At the end of my review for the previous episode of The Mandalorian, I speculated about how the show would handle wrapping up this season. So far, it’s seemed content to give us a steady flow of essentially self-contained stories. Past the third episode, you could probably watch a lot of the season out of order and it wouldn’t affect your enjoyment of the show or understanding of the story.
I wasn’t sure if that trend would continue in its last episodes or if The Mandalorian would start tying all of these narratives together for the finale. Two things are clear: 1) by the end of this episode you’ll realize it is not wrapped up in a neat little bow like previous entires have been, and 2) you will have needed to see most of the previous episodes to fully understand and appreciate this one.
So, if the seventh is any indication, most if not all of the characters introduced in the series so far will probably have a role to play in the next and final episode of the season.
Where does that leave this particular episode though? Does its reliance on the plots of previous episodes negatively affect it? Well, if you look at it as a standalone episode obviously it does diminish its watchability a bit. But if you look at is as it was meant to be viewed, as one piece of a greater whole, then it is one of the most rewarding episodes of The Mandalorian to date.
I am personally very happy the show’s creators chose to move in this direction. While I was personally enjoying the episodic nature of The Mandalorian, I know some others were growing restless with the onslaught of seemingly unrelated tales being introduced. The fact the series is finding a way to utilize all of those previous introductions in a meaningful way is satisfying enough as it is, but the extra lengths this episode goes to spoil its fans is just icing on the cake.
Crowd pleaser “I have spoken” Kuiil makes a welcome return, and apparently is killed in a shocking twist at the end. Other surprises include the introduction of IG-11, the droid that nearly killed “the Assest” in the first episode. It has since been reprogrammed by Kuiil and is seen serving beverages instead of sniping opponents. Cara Dune also reenters the story as she is enlisted by Mando to join him on a mission to return to the Guild and take out the Client, who is still delightfully portrayed by Werner Herzog.
One of the best reveals in the episode comes near its conclusion when we see none other than Breaking Bad‘s villainous Gus Fring aka Giancarlo Esposito make his grand Mandalorian debut. His appearance is brief, but that’s for the better. Using him sparingly adds to the menacing presence of his character, Moff Gideon.
Seeing Star Wars beasties like Mynocks rain down on our heroes during a campfire scene is another highlight, but that might just be appealing to my inner fanboy.
Regardless, this is exactly the kind of lead-up to a season finale that this show deserves. It masterfully incorporates characters from the series’ brief run (so far) with the addition of compelling new players added to the mix who bring enough twists and turns to keep things interesting. Series veteran Deborah Chow has directed yet another classic episode of this engaging saga.
It’s almost enough to get the bad taste of Rise of the Skywalker out of my mouth. Almost.