by @holocronJosh for @sw_holocron
WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Chapter 14 of The Mandalorian
Following the exhilarating Chapter 13, featuring the live-action debut of Ahsoka, some jaw dropping reveals, and incredible action, it was easy to predict that the subsequent installment of The Mandalorian would take a step back in delivering a more contained, inconsequential episode. However, this was certainly not the case as the Disney+ series continued delivering the punches with another enthralling episode. Chapter 14: The Tragedy follows Din Djarin and The Child, now known as Grogu, arriving on Tython following Ahsoka’s instructions. As is often the case with the Mandalorian’s adventures, things do not go as planned as he must withstand Imperial forces and the return of a fan favorite character.
It’s difficult to kick this review off without making note of the stunning way in which director Robert Rodriguez navigated this episode. Rodriguez has a diverse array of films in his catalogue, from the Spy Kids franchise to Sin City to Alita: Battle Angel most recently, but Rodriguez’s work on the Desperado Trilogy can clearly be felt in Chapter 14. Rodriguez masterfully handles Chapter 14’s action sequences, which take up a significant portion of the episode, perhaps more than any installment to date.
The emotional centerpiece of the series is on full display again in highlighting Djarin and Grogu’s relationship. The little training sequence aboard the Razor Crest at the beginning was both funny and heartwarming, something The Mandalorian and Star Wars more broadly excels at. All these moments conveying the growing bond between the bounty hunter and the child make the tragedy that the episode is named after all the more powerful.
Despite the emotional moments, the real highlight of the episode is obviously the triumphant return of Temeura Morrison as Boba Fett. After appearing in season two’s premiere episode, we’ve been eagerly waiting to see how and when the infamous bounty hunter will reappear and it was quite unexpected to see Boba show up in Chapter 14. Just the shot of Djarin staring off into the distance to see Slave I entering the atmosphere gave us goosebumps. And from that moment onward, Morrison stole the show. His conversations with Djarin felt like a Star Wars’ fan’s dream come true. Packed full of great references (“I’m just a simple man”) and new canon information (like Jango being a Mandalorian foundling), their interactions added so much depth to an already incredible episode. It’s great to see Morrison come alive as Boba after his scene stealing performance as Jango in Attack of the Clones. And when Boba comes alive, he really comes alive. The relatively brief half-hour episode of The Mandalorian arguably contains more badass Boba Fett content than we’ve ever seen, capped off by Boba donning his classic armor once again and handedly disposing of a battalion of stormtroopers.
Speaking of the episode’s length, despite its brief runtime, the episode packs in a ton of great content. Not only do we see the return of Boba Fett, but also the return of Ming-Na Wen’s Fennec Shand. Fennec was great in Chapter 5: The Gunslinger and Chapter 14 confirmed many fans’ suspicions that it was Boba who approached her at the end of her debut episode. We also see the destruction of the Razor Crest, another shocking moment in an already unpredictable episode. It’ll be interesting to see what ship Djarin will be flying in the future, because it definitely seems as if the Razor Crest is beyond repair at this point, especially with no Kuiil around. The eventfulness didn’t stop there as Djarin, Boba, and Fennec team up to rescue Grogu and begin their rescue by visiting Cara Dune on Nevarro for information about Mayfeld. All in all, this episode set up a lot for the season’s final two installments, while also serving as a great 30 minutes of standalone Star Wars content.
Really the only criticism I have toward the episode is the somewhat lackluster setting relative to other episodes of The Mandalorian. This season we have been welcomed by incredible landscapes, whether it be the sandy plains of Tatooine in Chapter 9 or the black market port of Trask. Unfortunately, Chapter 14 had a relatively bland setting with Tython merely being a grassy, Earth-like landscape. In this sense, Chapter 14 wasn’t the most visually appealing installment of The Mandalorian from a cinematography perspective.
Overall, The Mandalorian came up with another thrilling episode, delivering emotional moments, incredible action sequences, and adding significantly to canon. This is all in addition to giving Boba Fett centerstage in a way Star Wars fans have been clamoring for for years. Robert Rodriguez expertly directs the episode, something that is even more commendable given that he was a last-minute hire for the position. In looking forward to what Chapter 14 set up, we can’t wait to see what the remainder of season 2 has in store.
Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Disney+