Every Tuesday, Nate from @nateflixandchill_ will be revisiting The Mandalorian starting at the very beginning.
Hello there. If this is your first time clicking on The Mando Rewatch, my name is Nate, and over the past several weeks I have been revisiting The Mandalorian, starting from the very beginning. This week, I will be doing a deep dive into the key moments and thematic significance of “Chapter 14: The Tragedy.” This is a spoiler-heavy recap. So, if you choose to read on, then I hope that you have not only seen this episode, but the rest of the series as well. It also helps if you have read my earlier reviews because I tend to circle back to previously established themes. With that out the way, let’s talk about Star Wars!
Written by Jon Favreau and directed by Robert Rodriguez, this is an action-packed and genuinely badass episode – definitely the most badass chapter of the entire series. It is The Mandalorian equivalent to the WWE attitude era. When Boba Fett shows up on screen back in his armour for the first time since falling into the sarlacc pit, I felt like I could almost hear Stone Cold’s entrance music playing. The visceral and gratuitous nature of the violence is unlike anything we have ever seen in Star Wars before. I certainly never thought I would see a bunch of stormtroopers’ skulls getting caved in by a gaffi stick, but I’m sure glad I did. Boba Fett opening up a can of whoop ass was something that so many fans have been wanting to see from this character since The Empire Strikes Back. It’s important to consider those poor fans back in 1980 who saw this awesome looking bounty hunter fly away with Han Solo at the end of the film. Try to put yourself in their position. The years in between Empire and Return of the Jedi were full of speculation and anticipation about what this mysterious bad guy was going to do in the next movie. How could our heroes possibly stop him? He just looks too cool. Needless to say, Boba Fett’s unglorified and clumsy “death” in Jedi left many fans extremely disappointed. Over the years, Boba has become a bit of a joke, and many fans struggled to understand why he was held in such high regard in the first place. Some felt that he was overrated, and that he was more likely to step on a broom and knock himself out than to put up a decent fight. Diehard fans of the old novels and comic books knew what he was really capable of, but his on screen canon scenes had still failed to impress the uninitiated. Jango has his moments in Attack of the Clones, but he still gets taken out way too easily because of another faulty jetpack. So, actually getting to see Boba Fett as an unstoppable killing machine on screen is nothing short of amazing, as well as being a moment of redemption for long suffering fans of the character – such as myself. I previously mentioned in the “Chapter 1” Mando Rewatch that along with IG-88, Boba Fett was the first Star Wars action figure that I ever owned. As a result, I spent countless hours playing with that toy and imagining all sorts of crazy scenarios for Boba to fight his way out of (none of them involving gaffi sticks however). Nevertheless, I have been waiting for the moment when I could see Boba Fett at his best in action, and I loved every second of it. I’ve said it before, Favreau is a kid playing with his own action figures and putting it all on screen for everyone else to enjoy. And, having Robert Rodriguez direct this episode took the action to a completely different level. You can call it fan service, but I’ll just call it good television. One of the complaints about season two is the number of cameos involving characters from other parts of Star Wars storytelling crossing paths with Mando, and I have absolutely no time for that argument. It’s a Star Wars show dummy, what do you expect? When I watch a Batman show, I expect to see some familiar faces. Why does Star Wars have to be so different? Anyways, I feel a rant coming on, so I’ll stop before I can’t…
On another note, “The Tragedy” is such a great title for this episode. The chapter begins with a very touching scene between Mando and Grogu in which Mando laughs for the first time in the series. This father-son moment is immediately followed by the title card, and we instantly know that this is going to end badly. Yet, the fact that the title gives away the end of the episode is exactly the intention. When you read or watch an old Greek or Shakespearean tragedy, knowing that it will all end badly adds even more tension to the narrative. It is all about how the events unfold. From that point of view, if this episode is a tragedy, then Mando must have a tragic flaw. In my opinion, I think that it is his honour as a Mandalorian. For starters, when you watch the opening scene between Mando and Grogu, it really shows how conflicted Mando is about having to let Grogu go and about finding a Jedi to train him. Ultimately, it is only Mando’s Creed and his quest that are the driving force behind his search for the Jedi. And, it is now even more apparent that this blind allegiance to his code is what seems to be preventing him from what he really wants – and that is to be Grogu’s father. By extension, a good father would never have left Grogu’s side when the Empire was attacking. But, his Mandalorian nature took over, and he went straight to the fight in order to assist Fennec Shand and Boba Fett. I may be reaching here, but his parenting skills are definitely tragic. Still, Mando is clearly very much hung up on titles. He does not yet understand that what defines a person is not their title, but their actions. In fact, that seems to be an underlying theme in this episode, and the series as a whole for that matter – it relates directly to the question of what it means to be a Mandalorian. For example, when Mando first speaks to Boba Fett, he asks if Fett is a Jedi or if he is a Mandalorian, and then he asks if he has taken the Creed. To which, Boba Fett responds by saying, “I swear allegiance to no one.” At the same time, Boba acts with honour in this episode, and swears to help Mando get the child back safely. Similarly, Fennec Shand is an assassin who is helping Boba Fett in return for saving her life. She owes Mando nothing, and he even tells her that she is free to escape while he covers her, yet she refuses and stays to help him in the fight. Moreover, at the end of the episode, Cara Dune is now a Marshall of the New Republic, but she is more than willing to break the rules in order to help Mando once she hears that the Empire has taken the kid. Hence, the title doesn’t define the individual, the choices they make do. And, choice has always been a key theme to Star Wars. Alright, I’ll stop here before I go down a rabbit hole…
Apologies if I rambled a bit this week, I wrote this while I was watching game one of the Stanley Cup Finals, and Tampa Bay might as well have been using gaffi sticks instead of hockey sticks tonight, because they spanked my Habs. That is the real tragedy
I have spoken,