Friday, April 21, 2023

Recap: Mandalorian Episode 24 — The Return

The final episode of season delivers the goods with incredible action and a weeks-long payoff that was definitely worth the wait.

The past week has been a wild ride for Mandalorian fans as conspiracy theories abounded. Is the Armorer a spy? What about Axe Woves? Will Din die? Will his memory be erased by the mindflayer?!?

Thankfully, none of these were true. 

We start right where the last episode leaves off, as Axe heads off to get reinforcements to help Bo-Katan fight their way out of the base. He flies through the atmosphere to the capital ships and gets it evacuated, but I’m not gonna lie — the entire time, I was just waiting him for to contact the Imperials. He doesn’t, thank god. 

The Return of Badass Mando

Lest you may have forgotten, Din Djarin is an incredible fighter, and his skills are on full display this episode. This finale isn’t unlike the last episode of The Last of Us, which also features Pedro Pascal dead-set on righting some wrongs with muscle and huff. 

He escapes capture and is rescued by IG-12/Grogu, and they decide to make their final stand against Moff Gideon. But he can’t do without the help of a classic Star Wars trope: an astromech plugged into a mainframe. 

R5-D4’s Redemption Arch

R5 has been in several episodes of The Mandalorian over the years, but it’s important to remember his origin story: the one Owen Lars & Luke almost bought that blew a top thanks to a bad motivator. R5 is nervous and twitchy, but he gets the job done.

In this episode, Din communicates with him to control the Phantom-Menace plasma screens, allowing him to tackle them piecemeal. Pesky mouse droids interrupt him, but he holds his ground before jetting off to safety. Good work, R5-D4! Once again, these fight scenes between Din and the Imperials are incredibly orchestrated, and an absolute joy to watch. 

It’s Raining Mandos

In the air, the Armorer returns with reinforcements as the Mandos go up against the jet troopers, and the aerial battle is wild, all over the place, and sheer, non-stop excitement. Seeing the Armorer fly into battle with her hammer and forge tools knocking the ever-loving hell out of bad guys was something I didn’t know I needed, but definitely did.

The visceral KA-THUNK as her hammer makes contact with a body that then falls from the sky — amazing. Bo-Katan also soars into the fray wielding the Darksaber, and nothing feels more natural. We also learn in this episode that plants are growing again on Mandalore, which means that the future is looking up for the planet's inhabitants. 

3 Praetorians and a Baby

Din and Grogu pass a hall of clones — including Gideon’s clones that we learn he’s been growing that have Jedi powers. (This ties together threads from the very first episode of the series — why he wanted baby Yoda in the first place).

Obviously disgusted, Din pulls the plug on these brewing clones, much to the imperial leader’s dismay. When they finally meet up with Gideon, Grogu gets separated from Din as he's dragged away by three Praetorian guards. Din, meanwhile, is stuck battling Gideon in his super powerful Beskar armor and things aren't looking good. Thank goodness for a Deus Ex Bo-Katan-icha, as she arrives to take over the battle so he can go rescue Grogu. 

This fight scene with Din, the three guards, and Grogu is wild — he manages to take them all on and defeat them, thanks to key force pushes by Grogu. They make a great team, and its interesting to note that Grogu isn’t using the force for attack — only for misdirection and keeping weapons just out reach. 

Still Flying Half a Ship

Axe Woves, doing his best Anakin Skywalker, is flying/crashing the light freighter down from the atmosphere on a direct course for Gideon’s base. Bo is still battling Gideon, who has crushed the Darksaber with his beskar fist, and now it’s her turn to be saved by Din.

As the ship comes crashing down around them, flames engulf everything — except for a small circle around Din, Grogu, and Bo. Grogu uses the force to create a safe bubble as Gideon falls away — but is he defeated? Are there more clones? Time will certainly tell, I have a feeling.

Din Finally Signs the Adoption Papers

After the battle, we’re back at the living waters of Mandalore as we witness Paz Vizsla's son take the creed. RIP Paz, but your son is following in your footsteps, and you died a hero's death. Din approaches with Grogu, asking for him to be confirmed as his apprentice. He’s still too young to speak, but could become an apprentice if a parent gave consent. So, he adopts Grogu, henceforth known as Din Grogu. Bo and the Armorer together relight the Grand Forge, and it’s clear that Mandalore has a future. 

What’s in Store for Our Duo?

Back at the New Republic base, Din meets up with Carson Teva to propose a business deal — he’ll work as an independent contractor/bounty hunter for the New Republic. It’s hinted at that future seasons of the show will revolve around the types of missions we saw in season one, but this time Din and Grogu will be a team. While at the bar, Grogu finally gets his chicken nuggets, and notices an assassin droid head, which they take. 

A Single Dad, Now Officially a Homeowner

That assassin droid head? It has the parts to repair IG-11 (finally). Our duo return to their homebase of Nevarro and present Greef Karga and the citizens with a restored-to-life IG-11. Greef then gives Din the keys to a cute little cabin on the outskirts of town, where he can raise his small green son when they’re not off gallivanting around the galaxy. 


The Math

Baseline score: 9/10

Bonuses: + 3 Finally! The action we’ve been waiting for.  

Penalties: I have none this week!

Nerd coefficient: +3 Dave Filoni cameo in the bar! So many mouse droids. Phantom Menace-esque laser gates!

Gonk droid count: 1! In the final scene, whew.

POSTED BY: Haley Zapal, new NoaF contributor and lawyer-turned-copywriter living in Atlanta, Georgia. A co-host of Hugo-nominated podcast Hugo, Girl!, she posts on Instagram as @cestlahaley. She loves nautical fiction, vidalia onions, and growing corn and giving them pun names like Anacorn Skywalker.