This is the way… eh, a bit overstated but it works. Hello, and welcome once again to the twelfth official entry of Out of Order! I will be your conductor this evening, but perhaps you may not have known that I’m rather the fan of Star Wars. True, its quality in the main film saga is nearing their expiration date though other media seems to be going strong. Case in point, the wildly popular program The Mandalorian, which echos spaghetti western and pulpy adventure serials in an exhilarating galactic fashion. A third season is, at the moment, being curated for the Disney+ streaming service, so now is a better time then any to rank all the episodes of the freshmen and sophomore years from the bottom to the top. If you haven’t seen this series yet, major plot details are going to be discussed so I would recommend come back to this post once you’ve seen both seasons. Let’s get this how on the road!
16. “The Heiress (Season 2, Episode 3)”
This just goes to show how even the low-hanging fruits of the tree are still ripe, though they don’t quite hit their bullseye. In this rather short episode, we are reintroduced to a Clone Wars jewel, Bo-Katan, played by her original voice actor Katee Sackhoff. They also guarantee the comeback of Ashoka Tano by the end! My primary reason for ranking this entry as the weakest is relatively simple: it feels like yet another addition to the half baked formula of doing favors that is present in far too much of Season 2’s middle. Nothing is awful, but I was thoroughly dissatisfied come the credits.
15. “The Gunslinger (Season 1, Episode 5)”
Surprisingly enough, not a single folk I’ve talked with actually enjoyed this episode all the way through. At first glance it doesn’t sound like a low tier episode, but a large chunk of the runtime is Mando and this smug rookie dude straight from a car dealership keeping an eye on the mercenary Fennec Shand. Peli Motto, a nervous Tatooine mechanic, is another new recurring player, although she left a very small effect on the overarching plot of both seasons and as a character essentially. The only small sliver saving it from plunging into last place was the cliffhanger, of which we would discover with season 2 was the first ever allusion to Boba Fett’s return from the grave.
14. “The Passenger (Season 2, Episode 2)”
Have you ever wanted to see a crossover between Star Wars and Alien? If that’s the case, you’ll end up having a fun watch with “The Passenger”. Otherwise, I’m utterly divided. Where on one hand I commend the refreshing change of pace and horror-esque strokes, this in a sense has a damaging case of being the sore thumb sticking out from the rest of the second bunch of episodes. It just feels a bit off-kilter compared to the additional offerings. You either go really jarring, Cowboy Bebop “Toys in the Attic” on us, or brew a lukewarm one-off pit stop like this. Oh, yeah, and the Child might be murderous now? Film at 11.
13. “The Prisoner (Season 1, Episode 6)”
The Mandalorian is recruited by a former associate to join a medley of shifty fellows in rescuing a captive of the New Republic and, for what it’s worth, I had a good time with it. The action proves to be tense and it manages to pull a couple of storytelling tricks up its sleeve in the end, too. Keep a lookout for one of the Child’s most memorable gags where he mistakenly is convinced that he has used the force to fend off a foe.
12. “The Child (Season 1, Episode 2)”
“The Child” is not far from just being the second part of the pilot, but it’s quite remarkable and is remarkably effective regarding the pace. Following the reveal of Baby Yoda at the end of the first episode, this episode subverts everyone’s expectations of where the plot was headed, but nothing feels sloppy about it. It has the works; Nick Nolte in a lovable performance as Kuiil, antagonistic Jawas, and a battle with a space rhino in a mud pit fighting for an egg. What more could you want?
11. “The Siege (Season 2, Episode 4)”
I just love action-filled episodes, don’t you? The appearance of two fan favorite characters assist Mando to infiltrate an Imperial facility, where they discover something sinister is in the making. Not much too elaborate on besides it retaining that classic mixture of a lightning-in-a-bottle endeavor with just the right pinch of humor and weave into the overarching setup. Well, it appears that the Child also committed larceny by stealing a kid’s macaroon in this episode. Oy vey.
10. “The Tragedy (Season 2, Episode 6)”
Don’t allow that tight runtime fool you, because this episode easily takes the trophy of knitting all the buildup into one entertaining burst. Thanks to direction by cinematic dumpster fire Robert Rodriguez (and I mean that adjective as tenderly as possible), the limited setting amplifies every direction that has lead up to here even more rousing. Boba Fett bargaining for his iconic armor, the Razor Crest is obliterated, the Child is abducted by Gideon, and a wonderfully filmed melee against stormtroopers are handled well by the poised direction of Rodriguez. He might have stirred up the CGI-laden Spy Kids and Machete films, but his focused vision here is nothing to sneeze at.
9. “The Believer (Season 2, Episode 7)”
Sure, it absolutely sidelines the velocity building up to the finale, but “The Believer” dishes up thought-provoking ideas around the character of Mayfeld. This effort recognizes from brilliant execution by Bill Burr that perhaps the galaxy isn’t just the struggles of the morally good and the bad. Toss in Pedro Pascal’s face and callbacks to The Wages of Fear and Friedkin’s Sorcerer for good measure, this is a resonant inclusion that barely surmounted the bottom half.
8. “The Reckoning (Season 1, Episode 7)”
Maybe my biggest problem here is that it does feel more like setting up all the dominoes for the finale instead of standing as its own individual thing. So, basically the opposite of “The Believer”! Giancarlo Esposito arriving as the intimidating Moff Gideon and the heart-wrenching end of the line for Kuiil are definite to stress any viewer for what’s to come. More layout than a genuine premise, though it’s nonetheless exciting to watch Mando formulate a team of recurring players like Cara Dune and Greef Karga to rescue the Child.
7. “The Jedi (Season 2, Episode 5)”
Excluding the true name of the Child being disclosed as Grogu, this salute to samurai epics is as well-shot and enticing as even the best of Akira Kurosawa works. Rosario Dawson nails it as the live-action incarnation of the beloved Ashoka Tano, stealing the show every second she was in frame. Dave Filoni really knocked this one out of the park. A solid 8/10, and yet there are still six more even better episodes to go! Seriously though… Grogu was the best they had?
6. “The Sin (Season 1, Episode 3)”
If anyone is even mildly hesitant on how the rough-and-rigid “The Sin” landed above “The Jedi”, I get it. But this is where I feel the show actually started to pick up some steam and, in the general sense, the battle sequences are sharp and the Child is integrated as a main member of the cast. I have little to say about this stellar beginning that promises an inventive direction for this newfound duo.
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5. “The Rescue (Season 2, Episode 8)”
Arguably the best reviewed episode by audiences, the flagpole finale of the second season is as explosive as you would expect. I’m usually against the intrusion of characters from the main Star Wars trilogy hammering on the door to other projects devoid of them (I’m looking at you, Skywalkers), and this sadly doesn’t avoid this trap. Hence why I ranked it fifth, as the rest remains marvelous indeed. If Luke didn’t waltz in and take Grogu at the climax, this without a doubt could’ve been in my top three.
4. “The Mandalorian (Season 1, Episode 1)”
Ah, that’s a nice one; the episode that started the whole series. Let’s pause for a moment of respect, shall we… anyways, I really enjoyed this entry. “The Mandalorian” instantly delves us straight into the criminal underbelly of the Star Wars universe. I vividly recall the anticipation for this fresh show starring a Mandalore bounty hunter character in his debut, watching the premiere with a group of friends, and being blown away by the revelation of “Baby Yoda” (so to speak). Call it slow or tepid, be that as it may acknowledging it kicked off what would evolve into a great production.
3. “The Marshal (Season 2, Episode 1)”
Mando shows up at a rundown Tatooine town to help reunite the Child with others of his species. In the process, he must assist sheriff Cobb Vanth in mending ties between the townspeople and the Tusken Raiders when a desert dragon threatens them all. Timothy Olyphant as Vanth is a really amusing guest star full of potential, and it disappoints me that he hasn’t appeared as a periodic player. If Peli Motto has credits in three episodes, why not invite Vanth as well. The assault on the giant creature is a slow and steady affair that certainly pays off, the Child is at no shortage here, and it’ll leave you with stupefied with the shot of a scarred, aged Boba Fett. And you gotta love a relaxed Tusken Raider bonfire session, who doesn’t.
2. “Sanctuary (Season 1, Episode 4)”
The straightforward tale of the Mandalorian and Cara Dune training a forest village to take a stand against the sparse Imperials is tonight’s runner-up. The allusions to Seven Samurai and High Plains Drifter are strong with this one (you see what I did there!), but that isn’t the entire appeal of “Sanctuary”. An emotional conclusion, the introduction of Dune perfected by Gina Carano’s acting, a surplus of adorable instances with the Child… it’s the complete package! A pitch perfect episode in every manner. Well, thanks for reading this far; and now, my number one —
1. “Redemption (Season 1, Episode 8)”
While others praise the second season finale as the best episode thus far, my eyes turn to this finale instead. “Redemption”, in many ways, holds up with a bunch of what drew me into the show – likable and dense characters, a great sense of humor, riveting action, and even on top of all that, an enduring bond between Mando and Grogu. Taika Waititi absolutely exceeds as a double role, directing and playing IG-11, the latter of whom I’m saddened won’t be seen in the series down the line. On the whole, it was satisfying conclusion to a season-long story arc, and even at that a creative tease for the future of their adventures. This will always remain my favorite episode of the series for me.
So, flaws and all, I do say wholeheartedly that The Mandalorian is a spectacular show. It’s a few blocks down from perfection, but as I said, its without a doubt the best and more consistent Star Wars media to come out of modern memory. I can’t wait to watch where further seasons go…
NEXT WEEK | Lupin the III in The Castle of Cagliostro!