The Mandalorian – “Chapter 14: “The Tragedy” (S2, E6 review) / Star Trek: Discovery – “The Sanctuary” (S3, E8 review)

Travelling with the windows down! (image via Jedi News (c) Disney +)

THE MANDALORIAN

SPOILERS AHEAD … AND MYSTIC JEDI STUFF AND WHOLLY UN-MYSTIC HUMAN STUFF TOO …

The tearing sound you hear in “Chapter 14: The Tragedy” in the uniformly excellent second season of The Mandalorian is Din Djarin’s (Pedro Pascal) heart absolutely and completely breaking.

Granted, you can’t see his face underneath that silver beskar face mask of his but there are undoubtedly tears running down his face after he battles valiantly to protect and save Grogu aka Baby Yoda from harm on the ancient Jedi temple planet of Tython and heartbreakingly fails.

His efforts are, as note, as valiant as they come as he works with – GASP! – Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison) and his sidekick Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), neither of whom are dead are Tatooine which seems to be resurrection central when it comes to iconic Star Wars characters, to fight off a horde of typically inept stormtroopers sent by the villainous, ominously hall walking Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) who clearly graudated top of his class in Evil Imperial Figures of Doom and Death.

But despite his heroic best efforts, which include standing guard over Grogu and trying to remove him from the blue light of the Seeing Stone when trouble arrives to whisk him to safety, and then fighting like a Trojan when ending his meditation session on steroids proved all but impossible, he fell into the hands of the Darktroopers sent from an imposing light cruiser orbiting the planet.

While Din’s stated mission has always been to return Grogu to his people, and Din is nothing less than a man of his word, you can see how much he has grown to care for his young, powerfully talented charge who is like a son to him.

Letting him go won’t be easy, and it’s a very real prospect as the Razor Crest, which is, alas, no more thanks to the aforementioned light cruiser, arrives on Tython where Din fully expects Grogu will get the answers he needs and they will, regretfully, part.

They part, all right, but not as either Din or Grogu inspected, as the tracking device on the Razor Crest leads Moff Gideon to what he refers to as Dr Pershing’s “donor” and they whisk Grogu away, leaving Din, and his new friends, Boba Fett and Fenec Shand, who owe a debt they believe to Din to reunite him with Grogu, bereft in their wake.

Not powerlessly bereft but at a great loss anyway, though not so much that Din can’t marshal himself, speed back to Cara Dune (Gina Carano), who is now officially New Republic, and get started on recovering his now imprisoned and tortured “son”.

Fire away! They look like they’re in control but you just know they aren’t (image via Jedi News (c) Disney +)

“The Tragedy” is a brilliant episode.

It is Peak Star Wars, offering us all kinds of throwbacks to classic franchise storytelling, most notably the reappearance of Boba Fett who, it was long suspected, perished in a sarlacc pit on Tatooine at the accidental hands of Han Solo during a battle on Jabba the Hutt’s barge.

But you can’t count the genetically perfect replication of Jenga Fett out, thank you, and while his “brothers” might have gone onto to become the altered and programmed hapless stormtroopers of Star Wars legend, Boba has proved himself able to survive anything, one of the most feared bounty hunters in the galaxy.

Also, it’s nice to see, one of the most honourable.

While Din thinks he has no right to his battered beskar armour, much of which was stolen from the planet Mandalor during the Purge, the armour is in fact legally his, something to which Din accedes, securing an alliance between the two, and thus Fennec Shand too which, you suspect, will pivotal crucial in the final two episodes of The Mandalorian‘s engrossingly good second season.

If Boba Fett wasn’t enough, and lordy he was pretty damn good, the pop culture Easter egg to end all Easter eggs, having the stormtroopers ineptly doing their thing, the Empire throwing its way around like nothing has changed – when Moff Gideon confidently strides down the hallway onboard the light cruiser to see Grogu, you have instant throwbacks to the power and presence of Darth Vader in A New Hope as he comes onto Leia’s ship – and Fennec Shand making her unexpected reappearance, made “The Tragedy” a Star Wars fans dream episode.

And kudos above kudos to Pedro Pascal who, behind all that emotion-stifling armour, somehow manages to convey the most intensely affecting performances that having you sighing at how much he loves Grogu one moment – the scene on the Razor Crest at the start of the episode where looks upon Grogu with fatherly delight and affection is a gem – and weeping with him as he reaches the Jedi temple just that little bit too late to save his little guy.

“The Tragedy” had it all, which augurs well for the final season 2 episodes which are settling up a titanic battle between good and evil, especially considering that the one thing you don’t want to do is getting between a parent and their child, which is exactly what Gideon has done in taking Grogu away from Din who, you know, won’t rest until they are reunited.

Let the battle begin!

Who fancies himself as Darth Vader 2.0? This guy (image via Jedi News (c) Disney +)

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY

So pretty … so very much not, too (image (c) CBA All-Access)

SPOILERS AHEAD … AND THE POWER OF LOVE, FAMILY AND, UH, SEA LOCUSTS …

I cannot fully convey how much I am shipping BookerBurn or MichBook or whatever the hell Federation tabloids are calling Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Booker (David Ajala).

Their love story is clearly one for the ages, all 930 years of them and more, expressed in a ways big and small but in the case of “The Sanctuary”, an episode VERY BIG as Discovery zooms off, with Admiral Vance’s (Oded Fehr), to Booker’s home planet of Kwejian where his estranged brother Kyheem (Ache Fernandez) is reporting the planet is in deep trouble from the Emerald Chain.

How deep you might ask?

Selling your soul to the devil kind of trouble, the kind where you have given yourself over to the Orions, and specifically Osyraa (Janet Kidder), in exchange for a repellent of unknown origin which keeps away the sea locusts from your food sources and stops everyone from starving to death.

Very much in the “it seemed like a good idea” at the time, Kwejian’s deal with the Emerald Chain means they are hopelessly in thrall to the cruel criminals, a situation which has forced Kyheem to do things he never would have sanctioned when he and Booker were boys.

But blood is thicker than, well you know, the place where sea locust live, and so Booker, despite his deepseated misgivings about Kyheem and his rule of Kwejian, races back to help after 15 years away from his home planet.

The episode is mostly concerned with how the battle for Kwejian goes, soul and all, but it is also builds on the great love that has grown, and continues to grow, between Michael and Book as the former effectively heads home to meet the latter’s family.

It’s no lovely dinner and a warm get to know you chat, with Michael’s first contact with the Kwejianians at gunpoint, but her willingness to go with Book and to argue for the Federation’s involvement further bonds the two in ways that makes you, and Burnham and Booker (their happiness in each other’s presence at episode’s end is something to behold), smile like lovestruck schoolkids.

It’s also a delight seeing Tilly (Amy Wiseman) settling into her role as Number One with absolute surety and aplomb, proof that Saru (Doug Jones) has chosen well and that the ship is in good hands.

She handles everyone from Ryn (Noah Averbach-Katz) the Andorian that Osyraa wants back with a passion – turns out he knows the Emerald Chain’s dirty secret which is that they are running out of dilithium! – to Stamets (Anthony Rapp and Adira (Blu del Barrio) who have found out where the Burn started with the capabilities of someone twice her age.

We knew she could do it but actually seeing her do it is one of those precious special things and Discovery delivers on the promise of her appointment to a wholly pleasing degree.

Philippa is a model patient … haha … no, NO she’s not (image (c) CBA All-Access)

Speaking of good hands, what about the double team medical act of Dr. Culber (Wilso Cruz) and Dr. Tracy Pollard (Raven Douda) who are taking no crap at all from the worst patient in the history of all medical care, Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) who begins her medical consultation by reminding the feisty duo that in the Terran Empire doctors were buried with their Emperors to ensure they delivered nothing but exemplary care.

Unfazed by Philippa’s threats and quips – she is possessed of snappy line after snappy line and you can only imagine how much the writers are having writing for the character and Yeoh is having playing her; at one point she describes her medical garb for atomic level scanning as making her look like “human spermatozoa” – Culber and Pollard do their best to get to the bottom of the brain degeneration that Georgiou is experiencing.

While the memories Georgiou are debilitating and it’s clear she is growing worse with everyday, the former Terran emperor is not going to lay down and die just yet, even for the people sworn to help her.

What makes her interactions with Culber and Pollar such a joy is not simply that she is so hilariously defiant but that the two doctors, Culber especiallu, persist in the face of such passive-aggressive hostility.

You might argue their hippocratic oath mean they have no real choice but they do, and the choose to do what is right and good in the face of someone who wouldn’t know vulnerability if it was written in blinding neon yellow against the night sky.

While Georgiou is cutting off nose to spite her face, Adira Tal and Stamets are growing closer as friends, so close in fact that they are making literal sweet music together and Adira is telling Stamets that she no longer has Grey talking to her which you can tell breaks her heart.

Sad she might be but backward in coming forward she is not, and she quietly but confidently reminds Stamet in one scene that they want to be referred to as “they/them” and not “she/her”, a joyous celebration of queer identity that receives further bolstering when Culber comes in to bring Stamets back to their suite and they talk and kiss and act like the normal, wonderful couple they are.

What is so refreshing about Discovery‘s inclusivity is that it is grounded and authentic and not tokenistic, making the hearts of LGBTQI’s viewers like your truly very glad indeed.

If this is what the future looks like, count me and many others very much in, as Discovery proves powerfully in “The Sanctuary” that love takes many enduring forms, all of them more than able to take on evil and win, something that we will likely see tested again before the gloriously good and perfect third season has run its emotionally resonant course.

Awwww brotherly love … well, eventually … (image (c) CBA All-Access)
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