The season finale of “The Mandalorian” had everything you could want. It was directed by Taika Waititi, featured one of the best battles to date, and ended on a humungous surprise. Let’s start at the top though.
When we last left our titular hero, Mando and his friends were pinned down in a bar by Moff Gideon and legions of his best troops. Baby Yoda had been captured by Imperial Biker Scouts, who left Kuiil for dead. We pick up the finale right where that episode left off. The Biker Scouts have Baby Yoda, and are mocking it, punching it, and otherwise rudely curious about the thing. While waiting for orders from Gideon, the two troopers (played by comedians Jason Sudeikis and Adam Pally) have a comical game of target practice where they fail to hit the easy target in front of them. Just as we get a few laughs out of these two buffoons, the reprogrammed IG-11 finds them, grabs Baby Yoda, and leaves them dead on the ground as he races away on a speeder bike towards the town. This whole sequence, directed superbly by Taika Waititi, is fantastic. We get a great shot of Baby Yoda, the bike rider with wind blowing his hairs, and a giant grin. That shot is sure to be a popular Baby Yoda meme.
Meanwhile, Moff Gideon lays down the law for Mando, Cara Dune, and Greef Karga, all trapped in the local bar. In the process we find out a huge slew of new information on all three of the heroes. For one, Carasynthia Dune (that’s her full name) isn’t just a former Rebel Shock Trooper, she’s from Alderaan, the same planet as Princess Leia, the same planet that was destroyed by the Death Star in the original Star Wars film. We also find out that Karga is a disgraced former magistrate, but the most interesting news is that Mando has a name: Din Djarin. Mando tells us that’s not a name that has been used since he was a child, and that the only way their accuser could have known that it was him is if he got it from the files on Mandalore. It seems Moff Gideon was part of the team that lead the Imperial extermination on Mandalore. We also get to see the full scene we’ve only glimpsed in flashbacks of Mandalorian warriors rescuing our hero, Din Djarin, from a battle in his hometown. As Cara Dune illuminates, Mandalorians aren’t a race, but a creed. Mando was rescued by some Mandalorian warriors, raised by them, and eventually became one himself.
Then we get one of the best scenes in the entire series, a shootout to end all shootouts. IG-11, with Baby Yoda in tow, fly straight into the horde of Stormtroopers surrounding the bar and starts blasting the hell out of everyone. Mando uses the distraction to head outside and grab the giant blaster in a moment reminiscent of the first episode. He spins around and is destroying troopers until Moff Gideon shoots the blaster’s power source sending Mando flying and severely injuring him. Karga and Dune get Mando back into the bar with covering fire provided by IG-11. Pinned down, IG-11 starts cutting the crew into the sewer grate in a moment that mimics the “into the garbage shoot, flyboy” exchange from the original Star Wars movie.
Before the crew can escape into the sewers, an Imperial Flame Trooper shows up to burn them alive. But he didn’t count on Baby Yoda. As the flame trooper is about to roast our heroes alive, Baby Yoda steps up and blocks the flames with The Force, turning it around on the trooper and killing him instead. Mando gives Baby Yoda to Cara Dune and Karga and tells them to head for the Mandalorians in the sewers while he stays behind to hold off the Imperial forces. As they run, IG-11 says he needs to remove Mando’s helmet in order to save his life. Mando says “no living thing” can see his face, and then in a touching but also disturbing moment, IG reminds Mando that he’s not a living thing. He’s a droid. Helmet removed, IG-11 applies Bacta, the Star Wars cure all, and helps our hero into the sewer to catch up with the others.
After working their way through the maze of underground sewers, the group stumbles upon a pile of empty Mandalorian armor pieces. Helmets, chest plates, shoulder guards, all left without their owners, who are surely now dead, because Mando exposed them at the end of the third episode when he first escaped Nevarro with Baby Yoda. You can hear the guilt in Mando’s voice when he acknowledges the gruesome find. The only Mandalorian left is The Armourer.
The Armourer asks to see the one who all this death and trouble was for, Baby Yoda. Mando tells her how The Child saved her from the Mudhorn, and the power he possesses. She says, that he is like the Jedi, mentioning the group by name for the first time in this series, and that they were at one time enemies of the Mandalorians. However, she says that this child is not their enemy. It is a Foundling, just like Din Djarin was himself many years ago. She then gives Mando the Mudhorn signet he earned way back in episode two and tells him that he and The Child are a clan of two. He must either return him to his people or raise him like a son until he reaches maturity.
Before Mando leaves, The Armourer gifts him with a jetpack, making his Mandalorian battle armor complete.
Mando and company head to a small boat on a river of lava to escape, but as they approach the tunnel exit they find an entire platoon of stormtroopers. To save the group, IG-11 says he will sacrifice himself by self destructing, taking out the entire platoon of troopers. Mando, who has actually grown to like the droid, despite he general hatred for their kind, tries to talk him out of it, but fails. IG-11 then wades into the lava, out of the tunnel, and self destructs, killing all the Imperial troops. Unfortunately for our heroes, they’re not out of harm’s way yet. Soon Moff Gideon shows up in his modified Tie Fighter, and begins strafing the crew. Mando straps on his new jetpack, flies off into the air and takes down the Tie Fighter, crashing it off screen.
With Gideon taken care of, Cara Dune and Greef Karga decide to stay on Nevarro to rebuild the Bounty Hunter’s Guild. Mando says he must flee with The Child, who is now his child really, to find its kind or raise it on his own. We think the season is over… but it’s not.
As Mando’s ship flies away we cut to the downed Tie Fighter, already swarming with Jawas, picking it apart for useful scrap. Then a blade pierces the shell of the fighter and out pops Moff Gideon holding the Dark Saber. That’s right, Moff Gideon has the Dark Saber! Why am I so fired up about that? Well, the Dark Saber is one of the oldest light sabers in existence, and it is unique from all other blades like it. It has a black, thin blade that looks more like a traditional sword than a regular light saber does. It once belonged to the first Mandalorian Jedi, then became a symbol of the ruler of Mandalore. The Dark Saber has been wielded by Darth Maul, Sabine Wren, and Pre Vizla (a character voiced be “Mandalorian” creator Jon Favreau, and created for “Clone Wars” by his producing partner, Dave Filoni). This is the first time the Dark Saber has ever appeared in live action Star Wars, and the fact that it’s in the possession of Moff Gideon can only mean one thing: he killed Bo-Katan Kryze, the Mandalore ruler who last we saw with it during an important story arc toward the end of “Star Wars: Rebels.” This is huge, and will undoubtedly be a major plot point in season two which, thankfully, is already in production.