The Mandalorian Season 2 Review: Chapter 14
Eight episodes is not a lot of time to get much done in a single season. For all the ways that The Mandalorian has excelled at episodic storytelling, season two has pushed the broader narrative forward in a way that seemed quite unlikely given the trajectory set forth by its freshman effort. Six episodes in, season two has jammed in a very impressive amount of plot development.
Boba Fett’s shadow has loomed in the background of the show since at least its fifth episode. The figure who saved Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) was widely believed to be the fan favorite bounty hunter who made his debut in The Star Wars Holiday Special. Fett’s cameo at the end of this season’s first episode further reinforced this notion, especially after Mando acquired his armor from Cobb Vanth.
The Disney era of Star Wars has given the prequels a newfound sense of relevance, both in relation to the sequel trilogy and for the fact that many of the actors are still available for follow up appearances. As terrible as Attack of the Clones is for many reasons, Temuera Morrison’s performance as Jango Fett represented one of the best aspects of the film. Since Clones established Boba as a clone of his father, Morrison represented the natural choice to play the adult character seen without his helmet for the first time.
“The Tragedy” made Star Wars history for introducing the planet Tynoth into the live-action canon, with its vital importance to Jedi history. That said, this episode belonged to Morrison. For all the love the character gets from the fandom, Boba Fett is an extremely minor character in the original trilogy, with only a single scene of dialogue. Morrison showed his talents as Jango, bringing a subtle level of depth to the battle-hardened mercenary with his restrained emotions.
Like Mando, Boba Fett works in a scummy profession. Also like Mando, Fett has heart. He does bad things without necessarily being a bad person. Here, Fett opposes Mando on reasonable grounds. Mando has his armor, thinking he’s doing what’s best by withholding the beskar from a non-Mandalorian. Mando’s encounter with Bo-Katan earlier this season cast showcased that his sect of Mandalorian culture isn’t necessarily the only “way.”
The episode started off with a touching exchange between Mando and Grogu, reflecting the growth of their father/son relationship, often best expressed through the child’s affection for his round metal ball. While The Mandalorian isn’t likely to permanently separate the two until the series has run its course, it is important for the show to acknowledge that Mando’s core objective is to safely return his adoptive son to his people.
Grogu’s rock-induced message was a little silly, coupled with Mando’s inability to contact him. The dumbest point of the episode centered around Fett asking Mando to remove his jetpack with no sensible narrative rationale. Obviously that line was designed to provide a reason for why Mando couldn’t chase after the Dark Troopers, but the whole sequence was a bit forced.
Episode director Robert Rodriguez lived up to the high standards set forth by his film resume. The Mandalorian almost always has great action sequences, but seeing Boba Fett make quick work of the Stormtroopers was very entertaining to watch. The Stormtroopers armor hasn’t been this worthless since they were defeated by a bunch of rock-throwing Ewoks back in Jedi. The missile shot that blew up two Imperial ships was one of the coolest things Star Wars has ever done.
In some ways, the short episode runtime was justified by the scope of the narrative presented. Save for brief scenes aboard Moff Gideon’s Imperial cruiser and Mando’s encounter with Cara on Nevarro, most of the episode took place on a single stretch of Tynoth. Some exposition for how Fennec and Fett became allies would have been nice.
Viewers are bound to wonder how Boba Fett escaped the sarlacc in Jedi as well. The now-noncanon Legends book series offered a fun explanation, with fellow Empire bounty hunter Dengar coming to Fett’s rescue on Tatooine. Given that Fett will be around for at least a few more episodes and that The Mandalorian has shown some affection for the Expanded Universe, I wouldn’t say this explanation isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility for the show.
R.I.P. Razor Crest. After the mess on the ice planet, it’s not too surprising to see Mando’s ship bite the dust. Mando deserves a better ship anyway, preferably one where Grogu can have his own bedroom.
The whole kidnapping plotline felt a bit predictable. Moff Gideon was bound to get his hands on Grogu eventually, but the method deployed came across as forced and contrived. The episode quickly redeemed itself when Baby Yoda choked a few Stormtroopers and Gideon pulled out his Darksaber, but a more prolonged confrontation might have made this whole sequence more justifiable.
Chapter 14 gave an underappreciated fan favorite a much needed victory lap. Rodriguez proved to be a perfect choice for directing this action-heavy episode. The Mandalorian has been pretty spectacular this year, with very few episodes that could be classified as filler. With all the talk of the Mandalorian civil war and the formation of the First Order, the show is starting to lean heavily into broader Star Wars lore. Hard to believe that there’s only two more episode this season to explore all of this.