Hoo, boy. Was that ever a mess. I'm honestly not even sure where to start. I mean, what the actual F?
"Guns for Hire" takes what should be a majorly significant transfer of power on this series and turns it into the strangest shaggy-dog story you probably never would've imagined — nor wanted to. The Mandalorian used to be known for its clean narratives and gritty western sensibilities. Now it's a comic book patchwork that feels like a meaningless Andromeda action hour one minute, and Law & Order: Droid Investigation Unit the next. Meanwhile, the stunt casting (Jack Black! Lizzo! Christopher Lloyd!!!) trips all over itself on its way to offer up cipher characters that feel like they wandered in from the wardrobe department on the way to the actors' Star Wars checkboxes on their bucket lists.
Following a cold open that's much ado about nothing, the plot brings Bo-Katan and Din Djarin to Plazir (a bright, domed city, nicely rendered by VFX), an independent democracy that isn't part of the Republic and is forbidden from having an army. Instead, it's protected by the mercenary Mandalorians who used to be Bo-Katan's tribe, which she hopes to bring back into the Mandalorian fold now that she's the chosen one.
Before she can do that, however, Bo and Din are drafted into the employ of the king and queen (Jack Black and Lizzo), although they aren't really king and queen since they were elected, or something. Their city has a rather bizarre droid problem. Their droids, you see, used to be Imperial battle droids but were reprogrammed to be helpful servant droids. But a bunch of them have malfunctioned recently and started causing mayhem in the city, and Black & Lizzo (Blizzo?) need Din and Bo (DinBo?) to figure out why. Why don't they just turn off the droids? Because the citizens have come to rely on them and have voted not to. Okey dokey.
Thus ensues an investigation that plays for a while like a cop show, give or take Mando literally kicking a battle droid to piss it off and see if it will malfunction, which is so odd that it's funny, I think? The investigation takes us to some Ughnaught droidsmiths ("I have spoken"), then to a droid bar where we learn the drinks were laced with something called "Nepenthe" that caused their malfunctions, and finally a forensic lab that reveals Commissioner Helgait (Lloyd) was behind the sabotage, because he's a Dooku Separatist loyalist who hates Jack Black. Okay, then. The whole thing plays like a weird, goofy, pointless, and easily solved twist-free sci-fi police procedural. It's a laughably baffling detour in a season of detours.
The last 10 minutes find the episode's actual ostensible purpose, in which Bo-Katan must reclaim her place as leader of her former Mandalorian flock. To do so, she must fight the leader who took her place in the band, a man named Axe Woves, I kid you not. This battle is a rather by-the-numbers action affair, which Bo-Katan naturally wins. But then there's the business with the Darksaber. The Mandalorians ask why they shouldn't follow Din Djarin, since he wields it. But then Din explains how he was rescued on Mandalore after having been captured with the Darksaber, and Bo-Katan defeated the one which captured him. So she actually won the Darksaber in combat after all! Where has this realization been for the past four episodes?
The entire Mandalorian "Creed" and culture is pretty much collapsing like a house of cards. These people will follow anyone who has the best story of that particular day. None of this would-be world building has an ounce of conviction, because it's all about technicalities rather than the meaning behind it, whatever that might've actually been. Despite the growing of the Mandalorian flock this season, there's simply not enough substance beneath the hollow words to make these people seem like they live by any actual values.
Meanwhile, Bo-Katan makes Mando look irrelevant. And Grogu, who seems like a more pointless mascot/prop with each passing episode, does his obligatory Cute Grogu Thing (jumping into Lizzo's arms) but otherwise seems like his purpose in the story truly ended when he left to be with Luke Skywalker. Sadly, this season has felt like watching a magician where you've figured out how the trick works ... and the magician isn't very good.
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