This STAR WARS: THE MANDALORIAN review contains spoilers.
The Mandalorian Season 2 Episode 6
We’re in uncharted waters now. The trailers for The Mandalorian gave no hint as to what would happen in “The Tragedy,” which turned out to be a bounty hunter extravaganza in an episode strong on action. But for all of the excitement and surprises, the script is unable to fill some of the holes the second half of the season has opened up.
Previously, Mando was willing to give Grogu to Ahsoka Tano to train. It’s his solemn duty, given to him by the Mandalorian Armorer from his cult. But Ahsoka gave him yet another quest: go to Tython, the ancient home of the Jedi, and take the child to a seeing stone there, where he’ll be able to reach out to another one of his kind.
One of the most charming things about this show, and one this episode didn’t really engage with, is how little Mando knows about Star Wars. He doesn’t know what or who the Jedi are. Even many other Mandalorians are a mystery to him. The very beginning of the episode does show his absolutely adorable attempts to keep up with the Child’s Jedi training. It’s made even cuter by the fact that Mando has no idea what he’s doing. But it’s working, and the bond between them is as strong as ever.
As much as I liked last week’s episode, Mando’s willingness to part from the baby seems like a missed opportunity. Shouldn’t there be some sort of conflict between his solemn quest to give the baby to the Jedi and the emotional bond they’ve formed? It seems odd that he’d be so willing to give the kid away, especially after learning that his Mandalorians were a splinter group. Maybe Mando just doesn’t see this as a contradiction like I do. He has his job to do, and he has love for the kid, too.
I was willing to wait to see what Mando would think of truly handing Baby Yoda over. He’s clearly a bit reluctant, but willing to give the Child to Ahsoka. But as he continues to seemingly be fine with whatever Jedi comes to pick Grogu up, the episode more concerned with bounty hunter action than the father-son dynamic, I’m just going to have to move on from it. Mando clearly has.
I love that he demonstrates a lot in the action that takes up most of the episode. Unlike many episodes previous, he doesn’t need to find another quest-giver before he can reach the seeing stones. Mando finds them right away. Once there, he has to protect the baby as forces converge. First to arrive are Boba Fett (!!) and Fennec Shand (!!).
Temuera Morrison reprises the role of Fett he first played in Attack of the Clones. (Technically Morrison played Jango Fett, but since Boba is Jango’s cloned son, it makes sense Boba would look the same.) Although the script doesn’t do him any favors, there’s a lot to like about his performance. I’ll admit I’m one of those people who doesn’t care much for Boba Fett, but I can see why this competent, powerful version is what some fans saw when they looked at the Original Trilogy bounty hunter in the first place. Starting him off with a cloak and a melee weapon only to reveal the famous armor later was a great choice for building excitement. Morrison has great physicality as the character, looming and weighty. His fight against the stormtroopers is full of cool details: plasteel armor shattering, blaster wounds sparking.
It’s also goofy in the way a lot of Star Wars is, but Boba Fett especially. Such a famous character carries a lot of weight, and the fact that his appearance was framed as a reveal felt less organic than Ahsoka’s appearance at the very beginning of last week’s episode. “The Mandalorian gets a ride in Slave I” is one of those sentences that could leave you either salivating or sighing. I ended up between the two.
It’s great fun to see Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) back, too. It would have been a pity, but far from unprecedented in Star Wars, to leave such a cool character dead in the sand. She’s a good foil to the two Mandalorians, there in part to show how much their beskar armor puts them on another level, but also able to hold her own. If Din Djarin, Boba Fett, and Fennec Shand end up being the show’s new trio, I wouldn’t mind.
Except that these three haven’t clicked quite as well as Mando, Cara Dune, and Greef Karga. They’re relatively humorless, their dialogue not as clever. The best lines in this episode between this trio are call-backs to other movies, entertaining but really empty. What does it mean that Boba Fett still sees himself as following in his father’s footsteps? What exactly does Shand think of her new partner — employer, savior, friend, convenient extra guns? It’s not encouraging that next week’s episode is likely to return to Migs Mayfeld (Bill Burr), the bounty hunter from season one who was perhaps the most forgettable supporting character on the show. The bounty hunter trio made for some beautiful fight scenes, but I really wanted some sense — any sense — about how they were feeling.
Although the action was fun and easy to follow, and the Child was clearly at stake, the emotional core of the episode seemed to be missing. In the previous episode, Mando and Ahsoka had time to have a conversation about the Child’s training, including calling back to why Ahsoka might be reluctant to train him — she’s seen the dangers that come from Force-users gone wrong, like Anakin Skywalker. There’s no time for that in “The Tragedy.”
Speaking of the title, it’s a bit of a nitpick, but the choice of titles has been odd this season. Just as there wasn’t really a siege in “The Siege,” the word “tragedy” doesn’t quite suit the loss of Baby Yoda here. Of course, this is sad — but it also feels like the inevitable ramping up toward the finale. With only two episodes to go, it was bound to happen. Tragedy seems to imply a slowly dawning loss, like Anakin’s, or a generational struggle like Boba Fett’s. But the script never sinks into that. Maybe the tragedy refers to the destruction of the Razor Crest?
Luckily the action stayed strong. Morrison’s performance is one of the best parts of the action, and the entire fight scene flows very nicely. It tells its own story, with its own narrative beats and ebbs and flows. If the script had tied it together a bit more, it would have been truly extraordinary. As it is, constant surprises and the sense that it’s all coming together make it an entertaining ride.