Ever since the directors were announced for The Mandalorian, I think most people were curious to see what Taika Watiti’s episode would be like. His off-script, improvised humour won over fans with Thor: Ragnarok but a sudden tonal shift in the season, especially the finale, may have proven jarring. Thankfully, Taika found the perfect balance of serious drama and action with his trademark zany humour. Not only that, but Redemption, the finale of season one, sticks the landing of the first live-action Star Wars show.
The action continues right where we left off last time, which thanks to The Rise of Skywalker, feels like an eternity ago. Despite being tonally on par with the rest of the series, the finale opens up with some pretty amusing banter between the two scout troopers who killed Qu’il. While it was amusing to see them bickering about work, they weren’t winning anyone over when they continuously beat The Child. I hope they suffered at the hands of IG-11’s blasters. The action cuts back to the standoff with Moff Gideon, who despite being on flat terrain, clearly has the high ground, outnumbering Cara, Greef and the now named Mandalorian, Din Djarin. Gideon used to be Imperial ISB and seemingly has a history with Mando to know him by name, even with the records.
We learn that Din, as a child, was taken in by a group of Mandalorians and not just any group either but the notorious Clan Vizsla, per their insignia, which either is or will about to become the infamous Death Watch faction. We finally see Pedro Pascal’s face as well. Critically injured, he states no living being can see his face but IG-11, being a droid, doesn’t fit the definition and Mando, who was willing to meet the maker, allows a droid-the thing he trusts least in the galaxy-to help him. It’s a small thing but it shows a lot of growth for this once morally dubious character. Mando now has a face, a name and a bit of backstory. Finally.
Gideon continues to be a fearsome villain, thanks largely to Esposito’s calculating and menacing performance. If you liked him as Gus in Breaking Bad, you’re in for a treat. Thankfully, Gideon survives the season and will be back to hunt Mando down-while revealing he’s in possession of The Darksabre. While casuals may feel clueless to this reveal, fans of The Clone Wars and Rebels TV shows, both the brainchild of Mandalorian producer Dave Filoni, will no doubt go nuts.
With Gideon in possession of the blade, it’s likely safe to assume Bo Katan died at his hands during The Purge. But Mando’s quest now takes on a whole new light. Could a Foundling reunite all the clans of Mandalore by reclaiming the lightsaber? It seems possible, especially now since he has his own clan (of two).
Mando parts ways with Greef and Cara at the episode’s final moments and begins a journey looking for The Child’s people. Until that moment or until the Child grows up, the Armorer dubbed him a Foundling as well, making him a Mandalorian as well and part of the Creed of two. Together, they’ll travel the galaxy searching, with Gideon on their tail.
Season one wisely, but annoyingly, leaves some questions unanswered for the next season. Those include why exactly the Remnant wants The Child so badly and who the mystery figure was from episode five. I have to wonder if season two will continue with the serialized/episodic format or lean more towards episodic, meaning each episode influences the next directly. I hope the action cuts away from Mando from time to time to allow us to learn about Gideon, his mission and history from his point of view. How is there even a Moff five years after Endor and why do the Remnant follow him?
Overall, The Mandalorian proved to be a successful gamble for Lucasfilm and Disney+. It’ll be interesting to see how the subscription service fairs with its launch show wrapped up. Some fans may stick on for The Clone Wars season 7 but I predict a drop in subscriptions. The Mandalorian wasn’t a perfect show, it had a few hurdles to overcome. But it also challenged television norms and gave us something new, unpredictable and intriguing. It was in the vein of Sergio Leone or Akira Kurasawa and that may have alienated some viewers. But there’s nothing else quite like it on TV. Season two of The Mandalorian is in production now and scheduled to arrive in Fall 2020 and I can’t wait to learn more.