The Mandalorian

"Chapter 14: The Tragedy"

4 stars

Air date: 12/4/2020
Written by Jon Favreau
Directed by Robert Rodriguez

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

When Disney announced a series of stand-alone movies in 2013 (some of which have since been canceled), one was purportedly to revolve around Boba Fett, and that seemed like a stretch. Fett in my book has long been an overrated figure in the Star Wars lore. He's more sketch than character, mostly known for having a cool suit and helmet (hence Mando's look here hewing very much to the original Boba Fett design, but with even more-cool chrome metal), but there was little when it came to concrete dialogue or actions. Probably what gave him more cachet than anything was when Vader, in Empire, singled him out and warned, "NO disintegration." It was all about reputation. But Fett seemed mostly inept and faced a rather ignominious defeat in Jedi, falling haplessly into the Sarlacc pit. Jango Fett (and his clones) fared slightly better in the prequels, but he still lost his head in the end.

"The Tragedy" confirms Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison, who played Jango in the prequels) survived the Sarlacc and has been biding his time on Tatooine and now wants his armor back. And this episode turns him into a fierce, one-man wrecking crew — vicious and deadly in hand-to-hand combat — and provides him an honorable code. It's a long-overdue rehab that helps build up a character more deserving of his following, and if this episode did nothing else, it at least did that.

But this episode does many more and exciting things, and cements this series as a thrilling, crowd-pleasing serial, even if the show's DNA and success has often been in its episodic beats. Here, Mando — having reached the ruins of a Jedi temple on Tython, where Grogu can hopefully call to other surviving Jedi in the galaxy from a mountaintop while protected by a Force-generated forcefield — teams up with Boba Fett and Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen, whose character was saved by Fett from her apparent death in last season's "The Gunslinger"), who have tracked him here to retrieve Fett's armor from Djarin, but now team up with him when Moff Gideon's stormtroopers land on the planet surface and attack.

The protracted action centerpiece is exciting and well-constructed (minus some choppy video frame issues with certain cameras, which look like they were converted from 30 to 24fps), and benefits from real tension because of the high stakes (and the foreboding of the episode's title, which has us bracing for something bad) — even though if there's one constant in the Star Wars universe, it's that the hallmark of the stormtroopers, aside from their white suits, will always be their stunning incompetence as a fighting force. (I suppose their usefulness comes through quantity, not quality.)

But then Moff Gideon destroys the Razor Crest from a high-altitude blast from his cruiser (Yes, destroys it! There's nothing left but the beskar staff that was inside!) — and then he sends in his Dark Troopers, droids who kidnap Grogu and take him back to Gideon's ship! And here I am, using exclamation marks in my review! I generally use them sparingly! (But here's again where my lack of knowledge with the non-feature-film Star Wars universe fails me. Since the Dark Troopers can fly, are droids, and appear to be more effective in every regard than the stormtroopers, why does Gideon even bother with stormtroopers?)

This is the sort of episode that demands exclamation marks. It smashes the series status quo into a million pieces and promises a complete shakeup of the formula. Gideon now has Grogu in a holding cell and — wait, OMG, Grogu is Force-hurling stormtroopers around the room like rag dolls! LOL! Gideon intends to use Grogu's blood in experiments to, I assume, create new warriors strong with the Force. But can that work, and what else is up his sleeve?

With Djarin's ship destroyed and the Child not having been protected per their arrangement, Fett and Shand agree to join Djarin's mission to recover Grogu, and they also bring in (unofficially, since she's now beholden to her new Republic bosses) Cara Dune. I gotta say, of all the things here, I'm probably most excited about the possibilities of turning this one-man mission into a new motley team. This universe keeps getting bigger. I dig it.

The episode was directed by action-grindhouse auteur Robert Rodriguez, who mostly does the franchise's stuff as viscerally ass-kickingly as possible. While this doesn't have quite the artistry or cinematic pedigree of last week's "The Jedi," as a Saturday-morning (or Friday-whenever) serial adventure epic, you'd be hard-pressed to pack much more Star Wars excitement into 30 minutes than "The Tragedy" does, and whose title is encapsulated by Djarin's quiet gesture of pocketing Grogu's silver ball.

Previous episode: Chapter 13: The Jedi
Next episode: Chapter 15: The Believer

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30 comments on this post

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CaptainMercer
Fri, Dec 4, 2020, 3:42am (UTC -5)
I've never seen a show have more badass moments in a single half hour.. but don't worry.. I feel like I cannot spoil anything
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Latex Zebra
Fri, Dec 4, 2020, 4:21pm (UTC -5)
Not an ounce of fat on that one. At the start the short episodes really annoyed me, like I was being short changed... I realise now they just tell the story they need to and don't fill it out with crap. Man, did that get a lot in that half hour.
Wont drop heavy spoilers just yet but I think that will be everything we wanted to see in that character returning!
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Yanks
Fri, Dec 4, 2020, 7:30pm (UTC -5)
They did it again... I was riveted for 31 minutes!!

What's not to like here?

Ming-Na Wen kicks ass in everything she's in... now she has some internal hardware.

Boba Fett rocked... nice to see him get his armor back without fighting Mando... seems he has some tricks Mando doesn't have. Nice hand to hand combat too.

The signal is sent... I wonder if any "good guys" heard it.

Moff Gideon blows up Mando's ship!!! Nooooooo!!!!

Dark soldiers... more with them to come I'm sure.

I couldn't believe they got Grogu!!

Moff Gideon has a history with Grogu. I wasn't aware of that.

This series is so cool. Another 4-star episode.
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Dave in MN
Fri, Dec 4, 2020, 11:29pm (UTC -5)
I almost never give out 4 stars to episodes of anything, but yup, another ⭐⭐⭐⭐installment.

The camerawork and editing is phenomenal. The combat is filmed SO well: very kinetic yet smooth shots with minimal intercutting.

About my only conplaint about these scenes is that the Stormtroopers only seem to be able to only hit Mando (and only on his armor). It pushes credulity episode after episode but I don't want to ding his specific installment for a cumulative effect kind of thing.

I saw in the credits that Robert Rodriguez directed this. I checked and it is indeed THE Robert Rodriguez. (It's kind of surprising to me, but then again, Quentin Tarentino directed CSI).

I like the resolution of that dangling plot thread from last season. I'd wondered who approached the female assassin prisoner who was left for dead on Tatooine. I think this is the same actress that was on Stargate SGU and she's very talented. I like her.

Star Wars fans: you've been very helpful the last few weeks so one more question:

Is Boba Fett really that honorable?

I get the vibe he's got an ulterior motive. Does his backstory support that or am I wasting my time wondering?

Either way, the casting on him is superb. Is this the same actor from the prequels?! I haven't seen those since they came out in the theaters.

I like seeing the mountain that Ed and Teleya climbed on showing up on this show. Orville/Mandalorian crossover!!!

Anyways, the attack and the kidnapping were well staged and paced. I could feel Mando's panic when he zoomed in to get a glimpse of Baby Yoda. (Mando sounded like he wanted to give up when he was in the rubble crater. I know he was just despairing but it still pissed me off. Stop moping and save him!)

I did see comments online about Grogu using the dark side on those soldiers. How exactly do we know "which" side he is using?

He was kidnapped, restrained and psychologically (and possibly physically) abused.

Another question for Star Wars fans:

Is fighting back against your captors automatically considered the "dark side"? It seems to me that Baby Yoda's behavior has some justification.

Anyways, I'm not sure why they need to get that dude from last season out of jail just to find the Empire's ship. Couldn't they find an injured stormtrooper to interrogate?

But I guess they need a reason to reunite the gang, which I'm fine with. Besides, now they'll have another safe character to kill off (Boba's backup lady is also in my Mando death pool).

I'm also digging the leitnotifs from John Williams' scores popping up on the show. The composer is subtle and judicious with thematic usage (as opposed to the sledgehammer scoring of Nu-Trek). He's got a good balance going ... my only critique would be to use slightly more orchestra and slightly less distortion pedal loop during some one-on-one fight scenes. The texture gets repetitive if you binge the show.

Anyways, this is pretty much perfect TV. (Why couldn't the newer movies be more like this?!?!)

4 stars for sure.
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Yanks
Sat, Dec 5, 2020, 8:40am (UTC -5)
@Dave in MN

"I like the resolution of that dangling plot thread from last season. I'd wondered who approached the female assassin prisoner who was left for dead on Tatooine. I think this is the same actress that was on Stargate SGU and she's very talented. I like her."

Me too. When her "death" happened, I was like they brought in Ming-Na Wen just to kill her off?

Yes, she was on Stargate SGU and most recently she was Melinda May on 'Agents of SHIELD'. She excels in all her roles.

I have visions of her playing Phillipa Georgiou on Discovery and how much better that character would be.

Break...

I think I should downgrade my ranking to 3.5 stars. This was really good, but it wasn't epically great like last 'The Jedi' was.
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Dave in MN
Sat, Dec 5, 2020, 11:10am (UTC -5)
@ Yanks

I'm sticking with 4 stars. It's very rare to see a Hollywood show that abides to "Final draft is first draft minus 20%" rule. This was narratively seamless with no fat and it was directed with flair.

Maybe the Trek folks could try to nick Mando's casting director? The Mandalorian folks obviously know what they're doing.
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Henson
Sat, Dec 5, 2020, 11:28am (UTC -5)
@Yanks

"but it wasn't epically great like last 'The Jedi' was. "

Man, dyslexia can really change the meaning of that last sentence...
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PM
Sat, Dec 5, 2020, 6:56pm (UTC -5)
"How many Star Wars series comments does it take to make a Star Trek series comment?" Ha ha
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Z
Sat, Dec 5, 2020, 10:25pm (UTC -5)
Agree with all of you, a stunning episode. They are just nailing everything. I would have bet this episode would be filler - setting up the final two for the season. But no, straight to the point no bs, yet still filled with quality moments. Although the pacing was noticeably higher, it wasn't out of place for the series and was so well executed it did not feel choppy etc.
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brian
Sun, Dec 6, 2020, 12:33am (UTC -5)
this is the first bad episode of the show for me. Schlocky action silly looking robots. Boba Fett member berries. Silly empire scenes with gus and baby yoda. First episode to not really stand on its own. too connected to the serialized plot.

There just wasnt a lot "there" there. nice action scenes but not in service of much. Felt like a typical filler episode of a padded Netflix show. Not impressed with the writing, which was a strong point of ep 1 of this season.
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MarkG
Sun, Dec 6, 2020, 6:12am (UTC -5)
Effortlessly killing storm troopers that mindlessly rush towards our heroes instead of shooting at them gets tiring after a while. This could be a few minutes shorter.
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Mal01
Mon, Dec 7, 2020, 2:03am (UTC -5)
Not really enthralled by the season so far.

The action in season 1 felt so different than standard Star Wars outings...the chase and climb on the Jawa Sandcrawler, for example, was riveting and interesting.

None of the action in this ep was something I hadn't seen before, and the episode was 80% action.

Also not a fan of the VERY blatant Jedi force stuff now. Glowing blue fields around Baby Yoda...lacks the subtlety of the first season in which it was just a small thing that Mando and most of the galaxy doesn't understand.

I also still feel as if Esposito is just not right in this role. He seems to be having fun with it and really not taking it very seriously, but it's not making use of his fantastic talent or really giving him much to do. I don't understand the choice of him for villain other than that fans love him because he's iconic from Breaking Bad and other shows. The Boys used him similarly for season 2. This is the same feeling for the reason behind Sakhoff or Dawson's inclusions. Decent casting that is more for audience recognition to invoke other feelings than for good casting.

I'm also lacking the heart the first season had, with the absence of characters like the "I have spoken" guy.

Meh. Still underwhelmed this season, despite the fanservice.
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CaptainMercer
Mon, Dec 7, 2020, 2:23am (UTC -5)
I love this season.. I do feel it has a Kuill-sized hole in it (The I have Spoken guy) but Favreau has the ability to use fanservice and also push the story further. I mean I felt like was 8 years old again as I'd never imagine seeing Boba Fett in the cockpit of Slave One again.

Let them have the fanservice this season.. and by next season there will be other D+ shows out, including SW and Marvel.. and Favreau can scale this show back a bit
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Jon1701
Mon, Dec 7, 2020, 8:20am (UTC -5)
Three out of Four

Loses a mark only because its being a bit predicable. Maybe I've watched too many films and TV shows over the year but from the moment Boba Fett told Din to put down the jetpack I knew Baby Yoda (can't call him anything else, sorry) would be stolen up on that cliff.

At least Din wasn't the gunslinger going into town to help out the locals this week 😂

Looks like next week is another prison break episode but the finale on that Star Destroyer (I assume) should be good. They have had their monies worth out of those sets - an imperial ship, base and Star Destroyer. I'm guessing most of the characters this season will team up to break out the kid of jail so I'm looking forward to the team ups.

Random thought - can an Empire on its knees still push out new classes of SD though??
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Kyle A
Mon, Dec 7, 2020, 11:23am (UTC -5)
@Jon1701

Those Imperial cruisers are called Arquitens-class? They are more like Imperial frigates. They've only been newly added into Star Wars lore in the past couple of years. But they have been active from the Clone Wars into the Empire era.
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Austin
Mon, Dec 7, 2020, 2:15pm (UTC -5)
This was another 4 star outing for me. I’m not anti-fan service, in fact I welcome it. A little bit of fan service would have done wonders for “The Last Jedi” instead of them doubling down in the subvert-all-expectations nonsense they were going for.

To get the original actor who played Jango was pretty awesome, and again, this series continues to amaze me by building a universe around a random Mandalorian to bridge the gap between the original trilogy (the good), the prequels (the bad), and the sequels (the ugly). To maneuver within these parameters and still tell a meaningful story while also incorporating Legends and Animated content is insane to me.

I do agree with those of you that feel that the small scale stories of season 1 are regrettably turning into larger, galaxy-impacting narratives. But it was bound to happen. The Avengers morphed from a rich guy kidnapped by terrorist to the savior of half the life in the universe. (I also didn’t mind the fan service in that movie fwiw)
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Jammer
Mon, Dec 7, 2020, 6:06pm (UTC -5)
Review now posted.
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CaptainMercer
Tue, Dec 8, 2020, 3:26am (UTC -5)
@Jammer
It's not exactly that Fett was overrated.. it's just seeing him in 1980 standing so mysteriously.. (who was he? Why did he have cooler armor than anyone else? Why did Vader respect him? How did he catch Han?) and realizing that what you didn't know about him made him interesting.. and fluke accident or not.. RotJ might not have done any favors for him.. (the writers were mainly concerned with tying up the main plot) , he was still a badass to use kids at the time and still was for a long time
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Geekgarious
Tue, Dec 8, 2020, 9:40am (UTC -5)
Fett also had his own trilogy in the old EU and some other stories.

I didn’t like any of Disney’s SW films and refused to sign up for Disney Plus until this past summer, but I agree with jammer. This was the best 30 minutes of Star Wars since the original trilogy and I’ve started watching the clone wars because of it. I hope Esposito gets more to do. His presence was one reason why I finally decided to check the series out, but he has not been given much to do. A friend of mine actually suggested that they use him as Thrawn way back when Disney first bought the franchise. I hope they don’t incessantly tease us with mentions of Thrawn over the course of the next season. That was something that got really annoying about fringe; the endless mentions of William Bell and he only ended up being in maybe half a dozen episodes. Hopefully the writers of this show have learned to stay away from mystery boxes.
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Robert H
Tue, Dec 8, 2020, 11:27pm (UTC -5)
You know, for all the bad-assery and awesome fights in this great episode, I could have done away with two convenient plot devices that were used: Mando dropping his jet pack for Fett, and thus can't go to save Grogu when it counts, and Grogu of course dropping his force field just after Mando left him when the stormtroopers attack.

And why would Mando not stay and defend Grogu from a position of strength (high ground), and instead leave him? But I guess he trusted that Grogu would keep his force field going.

But apart from that, indeed a great episode. And I hope this afford opportunities to get Mando to work with a team.
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CaptainMercer
Wed, Dec 9, 2020, 2:09am (UTC -5)
@Robert H
Of course it's plot convenient, but Boba Fett wanted them all to be equal before their chat.. and the jet pack could mean Mando could leave at any moment.. (this was before the Empire showed up)
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Spock's amygdala
Wed, Dec 9, 2020, 2:31am (UTC -5)
You've got to admire the way Star Wars sticks with its visual style. From the monochrome flickering holograms to the clunky large buttons on everything, these features have been around since the 70s. Despite being outdated, somehow their inclusion doesn't detract in any way.

Meanwhile Star Trek totally revamps and updates the original Enterprise multiple times and never seems to get the attention it's looking for.
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The Chronek
Wed, Dec 9, 2020, 4:51am (UTC -5)
I've really enjoyed the whole spaghetti western feel of The Mandalorian. Favreau has visual humor down pat. Music is fantastic. Great acting, writing and directing. And the fourth wall breaking moments, such as the imperial sharpshooter/that's not saying much exchange in the first season, don't take anything away.

I've been a little wary about the old Expanded Universe being worked in. And I previously thought Boba Fett was overrated. Boy, did this episode prove me wrong.

I enjoyed the sequel trilogy. I know there's a lot of hate for TLJ, but I think it was the best of the new films. That said, The Mandalorian blows away any Star Wars since The Empire Strikes Back.
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Kyle A
Wed, Dec 9, 2020, 11:46am (UTC -5)
Another great episode. Though I am starting to get a little weary from seeing legions of stormtroopers get demolished. It was already getting bad enough in episode where they raided the Imperial base.
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Zach I
Sun, Dec 13, 2020, 9:18pm (UTC -5)
Temuera Morrison back in the role is awesome. I love the continuity of his character throughout now all three eras of star wars. He brings such a maori attitude to the role
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Kyle
Tue, Dec 15, 2020, 10:19pm (UTC -5)
Why can't the new Star Wars movies and new Star Trek be like this? I blame JJ Abrams for the decline of both franchises.
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Booming
Thu, Dec 17, 2020, 5:33pm (UTC -5)
When the Stormtroopers showed up I wanted to shout:" Don't worry, it's just Stormtroopers." Again a 5 min fight scene were I started giggling because of all the silliness. Stormtroopers... I laughed especially when the last trooper almost didn't make it into the ship. I guess it is nice that because of the Mandalorian's armor they are now allowed to hit something sometimes. Oh and the ship was destroyed. Twist. I found this pretty forgettable.
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Naomi
Sat, Dec 26, 2020, 1:53pm (UTC -5)
Seriously, the casting director! Mulan and Jango Fett? Princess Carolyn and Cory Booker's girlfriend? Gus Fring and Starbuck? Fantastic.
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jillyenator
Tue, Aug 10, 2021, 2:01am (UTC -5)
I really big the allusions through this series that show how damn frakking immense is endeavor of rebuilding the New Republic.

The void of lawlessness is so clear in this series, with pirates and gangs galore, and local warlords filling the vacuum. Hints everywhere that the Empire is slowly regrouping. Indications that the New Republic is tied up in red tape. Things in the galaxy are a mess, and I agree with the sharpshooter about local people not giving a shit who's in charge, bc it's all the same to them. Good stuff.

Very exciting sequence in the mess hall, too. From the time Mando and the imperial sharpshooter arrive in the fortress to loud acclaim, to the tense conversation with the ranking officer, I was entirely absorbed. When sharpshooter guy just ranted on that officer and then took him out, I was cheering. I'm not sure he is redeemed as yet, but I was glad to see he earned his freedom.

Lastly, THIS is how you do Boba Fett. It's not fanservice when it's done right.

I'd like more motley crew episodes, please.
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jillyenator
Tue, Aug 10, 2021, 2:20am (UTC -5)
Sorry about the typos above. Damn phone. I wish we could edit our posts. Anyway, I'm trying to say that it's a terribly difficult undertaking to rebuild crumbled governments and ransacked worlds. This show richly depicts the outer rim planets as subject to whoever has the most guns and henchmen. Manifest Destiny rules the day, and reluctant cowboys do hero things. This is good stuff and it neatly tackles the gap between the original trilogy and the sequel trilogy.

DS9 could have gone there with the troubles of Bajor, now that I'm thinking about it. There really weren't that many planetside plots on Bajor.

Oh, and my impression is that Grogru's blood was given to the Snoke clones, and probably to New Palpatine as well. Good to see Grogu wiping the floor with the stormtroopers too, although his penchant for force-choking is worrisome.

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