The pieces of Jon Favreau’s puzzle are neatly clicking into place. I often catch myself not noticing how one filler episode’s easter egg is another chapter’s treasure, having it all make sense in the end. The chapter-length announcement had me jittery. What story can anyone tell in 33 minutes from this show that’s not going to be more filler? Usually, the shorter the length of “The Mandalorian,” the more likely the episode won’t be an arching story. Not so in this case. Oh, so wonderfully not the case.
Alas, the fan service is paying off in spades that serves a purpose to link the story. Once more, we are introduced to an incredibly familiar character that doesn’t just feel planted in the narrative so men on YouTube can film themselves jumping out of their chairs with their mouths wide open. Each “cameo” stretches that universe of Star Wars while giving us the familiar. This week’s guest isn’t just there because he/she is cool. It’s because said character adds weight to Din Djarin’s smallness amidst such a big universe. The viewer is continuously watching a man recognize his blindness to a much more extensive world than him where his philosophical viewpoints are questioned, allowing us to understand what kind of narrow upbringing Mando had.
“The Mandalorian,” of course, isn’t the most profound show. When the shooting gets going, the episode doesn’t stop blasting—separating itself from various peppered sequences throughout the series; the action doesn’t get lost in video game territory for the most part. Admittedly the action in Chapter 14 has its hero pose moments aimed at making an older fanbase giddy; while also serving as a bit of emotional closure towards its featured character that anyone would recognize. No knowledge of the Feloniverse is required for this one.
The shooting gallery sequence could have been trimmed significantly. The balance between story and action is serviceable but not emotional like the previous one, which is okay in this case. Chapter 14, “The Tragedy,” shows us where things will go tonally for the final two episodes. Thematically “The Mandalorian” has always been about being a western set in space. The influences of George Lucas’ original creation is on Tarantino levels of display. At this point, if you’re hoping to have a weepy emotional, sad episode, I don’t think “The Mandalorian” or “Star Wars” in general is the right place to look. Aside from “The Empire Strikes Back’s” operatic angle, it was more or less lightning in a bottle.
“The Tragedy” is the clearest of the clear indicators regarding “The Mandalorian’s” mood for the entirety of the show. Who better than to establish that mood other than Robert Rodriguez? A man who loves gunfights also knows how to build characters. Think of the half of “From Dusk Til Dawn” before the vampires came into the picture. Don’t worry, nothing remotely comes to that extreme here. Rodriguez was the right guy to show the balancing act the team is trying to juggle. You need to have your action to please the younger fans. At the same time, you must appeal to the fans who grew up with Star Wars that have little fans of their own. They want their kids to turn to daddy and say, “who is that?” While we ask our kids at the same time, “who’s that?” The meditation is working. Everyone behind this show is gifting us each week with a new Christmas present.