“It is a foundling. By Creed, it is in your care.”
Things were looking bleak for Mando and the crew at the end of last week’s penultimate episode. With Kuiil taken off the board and the Child in Imperial hands, hope seemed lost. But just like that, two meters of metal and reprogramming enters the fray and turns the tide.
There’s no better way to begin a finale than with some of the most free-flowing and downright hilarious dialogue between two speeder troops just trying to finish their job. With the Child in hand, the pair is waiting for the go-ahead to deliver it to Moff Gideon, passing the time with idle chit-chat and an epic display of Imperial trooper marksmanship ineptitude. Besides another fantastically placed meta-reference on that well-known Star Wars trope, the natural beats of conversation would have been just as likely in the real world as it is in the Star Wars universe.
Their successful hunt ends on a decidedly less positive note when IG-11 arrives, wrecking the pair and reacquiring the Child. The droid’s subsequent ride into town as the cavalry, laying waste to Gideon’s platoon in the process, is pure Star Wars fun, despite the toned-down nature of the violence. But even with an IG in hand, Mando and the crew are still in the heart of danger.
The action and visuals of “Redemption” are top-notch for the series to-date. From IG-11’s speeder run through town, the all-out combat in both past and present, or the Child turning back the fire of an Imperial Flametrooper, to the final stand against Gideon’s TIE fighter, they work in service to the story itself as complements rather than being the highlight. And this is an enthralling final tale, filled with nuggets of the past and heartbreak in the present.
For Mando, that latter is finding the armor pile of his slaughtered Mandalorians covert with only the Armorer herself remaining. This revelation signals the end of Mando’s days on Navarro but he doesn’t leave before the Armorer bestows upon Mando his own Signet for a clan of two. We’ve known the connection between Mando and the Child was strong but the Armorer’s decree that the Child is the Mando’s foundling puts the official stamp on it.
After defeating Gideon, the pair leave Navarro — as expected — something that would have not been possible without the efforts of Cara, Greef, and IG-11’s noble sacrifice. But whereas the entire Imperial contingent has been wiped out, Moff Gideon survives his fighter crash and, in the process of clawing himself from the wreckage, brandishes the one-of-a-kind darksaber, determined now more than ever to track down his escaped quarry.
As much as it lays the foundations for the future, “Redemption” also fills out bits of the past. Moff Gideon mentions the ‘Night of a Thousand Tears’, a horrible event during the Siege of Mandalore in addition to the bigger surprise; the reveal of the Mandalorian’s true name, Din Djarin. Paired with the flashback of Din’s rescue with a covert of Mandalorians, it helps to fill in some of the gaps missing from our titular character’s mysterious background. Maybe more surprising is that we finally get to see Mando’s face underneath the helm, a necessity if he was to survive. But he stayed true to the Creed, only removing the helm in IG-11’s presence, ensuring that no living person would glance upon his face (though I think shooting this scene from the rear, keeping his face obscured may have been a better move).
There’s so much squeezed into this finale that it could easily be mistaken for fan-service but it’s much more than that. Every bit of the “Redemption” narrative is necessary, for the episode itself and the season arc. Not only does this pay off everything that has come before it, providing a more than satisfactory end to season one’s overall story but acts as an exceptional lead-in to what will unquestionably be one of the most anticipated shows in the coming year. Thanks to Favreau and the creative team behind The Mandalorian, Star Wars fans have a property devoid of strife and divisiveness. Perhaps, as it brought together Mando and the Child, so too may The Mandalorian begin to heal the fractured fandom.
The Way of the Mandalorian
Season one of The Mandalorian was everything I’ve wanted from a live-action Star Wars series and more. Taking one of the most interesting segments of Star Wars lore (the Mandalorian) and making it the focal point was a nifty first step in drawing eyes to the series. But to keep people interested, the series creators gave us a unique cast of characters, some tremendously entertaining dialogue, a few nice meta-references to the franchise, and everyone’s favorite baby (the new King of Memes, if you will) in the Child. There is no doubting the adorable nature of this character has not only captured the hearts of legion but will undoubtedly be responsible for millions in merchandising revenue.
But even with the cuteness, establishing that bond between Mando and Child was integral in making The Mandalorian work. As excited as I was for Season One, my anticipation levels for a Season Two that will give us more adventures of the force-powerful foundling and Mando, the potential return of some great characters, and an intimidating antagonist in Moff Gideon are through the roof. The Mandalorian is not without its faults but comes as close to Star Wars perfection as any entry into the franchise since the original trilogy.