Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The Mandalorian Season 1, Chapter Eight: Redemption

I just noticed that I wrote this review months ago, but for some reason never posted it. Time to correct that ASAP!

It's the Season 1 finale of The Mandalorian!

So far it's been a pretty damned good show, and I've eagerly looked forward to each episode. Believe me, no one's more surprised than I am to hear me say that!

I was a huge Star Wars fan ever since I saw the original film back in high school. It's not an exaggeration to say that the Original Trilogy had a major influence on my life, going so far as to influence my choice of career (if you can call it that). 

Unfortunately the disappointingly bland Prequels dealt my love for the franchise a near-fatal blow, placing it on life support. Sadly, Disney's execrable and incompetent Sequel Trilogy killed it for good. Star Wars is officially dead to me now.

Which is why I scoffed when Disney announced they were producing a new TV series called The Mandalorian. Based on their recent track record, there was no way it could possibly be any good, and I had absolutely ZERO expectations for the series. I expected it to be another nail in the Star Wars coffin.

So imagine my surprise and delight when I watched the first episode and it was actually... not bad! In fact I enjoyed it quite a bit. Wow, a Star Wars project from Disney that's actually good and doesn't make me want to kill myself. What a concept!

Much of the credit has to go to actor-director-producer-writer Jon Favreau. He's directed many successful films, such as Elf, Zathura: A Space Adventure, Iron Man and Iron Man 2 as well as the live action versions of The Jungle Book and The Lion King

Favreau created The Mandalorian and is the head writer as well as showrunner. So it's pretty much all his vision we're seeing on the screen here. Obviously he has a love for and understanding of Star Wars that JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson can only dream of.

Kudos as well to executive producer Dave Filoni, who also developed The Clone Wars animated series. I've often said that show was ten times better than anything in the Prequels, so bringing in Filoni was a plus.

I think what I like most about the series is its utter simplicity. There are no galactic conflicts to be found here. No Rebels fighting Empires, or armies of Jedi clashing with Sith. Just a simple bounty hunter trying to make a living, who makes the fateful decision to save a baby.

I've enjoyed the extensive world building as well, as we get a closer look at the Mandalorians and what makes their culture tick.

It also doesn't hurt that the series is incredibly cinematic, and looks as good or better than any of the multimillion dollar movies in the franchise. Disney must be throwing a crap ton of cash at this project. Of course the fact that the season's only eight episodes long probably helps. Fewer eps means they can spend more money on each one.

So far I've been impressed by the quality of the episodes in this first season. Some have been better than others of course, but none of them were outright terrible. They've all been far better than I ever imagined they'd be.

That said, this season finale contains a couple of MAJOR missteps, one of which comes very close to destroying the entire premise of the show (more on these below). These flubs didn't kill my enjoyment of the series as a whole, but they definitely lessened it somewhat.

And that's what worries me about the future of the show. As I said, so far it's been better than it had any right to be, mostly because they kept it simple. Now that it's exploded in popularity and Baby Yoda has become a mainstream phenomenon, I have a feeling they're gonna muck it up. It wouldn't surprise me if in Season 2 they start pouring on the fan service and bringing in characters from the movies and animated series. I just KNOW that at some point they're gonna bring goddamned Boba Fett in for a cameo. It's inevitable at this point.

I hope that doesn't happen, but this is Disney we're talking about. It's a given that they'll find a way to screw it up.


The Plot:
Picking up where we left off last week, two Scout Troopers have killed Kuiil and captured Baby Yoda. They race back to the Nevarro settlement, where Moff Gideon has just arrived. For no good reason though, they stop just outside of town and radio their commander, telling him they have the Asset. He tells them to stay put, as Gideon just killed a squad of The Client's Stormtroopers for looking at him funny.

The Scout Troopers then wait and begin making cringeworthy, awkward small talk. Baby Yoda tries to escape from his satchel, but Trooper One hits him in the head and tells him to quit moving. The two then shoot at a nearby piece of trash as target practice, but neither can hit it (Com-O-Dee!). Trooper Two asks to see the baby, but Trooper One says he's not taking it out of the satchel until they deliver it.

Just then IG-11 walks up and identifies himself as Baby Yoda's nurse droid, and insists the Troopers hand him over. They fire at him, so IG-11 easily incapacitates them both. He retrieves the child and apologizes for the violence he had to witness.

Back at the Nevarro Cantina, Manny, Cara Dune and Greef Karga are still pinned down by Moff Gideon and his forces. The Stormtroopers bring out an E-web heavy blaster and begin setting it up. Dune says it's all over, as the weapon will decimate the Cantina.

Manny scans the interior and finds a sewer vent, and says they can use it to escape to his Mandalorian Covert. Dune uses her blaster on the vent, but can't break through it for plot reasons. Gideon hears them trying to escape addresses them all by name and reveals he knows their complete backstories. Dune is a survivor of Alderaan who became a Rebel Shock Trooper. Karga's a disgraced Magistrate who got involved with the Bounty Hunter Guild. And Manny, whose real name is Din Djarin, lived through the Siege Of Mandalore.

After this history lesson, Gideon urges them to lay down their arms and surrender. For absolutely no good reason, he gives them till nightfall to decide. Naturally Manny & Co. don't trust Gideon. Dune is surprised to see him alive, as he was reportedly executed for war crimes. Manny's shaken by the fact that Gideon knows his true name— which hasn't been spoken since he was a child.

Manny then has another flashback, in which his parents hide him in a bunker during a Separatist attack on his city. Seconds later they were both killed by Super Battle Droids. Suddenly one opened his bunker and prepared to kill him as well. Just then the droid's blasted to bits, and a Mandalorian appears and holds out his hand. Young Manny takes it, and the Mandalorian activates his jetpack and they fly away to safety. Young Manny looks down as other Mandalorians wipe out the droids.

Manny explains that as a foundling, he was taken in by the Mandalorians and swore his life to their creed when he came of age which we all figured out long ago). He says the only record of his real name was in the registers on Mandalore. Gideon was an Imperial Security Officer during the Great Purge of Mandalore, so that's likely how he knows his true name.

Manny tries calling Kuiil again. IG-11 answers and reports his master is dead. He says he has Baby Yoda and is  currently protecting him. Apparently his idea of protecting the baby is to put it on his back, then ride his speeder bike into town as he guns down dozens of Stormtroopers with pinpoint accuracy.

IG jumps off the speeder bike, and it crashes into a swarm of Troopers in front of the Cantina. Manny and Karga run outside to help. IG's hit and brought to his knees. 
Manny then picks up the E-web blaster and begins firing on the Troopers.

A Death Trooper plants a detonator on the Cantina door and blows it open. Several of them enter the Cantina, but Dune manages to mow them down. Moff Gideon suddenly returns for some reason, and fires at Manny, shooting him in the head. Luckily his Beskar armor protects him, but he's still dazed.

Gideon then sees the E-web power pack next to Manny, and shoots it. The pack violently explodes, severely injuring Manny. Dune and Greef drag him back into the Cantina, and IG follows. 

Karga shows IG the sewer grate, and he uses a welding torch to cut through it. Dune tries to treat Manny's injuries, and says she needs to remove his helmet to save him. He refuses to take it off, and tells her to protect Baby Yoda. He hands her his Mythosaur necklace and tells her to give it to the child, so everyone will know it's under Mandalorian protection.

Suddenly a red striped Stormtrooper enters the Cantina with a flamethrower, and begins torching the interior. Manny tells the others he'll hold him off while they escape. 

Before anyone can react, the Flametrooper shoots a fiery blast directly at them all. Baby Yoda then raises his tiny hand and deflects the flame with the Force. The flame engulfs the Trooper, killing him. 

IG gets the grate open, and Dune and Karga take Baby Yoda into the sewer. Dune makes IG-11 promise to save Manny and bring him along.

The droid then examines Manny and says he'll die without immediate treatment. Manny asks the droid to kill him, but IG says it can't, as it's been reprogrammed to be a nurse. It says it needs to remove Manny's helmet in order to save him. Manny refuses, saying he can never show his face to any living being. IG points out that he's not alive, and gently removes Manny's helmet. He administers a bacta spray and replaces the helmet, saving Manny's life.

IG-11 helps Manny into the sewer, where they join the others. Manny says they can follow it to the Mandalorian Covert, where they'll find reinforcements. Unfortunately when they arrive at the Covert they find a large pile of Mandalorian helmets and armor— indicating the Covert's been wiped out. 

The Armorer appears and explains that after Manny took the child and left Nevarro, the Imperials arrived. The Mandalorians knew they'd be slaughtered, so they "revealed themselves" and fled the Covert. She says a few may have escaped offworld.

Manny asks the Armorer to come with them, but she refuses to leave until she's salvaged the discarded Beskar. The Armorer takes Manny to her forge, and asks to see the "asset" that's caused so much trouble. He shows her Baby Yoda, and she says he looks helpless. Manny says the baby saved him from a Mudhorn, as it can move objects with its mind.

The Armorer says she's heard stories about such "wizards," and tells him about the battle between Mandalore The Great and the Jedi. She says the baby's species were enemies, but this individual is not. She says as a foundling, it's up to Manny to return it to its own kind. Why she suggests this instead of telling him to raise it as his own is unclear.

The Armorer then forges a Mudhorn signet for Manny and attaches it to his right pauldron. She says he and Baby Yoda are now a clan of two. She then gives him a "Rising Phoenix," aka a jetpack. She tells him he'll need extensive training before using it.

Just then there's an explosion in the distance, and the Armorer tells them she'll hold off the Stormtroopers while they escape. Manny and the others flee into the tunnels. She then kneels, waiting for the Imperials to arrive. Several Stormtroopers enter her forge, and demand to know where the others went. Instantly the Armorer springs into action, attacking the Troopers with her foundry tools. She smashes through their helmets and armor, easily killing them all.

Manny and the others race through the sewers, eventually making it to a lava river. They find a fortified ferry and pile in. A seemingly inert R2 droid comes to life and starts rowing the boat downstream. They spot the end of the tunnel ahead, and Karga says they're in the clear. Unfortunately Manny scans the exit and says there are a dozen or more Stormtroopers waiting on either side. Dune tell the droid to stop, but it ignores her, prompting her to shoot its head off.

They quickly run through their options, and Manny suggests trying to shoot their way out. IG-11 analyzes the situation and suggests he initiate self-destruct. Manny, who at long last has learned to trust the droid, says there's got to be another way. IG says there's no scenario in which both he and Baby Yoda can survive.

IG gives Baby Yoda to Manny and tells him to look after him. Manny says they need him, but IG points out again that he's not a living thing, and is simply fulfilling his purpose as a machine. IG then steps into the lava river and slowly heads toward the exit. He wades out of the tunnel and the Stormtroopers begin firing on him. He states he can't allow himself to be captured and self-destructs, killing all the Troopers.

Manny and the others then sail out of the tunnel. They make it to shore and begin crossing the lava plains. Suddenly Moff Gideon flies overhead in his TIE Fighter, and begins firing at them. Karga asks Baby Yoda to use the Force on Gideon, but he doesn't understand. Manny dons his new jetpack and awkwardly flies up to attack Gideon.

Manny uses his grappling hook to latch onto the TIE. He tries shooting into the cockpit, but it's apparently blaster-proof. He attempts to attach a detonator to the hatch, but Gideon spins the ship, causing Manny to drop it. Finally he plants a second detonator on the wing and jumps off. The detonator explodes and severs the wing, and the TIE Fighter spins out of control. It crashes behind a ridge.

Manny lands on the ground, where he rejoins the others. Karga says he's going to stick around town and make sure no more Stormtroopers show up. Dune inexplicably decides to stay as well and help him. Karga tells Manny he's welcome back in the Bounty Hunting Guild. Manny declines, saying he has a mission to return Baby Yoda to his people.

The two return to the Razor Crest. Manny buries the body of Kuiil. Baby Yoda plays with the Mythosaur necklace, and Manny lets him keep it. They blast off and head into space.

In the epilogue, a group of Jawas scavenge the wreckage of Gideon's crashed TIE Fighter. Suddenly a mysterious black blade cuts through the hull, scattering the Jawas. To absolutely no one's surprise, Moff Gideon crawls out of the wreckage. He surveys the scene as he holds the Darksaber— an ancient Mandalorian relic— in his hand

Redemption begins with the first of two MAJOR missteps, which come very close to torpedoing the whole episode. 

The story inexplicably begins with a thirty five minute sequence involving two Scout Troopers, in a sci-fi remake of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. OK, so maybe this scene didn't last thirty five minutes, but it sure felt like it.

For some unfathomable reason, the internet at large is absolutely in love with these two characters. Apparently every word out of their mouths was pure gold, and the public just can't get enough of them. Fans are even demanding they get their own show! Jesus Christ!

This is likely to be an unpopular opinion, but I HATED this scene. No wait, that's not right. I LOATHED it, with the white hot passion of a thousand exploding suns.

Worst of all was the switchback, inappropriate tone. Our heroes are at their lowest point in the story right now. Fan-favorite character Kuiil has just been callously murdered by these two Scout Troopers, and internet sensation Baby Yoda has been captured by them. Even worse, they begin physically abusing him when he misbehaves. 

And then we get fifteen interminable minutes of their alleged "comedic" banter, as the audience yuks at their every word and laps it up with an industrial-sized ladle. 

Besides not being funny, their conversation obviously wasn't scripted, and reeks of ad-libbing. It reminds me for all the world of the execrable Ghostbusters 2016, in which the cast was shoved on set and told to "say something funny" for two miserable hours. 

Ha, I guess?

And before someone tries to school me about the scene, I understand they were trying to show that being a soldier in ANY galaxy isn't all fighting and glory. They spend most of their time sitting around waiting, or following dull, seemingly nonsensical orders. I get it. But that doesn't justify the painful attempts at comedy or the shockingly inappropriate and abrupt change in tone.

As I've said, I was pleasantly surprised by this series and amazed at how well it turned out. Which is why this major miscalculation is so puzzling. How the hell did Jon Favreau think this was a good idea?

• As if that wasn't bad enough, we then get an "hilarious" scene in which the two Scout Troopers try to shoot at a piece of trash twenty feet away from them— and miss spectacularly every time.

Jesus wept.

This isn't the first time the "Stormtroopers Are All Bad Shots" joke has popped up in the series. They did it a couple weeks back in The Prisoner, and I didn't like it then either.

OK, one more time
— I get that it's a running joke among fandom that Stormtroopers are all terrible shots. But that's a just a conceit of the storytelling, designed to give the heroes a fighting chance against insurmountable odds. Stormtroopers having bad aim SHOULD NOT be a thing within the universe of the show! Ordinary citizens are supposed to be terrified of them, not giggling behind their backs!

• One last dig at this scene before I stop ragging on it. I don't understand why the two Scout Troopers stopped outside of town, rather than delivering the baby directly to Moff Gideon. That's the entire reason he's on this planet in the first place— to get the kid. So why the delay?

Manny & Co. even realize that Gideon hasn't killed them yet because he thinks they have the baby. But he DOES have it he just doesn't know it yet because he won't let his troopers back in town for some insane reason.

OK, enough kvetching!

• I love this scene of IG-11 stepping into the frame as he confronts the two Troopers. They've used this exact same shot in virtually every Western ever made. The only thing missing were jangling spurs on IG's feet!

I gotta admit, I cheered a bit when IG-11 rescued Baby Yoda and permanently silenced the two annoying-ass Scout Troopers.

• Back in town, Moff Gideon's men set up an E-Web Heavy Repeating Blaster outside the Cantina where Manny & Co. are hiding.

We've seen the E-Web before, most notably in The Empire Strikes Back, where a Snowtrooper set one up inside Echo Base on Hoth.

Once the E-Web is set up, Gideon yells to Manny: "If you are unfamiliar with this weapon, I am sure that Republican Shock Trooper Carasynthia Dune of Alderaan will advise you that she has witnessed many of her ranks vaporized mid-descent facing the predecessor of this particular model." 

So it's not just a gun that fires large explosive rounds. It's an energy weapon that disintegrates its targerts.

A bit later Manny grabs the E-Web and starts mowing down Stormtroopers with it. Oddly enough they all just fall over. No vaporization!

• This week we finally get to see Manny's complete origin. We've seen brief flashes of his genesis all season, but this is the first time we've seen the whole story in sequence. 

Among the things we learn from this flashback: Manny's village was attacked by Super Battle Droids (Jesus, George, is that really the best name you could come up with for these things?), who also killed his parents. This explains his deep-seated hatred of droids as an adult.

We also get to see how he became a Mandalorian. Just as he's about to be killed by one of the droids, he's rescued by a Mandalorian trooper and taken into the clan as a foundling. Which of course explains his overt interest and concern for the foundlings in his local Covert.

• The glowing blue fish booze (first seen in Sanctuary) makes another appearance here. Wow, that stuff's so popular they're exporting it to other planets! Given the apparent demand for it, why aren't the krill farmers on Sorgan all millionaires?

• At one point we see a couple Stormtroopers bartering with a Jawa— on Nevarro!

Ever since Star Wars premiered way back in 1977, I've always assumed that Jawas were native to Tatooine. Maybe even an offshoot race of the Tusken Raiders.

Welp, now I'm not so sure, as it's starting to look like they may not be from Tatooine after all. A few episodes back we saw a clan of them on Arvala-7, home of Manny's Ugnaught pal Kuiil. And now in this episode there's at least one on Nevarro. 

So what gives? Did they originate on Tatooine and recently decide to venture out onto other worlds? Or do they come from a different planet altogether, and are just galactic nomads who can be found everywhere? It's impossible to tell for sure at this point. Wookieepedia says they're definitely native to Tatooine, but I'm not sure if anything it says is considered canon or not.

• One of my favorite scenes in the episode was when IG-11 roared into town on his stolen speeder bike, mowing down dozens of Stormtroopers. I love how there's no real "front" to IG, and he just spins around and reconfigures his body and limbs to suit the situation.

• There's some strangeness going on in the Cantina courtyard scenes. At the end of the previous episode, Moff Gideon lands his TIE Fighter in the courtyard, exits and marches up to the Cantina. 

In this episode he gives Manny & Co. an ultimatum, then spins on his heel and struts back toward his TIE.

A few seconds later IG-11 crashes his speeder bike into the courtyard, taking out a slew of Stormtroopers. Apparently Gideon must have climbed back into his TIE and flew off right before this happened, as the ship is now nowhere to be seen. Oddly enough we never see or even hear his ship take off. Whoops!

A battle then breaks out in the courtyard between Manny & Co. and the remaining Stormtroopers. Suddenly Gideon enters the courtyard again for some reason, having returned from... somewhere.

So let's see if I've got it straight... he lands his ship in the courtyard, gets out, threatens Manny, gets back in the ship, flies off, parks it a few blocks away, gets out again, then walks back to the courtyard, where a chaotic battle is happening. Got it.

• Gideon walks up to the Cantina and calls Manny, Dune and Karga by name, mentioning specific details about each and giving them an ultimatum. When he gets to Manny he says, "Or perhaps the decommissioned Mandalorian hunter, Din Djarin, has heard the songs of the Siege of Mandalore, when gunships outfitted with similar ordnance laid waste to fields of Mandalorian recruits in The Night of a Thousand Tears." Several things here.

First of all, Manny's real name is apparently Din Djarin. I wonder if that was the moniker he was born with, or if the Mandalorians gave him a "clan name?"

Secondly, the "Night Of A Thousand Tears" is from The Clone Wars animated series. It's a reference to the Siege Of Mandalore, in which the planet was attacked by the Jedi after Darth Maul took it over.

• This week we get yet another Stormtrooper variation: The Flametrooper!

Apparently Flametroopers aren't new, as they appeared in both The Clone Wars series and the Star Wars Battlefront videogame. This is the first time we've seen one in live action though.

• In this episode we find out that Mandalorians are a creed, not a race. So they're kinda like Space Jews then!

Based on this nugget of info, along with the fact that Mandalorians regularly replenish their numbers with foundlings, does that mean ANY being can become a Mandalorian? Could a Wookiee put on a helmet and become a Mandalorian? Or do they only accept humans?

• And now it's time to talk about the other problematic (to me at least) scene in this episode— Manny's unmasking.

During his battle with Gideon's forces, Manny's mortally wounded. IG examines him and says he'll die without treatment. He tells Manny he needs to remove his helmet in order to fix him up. Manny refuses, saying that as a Mandalorian, "no living thing can ever see his face."

IG helpfully points out that he's not a living thing (shades of The Return Of The King's "I am no man" line), and unceremoniously pulls Manny's helmet off. We're then treated to a good look at his pasty white face and perpetually sweaty hair.

This was a HUGE miscalculation on the part of the producers. In fact I can't type the word "HUGE" large enough here. In virtually every episode so far we're told that Mandalorians never, ever, EVER remove their helmets in public or reveal their true faces. Never. Ever.

So what happens in this episode? Manny's helmet is removed and he reveals his true face!

Are you freakin' kidding me? What the hell was Jon Favreau thinking here?

A big part of Manny's appeal is his mystique. We really don't know much about him. We don't need to know much about him! In fact the more we learn about his past and what makes him tick, the less interesting he becomes.

Even though we all know he's human and he's played by Pedro Pascal, it was still a mystery as to just what was underneath his helmet. Was he handsome? Plain looking? Was his face horribly scarred? 

Nope, none of those things. He's just a guy! That's it. Any sense of mystery the character may have once had is now completely gone, evaporated in an instant.

And the thing is, I KNEW this was going to happen. I knew there was no way in hell that Disney would be content to pump out a series in which the hero never shows his face.

This was a major misstep by an otherwise nearly perfect show. It's not enough to make me stop watching, but I definitely like it a little less than I did.

• Manny & Co. head for the Covert under the city. Unfortunately when they arrive, they find a large pile of Mandalorian helmets and armor.

I've watched this scene a dozen times, and I'm still confused by it. The first time I saw it I thought the Imperials had slaughtered the Mandalorians and displayed the armor to send a message.

But in rewatching, I don't think that's what happened. Here's the conversation between the Armorer and Manny:

The Armorer: "It was not his fault. We revealed ourselves. We knew what could happen if we left the covert. The Imperials arrived shortly thereafter. This is what resulted."
Manny: "Did any survive?"
The Armorer: "I hope so. Some may have escaped offworld."

Based on the Armorer's words, it seems like the Mandalorians knew they'd be killed on sight, so they willingly removed their helmets and armor. They then waltzed unrecognized right past the Imperials.

Hmm... I dunno. Doesn't removing their armor and sneaking around seem awfully... Un-Mandalorian? As we just saw earlier in this episode, Manny was willing to die rather than take off his precious helmet. Their entire society is built around hiding their faces, for corn's sake! Seems unlikely to me that the whole Covert would agree to expose themselves to blend in with the locals. I'd be like a group of religious zealots renouncing God. 

Even more unlikely is the idea that they'd take off their helmets so they could sneak past the Imperials. Mandalorians are supposed to be the most feared and badass warriors in the galaxy. Heck, the Armorer took out an entire squad of Stormtroopers by herself, with nothing but a hammer and a pair of tongs!

There's no way in hell they wouldn't have fought back if the Imperials attacked them!

• Ever since we first met the Armorer, she's seemed inordinately concerned by Manny's lack of a signet. Apparently this bothered her so much that this week she takes it upon herself to come up with one for him a Mudhorn. She then forges the signet and spot-welds it to his armor.

• When the Armorer sees Baby Yoda, she and Manny have the following conversation:

The Armorer: "It is a foundling. By dreed, it is in your care."

Manny: "You wish me to train this thing?"
The Armorer: "It is too weak. It would die. You have no choice. You must reunite it with its own kind."
Manny: "Where?"
The Armorer: "This, you must determine."
Manny: "You expect me to search the galaxy for the home of this creature and deliver it to a race of enemy sorcerers?"
The Armorer: "This is the Way."

Wait a minute... I thought taking in foundlings and making them part of their clan was the Mandalorian way? So why all of a sudden does she want him to find out where this particular foundling belongs? Doesn't that go against everything the Mandalorians stand for?

Why, it's almost like they needed to set up a new story arc for Season 2, and this "Search For Baby Yoda's Kind" was all they could think of.

• Back in The Child, Baby Yoda used the Force for the first time to save Manny from the Mudhorn. Both Manny and Kuiil were amazed by this, as they'd never heard of such powers.

At the time I said I liked the idea. It's a big galaxy after all, so it's perfectly natural that there'd be remote areas where people never heard of the Jedi or the Force.

Unfortunately this episode made me change my mind. It doesn't make much sense that Manny wouldn't have at least a rudimentary knowledge of the Jedi. 

When Manny meets with the Armorer, he tells her that Baby Yoda is from an unknown species that can move objects with their minds. She says, "I know of such things. The songs of eons past tell of battles between Mandalore The Great, and an order of sorcerers called Jedi that fought with such powers."

Mandalore The Great is presumably one of the most important figures in all of Mandalorian history. He's literally the equivalent of George Washington, Abe Lincoln and General Patton rolled into one. It seems unlikely that Manny wouldn't have been taught about his exploits and achievements in foundling school. 

And since Mandalore The Great spent his life battling the Jedi... it doesn't make much sense that Manny would be completely ignorant of them.

Much of Mandalorian history was established in The Clone Wars series. Unfortunately The Mandalorian seems to be ignoring most of that lore. It's cherry picking choice bits to incorporate into its plot and tossing out the rest. Which of course results in major continuity gaffes like this one.

• As a parting gift, the Armorer gives Manny a Rising Phoenix, aka a jetpack— much like the one Boba Fett wore. She then ominously tells him, "When you have healed, you will begin your drills. Until you know it, it will not listen to your commands."

Her comment makes it sound like the jetpack is somehow controlled by the user's thoughts, which would come in handy if you had a blaster in each hand as you flew.

At the end of the episode, Manny puts on his jetpack and takes off after Gideon's TIE Fighter. He flies a bit awkwardly for the first few seconds, but quickly gets the hang of it, touching down gently and blasting off with ease.

Apparently it didn't take long for the Rising Phoenix to start listening to his commands! The way the Armorer talked, I thought he'd have to train with the thing for months. Instead he became a pro after thirty seconds!

• One of the best parts of the episode was the awesome battle between the squad of Stormtroopers and the Armorer who murderizes them all with nothing but her blacksmith tools!

It was a brutal reminder that Mandalorians are a warrior race sorry, creed and not to be messed with.

• Manny and the others make their way through the tunnels, and eventually encounter a slowly moving river of molten rock. Karga pipes up and says, "This is the lava river."

Yeah, no sh*t, Greef! Why the hell is that laughably obvious line in there? Was it supposed to be a joke that just didn't land?

• I couldn't help but laugh when I saw this shot of Dune holding Baby Yoda while blasting the barge away from the hardened lava.

It reminded me for all the world of the Scorcher trailer (starring Tugg Speedman) from Tropic Thunder!

• Once the group hops into the barge, they see it's manned by a seemingly inert R2 unit. Suddenly the droid activates and stands upright revealing it has spindly arms and legs. 

I'm not quite sure how I feel about this! Somehow it seems wrong to see a humanoid R2 unit!

• IG-11 wades through the lava river in order to wipe out the waiting Stormtroopers and save Manny and the others. Hmm... the temperature of molten lava ranges from 1,300° F to 2,200° F. I dunno what IG's made of, but apparently it's pretty tough stuff!

• For some reason, this shot of Cara Dune was flopped. You can clearly see here that her Rebel tattoo is under her right eye instead of her left, and the part in her hair's changed sides as well. The bandage covering her arm tattoo is on the wrong side too.

I assume once they started editing the episode they realized they needed a shot of her facing the right side of the screen. Apparently they only filmed her facing left, so they flopped the image and hoped we wouldn't notice in all the excitement.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: As soon as Manny & Co. escape from the sewers, Gideon appears in his TIE Fighter and attacks. Karga gestures to Baby Yoda, urging him to use the Force against the TIE by saying, "Come on Baby! Do the magic hand thing!"

Of course Baby Yoda doesn't understand, and innocently waves back at him. SQUEEEEEE!!!

• By the way, I'd like to give a shoutout to Carl Weathers while we're talking about him. I think a lot of people (like myself) tend to dismiss his talent and think of him as a musclebound oaf, based on his appearances in the Rocky franchise.

Nothing could be further from the truth! He's actually quite a good actor. I dunno why he never became a bigger star than he did. He could have easily had a career like Stallone or Schwarzenegger.

• I loved the aerial battle between Manny and Gideon in his TIE Fighter. And it was such a simple scene! No epic scenes featuring thousands of Imperial fighters attacking the Rebel forces in a confusing mess of crisscrossing laser beams. Just a guy trying to stop one little fighter. That's it!

Honestly, I was far more invested in this scene than any of the overdone space battles in The Rise Of Skywalker.

• Once Gideon's seemingly killed, Manny asks Karga and Dune what they plan to do next. 
Dune: "I think we cleaned up the town. I'm thinking of staying around just to be sure."
Manny: "You're staying here?"
Karga: "Well, why not? Nevarro is a very fine planet. And now that the scum and villainy have been washed away, it's very respectable again."

As all good Star Wars fans will instantly recognize, Karga's "scum and villainy" line is A New Hope reference— uttered by Obi-Wan right before he and Luke entered Mos Eisley.

• At the end of the episode, Manny scoops up Baby Yoda, activates his jetpack and they fly off toward the Razor Crest.

This is a nice little parallel to the earlier scene in which a Mandalorian picks up Young Manny, flies off with him and makes him part of his clan.

• In the tag scene, we see that to absolutely no one's surprise, Gideon survived the crash of his TIE Fighter.

He then cuts his way out of the ruined cockpit with what appears to be a lightsaber. But not just any lightsaber, mind you. This is the Darksaber, and features a black blade surrounded by a glowing white aura.

The Darksaber played a huge part in The Clone Wars series, and I could easily write 50,000 words on its history and heritage. No one wants that, so I'll do my best to condense.

The Darksaber was built by Tarre Vizsla, who lived about a thousand years before the events of A New Hope, and was the first ever Mandalorian to become a Jedi. I'm assuming it must have been difficult to make, since there appears to be just the one. Its rarity no doubt made it even more valuable.

After Vizsla's death, the Darksaber was kept in a Jedi Temple. Eventually it was stolen by someone from House Vizsla and handed down from one generation to the next.

During the Clone Wars the Darksaber was used by Pre Vizsla, a member of a group called the Death Watch.

Obviously at some point between the Clone Wars and this series, Gideon somehow acquired the Darksaber. I'm sure we'll find out how sometime in Season 2.

I can't say I'm a fan of the look of the Darksaber. It's got a black blade, which I get, but then it's surrounded by a bright white glow! That... that doesn't make any sense. Why would a blade of black energy generate a white glow? Shouldn't there be a black or really dark gray glow around the core?

Even worse, when viewed from a distance as in this shot, it looks for all the world like a regular old lightsaber! Feh.

And so ends Season 1 of The Mandalorian. As I said in the intro, it was far better than I thought it would be— likely because I had ZERO expectations for it. Now let's all just hope that Disney's smart enough to leave Jon Favreau alone and not screw up Season 2. I wouldn't count on that though...

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