Yes! I am finally finishing my comprehensive contemplations of season one of The Mandalorian!
Once again, PLEASE be aware that I am SPOILING THINGS all over the place in this review. And some major stuff happens, so don't read this if you haven't watched the last two episodes yet because... you might not be glad that you did.
This episode kicks off with our beloved Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) receiving a message from Greef Karga (Carl Weathers).
Greef says that he has a plan for taking down The Client (Werner Herzog), who keeps sending bounty hunters after the Little One. And who is over-running Greef's town with ex-Imperial troopers. If Mando helps take The Client down, he and the Little One will be so much safer, especially since Greef will make all things right with the Bounty Hunter's Guild for him. Mando says all right, let's do this, and heads off, not to Nevarro, but to Sorgan.
The first act of this episode is all about "let's put together a team." Much like the beginnings of The Magnificent Seven (1960) or The Avengers (2012), which are two of my favorite movies, so yeah, I'm a fan of stories about assembling teams. Part of why I dig this episode.
On Sorgan, Cara Dune (Gina Carano) has found a way to earn her keep by basically being a cage-fighter, only instead of being locked in a cage, she and her opponent are tethered together with an energy beam. And this reminds me of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), where we're introduced to Marian Ravenwood when she's winning a drinking contest. Very much has that vibe, with all the locals around them betting while the female character excells in a contest about something usually associated with men. Like Marian, Cara bests a man at his own game and has a great time doing it.
Mando offers Cara a job protecting the Little One and taking on The Client. She's totally not interested.
Well, not until he mentions that their opponents are all ex-Imperial. Then she's totally in. Because not only was she a fighter with the Rebel Alliance, she's from Alderaan. You know, Princess Leia's home planet that Grand Mof Tarkin blew up for kicks and giggles back in Star Wars: A New Hope. It's no wonder she jumps at the chance to take down a few more Imperial troopers. It's not business, it's personal.
So, Cara boards the Razor Crest, and off we go. Once they're in hyperspace on the way to their next destination, the Mandalorian shows Cara Dune something we've never seen him show anyone else during this series.
Seriously, he has never opened the doors to his weapons cache FOR anyone before. We've seen him open it for his own use a couple times, but usually other people are messing with his stuff and poking their noses into his cache, and he gets touchy about it. Him opening it FOR Cara and telling her she can take anything from it that she wants clearly shows us how much he trusts her. Beautiful storytelling that they set up so well in previous eps.
By the way, Little One is incredibly naughty in this episode. Maybe he just turned his species' equivalent of a two-year-old or something. I don't know.
When he sees that Mando and Cara are busy loading weapons and such, he grabs the ship's joystick controller and starts messing around with it, sending the Razor Crest into a lurching spin. Man, oh man, do they need to get that kid a car seat with straps and buckles!!!
Anyway, we do make it safely to Arvala-7. This picture is just here cuz it's pretty.
This one is here cuz it's pretty AND cuz it shows us who we've come back to Arvala-7 to get: Kuill (voiced by Nick Nolte). He's gracious and hospitable as always. Well, to Mando and Little One, anyway. He and Cara don't get along so well because he was enslaved by the Imperials back in the day and worked on tech for them, and she really looks down on him as a result.
And then we get a big surprise!!! Remember IG-11 (voiced by Taika Waititi), the droid bounty hunter that Mando teamed up with briefly back in episode one, then destroyed to protect Little One? Well, here he is again, back on his feet and now serving tea in Kuill's home.
We all know Mando hates droids. Turns out Cara doesn't care for IG units, since they're designed to be hunters and killers. For a minute, it looks like IG-11 is about to get two new holes in his head.
But Kuill explains. After Mando left with the Little One, Kuill went to the deserted compound to see what was left in it. He found IG-11 and took him home.
Once home, he fixed up IG-11 and reprogrammed him to be a caretaker droid instead of a hunter. Kuill convinces Mando to take IG-11 along too, and three blurrgs. I couldn't get a shot of the interior of the Razor Crest filled with blurrgs, but it cracks me up so much. And reminds me of that episoe of Firefly (2002-03) where they transport cattle in the Serenity.
There's really no reason for this shot. Except Mando looking handsome. Is it weird that I think of his helmet as handsome? Yeah, it probably is. I do, though.
Anyway, Mando and Cara do a little friendly arm wrestling. Which I find adorable. "We're bored and it's taking a while to get where we're going. And we're stuck on a ship with a bunch of blurrgs, a droid we don't trust, a farmer, and a trouble-making baby. We're so bored. Hmm. Wanna arm-wrestle?"
Speaking of the trouble-making baby, Little One... Force-chokes Cara.
Why? Why does he do this? My initial take on it was that he misunderstood what they were doing, that it was a friendly contest, and thought Mando was in danger from this fierce fighter, so he tried to help. Or maybe he thought Mando was going to lose? Either way, he seems to be reacting to Cara's statement to Mando that she's "got you now."
Other people have suggested that perhaps Little One is actually on the Dark Side, since Force-choking was Darth Vader's favorite trick. I'm not really leaning toward this, as nothing else we've seen him do has been harmful. I think he's just trying to protect/help his guardian.
I do have one other theory, though. I think Little One may be jealous. When he sees Cara and Mando palling around in the ship earlier, arming themselves and discussing weaponry, he interrupts them by sending the ship spinning. And now, when they're having a fun and friendly contest, definitely enjoying each others' company, he interrupts them again by attacking Cara. Could it be that he misinterprets their camaraderie? We all see so clearly that their friendship is platonic, but he's a kid. Maybe he doesn't know that. Maybe he's been abandoned before by a caretaker who got into a romantic relationship? We don't know his past. And here comes this woman taking up a lot of his guardian/father-figure's time and getting attention from him. I do think this might be it -- that Little One doesn't want to share Mando. Or is afraid of losing him.
Anyway, Mando picks him up, scolds him, and Little One releases Cara. Whew.
Kuill spends the rest of the trip fashioning a new, better floating-bassinet-thingy. With Little One watching, because Little One does love to watch stuff, like any kid.
We finally return to Nevarro, where Greef Karga and a few bodyguards meet up with us.
Mando, Kuill, and Cara ride out on blurrgs like they're big, bad, bold cowboys.
Which, basically, they are. They're here to clean up this town, after all. So many Magnificent Seven vibes going on in the first half of this ep, tbh. Or maybe Silverado (1985) vibes, since there are four of them if you count Little One?
Pretty shot of Mando using the control panel on his greaves to operate the floating-bassinet-thingy.
I get kinda touchy when people pick up the Little One, do you? Like, you better be careful there, buddy. I'm watching you. Even when it's a character I like, such as Greef Karga.
Love how Cara Dune cocks one leg up around the saddle horn, so casual and at ease. Such an old-timey cowboy movie thing. Makes me think of Harry Carey, Sr. in Angel and the Badman (1947).
Takes us a while to get to town, so we have to camp out for the night, and we make us a nice big campfire cuz that's what cowboys do out on the range. Make a nice big campfire to keep away the bad critters.
Except this is Nevarro, not Nevada, and the campfire attracts bad critters instead. Namely, mynocks. You know, those things that chew on the Millennium Falcon in The Empire Strikes Back. These ones are massive and carry off a blurrg :-( They also either carry off or kill one of Greef's bodyguards.
One of them rakes Greef Karga's arm with its talons. Cara Dune tries to bandage him up, and keeps reassuring him he's going to be fine (she's a terrible liar, it turns out), but the mynock poison spreads anyway. He's not going to make it.
Or, he wouldn't if Little One didn't come over and heal his arm. Which makes everyone both freaked out that Little One can do that, and also slightly awed.
That was a really hard scene to screencap cuz it was all at night, and I don't have anything to say about this image except that it's actually clear enough to see everybody, so I'm including it here anyway.
Next morning, we keep heading for town. Mostly on foot, thanks to the mynocks. We get to the edge of town, Greef turns around, nods to his two remaining bodyguards... and guns them down.
Cara and Mando are naturally a little upset over learning that Greef Karga was planning to have his bodyguards kill them and take the Child to the Client.
Oh, I love the classic westerny vibes here!!!! I want to eat this picture for breakfast.
Greef explains that he had a change of heart because Little One saved his life last night, and now he's willing to make a new plan with them. Cara is still super untrusting of him, and who can blame her?
There's something really poignant about the sight of this empty floating-bassinet, isn't there? Like, this is what's at stake here. If we can't beat The Client and his ex-IMP troops, Little One will be gone.
This shot also hits me hard. Kuill takes Little One away, and we have to wonder how much of this the baby understands. Does he know Mando intends to come back for him? Is he feeling abandoned? Does he get that this is all about protecting him? Or is he just... confused and going along with what the grown-ups say, because that's what kids do?
Away go the gunfighters, striding toward their destiny. Or their doom.
Annnnnnd here we meet the comic relief for the last two episodes. Two speeder-bike troopers (played by Jason Sudeikis and Adam Pally) who are exceedingly bored with their jobs.
As you can see by the fact that Mando is cuffed, we're trying a variation on the trick that Han, Luke, and Chewie played back in Star Wars: A New Hope (1977).
Cara is VERY uncool with how things go. Because the town is positively crawling with troopers.
Most of them also have that gross, rusty, manky armor we saw in the first few eps. Blech. They remind me of the toilets in a seedy gas station.
Okay, so. Greef is like, "Hi, I brought you a present."
And then... it's so awful, I just want to punch something. The Client strokes Mando's helmet. It's sooooooooooooooo icky! I feel violated on my Mando's behalf! Get your nasty hands off my hero's face!
Ugh. The Client (Werner Herzog) is so disgusting. I mean, wow, they do a brilliant job of making me despise him.
So we all hang out in the cantina a while because of course we do. And, as Cara points out, Greef said there would be four guards, but there are a heckuva lot more than four guards. At least Greef manages to slip Mando a blaster under the table.
And then, we have our Big Reveal. The Client is working for someone else. Someone he doesn't name, but who Mando recognizes.
This charming character is Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), who I guess figures into some of the Star Wars animated shows? I need to watch those. Well, Moff Gideon is one of those ultra-nice guys who orders his troops outside to just kill everyone in the cantina, including The Client (whew, I'm so glad he's dead, the creep).
Obviously, they don't kill EVERYONE because we have another episode of this season left. But they kill most everyone, and Mando and Cara and Greef hit the rest.
But we are in serious trouble. Those aren't wanna-be storm troopers in yucky armor. They're not even ex-IMPs. They are Death Troopers.
Death troopers in shiny, evil black armor with big blaster rifles.
And they're accompanied by scores of shiny, well-trained storm troopers in clean new uniforms. It seems some people haven't gotten the memo that we killed the Emperor and destroyed the Empire a few years back.
Kuill and Little One are on their way back to the Razor Crest, though. And Moff Gideon somehow knows this.
For some reason, he sends those two bored speeder-bike dudes after them. I would have sent a lot more than that, honestly.
So, Moff Gideon makes a big, splashy entrance with his very own TIE-fighter.
It has fold-up wings. Isn't he special.
Well, he thinks he's special, anyway.
Kuill almost makes it to the Razor Crest. He's so close.
But he doesn't make it. We're left with the sight of the Little One getting scooped up by the speeder-bike guys, and then the episode ends on this:
Dang it. I liked Kuill a lot. Somebody's going to pay for this. And it better be those stupid speeder-bike troops in their ugly long-faced helmets.