‘The Mandalorian’: The Empire Strikes Back (RECAP)

Spoiler Alert
Lucasfilm/Disney+
Lucasfilm/Disney+

[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Mandalorian Season 2 episode 14, “The Tragedy.”]

The Mandalorian has proved you don’t need 43 minutes to tell a good story, but this has never been clearer than in “The Tragedy.” The Robert Rodriguez-directed episode brings back several notable figures from episodes (and movies) past, and tells a compelling, visually stunning tale in just under a half-hour.

Plot-wise, Mando (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu make it to Tython, but it’s not clear what, exactly, Grogu needs to do to “reach out” to the jedi. That confusion turns to concern when Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) shows up with an unexpected ally; and of course, things only get worse from there, concluding with a sob-worthy turn of events. Buckle up, because the Empire has struck back hard.

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Boba’s Back, Tell a Friend

Mando and Grogu head to Tython, where Mando finds the magic rock (his words) he’s supposed to take The Child. It’s not immediately apparent how the magic rock is supposed to work and, at first, Grogu does nothing. That’s inconvenient, but the real inconvenience is Slave I, Boba Fett’s ship appearing from the clouds just as Grogu is surrounded by a column of soft blue light.

“Snap out of it, kid!” Mando says, but when Grogu remains one with the Force, he says he’ll try and buy him some time.

This leads him face to face with Boba Fett, who doesn’t want The Child — he wants his armor back. Mando being Mando, he has some reservations. He asks Boba if he’s taken the creed and if he’s Mandalorian, to which Boba responds he’s a “simple man making his way through the universe.” That’s not good enough for Mando, who implies he’ll be keeping the beskar. That leads Boba to reveal he has a sharpshooter locked onto Grogu — “And if you remember, I don’t miss,” she says. It’s Fennec Shand (Ming Na Wen)!

Lucasfilm/Disney+

So Many Stormtroopers

How did Fennec survive? Well, Boba saved her, seemingly by making her part droid, so she’s now in his service. The bounty hunter makes Mando a deal; he gives back the armor, he and Grogu are safe. And of course, right as Boba says this, who shows up but an army of Imperial Stormtroopers?

Boba and Fennec fight the aim-challenged squadron in badass fashion, which eventually leads Boba to Mando’s open ship, and the armor he so desperately craves. Meanwhile, another ship of troopers arrives. And what has Mando been doing the whole time? Trying — and failing — to get Grogu out of that column of blue light; every time he reaches for him, he’s blasted back. Finally, Mando decides he’s better off protecting Grogu since he can’t reach him, and he moves away. Right as the blue column disappears.

RIP Razor Crest

Mando goes to help Fennec, who’s surrounded by Stormtroopers. Things look bleak for them, but then, out of nowhere, Boba flies in. Yes, flies — he has his armor back! The troopers retreat, terrified of Fett (and for good reason). The iconic bounty hunter then takes down both ships of troopers, and that seems to be that.

Then Mando’s ship explodes.

Unsurprisingly, Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) has found his way to the party. Boba heads for his own ship while Mando sprints back to Grogu, who’s sleeping peacefully on the Seeing Stone. Gideon sends down a few Dark Troopers, who snag Grogu and fly back to Gideon. Boba follows the troopers, but is unable to recover Grogu, and thus, we discover why this episode is called “The Tragedy.”

Lucasfilm/Disney+

Gideon’s Ghastliness

Gideon jumps away, leaving Mando to sort through the wreckage of his ship. Grogu’s favorite toy (the ball from the top of the lever in the ship) survived, as did the beskar spear. Boba says their deal isn’t done, though; The Child isn’t safe, so he and Fennec are in Din’s debt. They make a pit stop for Mando to chat with Cara (Gina Carano) about springing Mayfield (Bill Burr), since he needs his help to find Gideon.

And speaking of Gideon, he walks into Grogu’s cell to find him using the Force to beat up two Stormtroopers pretty badly —Force choking and all. That exhausts the poor little guy, and Gideon, after showing him the darksaber, has another trooper stun him and put him in shackles. Then he tells his officer to send an encrypted message to Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi): “We have our donor.”

Other Observations

  • I think this is my favorite episode so far in the series. There’s just so much to love here, from the surprises to the action sequences to the music.
  • So, who are we thinking Grogu reached out to? If he chose to walk the way of the jedi, my gut says Ezra Bridger (if he’s played by Rahul Kohli, even better) given that we’ve already heard about Thrawn. But I’ve seen speculation that it could be Cal Kestis (who could easily be played by Cameron Monaghan, given that he voices him in Fallen Order). It could also be Luke, but I’m not sure Disney will go there. It sure seems like it’ll be a season-finale reveal.
  • Boba Fett remains all kinds of cool, but the real shock here was Fennec surviving. I’m just happy Ming-Na Wen is back.
  • I hope we’re getting Bo-Katan back this season. Gideon revealing the darksaber again this episode feels like it’s hinting toward her showing up, since that’s kind of her whole quest right now. If Mando manages to assemble a team consisting of Boba, Fennec, Mayfield, Bo-Katan and the Nite Owls, and Cara Dune, the Empire doesn’t stand a chance.

The Mandalorian, Fridays, Disney+