The Mandalorian’s finale, “Redemption,” was an emotionally satisfying payoff for a charming, wandering season about a space cowboy and his adopted green son. Though there were some who didn’t like the show’s very episodically-structured season—with its brief cameos and unexplained motivations—I loved the throwback format and the fun the show had with a variety of well-worn genre tropes. And since it was just tangential to the main Star Wars narrative, it was able to both play around with vaguely-familiar characters recognized by casual viewers and pack its story full of Easter eggs for uber-fans.
I could continue to say nice things about this inaugural season’s writers and directors, the wonderful cast, the care with which the show was obviously created, and the craftsmanship that put an emphasis on practical effects, BUT … we’re all really just here to talk about Baby Yoda so let’s get to it.
There were two things that “Redemption” needed to give us, and it did so in the most lovingly intense ways possible. The first was an answer to Baby Yoda’s arc: Where are we going with this mysterious little child creature? Is he a Sith? Is he a savior? He is, now canonically, Mando’s son. They are a clan of two, with their own mudhorn sigil (the event which first bonded them together), and the gunslinger who has carried this wee alien around for eight episodes is now, officially, his father.
I’m going to need just a minute …
Now, the second thing The Mandalorian needed to provide was some answer to who Mando actually is. We had already pieced together that he was probably adopted into Mandalorian kind after being saved from droid destruction on his home planet, and “Redemption” confirmed that. But it also revealed his name, Din Djarin, and—at long last—his FACE. Pedro Pascal! Mando as hot space daddy also confirmed. Still, it wasn’t a triumphant moment for Din, which made it even more poignant. Convinced he was ready to die, he put his faith in a droid (!), a droid who was not only Baby Yoda’s warrior nanny droid, but who was voiced by the episode’s director, Taika Waititi, and who got his own emotional send-off later in the hour. It would have been a simple moment in any other series (for a droid to ask a man to take off his helmet to repair his skull), but because of everything we had been through in the previous episodes it was extraordinary.
But let us not forget that this was a pretty big episode for Baby Yoda as well. He got beaten up by two Stormtroopers (Jason Sudeikis and Adam Pally), then got to take a crazy, murderous ride with IG-11 in a little sack. He used the Force to repel a fireball, and then he collapsed and had to take a little nap. He was given a sigil and a dad, who he loves. What a day!
“Redemption” also set up an easy Season 2 quest for Mando/Din to try and find more of Baby Yoda’s species, but honestly that is less important than having the two just continue their space adventures together, stopping off at taverns for bone broth and finding friends and babysitters along the way. The reveal of the Dark Saber at the end of the episode was catnip to some fans, and just mildly cool to others, but the heart of the episode (and the series) remained in the relationship between Mandalorian father and little green son. It’s what made the series feel so different and so fresh, but also admittedly a perfectly calculated blend of great storytelling and merchandising.
Finally, not to bring The Rise of Skywalker into this, but one really must: “Redemption” also capped off a story of a found family in a much more resonate way than the movie’s reveal of Rey’s parentage (real and forged) did. It showed us the bond created between these two unlikely individuals, both of whom were in exile from their storied clans, but focusing on who we knew them as, not putting an emphasis on what their names are to give their stories meaning. Consider that we still don’t have a real name or a species for Baby Yoda, or even had a face for Mando until the end. It’s because those things didn’t really matter; it was about the choices they made now, together.
Anyway, that was a hell of a finale to a series that was a wonderfully heartwarming surprise. Bring on Season 2!
Allison Keene is the TV Editor of Paste Magazine. For more television talk, pop culture chat and general japery, you can follow her @keeneTV
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