Once again, we missed last week’s recap. Blame UNC football for scheduling a game on a Friday – don’t they know that’s when “The Mandalorian” comes out? Anyways, that was a pretty big one to miss with the introduction of Rosario Dawson’s Ahsoka Tano, the reveal that Baby Yoda is actually named Grogu, and the new quest to deliver him to the ruins of a Jedi Temple on the planet Tython and place him on a Seeing Stone.
Well, Chapter 14 is here now and with it comes a terribly depressing title, “The Tragedy,” but also some thrilling action and a ton of long-awaited payoffs.
Let’s get started.
The Seeing Stone
Following the instructions of Ahsoka, aka “the nice lady,” Mando and Grogu arrive on Tython, and it’s pretty clear where they’re supposed to go. Now, I may not know what a Seeing Stone looks like, but I think a circular altar on top of a mountain and surrounded by stone pillars may be a solid place to start. Mando does too, but there’s nowhere to land the Razor Crest up top, so he and Grogu have to park it down below and jetpack their way up. That always leads to a few signature Baby Yo coos, so the flight is much appreciated.
Once they arrive, Mando places Grogu on the altar, but nothing really seems to happen. Maybe unplug it and plug it back in? While Mando is looking for some sort of on switch, the two realize they’re about to get some company. From up above comes a ship, but not just any ship – the Slave I, Boba Fett’s signature vehicle. At long last, after the tease in the closing moments of this season’s premiere, the famed bounty hunter played by Temeura Morrison will make his return.
Mando may not recognize the ship like the viewers do, but he knows it’s bad news, and that means it’s time to go. Except… Grogu must have restored the rock to its factory settings, because it’s working fine now and he’s locked in a trance surrounded by a blue energy field and unable to be stirred. Well, looks like escape is out of the picture, so that means Mando must protect the Child until he wraps up his Jedi business.
Familiar faces all around
Mando ventures down the side of the mountain to greet their new guests, but they don’t seem so friendly, considering the heavy blaster fire he receives. Fett, donning his desert cloak and sniper rifle – a much different look than his signature green armor – then reveals himself to Mando. Contrary to Mando’s assumptions, Fett is not after the Child, which means he’s more than likely not Moff Gideon’s (Giancarlo Esposito) mysterious informant. Instead, all he wants is his old armor back – the gear Mando received from Cobb Vanth (Timothy Olyphant) back in Chapter 10.
Fett didn’t come alone, though. Remember way back in Season 1 when Mando left that bounty hunter for dead in the desert of Tatooine and the episode closed with a mysterious pair of feet arriving to save her? Well, yup. That was Boba Fett rescuing Fennec Shand, and the two have been working together ever since. While Fett may not look threatening with his hands up, Fennec has her sights trained on Baby Yo at the mountaintop, and unless Mando agrees to lower his weapons, everyone’s favorite little green guy is doomed.
They all drop their weapons – which includes Mando removing his jetpack – and begin to discuss the return of Fett’s armor. Fett and Fennec offer up protection for Mando and Grogu in exchange for the gear, but before they can get too far into a conversation, unwanted guests arrive.
The Empire strikes back
Two transports zoom onto the planet and out pour an army of stormtroopers intent on capturing Grogu once more. Nothing brings bounty hunters together more than a mutual disdain for the empire, and suddenly the three are very clearly on the same side.
At this point, episode director Robert Rodriguez turns this into an all-out war movie. The stormtroopers spill out of the ship and the battle is on, as Mando and Co. rain fire on them from above on the mountain. For the first time ever, Rodriguez gives “Star Wars” fans something they’ve been asking for for decades: real-life, badass Boba Fett.
Ever since his first appearance, fans knew Boba Fett was a badass. Whether it was the armor, the weapons, or just his general aura, it was clear he was not to be crossed. But my guy does nothing in “Empire Strikes Back” or “Return of the Jedi” other than go out sad. So, to finally see him kick ass and take names – without his armor, no less – provides the infamous bounty hunter with a much-needed redemption. Seeing his ability to slice through swaths of stormtroopers with only his staff is truly impressive, and was can only imagine what he’s like at full strength in his armor.
The stormtroopers didn’t come empty-handed, though. They’ve got gatling guns, grenade launchers and all sorts of heavy artillery. But with all that firepower on a mountainside, that means some loose rocks, which results in an Indiana Jones-esque boulder that works to our heroes’s advantage.
Boba’s big break
With reinforcements rolling in, things aren’t looking good for Mando and Fennec, even with his beskar armor providing a shield for both of them. But out of nowhere, down falls a thermal detonator, and suddenly the tables are turned.
Remember how I said we had no idea how lethal Boba Fett is at full strength in his armor? Well, now we do. During all the commotion, Fett snuck aboard the Razor Crest and suited up with his old armor, and the result is frightening. His blend of fire power with hand-to-hand combat is unlike any fighting style we’ve seen in “Star Wars,” and even Mando would have a hard time competing. Suddenly Fett is living up to his decades-long reputation.
The stormtroopers know better than to mess with Fett, and the remaining survivors initiate a retreat, dashing back to their ships in hopes of escape. Not on Boba’s watch. Like we saw Vanth do earlier, Fett uses his jetpack’s rocket to take down one of the transports, which in turn crashes into the other, destroying both.
Those weren’t the only ships the Empire brought to the party, though. Out of nowhere a massive laser blasts the Razor Crest to pieces. This may be bad news for the time being, but let me just say… thank god. It’s no secret the Razor Crest has been the root of Mando and Grogu’s problems and hopefully this will help him move on to a more stable ship.
Turns out Moff Gideon and his command cruiser are lurking just past the clouds, and they still have those Dark Troopers in the armory. Gideon calls them into action and four super soldiers jet down towards the Seeing Stone, which means the race is on. Mando – without his jetpack, if you’ll recall – scurries up the mountainside, but he’s no match for the speed of the Dark Troopers.
The four land, scoop up Baby Yo and take back off towards the cruiser. We may not get to see them in action yet, but these guys already make traditional stormtroopers look like even more of a pushover.
Fett tries his best to pursue the soaring stormtroopers in the Slave I, but Mando determines it’s too risky for Grogu to attempt a rescue in the air. Still, the ship follows the kidnappers through the clouds to investigate their origin, and that’s when Fett realizes – the Empire is back, and they’ve got big ass ships to prove it.
He returns back to Tython where he finds Mando searching the ruins of his decimated ship. It turns out the only two things to survive the blast were the beskar staff given to him by Ahsoka, and Grogu’s favorite control knob. One memento to motivate Mando to save the Child, and one weapon to help him do it. Although Mando and Fett may not have officially come to an agreement before all hell broke loose, now that the latter has his armor back, he’s still willing to uphold his end of the bargain.
Fett and Fennec offer their services to Mando to ensure the safety of Grogu, and the crew takes off in Slave I on the first steps of their rescue mission. That means recruiting help to break into an Imperial Cruiser, and that means finding someone who’s done it – Migs Mayfield, Bill Burr’s mercenary from Season 1. With the help of Cara Dune (Gina Carano), it looks like that’s where Mando is headed next.
As if we weren’t already concerned enough, the episode closes with one final look at Grogu in Imperial custody, and that leads to some disturbing revelations. For one, the Child is having his way with the stormtroopers, using the Force to sling them around his holding cell and even Force choke them a la Darth Vader. Once again, we must ask ourselves… could Grogu be evil? Gideon brandishes the Darksaber and admires Grogu’s powers, before placing the Child in shackles and celebrating the return of the Empire’s “donor.”
If we’re being honest, Chapter 14 may have been the best episode of “The Mandalorian” yet. Coming in under 30 minutes was a deviation from the show’s usual 35 to 40-minute runtime, but that meant everything here was absolutely integral to the plot. Couple that concise storytelling with the return of Boba Fett, some perfectly executed action scenes, and major plot developments, and it’s easy to see why this episode was such a hit.
Come back next week for our recap of “The Mandalorian Chapter 15.”
Zach Goins is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association based in Raleigh, N.C. Zach co-founded Inside The Film Room in 2018 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the website and co-host of the podcast. Zach also serves as a film critic for CLTure.org.