When the title drop of “the tragedy” appeared in the opening credits for this week episode, my heart honestly sank. I shouldn’t have been surprised. We’ve reached the point of this season where the story needs to start building up to a decisive conclusion and ramping up the stakes. Nothing that happens is shocking. That said, it’s a testament to my adoration for the show that the “all is lost” moment genuinely hit me like a crate of bricks.
This episode ending up being a lot more than just that though. A lot of the threads spun this season finally came spiraling back all at once. Crammed into a short 30 minute runtime that made the reveals and surprises feel a bit rushed. For a bit, it feels like the episode is splashing you with water repeatedly.
Just as Grogu is brought to the Jedi Temple, Mando is swarmed by multiple ships full of bounty hunters and storm troopers almost immediately. It seems he hasn’t just been tracked by the Empire. As it turns out, Boba Fett appears along side the presumed dead criminal Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) who just wants his armor back and doesn’t care about the kid.
Just as Mando and Boba agree to exchange the armor for safety, storm troopers arrive and start attacking the three bounty hunters as Grogu goes into a Force-induced meditative trance. It doesn’t take long for events to escalate from there
For an episode that plays so many cards at once, it really blasts through them with break neck speed. The sudden appearance Boba Fett, Grogu’s meditation, the Dark Troopers kidnapping Grogu and the destruction of the Razorcrest happen so brutally that the characters hardly react to anything happening. It’s a very transactional episode overall. Some moments feel like they needed emphasis and just didn’t get it.
The standout of the episode though is obviously the payoff to the reveal from the end of the season premiere. Boba Fett finally arrives fully formed and ready to fight. Thankfully he really does do a good job carrying the weight of the episode almost single handedly.
One of the problems with Boba Fett in the Original Trilogy was that he was all attitude. When he shows up in Empire, he gets a great introduction and serves the important role as Vader’s secondary villain who’s sole motivation is to capture Han Solo alive for Jabba the Hutt. His look and cool-factor were so intense though that fans completely fell in love with him. Thus when he died inconsequentially in RotJ, it broke a lot of fan’s hearts.
Bringing him back into canon has always been a high priority for Star Wars writers. He got brought back almost immediately in the Expanded Universe and its not surprising he was brought back here. That said, this one action scene might be the best we’ve ever seen the character of Boba Fett presented.
We already knew how versatile the armor was in the first episode when it was used against the raiders on Tatooine but in the hands of its true owner, Boba’s armor is unstoppable. He wrecks multiple squads of storm troopers single handedly and destroys two troop transports with one missile. This is the kind of action fans have wanted to see with this character for decades.
Even without seeing all that much of him in terms of screen time, we have a real sense of his sense of honor and priorities as a character. He really just wants his armor back but he’s not above using discourse to get what he wants. Above all, he’s a man of his word and he’s clearly going to live out his promise to Mando to help find Grogu.
While his portrayal needs some additional work to flesh out his personality and motivations, I can honestly say I like this version of Boba Fett more than any we’ve seen so far!
Amusingly, this episode was directed by Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, Spy Kids, Sin City, Machette, Alita Battle Angel) which is a fascinating pick for a walk on directing role for a Star Wars show.
One of the leading theories at the moment is that Disney is using The Mandalorian as a test kitchen to stress test new directors and concepts before they’re given the green light for full series or movie. They’ve also brought in recent Disney collaborators like Peyton Reed (Ant-Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp) for individual episodes. Rick Famuyiwa and Carl Weathers both directed episodes for this season. Additionally, We already know that Deborah Chow, who has directed multiple episodes, is going to be taking on directing duties for the upcoming shoot for the Obi-Wan miniseries. Amusingly, they keep giving Bryce Dallas Howard the most difficult episodes to shoot mostly because Jon and Dave don’t want to do them themselves…
It’ll be interesting to see is Disney ends up bringing these directors back for future projects!
That said, Episode 14 isn’t one of the better episodes this season. It’s not bad but it really is missing some needed breathing room for characters to pause and reflect on their circumstances. The “all is lost” moment we do get is undercut by the fact that we know that Moff Gideon is planning to keep Grogu alive for his experiments. There’s no dread.
It’s just a matter of time before our heroes rescue him. I am rather excited to see how it plays out though!