The Mandalorian’s rebound is a real Crowd Pleaser featuring Popular Characters and setting up Interesting, Divergent Storylines
For probably the first time, last week, The Mandalorian underwhelmed. That is to say that it dipped below its usual high standards. The show delivered on a filler episode that was received mildly by critics and fans alike. The episode did nothing to further the overall plot and relied too heavily on The Child. Fans can hope that was a one off. Fortunately, this episode is not at all like Chapter 10. Chapter 11 gets the show firmly back on track by bringing popular characters back into the fold and continuing to develop the main storyline as well as setting up another divergent one.
Mando’s journey at an end?
After last episode’s fiasco, Mando is on the brink of some answers. He has finally reached his destination: The planet where Frog Lady lives. However, is this the end of Mando’s journey or merely a stop-off point? Frog Lady told Mando that other Mandalorians lived on the planet. She was not lying. One of the Mandalorians is Bo-Katan, a character from the popular Star Wars: The Clone Wars TV show. The inclusion of Bo-Katan and other Mandalorians is more meaningful that it might seem. One might think that all Mandalorians follow the same code but this group opens Mando’s eyes to a different perspective: A less absolutist one.
Like with Boba Fett, Bo-Katan’s appearance in the show is a happy surprise but not completely unexpected. This is as the show seems to be embracing the larger Star Wars Universe out there. Season 2 is using more and more aspects of pre-existing Star Wars lore even if that means translating an animated character to live action. Another character name dropped during the episode is Ahsoka Tano. The fan favourite character also appeared in The Clone Wars and will most likely receive live action treatment in the coming episodes. This is where Mando’s mission seems to heading as Bo-Katan directs Mando to a Jedi he has been looking for: Ahsoka.
The story certainly is dragging along. Each episode seems to be focused on either some side mission or on Mando overcoming an obstacle to the completion of his goal. However, what prevents episodes like Chapter 11 from being merely filler are engaging storylines and developments in overall plot. That plot is the cohesive tissue that binds together all the episodes. While Chapter 10 ignores the overall plot and seems to take up 40 minutes merely for the sake of it, Chapter 11 on the other hand pushes the story forward in interesting, new directions.
Speaking of new directions, Bo-Katan and the other Mandalorians are not just along for the ride but they have their own mission. What they are trying to find is in fact the Darksaber. This has direct ties to a Season 1 tease. This was in the final episode when Moff Gideon emerged from his TIE Fighter holding the Darksaber. Now the Mandalorians (these ones at least) want it back. Moff Gideon actually makes a brief appearance in this episode excellently played once again by Giancarlo Esposito. In the episode, he is informed of the Mandalorian’s attempt to hijack an Imperial ship and he implements some rather excessive policies probably to protect the Darksaber.
The show at this point seems to be diverging with two engaging storylines going on at the same time. It will be fascinating to see in future episodes how everything plays out. The Darksaber storyline will play out and it is currently unknown whether the two storylines (that and Mando’s mission) will eventually converge again.
The Mandalorian rebounds off a disappointing episode with a crowd pleaser that brings popular characters back into the fold and offers up interesting albeit divergent plot-lines. At this point in the season, the show is fully embracing the wider franchise the show exists in with the return of fan favourite characters and references to pre-established lore. The Mandalorian continues to follow Mando in his quest to return The Child to his kind. While the story is dragging along to some extent, episodes like these manage to remain fun and wholesome without feeling filler in any way. Chapter 11 appeals to hardcore fans, general audiences, and critics alike with Easter eggs, a self-contained story with Bo-Katan, and by giving future episodes exciting new avenues to explore. Mando is now firmly on his way to some answers. And next episode promises to be one of the all time greats most likely bringing yet another character to live action: Ahsoka Tano. Will she give Mando the answers he has been looking for?