Friday, December 18, 2020

Final Round Boss Fight: Mandalorian

Despite some surprisingly bad special effects, The Mandalorian delivered a solid season finale last night. When I got to the end of the episode, I felt powerfully compelled to watch Return of the Jedi again, which I think was a good sign. Though, throughout the episode, I was mainly reminded of my experience playing video games like Dark Forces and TIE Fighter.

Din (Pedro Pascal) meets up with Bo-Katan (Katee Sackoff) again, which pleased me just for the fact that this gave her an opportunity to appear in an episode with a decent director. And indeed, as Peyton Reed showed earlier in the season, he's a director who knows how to inject suspense into an action sequence. Jon Favreau's teleplay helped a lot, too, especially in how effectively he and Reed established the threat of the Dark Troopers, who turn out to be droids.

Something could've been made of the fact that Din had childhood trauma related to battle droids but it was still a good fight scene. Then, of course, there was the final boss fight with Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito).

One of the most common criticisms I've heard for this season is that the show felt too much like a video game with Din being given quests in each episode. I don't see this as a bad thing in itself--video games now are part of the living experiences of most people, why shouldn't art imitate the experience? The only issue I had with the "quest" format of this season is that stories sometimes felt rushed. Last night's finale was good but it would have been better spread over two or three episodes, allowing character relationships to develop. Fennec's (Ming-Na Wen) motivation was still much too vague last night, as much fun as it was watching her and the three other ladies take the cruiser.

I also liked the confrontation between Cara (Gina Carano) and the Imperial pilot at the beginning of the episode. It was pretty bold of Favreau to have the pilot refer to the Rebels as terrorists. One of the things that made Rogue One the best of the Disney era Star Wars films is it suggested not everything the Rebel Alliance did was clean and pure. I really hope the upcoming shows pick up more on this idea.

The episode ended with a big surprise that nonetheless made perfect sense within the story. Sadly, the moment was hampered by surprisingly weak special effects in an area where Disney has excelled in the past. This may have also been why the moment felt a bit rushed. Din's relationship with Grogu had a nicely emotional payoff, though.

I wonder if next season we're going to see Din join Bo-Katan in retaking Mandalore? It's an idea with potential.

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