Warning: This article contains spoilers for Chapter 14 of The Mandalorian
After one of the most popular and viewed episodes of the series aired last week, The Mandalorian returned with an episode that no one, literally no one, could have predicted. This comes as a result of there being no marketing for this episode whatsoever. After episode four of the season had aired two weeks ago, it became very clear that fans had already seen all that trailers had to offer, leading to much speculation as to where the season, and the series, goes from here.
Last week, after many had correctly predicted that the episode would be Ahsoka Tano-centric, many, including myself, incorrectly predicted that Chapter 14 would be more of a filler episode before our heroes arrived on Tython in the two-part season finale. That, in fact, was not the case.
This week’s episode opens up with Din Djarin and Grogu arriving in Tython’s atmosphere. They quickly find the seeing stone and Din places Grogu upon it, when suddenly hieroglyphics begin to glow blue and a beam of protective energy surrounds the Child. Just as this begins, a ship none other than Slave I emerges into the atmosphere. Din attempts to remove Grogu from the stone, only to be repelled several times by the energy surrounding him. Din instead confronts the ship and its passengers, Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) and the revived Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen). Boba has tracked down our protagonist in an attempt to retrieve his armor, which Din refuses to return to a non-Mandalorian. Their argument is cut short when Imperial forces enter the system and the three must work together in order to protect the Child. In the process, the Razor Crest is destroyed and Dark Troopers swoop down and capture the Child. The three must unite and the episode ends as they begin to plan a prison break for Mayfeld (Bill Burr).
This episode has me torn in many, many ways. I will start by saying I am thrilled to see such plot progression in one episode. Not only has the Boba Fett story continued, but we have already finished the trip to Tython, something that I thought was going to be saved for the finale. I will admit it was great to see Temuera Morrison return, and he is by far the standout of this episode. Seeing him don the classic armor again was certainly an exciting moment for many fans, including myself and seeing the Slave I back in action was really special. However, I will say that I have begun to find myself torn on the direction of the series as a whole.
Before diving into that, I would like to share more thoughts on this episode. Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Alita: Battle Angel) directed this episode, and I have to say I unfortunately was not impressed. I admittedly am not too familiar with his particular style of work, and I have been told this episode felt very stylized for him, but I found the action sequences resembled a fan film more than a professional Star Wars production. I would not just blame the director for this though, I found that whatever set they used and/or built for Tython felt far too similar to Earth for my liking. It did not feel like these characters were on another planet, and it was truthfully jarring and took me out of the episode a few times. I will give major credit to the stunt coordinators though, particularly on the hand-to-hand sequences with Boba and some of Fennec’s montage. Those all felt really solid and were far better in contrast to some of the wide action and gunfire sequences.
Despite all of this, as I alluded to above, I really enjoyed the plot of this episode. I cannot wait for some Jedi to show up in the finale or for Grogu to reveal who or what spoke to him, because it is clear that is the direction they are going with the plot. Also, despite some qualms with his involvement in the show at all which I discuss below, I thought Boba Fett was really special in this episode and meant to be the standout. Now we also know he will be sticking around through the finale. Finally, the destruction of the Razor Crest admittedly shocked me. I did not see that coming at all. At this point it kind of felt like they destroyed the Millennium Falcon. I, like many fans, grew very attached to the ship and to see it obliterated like that, and Din’s reaction to it, was special. Props to Jon Favreau for that. With this episode summed up, let’s talk a bit about this season as a whole…
I spoke last week in my review how I am beginning to grow tired of the weekly side quest as it progresses the main plot, slowly. It worked really well in Season One, but I was hoping that this season in particular the show would begin to establish two, maybe even three episode arcs. I understand that the finale might serve that purpose, as it did in Season One, but by this point we have travelled to six different planets in six episodes, and that is not even including some of the smaller side scenes with other locations. On top of this, I felt that this season was far too focused on returning characters and cameos. With the season finale ahead, I do not expect any new major characters (aside from one which I will get to a bit later in this review). As a result, I can begin to evaluate the season as a whole and really dissect elements that I think did and did not work.
With the appearances of Boba Fett, Bo-Katan Kryze, Ahsoka Tano as returning characters from other Star Wars media, and Greef Karga, Cara Dune, Mythrol, Fennec Shand, and now Mayfeld returning from Season One, it begins to feel like the show is assembling an Avengers-like team and setting up spin-off series more than it is focusing on the main characters, Din Djarin in particular. While we certainly get growth for his character, I feel that every week we get bits of development for him, a cute scene or two with him and Grogu, and an action scene that is secondary to whoever the guest of the week is. I love what they have done for him so far this season, but it feels so small in comparison to everything else that is going on around him. Perhaps I feel this way because of how he was treated the last two weeks, but this episode really hurt me. Halfway through the episode the only thing his character had done was get blasted by the energy shield while Boba and Fennec were shown in action.
I cannot deny that all of these characters have served really unique and important narrative purposes, but this does not mean that they should always be given the spotlight over our central hero. Even a character like Cobb Vanth, who is almost completely unknown, overshadowed our protagonist because of the armor he wore. The only episodes this season that really felt like a Din Djarin-centric episode were Chapter 10 and Chapter 12. Those were moments where Din was able to take the lead and show the potential of how powerful and interesting his character can be. He is really interesting and wonderfully performed. Because of the rumors of an Ahsoka series, a Boba Fett series, and even a Cara Dune series, I understand why Lucasfilm and Disney want them to be featured predominantly, but I hope going forward, in the finale and especially in Season Three, we get Din and Grogu on their own exploring the galaxy like we had in Season One.
Looking ahead to Chapter 15, which I view as the first half of the finale, it seems that this episode will mostly serve as a prison break for Mayfeld. I expect Rick Famuyiwa to direct as he also wrote the episode. That will set the stage for an Avengers-like team-up in the finale as there is a full on rescue of Grogu. As for speculation, based on this episode, I fully expect a Jedi, probably Ezra Bridger, to appear in the finale in some capacity. I am really excited to see how the rest of this season turns out and despite my concerns, I still have the utmost faith in this creative team and I cannot wait for next week’s episode!
What did you think of this episode and my thoughts? Let us know in the comments below and on our social media pages!