Julien Neaves, Editor
The space opera franchise juggernaut that is Star Wars was kicked into hyperdrive earlier this month when it was announced that there will be not one, not two, but NINE new shows coming to streaming service Disney+. That is a whole lot of long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. The new shows are a mix of live action and animated and set in different eras, and joining them in 2021 will be the third season of the massively successful series The Mandalorian. Now Star Wars fans debate a lot, but almost everyone agrees that this show is awesome and one of the best, if not THE BEST, of the more than four decade-old franchise. If I ever meet Jon Favreau or Dave Filoni in person I will shake their hand most vigorously.
Now I was contemplating doing a regular season review, but you folks already know how fantastic the show is, so that seemed unnecessary. So instead I am just going to highlight some of the biggest, most nerdgasmic moments from Seasons 1 and 2. And all of these were so brilliant I am not even putting them in a ranked order but I will just do them chronologically. With that said, and a Krayt Dragon-sized SPOILER ALERT, let’s begin.
#1 Meet Baby Yoda, Chapter 1: The Mandalorian
Wait a minute? Is that a Baby Yoda?! I don’t know what anyone else was expecting from this show, but I know I wasn’t expecting “Baby Yoda.” This was one surprising reveal and a gorgeously framed moment. And yes, I know his name was later revealed to be Grogu, but I still like to use Baby Yoda too. Don’t @ me bro.
#2 Baby Yoda makes Mudhorn float, Chapter 2: The Child
We continue with Baby Yoda for this next entry. The reveal of his Force powers was not as surprising as the previous entry but it was still a big one, especially coming in just the second episode. And seeing that floating Mudhorn was quite the moment.
#3 Mando Rescue Mission, Chapter 3: The Sin
What’s better than one Mandalorian? How about a whole posse of them? A group of Mandalorians isn’t called a posse? Well, excuse me. Anywho, the scene where the “group” of Mandalorians come to rescue Din from Greef Karga and the bounty hunters was just so good. All the different costumes and weapons were a visual feast. And the little salute at the end by the flying Mandalorian? Just the cherry on top.
#4 Mando Vs. Prison Droids, Chapter 6: The Prisoner
Din Djarin got into a lot of action over the 16 episodes. But one of the best scenes was his takedown of the security droids on the New Republic prison ship. It was just so clinical, methodical, brutal and beautifully choreographed. At this point he was still a major droid hater so the extra venom makes sense. And if Mayfeld had any doubts about Mando’s legendary fighting skills, this moment shut him up right quick.
#5 The Speech, Chapter 7: The Reckoning
Did Giancarlo Esposito take a university course in villain acting? Because the guy acts the hell out of any villain he plays. As the driven Moff Gideon he is one of the more grounded bad guys in the franchise. He is just a man with a plan and one who believes he is in full control of any situation. The speech he delivers to the trapped Din, Greef and Cara in this episode is just applause-worthy. And that dude can really rock a cape. I also loved when Mando threw the speech back in his face at the end of the penultimate episode in the following season.
#6 Chatty Troopers Chapter 8: Redemption
We go from action to comedy with this next entry. Jason Sudeikis and Adam Pally are just a riot as the two Biker Scout Troopers. Throughout the franchise we rarely get to see troopers just sitting and shooting the wind so this was a welcome inclusion. The scene even made fun of the Stormtroopers notoriously bad aim. When the trooper shakes the gun I burst out laughing. Sure I hated when they kept hitting Baby Yoda, but that was just to make their eventual blasting by IG-11 even more satisfying.
And just a note, I’m going to be camping at the episode Redemption for awhile, as there were so many awesome moments and it is my favourite episode of the show so far.
#7 Armourer Vs. Stormtroopers, Chapter 8: Redemption
Prior to this scene the Armourer just delivered wisdom and informed Din about Mandalorian lore. But when these Stormtroopers storm into her sanctuary we get to see her in action, and they immediately realised how they vastly underestimated her. Using two heavy tools and some quick, vicious movements, she takes them down in quick succession. The smash and crunch of their armour was just music to the ears. Long live the Armourer!
#8 IG-11’s Sacrifice, Chapter 8: Redemption
Hunter droid turned nursemaid/protector IG-11 is one of my favourite characters of the show. Voiced with spectacular deadpan wit by Taika Waititi, the droid has some of the best comedic lines, action set pieces and moving moments. Sure his team-up with Mando in the pilot was great, and his rescues of Baby Yoda and Mando, Greef and Cara Dune in Redemption were all thrilling, but this spot goes to his death scene later in the Season 1 finale.
The moment when Din reveals that he cares about him on the lava boat, a huge 180 from his droid-hating mentality and mistrust of this droid in particular, just pulls on the heartstrings. And then when IG-11 walks into the lava and blows himself up, a callback to all the self-destruct jokes in the first episode, the valves burst and it is waterworks city! As I am talking deaths, I will also give an honourable mention to the shocking death of Kuill in the previous episode. He was such a lovable character and Nick Nolte did a bang-up job voicing him. He will be missed.
#9 Flying Mando Vs. Tie Fighter Chapter 8: Redemption
Mandalorians are known for their jetpacks so it was inevitable that Din would get one eventually. And seeing him use it to battle Moff Gideon in the TIE fighter was a brief but fun scene. The Darksaber reveal at the end was cool though its significance would have flown over the head of casual Star Wars fans.
#10 Krayt Dragon Assault, Chapter 9: The Marshal
It’s not Star Wars if we don’t have our heroes fighting some giant alien beast. And this Krayt Dragon on Tatooine was one of the bigger ones. Giving us some shades of Dune and Tremors, and having Mando, Cobb Vanth (in Boba Fett’s armour), the Tusken Raiders (who were given some welcome fleshing out) and the townsfolk battling this mammoth monster was just movie epic. And it was so intense and action-packed, it put your average giant monster movie to shame.
#11 Bo-Katan & Crew, Chapter 11: The Heiress
Badass Mandalorian Bo-Katan Kryze? What an unexpected delight. Katee Sackhoff does an excellent job bringing her Clone Wars/Rebels character to live action and she brought along a couple of cool Mandos as well, including the gorgeous wrestler-turned-actress Mercedes Vanado as Koska Reeves. The rescue of Mando from the ship was good, but the attack on the Imperial freighter was even better.
#12 I Am Ahsoka, Chapter 13: The Jedi
One of the biggest moments of the show so far has to be the appearance of former Jedi Ahsoka, played by accomplished actress Rosario Dawson. Here it’s not just one scene but many. Her dramatic first appearance, the fight with Din, the reveal of Baby Yoda’s name, the takedown of the guards, and the final battle with The Magistrate, including the Grand Admiral Thrawn name drop, are all supremely epic moments.
Sure, Dawson’s physical appearance does not exactly match her animated counterpart, but in every other way it was a spot-on interpretation. And I definitely will be checking out her solo series when it debuts.
#13 Boba’s Back! Chapter 14: The Tragedy
The appearance of the galaxy’s best bounty hunter Boba Fett was speculated on, teased and eventually confirmed. And it was pretty cool seeing actor Temeura Morrison playing a more grizzled version of the character. But nothing prepared me for the nerdgasm of seeing him in the armour again.
His slaughter of those troopers and his blowing of the troop ships brought a tear of happiness to my eye, though I can’t remember which eye right now. They even threw in some Attack of the Clones love with the seismic charge deployed by Slave I. Now this is how you fan service.
#14 No Helmet, Chapter 15: The Believer
We quiet things down again for this next entry. Yes, we first saw Din Djarin’s face in Redemption when IG-11 removed it to treat him. But as it was made clear, the Mandalorian code of not showing your face to any living thing was not broken because he was a droid.
In this moment in The Believer, however, Din clearly broke the code. And he did it because of his love for Grogu, showing how much the bounty hunter had grown as a person and a surrogate father. Actor Pedro Pascall knocked it out of the park with his acting in this scene and also in the Tarantino-like scene with Imperial officer Hess. Mayfeld telling him that he never saw his face (after they blast away everyone) was also a nice touch.
#15 Dark Trooper, Chapter 16: The Rescue
Anticipation was high for the second season finale, and while it was no Redemption, there were some very good moments. In terms of Mandalorian action, I enjoyed the Boba/Koska fight in the beginning and the climactic Din/Moff Gideon battle closer to the end, but this one goes to Din versus the Dark Trooper. The Mandalorian is usually the top dog in any fight but here he was facing a clearly superior foe. Seeing Mando struggle to take it down and pull back from the brink of defeat was just so gratifying.
#16 Goodbye Grogu, Chapter 16: The Rescue
And here we have it. That scene. I am a huge Luke fan (I have mixed feelings about him in The Last Jedi, and I’ll link my review below) but I kind of wished it wasn’t him that showed up for Grogu. The Mandalorian had done so well to set itself apart from The Skywalker saga that this felt like a bit of a retrograde step. And yeah, I liked seeing him utterly destroy the Dark Troopers but it felt somewhat deus ex machina, and detracted from Mando and his motley band. And the CGI look of Luke was very uncanny valley, and I kept waiting for him to blink.
While I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Luke stuff, that Grogu goodbye had me bawling my eyes out. Even thinking about it now makes me feel like tearing up. It was just so transcendently beautiful and heartwarming. Can we nominate Pascall for some awards? Because he portrays emotions while wearing a helmet 99 per cent of the time, and when he takes it off he delivers superb performances. Now that is acting! What’s that? He’s nominated for a Critics’ Choice Super Award next year? Nah. Just one? He needs some more nominations. I will go so far to say…
Julien “Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”.
I can also be found posting on Instagram as redmanwriter and talking about TV and movie stuff on Facebook at Movieville.