The Mandalorian Just Broke My Heart

Culture
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A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed Robert Rodriguez about his upcoming Netflix film, and at the end of the call, I told him I was looking forward to his episode of The Mandalorian. Now, after watching “Chapter 14: The Tragedy,” I feel personally victimized by the director. Sorry to be dramatic, but I can imagine there’s a collective grief spreading across the Star Wars fandom today, as episode 6 lives up to its tragic title.

The episode pulls the rug out from under viewers after beginning with a bit of levity: We hear Mando laugh for the first time! Now that he knows Grogu’s name, getting the lil’ one to respond amuses the bounty hunter. It’s clear the bond runs deep between the two, and as Mando explains to his ward that they’ll have to part ways if a Jedi arrives to train him, it seems he’s more convincing himself.

They land on Typhon and arrive at the seeing stone for Grogu to do his thing. Soon after, a mysterious ship lands nearby, but the padawan connects with the Force—just as Ahsoka said he would—and causes a protective beam to surround him. Mando, unable to break through to steal the kid away, confronts the mysterious arrival who turns out to be… BOBA FETT!

the mandalorian

Disney

The legendary bounty hunter, played by Tameura Morrison, reveals he’s been tracking Mando since Tatooine because he wants his armor back. It belonged to his father, Jango Fett, and Boba lost it after surviving his fall into a Sarlaac pit in Return of the Jedi. However, he’s not the only presumed dead mercenary in the picture. Boba found Fennec Shand (Ming-na Wen), who seemingly died in the Tatooine desert in the season 1 episode “The Gunslinger,” and brought him back to life. Well, not entirely in the human sense, as she reveals some cyborg-looking interior underneath her armor. Fennec is now bound to Boba, and together they explain the situation to Mando: The bounty on The Child’s head has increased massively, so they will help protect him if Mando returns the armor to Fett.

The arrival of a garrison of stormtroopers prevents Mando from agreeing, as he runs to the seeing stone to protect Grogu. Fennec and Boba are left to fight off the first wave, and you’ve got to hand it to Rodriguez—he sure knows how to shoot an epic fight scene. Not only does he have Fennec leaping off rocks and using boulders to take out several stormtroopers, but he shows why Boba Fett was considered one of the most fearsome bounty hunters in the galaxy: He sure knows his way around a poleaxe, which he uses to slice through the bad guys in brutal fashion. During the fight, he spots the Razor Crest, which Mando had left open, and since its owner is having no luck getting Grogu out of the Force beam, he joins the fray below. Just as the stormtroopers seem to gain an advantage, Boba turns up wearing his iconic armor.

A pang of nostalgia fills your bones as the bounty hunter reacquaints himself with his customized beskar and forces the attackers back to their ship, but the battle’s not over yet: He uses his helmet’s external targeting rangefinder to fire the missile loaded on his jetpack and destroy both enemy ships in flight. The stormtrooper’s boss, Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), responds from above in his Imperial starship by torpedoing Mando’s long-suffering ship.

Pour one out for the Razor Crest, fam.

Gideon also sends his dark trooper droids to snatch Grogu, who’s been left unprotected on the seeing stone when the Force beam collapses. The poor little guy is all tuckered out and can barely move when the dark troopers surround him, and Mando is forced to watch them take The Child away after arriving at the top of the mountain moments too late.

It’s a crushing blow for the Mandalorian, who doesn’t want to risk Grogu’s life by having Boba take out the droids. Fett confirms that the Empire is back after spotting Gideon’s starship. There’s another nod to the influence of Frank Herbert’s Dune as he tells a questioning Fennec, “This is not a spice dream.”

What it is is a tragic separation of father and son that every viewer felt deep in their bones. If you had to take a moment to collect yourself, you’re not alone. But remember: There’s a running theme in this show about codes and Boba shows that. despite being a solitary figure who didn’t take the Mandalorian Creed, he has principles.

After showing Mando that his father was a foundling taken in by the Mandalorians, Boba says he and Fennec are in Din Djardin’s debt and will honor the deal to protect The Child. Now it’s time for Mando to take a leaf out of Amanda Waller’s book and put together a Suicide Squad of sorts to rescue Grogu. He returns to Nevarro for Cara Dune’s (Gina Carano) help and finds she’s officially a New Republic space cop. He asks her to tell him the location of Migs Mayfield (Bill Burr), the criminal prison breaker who double-crossed him in season 1. She’s reluctant to comply now that she’s got the badge, but once she hears the kid’s been taken, it’s clear she’s ready to lay down her life. Or, you know, give him the intel.

Meanwhile, Grogu is no longer hiding his Force powers and takes out two stormtroopers, much to Moff Gideon’s amusement. After waving the dark saber in his face, Gideon has Grogu shackled and gets an underling to send a message to Dr. Pershing (‎Omid Abtahi) to say he’s got their “donor” back. Now they can resume their nefarious experiments to create Force-sensitive hybrid warriors. The last shot is of our lil’ guy knocked out in shackles, so if you need to take a personal day, I think your boss should totally understand.

Even though “The Tragedy” left many viewers panicking, it was a gripping, action-packed, and emotionally wrought installment that reminded us anything can happen in the Wild Wild Rim. It was only a matter of time before the Empire caught up with The Child, and certainly, for narrative purposes, it makes sense to throw a dramatic spanner into the works. But Chapter 14 also sets up the final two episodes of season 2 by suggesting that not only will Mando make like Bruce Wayne and put together a team of people with special abilities, but that a Jedi might just answer Grogu’s call. If there’s as much affection for Grogu in a galaxy far, far away as there is on Earth, then the tragedy of this episode will be short-lived.

Watch The Mandalorian on Disney+

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