. Being a huge Breaking Bad fan, there is just something so incredibly exciting about seeing that shows most iconic and terrifying villain in Star Wars, and boy is he scary here. We learn he was the one pulling all the strings with the Client, and it is him who really wants Baby Yoda. The episode ends on a giant cliffhanger as we see two scout troopers kill Kuiil who was so close to getting Baby Yoda to safety, and kidnap Baby Yoda. If this episode proves anything, it is that they couldn’t have picked a better director to helm the upcoming Obi-Wan series. My praise for Deborah Chow can only go so far, in the meantime we have a finale to tackle.
Taika Waititi has become one of the biggest powerhouses in Hollywood over the past couple years. From the likes of crafting such original and hilarious films like Hunt For the Wilderpeople and Jojo Rabbit, as well as helming the smash hit Thor Ragnarok, it felt like just a matter of time before Lucasfilm would court him for a Star Wars project. When it was announced that he would be directing the season finale of the show, fans were rightfully very excited, but no one knew that in addition to being a director, he would also voice one of the shows most iconic characters, IG-11. Taika injects his own style into Chapter 8, titled Redemption, as it is one of the funnier episodes of the series, as well as having jaw dropping action and direction. It picks up directly after Chapter 7, and is basically one giant chase/shootout as Mando, Cara and Greef try to get out of the corner they were put in by Moff Gideon. As IG-11 rescues Baby Yoda from the scout troopers, Gideon provides some of the biggest revelations of the show so far. The Mando’s name being Din Djarin, Cara being from Alderaan, as well as more clues as to the destruction that Mandalore faced after the events of Star Wars: Rebels. We learn much more about Din’s backstory, particularly that he was a Mandalorian foundling rescued by Death Watch. In perhaps the episodes biggest moment, we see the titular Mandos face for the first and only time in the show, as IG-11 convinces him to let him remove his helmet, as IG is not a living creature, so he can repair an injury Mando endured during the shootout. Pedro Pascal really shines in this one scene, as it really goes far in putting a stop to Mandos hatred of droids, especially IG-11. The team escapes the shootout, and with the help of the Mandalorian Armorer, who gives Din his clan signet of a Mudhorn, as well as the iconic Mandalorian jetpack, they are almost free from the clutches of Gideon and his forces. However, IG-11 is forced to sacrifice himself to kill the last platoon of stormtroopers standing in their way. And in my favorite moment of the series so far, the episode is capped off with Moff Gideon using the darksaber to escape his crashed Tie Fighter that was destroyed by the Mandalorian. Mando and Baby Yoda leave the planet to find Baby Yoda’s planet and Greef and Cara remain on Navarro, and that’s season 1 of The Mandalorian.
These episodes do a lot in the way of expanding on current Star Wars lore, a lot of which was established in previous animated series. These two episodes are some of my favorite Star Wars media Disney has put out yet. This is exactly what I wanted when word of a live-action Star Wars series was first announced, unique characters, epic action, twists and turns, fan service, unexplored eras etc. And although it did fall victim to some filler in the middle, the same episodes not written by Favreau, it stuck the landing and has me begging for more.
Season 2 is already underway filming, and all we know as of right now is that Pedro, Gina and Carl are all coming back, Jon Favreau and Carl Weathers are hoping the directors squad, and that it premieres in the Fall of next year. I for one can’t wait. The Mandalorian proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is an audience for live-action Star Wars shows, and with Obi-Wan and Cassian Andor centered shows confirmed, there is definitely more on the way. Season 1 did exactly what it needed to do, and my biggest hope for season 2 is that the budget allows for actors outside of Pedro Pascal to appear in more than just three or four episodes. This show will no doubt change and continue to innovate and shock for hopefully years to come. A new era of Star Wars storytelling has begun, I have spoken.