If you thought that 2019 has dropped all of the Star Wars riches that it had left with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, think again! The Skywalker saga may be over, but there's still the little matter of one Mando and the internet's littlest darling, Baby Yoda. Disney+ dropped the Season 1 finale of The Mandalorian this morning, giving the first run of the first live-action Star Wars series an explosive capper.
Written by Jon Favreau and directed by Taika Waititi, the episode did not disappoint. There were major payoffs and some big reveals. Some of the show's larger mysteries were tantalizingly left for the next season (which can't come soon enough), and then there were other surprises — one in particular we really should have seen coming, but we just didn't. It's a great thing that both The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels are now streaming in their entirety on the same service.
**Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers for Chapter 8 of The Mandalorian below, as well as spoilers for all previous episodes.**
To catch up on the previous seven installments of the series (as well as join in the celebration of anything and everything to do with Star Wars), be sure to give a listen to SYFY WIRE's podcast Jabba the Pod, embedded at the bottom of this story.
MOFF IS STILL HAPPENING
We pick up right where we left off from the last episode — two Imperial Scout Troopers (played by Jason Sudeikis and Adam Pally) have captured Yoda Baby and have him in a bag. At a checkpoint, one of them hits the bagged Baby Yoda more than a couple times, so we hate these guys. We spend a surprising amount of time with these troopers as they try to figure out their next move, and they even engage in some target practice ... which they suck at, because they are stormtroopers. Befitting of the talent involved, it's a very funny and deadpan scene.
Baby Yoda bites one of these jerks, and right as the bag gets hit again, IG-11 (Taika Waititi) steps into the shot and wastes them both in seconds. He may be reprogrammed, but he's still got moves. “That was unpleasant, I’m sorry you had to see that," he says to Baby Yoda, who gets scooped up as IG-11 takes off on the bike. We cut to our title — Chapter 8: Redemption.
We then go back to our standoff, as Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) still has our heroes pinned down. His troops break out an E-Web heavy repeating blaster, and Gideon starts talking — he knows our heroes more than we thought. He calls Cara (Gina Carano) “Carasynthia Dune of Alderaan," so if there was any question about why Cara was a rebel, there isn't anymore. He also calls our Mando by name — “the decommissioned Mandalorian hunter Din Djarin.”
He goes further, too — he talks about the "Siege of Mandalore" (soon to be seen in the seventh and final season of The Clone Wars) and also mentions an event called "The Night of a Thousand Tears.” We don't know what that is, or how it ties into the Siege. We'd previously thought that the Siege had to do with Republic Clones and Mando revolutionaries fighting Mandos led by Maul. The Siege may contain much more, possibly even the "Great Purge" that keeps getting mentioned.
Gideon says, "If you’re asking if you can trust me, you cannot.” Cara mentions that they will upload her to a mind flayer, but Karga (Carl Weathers) says that tales of it were just Imperial propaganda. We don't remember ever hearing about a mind flayer, and we're with Cara here ... we don't want to find out. Mando now knows that Moff Gideon is in fact Moff Gideon, a man supposedly taken out for war crimes. “It’s him. He knew my name. I haven’t heard my name spoken since I was a child," he says.
Karga asks Mando if he's referring to his childhood on Mandalore, and the Mando finally gives confirmation to something the show has long hinted at. “I was not born on Mandalore," he says. When Karga questions this, Cara clarifies that Mandalorian is not a race. Mando adds that instead, it is a creed.
We flashback once more to The Clone Wars, as little Mando and his parents run from Super Battle Droids and a Heavy Missile Platform flying overhead. We get the same shot of one of the droids coming close to killing the kid (where we left off with the flashbacks in Chapter 3), but we go further this time — an unnamed Mandalorian takes out the droid that was going to kill young Din Djarin. He offers him his hand, as we see Mandalorians flying in everywhere with jetpacks. Young Din goes flying off with the Mandalorian who saved him.
“I was a foundling," says in the present. "They raised me in the fighting corps. I was treated as one of their own. When I came of age, I was sworn to the Creed. The only record of my family name was in the registers of Mandalore. Moff Gideon was an ISB Officer during the purge. That’s how I know it’s him.”
Moff Gideon, then, is not just another Imperial stooge — this seems a bit personal. It's also the first time that the ISB (Imperial Security Bureau) has been mentioned in live action. Our heroes are still in trouble, though, but thankfully IG-11 speeds into the square and guns down everything and everyone in his path while Baby Yoda laughs. Cara, Mando, and Karga join in the fight, with Mando going one-on-one with a Death Trooper and using the E-Web to take out more troopers. Moff Gideon struts up and takes several shots at Mando, before shooting an explosive device near his feet that puts Mando down.
I AM NOT A LIVING THING
Cara tries to take care of Mando, but he will not let her remove his helmet, no matter how much blood is coming out. He gives her an emblem of the Mythosaur and tells her to take it to the Mandolorian covert and that it is from Din Djarin. He trusts Baby Yoda to her care, but this is right as an Imperial Flametrooper enters the building and lights it up.
Worry you must not — Baba Yoda has this one. Our adorable little hero uses the Force to hold back the flames and then blast the flametrooper out of the door. Cara takes him into her care, and she exits into the sewers with Karga. Mando is left with IG-11 to take care of him, the last thing he'd ever want. Here's where the season-long arc of Mando's droid hatred really pays off.
IG-11 can heal Mando, but he has to take that dang helmet off. Mando of course refuses, saying, "No living thing has seen me without my helmet since I swore the Creed." That's when IG-11 delivers one of the most killer lines this series has given thus far —"I am not a living thing."
The helmet comes off, and finally ... Pedro Pascal, everyone. Of all of the beings that could be present for the first reveal of him without his helmet, it is fascinating and perfect that the moment happened with a droid. IG-11 applies a Bacta Spray and Mando starts to heal. They soon catch up with the others in the tunnels, and come across a pile of Mandalorian helmets and armor. Before Mando can lose his temper at Karga about this, the Armorer steps in and calms things down.
SORCERERS CALLED JEDI
The Armorer takes them back to what is left of her foundry, telling Mando that when they all saved him in Chapter 3, they revealed themselves. The Imperials closed in on them quickly, but she thinks a few of their number escaped. The Armorer refuses to leave but does ask to see Baby Yoda ... just to see what all of the fuss (and the memes) are about. She says it looks helpless, but Mando reveals it's the lil guy (or gal) that helped him defeat the Mudhorn, and that it can move objects with its mind.
The Armorer then drops some big knowledge bombs on the group, touching on some history about the Mandalorians we've heard a little of before. "The songs of eons past tell of battles between Mandalore the Great and an order of sorcerers called Jedi that fought with such powers." This is the first time that the term "Jedi" has been said on this show, and it was like having an injection of happiness. Mandos and Jedi have a long history of fighting each other, and though stories in Legends have gone into further detail about these wars, we haven't gotten much of it in the new canon. What we do know about their battles of old ties directly into an object of great significance ... one that we may even see by the end of the episode.
The antagonistic nature of the Mandos and Jedi is driven home when the Armorer says, "Its kind were enemies, but this individual is not." She names Baby Yoda a foundling, and says by creed it is now in Mando's care. It is his duty to reunite him with his own kind.The what and the where of that? No one knows. Great start.
“You expect me to search the galaxy for the home of this creature and deliver it to a race of enemy sorcerers?” Mando asks, only getting a "this is the way" in response. Pretty much, welcome to what Season 2 of this show is likely to be. She gives Mando a signet at last, names him and Baby Yoda a clan of two, and more or less tells Mando he's Baby Yoda's father now.
She also has one more gift — she calls it a Rising Phoenix, but we know it better by the name "jetpack." If we were worried about her safety, we get assurance that she'll be okay — after the group leaves, she takes out a whole squad of stormtroopers using nothing but her armorer's tools.
The team gets to a ferry on a lava river, where an astromech gondolier droid with full arms and legs (?) poles them down the stream. The mouth of the tunnel is surrounded, and IG-11 knows that the only way to save everyone is for him to engage his old self-destruct mechanism and sacrifice himself. Mando actually doesn't want him to! Has he grown past his hatred of droids, at least a little? Maybe, but it makes no difference. IG-11 wades through the lava and self-destructs, taking out every trooper that was guarding the tunnel exit.
The fight isn't over, as in flies Moff Gideon in his TIE fighter. Baby Yoda can't help them, so it's time for Mando to break out his latest addition to his collection of toys — he puts on the jetpack and blasts off. He grapples Gideon's TIE, and after a thrilling mid-air battle with it, he succeeds in planting a detonator on it and blowing it to the ground. Mando manages to land (clumsily, but he's learning), and the day is ... kind of won?
Cara is going to stay on Nevarro, and Karga offers her a place as his enforcer. He also welcomes the Mando back to the guild, but we know that Mando has another mission. He takes Baby Yoda in his arms and jetpacks away, and Baby Yoda looks just like young Din once did when he was rescued all of those years ago.
After building a burial cairn for Kuill, Mando gets back on the Razor Crest with Baby Yoda ... who now wears the Mythosaur emblem as a necklace. The ship flies off ... but we're not done.
Jawas are looting the crashed TIE fighter, and that's when a blade cuts through it from the inside, and Moff Gideon emerges wielding, that's right, the Darksaber. First introduced in The Clone Wars in the episode "The Mandalore Plot," this black-bladed lightsaber was wielded by Pre Vizsla (Jon Favreau) before ending up with Maul. In Star Wars Rebels, we see it pass from Maul to Sabine Wren, and then to Bo-Katan Kryze. How exactly did it end up with Moff Gideon? We don't know, but we're imagining that events on Mandalore after the Rebels episodes "Heroes of Mandalore" did not go so well.
Either which way, the Darksaber's arrival here as well as the aforementioned first namedrop of "Jedi" firmly re-establishes the Jedi vs. Mandalorian dynamic on this series, and could lead to some serious develops in the future. The Jedi have "returned" in this time period, after all (there's a least one out there, returned), and the only thing that can parry the Darksaber is ... another lightsaber. There is a definite chance that some kind of Jedi presence can wind up in the mix ... aside from Baby Yoda himself.
SO ... WHAT NOW, MANDO?
We officially know his name now, but we're still gonna call him Mando. This finale sets things up for Season 2 in a fairly fantastic way — Mando is going off to figure out what species Baby Yoda is, and what planet he is from. We'd all love to know those answers, so step on it, Mando. He has friends that he can call on if he needs to (Cara Dune, at least), so here's hoping that the stealth Alderaanian stays in the mix next season.
Almost certain to return as well? Moff Gideon, who ended this episode (and season) standing on the wreckage of his TIE fighter wielding the Darksaber. We really did not see that coming, as the Darksaber has never been seen in live action before. It is a welcome addition to the series, and it makes Moff Gideon even cooler than he already was, but it also makes him even more formidable. Bad news for Mando, good news for the show.
Seriously, who had a wager that this season would end with Giancarlo Esposito holding the Darksaber? Come on.
The Mandalorian will return for Season 2 in 2020. For more on the Mando and everything else in the galaxy far, far away, be sure to listen and subscribe to Jabba the Pod. This is the way.