Wednesday, April 19, 2023

REVIEW: 'The Mandalorian' - The Mandalorians Fight Moff Gideon to Reclaim Their Home in 'Chapter 24: The Return'

Disney+'s The Mandalorian - Episode 3.08 "Chapter 24: The Return"

The Mandalorian and his allies confront their enemies.

"Chapter 24: The Return" was written by Jon Favreau and directed by Rick Famuyiwa

Each season has sought to expand the focus. The journey was once neatly contained to Din Djarin. His world grew. As such, expectations followed accordingly. This is an unstable point in the overall mythology's timeline. It's perfect for exploration of new concepts. Some of those have been better executed than others. Reflecting back on this season, it's easy to understand the purpose of every story told. The effectiveness ultimately came down to how the ideas were presented. Crucial backstories were developed. Din and Bo-Katan teamed up to fight for the future of all Mandalorians. They were the central characters. However, this story extends far beyond them. They seek to reclaim their identity as a culture. It culminates in the fight to retake Mandalore. They lead an army not knowing preciously what dangers they will find. Moff Gideon had a trap. He turned their former home into his Imperial base. The Mandalorians stole technology from the Empire. The army now possesses an Imperial cruiser. That's a crucial resource as this battle reaches its conclusion. However, it's more important to focus on the costs for the characters on the ground. Din was taken prisoner. He was the only Mandalorian wanted alive for interrogation by Gideon. It was a convenient twist. It's then convenient when he breaks free and Grogu helps him defeat the stormtroopers. The story has always centered on their bond. As such, they must always be together. It would be sensible to leave Grogu behind on the ships with the rest of the children. Din never wants to abandon his son. That's the way to guarantee his protection. Grogu is more powerful than he seems. This season built up his identity as a Mandalorian. He has followed in his father's footsteps. He sought to walk the path. He added to his armor. And yet, the thing that makes him unique turns out to be the most consequential skill in the final showdown. Din is capable of defeating the various stormtroopers. The odds are stacked against him. He prevails. It's only then that Gideon appears. He knew Din had escaped. He led him to this location. In the process, Din kills the clones Gideon had made of himself. The villain explains how he sought out Grogu's connection to the Force to further enhance his clones. That's no longer a key objective. It's not his vision for the resurgence of the Empire. It's still powerful enough to fuel his emotions during this confrontation. His explanation serves to connect all the stories that have been told across three seasons. In many ways, this finale serves as a fitting end for all that has come before. What comes next may be a completely new journey. That comes with very few teases. What does occur is still dripped in powerful emotions. Those remain earned despite the questionable storytelling choices throughout this season. The action is impressive. The bond amongst Din, Grogu and Bo-Katan is even more significant.

Bo-Katan reclaims her home. She knew the planet had changed. She experienced it with Din previously. She achieved redemption too. She's more powerful than any symbol of her leadership. It's visceral to see her lead her army into battle while wielding the Darksaber. That item was used as a way to rally the troops. However, her name is just as moving. Bo-Katan provides Axe with instructions for what to do. The Mandalorians on the ships follow her command. No one enjoys a brief respite from the fighting. That moment still occurs. The survivors from the planet reveal how their farms have sustained life. Bo-Katan never experienced that on Mandalore before. It's the first indication of something brighter and new that can be forged under newfound prosperity. It's only a brief moment. The rest of the finale is all about the Mandalorians fighting for their home. It's more personal when Din and Bo-Katan make their last stand against Gideon. His armor strengthens him immensely. The weapons he wields are equally impressive. He views Mandalorians as weak without their technology. That simply isn't true. That's his most damning mistake. Din still secured the freedom to fight back. Bo-Katan does the same despite the destruction of the Darksaber. This object has been sought out by so many. Only a select few could wield it expertly. That's not the only source of Bo-Katan's power. She is inspired by the new family bond that has formed. Din will always fight to be with his kid. Bo-Katan's presence givens him that luxury. IG-12 is destroyed. Grogu isn't powerless either. He is trained in the Force. He doesn't pass out from a massive exertion of that power like he once did. Instead, every step of this battle is aided by him propelling weapons away from those who seek to kill his loved ones. Din and Bo-Katan return the favor. Grogu comes under fire as well. The Mandalorians have the armor to protect him no matter what. It all culminates with the cruiser crashing into the base. Gideon perishes in the subsequent explosion. Din and Bo-Katan are saved because of the sphere of protection Grogu conjures. That's the most chilling and impressive visual from the entire episode. This trio is capable of overcoming any threat. Grogu does all of this as a foundling. As such, his story is just beginning. Din adopts him as his son so that evolution can continue. It's putting an official name on a relationship that has already been true. Now, it's proclaimed from the rest of the covert. Mandalore has been reclaimed by those who respect and honor its culture. Din aims to restore balance elsewhere as well. It's all in service of the great journey Grogu must embark on. The power of that story will cement his place in this society. It's great to have a family. Din and Grogu have that peace despite the darkness that still lurks across the galaxy. That hasn't gone away. But now, it's a time of celebration for those who fight to restore order to what matters to them. They speak that true so no one can ever deny how vital all of this is.