The Mandalorian Ep. 8 – This Is The Way

The Mandalorian‘s first season comes to an end with explosive action, a few answers, character beats, and some tantalizing teases. Let’s break it down!

As is always the case with my Mandalorian break downs, I don’t shy away from spoilers. So if you haven’t checked out the episode yet and want to remain unspoiled, I’d come back later.

Also, be sure to check out our previous breakdowns for Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4Chapter 5, Chapter 6 and Chapter 7 for everything you may have missed.

Story Basics

Crazy to think we’re already at the end of The Mandalorian’s first season! Not too long ago it seemed unreal to be getting a live-action series set in the Star Wars universe, but the ride has been pretty incredible so far. Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, Jojo Rabbit) directs the finale, titled Redemption, and it absolutely delivers on all sorts of goodness.

The episode picks up immediately where Chapter 7 left off, as the two Scout Troopers who killed Kuill and picked up the Child are zooming back to the main city on Nevarro. They don’t get far as they stop at a checkpoint to await further orders. After a humorous exchange (and some potentially problematic punching), they are found by IG-11, who’s now declared himself as the Child’s “Nurse Droid” and summarily proceeds to protect it by killing just about everything in site.

Meanwhile, Moff Gideon still has Mando, Cara, and Greef pinned down in the cantina in town. He offers them an ultimatum, giving them till nightfall to make their decision, before blasting them apart with an E-Web mounted blaster cannon. As IG-11 rides in to help save the day, Mando and crew join the battle and work to thin out Gideon’s forces. It’s one hell of an action scene and even after a couple viewings, it still has plenty of “holy crap” moments.

After the battle in the “square” the crew, along with a seriously wounded Mando manage to escape to the sewers, where the Mandalorian covert is/was hidden in the city. Instead of allies and refuge, however, they discover something far worse. The Imperials raided the Covert after they revealed themselves to help Mando escape in Chapter 3.

The pile of armor they come across is ominous, but the Armorer (thank goodness she’s okay!) believes at least a few of them escaped off world. For all intents and purposes, however, it seems like that particular clan is no more. The Armorer reminds Mando of his purpose and creed, giving him a responsibility and renewed purpose, along with a jetpack!

As they take a moment to replenish their munitions, the group once again heads out in search of escape. The lava barge they take, however, only leads into yet another ambush, forcing IG-11 into a noble sacrifice in order to protect the Child in the long-run. With his fancy new jetpack, Mando takes to the skies to deal with Moff Gideon (in his TIE fighter) once and for all.

After disabling the TIE and believing the Moff is dead, it seems that the Imperial Remnant is dealt with in the system. Cara agrees to stay behind with Greef Carga (partially to help get her own bounties squared away) while Mando goes off to begin his journey to help find the child’s true home….But Moff Gideon isn’t dead and emerges from the wreckage of the TIE using a weapon that should be instantly familiar to Star Wars fans and those who know Mandalorian lore: the Darksaber!

All in all, it’s a fairly satisfying end to this first season, while laying the ground work for what to expect when season two arrives. Now, let’s dive a little bit more into everything else we saw.

More Character Bits

As we did in the previous episode, we got to learn a bit more about our primary heroes this time around, including a revelation that’s been teased since the first episode:

Moff Gideon – Just about all the big character information gathered in this episode comes from none other than Moff Gideon. It’s a telling moment, that instantly showcases how dangerous this villain can be, and how prepared he came into the encounter.

Apparently, he’s someone the Mando is already familiar with, as Gideon was an Imperial Security Bureau (ISB) agent for the Empire who was present on/around Mandalore when it was purged, making reference to the “Night of a Thousand Tears.” The ISB is a familiar group in the Star Wars universe as the Empire’s secret intelligence service and private police force. They’ve featured prominently in a number of novels, and Star Wars Rebels fans know that Agent Kallus was a member of the ISB before turning.

Somehow, Gideon rose through the ranks of the ISB to become a full Moff, though it’s fully possible he assumed the title when the Empire fell at Endor. Either way, it explains his in depth knowledge of the characters, and probably has something to do with why he wants the Child.

Cara Dune – While we’ve already learned all the main pertinents of Cara Dune, former Rebel shocktrooper, Redemption brings one more reveal…She’s from Alderaan! In my previous recap, I made mention of how he grudge against the Imperials seemed deeply personal, and now we know why. She hails from the same planet as Princess Leia herself and must have been off-world when it was destroyed by the Death Star.

The Mandalorian – Perhaps the biggest character revelations in this episode pertain to the Mandalorian himself, or should I say Din Djarin (yes, that’s the correct spelling). Redemption gives us the chance to see the full, uninterrupted, flashback we’ve been teased with from the first episode.

At last we see who rescued the young Mando from the Super Battle Droid who finds him in the bunker. Turns out it wasn’t a Jedi (as I had previously speculated/hoped), but none other than the Death Watch! Fans of the Clone Wars will instantly recognize them as the splinter group of Mandalorians who broke with the “pacifist” nature of their current government.

While we don’t get much context on them in this instance, but it’s cool to see nonetheless. They rescue a young Din and train him up (as is the way with Foundlings) until he’s old enough to swear to the creed; which is where he dons the helmet and no longer can take it off in front of others.

Speaking of helmets, we FINALLY get to see Mando without his. It’s a surprisingly touching moment, as IG-11 must remove the helmet in order to save his life. Despite his reluctance, Din relents, using the loophole that IG, as a droid, technically isn’t alive and doesn’t count.

It’s crazy how big this “reveal” felt in the show. I mean, we all know that Pedro Pascal is the main character, but even so, they mythos they’ve built around the helmet and the character made the moment still feel important and revelatory. Even though it’s brief, I loved the moment. It gave us a chance to connect to him on a more human level and see him at his most vulnerable. As the episode progresses, this bit of character development really helps sell some of the emotional elements.

The Child – By and large we still know almost nothing about the Yoda-baby creature other than the fact that he’s still the most adorable thing ever. What we get, however, deals with his current status.

The Armorer makes mention of the ancient Jedi/Mandalorian wars, referencing the Force abilities they’ve seen the Child demonstrate (which he does again in grand style this episode). She also charges Mando with the protection of the Child, treating him like a foundling and helping him learn the Mandalorian ways OR return him to his people/place of origin.

In the meantime, the Armorer gifts Mando/Din with the Mudhorn signet, claiming that they are now a “clan of two.” This could have a couple meanings. Up until now, Mando has refused a signet. If it’s related to being part of a clan, perhaps his feelings of being an outside kept him from taking one on. More so, it seems to further cement the idea that the particular Mandalorian covert/clan is no more. Mando is truly on his own, a parent to this Force-wielding ball of awesome.

What’s really cool about this, is it comes straight out of the old Legends material regarding Mandalorians. Much like Cara Dune says, “they aren’t a race.” Instead, they’re a culture and in the old Expanded Universe books, many of them took the idea of Adoption and protecting younglings who couldn’t fend for themselves, seriously. It was one of my favorite elements of the EU (I’m a sucker for helping kids, what can I say), and it’s neat to see that aspect has carried over into the new Canon.

What’s Next

We know season two is already in the works, and Redemption does a lot of work to set up some interesting stories for what might come next, though they mostly come in the form of questions:

Where Did Gideon Get the Darksaber? – Easily the biggest reveal in the episode is that not only is Moff Gideon alive (come on, did we really think he was dead?), but that he’s also in possession of the Darksaber! If you haven’t watched the animated series (both The Clone Wars and Rebels), this may seem a bit confusing, but the story implications are HUGE.

The Darksaber is an ancient Lightsaber (crafted by the first Mandalorian to become a Jedi) and is a symbol of power for Mandos. It’s used as a unifying element, something the various clans can rally under. It first appeared in The Clone Wars, where Darth Maul took hold of it to gain control of over the Mandalorian Death Watch.

Sabine Wren, in Rebels, the weapon from Maul’s lair on Dathomir. The last we saw of the weapon was when Sabine gave the blade to Bo-Katan. Sabine gave up the saber, believing Bo-Katan was the best person to lead the Mandalorians in the battle against the Empire. This was, of course, preceding the events of the original trilogy (not by much). So, canonically, it’s been several years since the blade has been seen.

Since Moff Gideon has it in his possession, it sure seems like things didn’t turn out too well for Bo-Katan’s fight against the Empire. I’m not sure if this means she was killed at some point or if circumstances forced her to abandon the blade and she’s still alive somewhere. Either way, the Darksaber in (former) Imperial hands is never a good sign.

Considering it’s history within the Mandalorian culture, the appearance of the Darksaber, as well as a Moff Gideon who’s still alive, seems like it’ll play an important role in the upcoming second season. I mean, surely the surviving Mandalorian clans, looking to rebuild, would want to reclaim it.

Who Are The Child’s People? – The Armorer’s words to the Mando seem to be our biggest hint of what the show’s second season will focus on. With Mando back in the good graces of the Bounty Hunter’s Guild and a sizeable chunk of Imperial Remnant forces, he once again has some freedom to move about. So much of his time after rescuing the Child has been spent searching for hideaways or constantly looking over his shoulder for other Bounty Hunters, he’ll now have a chance to take a breather.

The resulting “peace” means he’ll have better opportunity to learn more about the mysterious youngling and hopefully find his people. This has the biggest potential to shake up the Star Wars galaxy. The origins of Yoda and his species (including Yaddle, who mysteriously disappeared during the Prequels) is one of the most enduring mysteries in Star Wars. The fact that the Child exists in general was a big surprise, so the potential of finding a homeworld and learning more about them has some interesting story implications.

It’s something I’m both eager to see and scared of as well. In general, I think having some mystery in Star Wars is a good thing. Not everything needs to be explained. On the other hand, I’m desperate to learn more about this Child in particular. Based on how the show has handled things so far, I’m optimistic in how any such reveals will be handled.

Who Was the Mystery Figure on Tatooine? – Chapter 5 of The Mandalorian took us on a big ‘ol nostalgia trip to Tatooine. It introduced us to Fennic Shand just moments before killing her off. The show ended with a big tease, showing an unknown figure approaching the body of Shand.

It felt like a setup for a bigger reveal. While many have taken this as a hint that Boba Fett is alive and well (we hear the same walking sound effect that Boba makes in Empire Strikes Back), no one knows for sure. I, along with many others, were sure this tease was meant to be a payoff later on in the season. And yet…We still don’t know who it was.

That’s right, Redemption doesn’t solve this mystery (or even come close to it). It looks like we’ll have to wait until season two to find out more, but the real question is, who’s going to remember by then?

My thoughts on Chapter 5 aren’t exactly a secret. For me, it’s the weakest of the season, and since the Finale doesn’t answer the ONE question posed by that episode, it makes the Tatooine excursion feel awfully useless. Season Two won’t arrive until at least the same time next year, so it seems a bit weird to tease a big character/plot point in the last 20 seconds of a mid-season episode.

Regardless, it was a big enough tease that there’s no way they’re going to let it drop and I fully expect to see this character, whoever it may turn out to be, pop up early in the next season.

What I Hope To See

Even with these teases, things are generally wide open for The Mandalorian season two. There are a number of places it can go, but while I’m thinking about it, here are some things I’d love to see next year:

A Return to Sorgan and Omera – Omera was great and one of the few people who was able to get to Mando on an emotional level.

More on The New Republic – The Mandalorian is one of our few glimpses at the state of the galaxy after Return of the Jedi and the quick references we’ve gotten to the New Republic have been some of my favorite tidbits. Would love to see Season 2 dive into those a little more.

More Mandalorians – Specifically, I for damn sure want to see the Armorer pop back up. We know she survived her encounter with the Imperials, so it would be great to see her again give out advice, and weapons/armor to our main hero. More than that, I’m eager to see more of the other clans hiding throughout the galaxy following the Purge.

A Name for the Child – Look, we gotta call the most adorable addition to Star Wars something other than “The Child.” If only for convenience sake, you’d think someone would have come up with a name for him by now just to make things easier. With this finale more firmly cementing Mando’s role in the Child’s life, hopefully he’ll give him a name as well in the next season.

Final Thoughts

The Mandalorian finale delivers on everything fans were hoping for out of a live-action Star Wars story. We get great character moments, surprisingly fun humor, and epic feeling action scenes. There’s a lot to love in this episode, and it works perfectly with Chapter 7. Truly, watching them together is like watching a (shorter) Star Wars movie. I can’t think of better praise than that right now.

I can’t say I fully agree with the option to include the baby punching at the beginning. Yes, the offending Scout Troopers end up getting punished for it, but it still seems a tad problematic. Aside from that, I loved that intro and getting the chance to see these Troopers interact normally.

While it’s meant to be humorous, it does offer audiences a look at the state of the Imperial Remnant. It’s clear the troopers are no longer enamored with the idea of the Empire. As Cara and Greef mentioned before, they’re just looking for steady jobs/paychecks.

The rest of the episode is just a giant thrill ride that only slows down to provide poignant (and effective) character moments. Overall, it feels like Chapter 8 is the most The Mandalorian has felt like watching a Star Wars movie on the big screen. Sure, the ending seems a tad rushed (“Okay the bad guy’s dead, see you later!”), but it managed to feel incredibly satisfying. As the credits rolled I felt both a sense of closure on this story arc, while eager to see what’s coming next.

I have many thoughts on the show overall, but for now, let’s end my final breakdown of The Mandalorian at that. Now….when is Season Two?!