Quote of the week: “They have the kid.”
Though many mysterious threats have been teased thus far in season two of “The Mandalorian,” the show has a tendency to move on before the nature of the threats can be revealed. This all changes, however, in this week’s “Chapter 14: The Tragedy” — a convergence of plotlines resulting in such catastrophe that the grave title feels like an understatement.
From the episode’s start, it’s clear that things are changing for our heroes. After learning in “Chapter 13: The Jedi” that Grogu spent part of his life in training to become a Jedi, Mando (Pedro Pascal) is closer than ever to uncovering his companion’s past and finding a way to return him to his home. But with victory so close, he can’t help but dread their impending separation.
Operating on the advice they received from Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson), the two travel to the planet Tython, where they find the ruins of a Jedi temple with a strong connection to the Force. All Mando has to do, according to Ahsoka, is sit Grogu in the center of the ruins, whereupon he will be able to use the Force to call out to any Jedi who might be stranded across the galaxy.
At first, it seems as though nothing is happening — Mando tries to find a way to activate the Force connection — and then, suddenly, a menacing ship appears in the sky. To Mando, the ship is foreign, but to “Star Wars” fans, its silhouette is unmistakable: It’s Slave I, Boba Fett’s (Temuera Morrison) iconic vessel.
Mando senses danger, but when he turns to Grogu to announce their departure, he discovers that Grogu is in a deep meditative state, surrounded by an impenetrable blue Force field. Time to improvise.
Mando goes to confront Boba, who greets him with a barrage of blaster fire. With his Beskar armor, Mando has the upper hand, but Boba brought backup: Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), the bounty hunter who was left for dead on Tatooine halfway through season one. With Fennec’s sniper rifle trained on Grogu, Boba offers Mando a deal: He’ll exchange Grogu’s safety for his armor, which Mando won off Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant) in the season two premiere.
Just as the tension starts to subside, though, several small ships land nearby and deploy dozens of Stormtroopers. Mando flies back to the top of the temple ruins to protect Grogu, but Boba and Fennec stay on the ground to fight.
The violent battle that follows is a sharp departure from the “Star Wars” battles of old, where a laser would innocently collapse a foe without leaving any visible signs of impact. Boba’s half-spear, half-club, on the other hand, shatters helmets and pierces armor, leaving a grisly, but bloodless — it is Disney, after all — wreckage of Stormtroopers in its wake.
With Grogu still deep in meditation, Mando is unable to get past the Force field, so he leaves the ruins to assist his newfound comrades down below. Just as he and Fennec are about to be overrun, Boba reenters the fray, clad in his distinct green armor. Pulling out all his old tricks, Boba makes quick work of the Stormtroopers and their ships.
But before the victory celebration can start, a laser blast shrieks through the sky and incinerates the Razor Crest. Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito), who ordered the strike from the helm of his Imperial cruiser, dispatches the Dark Troopers, a group of hyper-advanced, flight-powered battle droids.
With crippling precision, the Dark Troopers land on the temple, collect Grogu — who has just awoken from his meditation — and blast off back toward the cruiser. It’s too late to rescue him; he’s back in the Empire’s clutches.
Where does Mando go from here? He’s rescued Grogu from the Empire before, but last time, he wasn’t guarded by Moff and his fearsome robotic lieutenants. To be sure, Mando has his own heavyweights on his side, but the final two episodes are shaping up to be quite the challenge. He’d better find Grogu fast, though — we can’t take many more scenes of baby Yoda in chains.
Matthew DuMont is a deputy arts & entertainment editor. Contact him at [email protected].