December 5, 2020

Streamin' Meemies: The Mandalorian Season 2 Ep 6, "The Tragedy"


I think The Mandalorian can rightly pride itself on its lean, mean, efficient storytelling. You'd think, with each episode's budget rumored to be in the $15 million range, they would be drawn out and overstuffed. But just like the early rock songs, the episodes show up, say their piece in 2-3 minutes (or 30) and get out. Most of the time, this is fine. But sometimes, no amount of crisp storytelling and balls-to-the-wall action sequences can paper over plot holes big enough to shoot the Razor Crest through.

Unfortunately, this episode is one of those times. 

Not that there aren't good things about it. The opening sequence, for instance, with Mando letting Baby Yoda play with his favorite joystick knob and seemingly delighting to call Grogu by his real name, just to see his ears flick and his head snap up, is one of them. He even lets Grogu practice his Jedi powers, having him Force-yank the knob out of his hand. Mando is saying he's going to take the kid to Tython and find a Jedi to train him, and it's obvious every word coming out of his mouth is a desperate attempt to talk himself into thinking this is a good thing. 

They reach Tython, land the Razor Crest, and Mando jetpacks himself and Grogu to the top of the hill where the temple/Seeing Stone is. He places Grogu on the nondescript hump that is the Seeing Stone and waits for the little one to trigger something. Then there is the whining sound of an (ugly-ass) ship coming in and landing. Mando looks to see who is emerging and runs back to Grogu, saying "We have to get out of here, kid!" But while he was gone, Baby touched the stone and activated it, sending a blue-white column of Force power shooting up into the sky, surrounding him and the stone. This doesn't stop Mando from trying to reach through the energy and grab Grogu, which gets him (and not for the first time this episode) knocked ass over teakettle. 

To buy time for whatever is going down, Mando rushes down the hill to meet whoever disembarked from the ugly ship. (I know these episodes are shot on a soundstage with huge digital screens providing the background images, but man, this really looked like it was filmed on location. Especially all the running up and down the hills and over, through and behind rocks. Hopefully there will be another behind the scenes documentary, as there was for Season 1, and we'll see if this was the case.) Of course, this person proves to be....wait for it....Boba Fett, having tracked him all the way from Tatooine.

(Plot Hole #1: How?)

Now I am not a Boba Fett fanatic like most. Never having watched most of the prequel trilogy, I hardly knew who the guy was until his reveal in Episode 1 of the season and the entire fandom went apocaleptic. Mando doesn't believe his assertion that the other armor belongs to him either, but Boba has a bit of an ace in the hole: the assassin Fennec Shand, who he rescued on Tatooine way back in season 1 after she was left for dead. (And revived her by apparently....inserting steampunk pistons in place of her blaster-ravaged guts? This civilization has thousands of clones to fight its wars, but can't manage replacement body parts?) Boba suggests instead of everyone shooting each other, they all stand down and talk. Fennec will lay down her sniper rifle, and Mando his jetpack. Fennec says the bounty on Grogu has increased exponentially--and sure enough, as they are talking, another ship lands next to the Razor Crest and vomits forth a legion of stormtroopers. Mando runs back up the hill again, thinking to try to grab Grogu.


Grogu's still...communing with the Force, or whatever the heck he's doing, and Mando tries once again to penetrate it, and once again gets thrown ass over teakettle. This time he's knocked clear out, which I surmise is only to let Boba Fett and Fennec Shand unleash two magnificent cans of whoop-ass. Which they ably proceed to do, in an admittedly exciting action sequence. Fennec jumps in the air, runs across rocks and rarely misses her shots, and Boba swings his metal hook-ended thingie and takes down Stormtroopers coming and going. In the middle of this, he also spots the Razor Crest (CONVENIENTLY SITTING THERE WITH ITS LANDING RAMP DOWN) and retrieves his armor. This is a good thing, timing-wise, as Mando finally wakes up and tries ONE MORE TIME to fetch Grogu. 

(Plot Hole #3: Isn't this the definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? Also, WHY DON'T YOU USE THE KID'S NAME, SEEING AS EVERY TIME YOU'VE SAID IT BEFORE HIS ADORABLE LITTLE HEAD WHIPS AROUND? But no, Mando just likes playing Force gymnastics, I guess.)

After Grogu plows his butt into the dirt a third time, Mando runs (RUNS...ARGHH) back down the hill, meets up with Fennec, and gets surrounded by Stormtroopers. They're badly outnumbered, and things are getting dicey when a re-armored Boba Fett steps in. He proceeds to clear out the entire bunch, so much so they break and run back to their transports. Said transports take off, and Boba zeroes in on them and shoots off his jetpack rocket, bringing both of them down in flames. 

Now. (Plot Hole #4: Instead of IMMEDIATELY grabbing his own jetpack and scooting up the hill to Grogu, who had FALLEN OVER WITH EXHAUSTION AND RELEASED THE FORCE COLUMN RIGHT AFTER MANDO LEFT THE THIRD TIME) Mando, Boba and Fennec stop to have a fucking CONVERSATION. While it's nice that Mando recognizes the armor belongs to Boba and all, and Boba's a foundling like his father before him, y'all don't have fucking TIME to stand around and flap your jaws, folks. This is proven minutes later, when laser shots come out of the sky and blow up the poor Razor Crest. They see the outline of a huge ship up there, and Fennec tells Boba to get to his own (ugly-ass) ship. Boba jets off, and (Plot Hole #5: MANDO STILL DOESN'T GET HIS GODDAMN JETPACK) we see just who this is: Moff Gideon, sending his Dark Stormtroopers down to grab the baby. Four of them jet through the sky, while Mando and Fennec run back up the hill.

*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*

Of course, you know what happens, don't you? The Dark Stormtroopers scoop up Grogu and take off. Never mind that if Mando had jetted STRAIGHT BACK UP THERE, he could have gotten to Grogu before they did. Which undoubtedly would have led to an aerial battle, but hell, that's what Boba's ugly-ass ship is there for, isn't it? Now, I don't know if they could have gotten away...they might all have ended up in Moff Gideon's custody. But at least that would have made a bit more sense

As it is, Boba follows the Dark Stormtroopers far enough to see that they're going back to an Imperial Cruiser (Plot Hole #6: Why don't they shoot him out of the sky? For that matter, why didn't they blow up his ship the same time as the Razor Crest?). The cruiser jumps away, leaving the three behind. Down on the planet, Mando paws through the remains of his ship to find Baby's toy and his beskar spear, and Boba says he and Fennec owe Mando a debt for the return of the armor. The first part of paying that off is taking him back to Navarro, where he asks Cara Dune to find an Imperial prisoner, another guy from the first season. He also tells her Moff Gideon has Grogu (or "the kid," since she doesn't know Mando has discovered Grogu's name). 

Final scene: Aboard Moff Gideon's cruiser, he goes down to the chamber where Grogu is being held, to find the baby tossing, Force-choking, and smashing his Stormtrooper guards (although he doesn't manage to kill them, since they both eventually get to their feet and stagger off). Moff Gideon is very pleased by this display of Grogu's abilities and even shows the frightened baby the darksaber--which Grogu tries to reach out to, evidently recognizing what it is. Moff Gideon is obviously not worried that Grogu will escape; as he says, using the Force makes him "very sleepy." Still, they stun the kid and put shackles on his little hands, and leave him there passed out in the chamber. 

The first time I watched this, it went by fast enough that I didn't notice the plot holes. The second time, taking my notes, I thought: Really? Jon Favreau usually writes better episodes than this. I guess he knows he has two episodes remaining and however many millions of dollars left to spend, and he's going to stretch it out and spend it. 

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