Help Us, Mandalorian – You’re The Franchise’s Only Hope

Everything has gone wrong for the Mandalorian. Trapped alongside mercenary Cara Dune and the bounty hunter boss Greef Karga, he’s pinned down by the evil Moff Gideon – a man who brought death and destruction to all Mandalorians. Worse, his ally Kuiil has been killed, and the young child he’s been protecting is now in the hands of former Imperial troopers. There’s no hope of escape, and no reinforcements coming to his aid… or so it seems.

With the odds stacked so heavily against him, old enemies become new allies in this final, desperate battle for survival. As more of the Mandalorian’s history is slowly revealed and the recent history of his people is explained, it becomes increasingly clear just what he’s now fighting for. But can he survive against such overwhelming odds? And what will this mean for all of those around him?

The Mandalorian Chapter 8: Redemption Review

This is how to do Star Wars properly.

After the tragic and shocking cliffhanger last week, the start of this final episode jarringly switches gears… by offering viewers the funniest Star Wars scene ever. Proving that the franchise isn’t so stiff that it can’t beat parodies like Spaceballs, the COPS-style TROOPS and College Humor’s underrated Troopers at their own comedy game, the conversation between a hapless pair of scout troopers is played so broadly it’s almost unforgivable. ALMOST. However, thanks to some smart writing and the slick comedy direction of Taika Waititi, it’s the funniest thing in Star Wars since Tag and Bink and it’s just what this rollercoaster of an episode needed.

Of course, that’s just to lure the audience in before the sucker punch. Suddenly, the bantha poodoo gets real and audiences are soon treated to a combination of Rio Bravo and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Battle lines are drawn, the stakes keep going up, plans quickly go wrong and our heroes need to adapt, explosions and shocking revelations punctuate each scene, and sacrifices have to be made. While it’s not the most complex of episodes in terms of storytelling, the no-nonsense style flows smoothly and it delivers on just about every key moment in the most riveting ways possible. They even throw in a couple of additional mini-cliffhangers, reminiscent of some of the best old serial plays, and end it all with a boss battle.

The Mandalorian Chapter 8: Redemption Review

Plus, Baby Yoda is amazing here! Oh, and Mando takes his helmet off and we learn his real name. Like anybody cares… because Baby Yoda is so damn awesome in this!

This episode is the culmination of everything the show has been working towards since the start, and the dividends are huge. Every moment of redemption or enlightenment feels earned, and there’s barely a wasted moment of screentime. The action sequences are phenomenal but, more importantly, it’s the personal moments which make it truly memorable. It’s Star Wars done right. Beyond the story itself, references abound and there’s something for everyone – from the casual viewers to the most in-depth, canon-loving fans.

There’s plenty of groundwork laid for the next season too. But smartly, it successfully wraps up everything that needed to be done for this one first (without giving away too much), which was important. It allows this to be a good jumping on/off point, although I doubt anybody will be bailing on it after this ending – which gives fans almost everything they could have possibly wanted and more. And for anyone who missed out on The Clone Wars or Rebels, it’s time to give them a look!

The Mandalorian Chapter 8: Redemption Review

Some will argue that The Mandalorian’s characters have been barely more than one-dimensional, and there’s some truth in that; however, the same can be said for many of the best SW characters in general, and it’s played to their advantage. For example, we’ve never really needed to know more about Han Solo (sorry, Solo) to know that we like him – he’s a good-hearted lovable rogue, and that’s plenty. The same is true here. While every new detail about them is helpful to flesh them out, it doesn’t change the fact that they’re simply likeable. Cara Dune kicks ass, and hates Imperials with good reason; Mando’s own grudges are clearly defined and explained; Even IG-11 wins over fans.

It isn’t the dumbing-down of character motivations; it’s playing to the core strengths that they can connect with the viewers, and Mando and his team are exciting to watch throughout. It also means that when sacrifices are made, or when a legacy or mantle is passed on, it means something. It’s impressive, despite appearing deceptively simple.

The Mandalorian Chapter 8: Redemption Review

If there’s one let-down, it’s Moff Gideon. While there’s plenty said about him to let us know just what kind of a person he is, there’s still a whole lot more ground to cover. However, it isn’t too much of a stretch to say that he could be the best thing since Grand Admiral Thrawn, and next season should help expand his position. He has the potential to be a gamechanger, if The Mandalorian’s Dave Filoni, Christopher Yost and Jon Favreau play this right. But here, there isn’t quite enough of Gideon.

So, season 1 of The Mandalorian ends on an even higher note than it began. It’s the perfect finale to what’s been one of the best TV shows of the year, and once again proves that there’s still life in the Star Wars franchise when it’s done right. With the groundwork now having been laid, there’s no reason it shouldn’t continue to win over fans and critics alike as it continues…

The Review

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