To say this chapter of The Mandalorian was a gamechanger is putting it mildly. With a potential return of the Jedi on the horizon and a bounty hunter collaboration firmly established, “The Tragedy” delivered on all the series was building towards. There was no room for oxygen in director Robert Rodriguez’s action-packed episode, the shortest in running time this season, but one with long-term consequences for our heroes. By the end, the most crushing defeat is the inevitable pain of waiting an entire week to find out the fates of our dearly separated. That’s correct, the legendary duo known as Baby Yoda and Mando are taking some time apart, and not by choice.
Instead of rushing headlong into mission objective mode, writer Jon Favreau uses the opening moments to remind viewers how close Din Djarin and Grogu have become. The foundling is starting to listen more and use his powers when prompted instead of under duress. Meanwhile, Grogu manages to elicit genuine joy from Mando, his laughter now coming easier. The kinship the two have formed is remarkable, but that doesn’t deter Din from abiding by his promise to return Grogu to his people — whether that be his original alien species or a Jedi Master.
Grogu’s destiny will be decided on top of a hill that marks the remains of a Jedi Temple. Six pillars circle a center dais, where the Child must meditate for a period of time to see if his abilities in the Force are strong enough to summon a Jedi. Think of this like the Jedi version of the “Bat Signal.” Where Ahsoka presumably failed, Grogu might succeed in activating this ancient Jedi beacon.
Of course, Baby Yoda gets a little fussy, and nothing appears to happen…at first. Though you cannot see his expression, something tells me Mando is holding his breath in the hopes that the youngling won’t walk the path of these famed warriors of Light. Before he met Grogu, Din was just a hired gun, unsure of his place in the galaxy or his standing with fellow Mandalorians. With the Child, he’s found both purpose and family.
All it takes is one split-second distraction for chaos to ensue. Djarin’s attention is pulled away from the sound of a ship coming in hostile. It’s the infamous Slave One, a Firespray-series attack craft owned by its more notorious owner: Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison), presumed dead (or at least still being digested in the Sarlacc’s belly). The fan-favorite bounty hunter is very much alive and is not taking anyone’s orders from now on. The unaltered clone is accompanied by another ghost newly arisen, sharpshooter assassin Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen). For his help bringing her from the brink of death, Fennec agrees to aid Fett in the pursuit of his old armor. Unlucky for Din, he’s currently in possession of said battered suit.
The mercenary entanglement is cut short when an even greater threat lands on the planet. Two battalions of stormtroopers emerge from Imperial landing shuttles, clearly knowing it will take a small army to defeat the slippery Mandalorian. However, Moff Gideon’s enforcements have no idea they’re about to face a specter of the past with no more damn’s to give. The entire encounter was designed for a stylish action auteur like Rodriguez, though sometimes he gets overly excited directing the badass fight sequence.
While individual shots and action poses are some of the most memorable to date — that stunning wide shot of the hill shootout, for instance — the editing is a bit choppy, almost as if it’s trying to catch up with Fett’s swift takedowns rather than flow rhythmically alongside them. Regardless, Fett’s melee use of the Tusken Raider gaderffii stick — a pole staff with an antenna-shaped spike at the top — is ferocious, brutal, and utterly glorious to behold. This is Star Wars by way of John Wick, and the merging of styles couldn’t be more harmonious.
The Imperial assault is merely a diversion to hide the real quarry. Moff Gideon deploys his new assembly of Darktroopers to capture Grogu. The Child successfully ignites the Force beacon, though the amplification process involves him going into a Force-field trance for a period of time. Once he’s conscious, it’s not Mando he sees ready to cradle him, but menacing battle androids that jettison him back to Gideon’s light cruiser.
These mechanical terrors really had the audacity to kidnap Baby Yoda in broad daylight! Furthermore, the flagship blasts the Razor Crest to smithereens. All this injustice does not sit well with Mando, Fett, nor Shand. The merc three agree to team up to save the foundling from guaranteed peril. Though they’ve worked for and with them before, the bounty hunters know the Empire sits at the top of the galactic scum chain. Next week, we eagerly anticipate revenge, plus a prison breakout of an old foe who might be the key to Gideon’s defeat.