So…now that we’re two episodes into The Mandalorian, is it what you were expecting a Star Wars show to be? I’m guessing the answer to that is a resounding “NO”, and you know what? That’s pretty cool. Sure, Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni could’ve given us a story about Jedi Knights battling the Dark Side, but what’s the fun of that when you can have a lone bounty hunter escorting a baby Yoda through a desert wasteland?
What makes The Mandalorian so much fun is how unexpected it is. I already hinted/hoped that the series could shift into a Lone Wolf and Cub-esque adventure, and it surely does that with Episode 2, appropriately-titled “The Child.” After the revelation that his target was a 50-year-old “child” of Yoda’s species, the Mandalorian now has to get the little tyke back to his ship and into the hands of a waiting Client. Just the thought of Werner Herzog manhandling the adorably cute, wide-eyed Yoda Jr. is enough to give me Grizzly Man shivers. Of course, transporting the child in his little floating baby carriage proves no easy task. The Mandalorian is instantly set upon by mercenaries looking to steal the child. While they are easily dispatched, he does suffer a slash wound that needs to be patched up.
I have to admit, it felt like this episode was going to be filler. There’s typically a letdown period after such a huge reveal. But constant revelations about the child made this episode consequential to the larger whole. So the Mandalorian’s arm injury doesn’t appear too serious, but it’s bad enough that the Yoda can sense it, and repeatedly tries to reach out and heal it. While the child’s attempts are repeatedly rebuffed, it does show that it’s already in touch with the world around him and thus VERY strong in the Force. It also shows that he has empathy, which may be a trait common to all of Yoda’s species.
Returning to his cargo ship the Razor Crest to find it stripped by a bunch of Jawas, the Mandalorian picks off a few of them but is forced to chase down their escaping Sandcrawler. Props to director Rick Famuyiwa (of Dope fame) for giving us a killer action setpiece as our hero tries to scale the gigantic vehicle, getting pelted with garbage, stunned, hit with rocks, and worse the whole time. It proves for naught as he’s hit with about a dozen shock bolts and falls unconscious to the ground while the little Yoda tyke looks on curiously.
Fortunately, the Mandalorian has already made friends in these parts. The sage-like Ugnaught Kuiil (Nick Nolte) is more than willing to help negotiate a trade with the Jawas, who at first want a piece of his besker armor, which of course he’s not going to give up, and then they want the child, which is also a big no-no. Finally, they agree to give back the ship parts if he can retrieve “the egg”, which sadly, he can’t just go to a farmer’s market and buy. Turns out he needs to face a giant, hairy Mud Horn to get the egg, and that proves no easy task. Actually, the Mandalorian gets his ass beat. His armor busted up, his weapon jammed, and he’s on the verge of being gored to death until the young child does something that, in retrospect, we should’ve seen coming. Lifting his little three-fingered hand up, he elevates the Mud Horn and holds it into the air, like Yoda calling up an X-Wing out of a swamp. After a moment of stunned silence, the Mandalorian stabs the Mud Horn with his last remaining dagger.
There’s not much else that happens here. The egg is delivered, the Jawa partake of its yucky yolk, and Kuiil rejects a job offer to be part of the Mandalorian’s crew. It’s interesting nobody seems to understand what the Yoda is or what it can do. Is the Force somehow foreign to them, or what? With a hearty “I have spoken”, Kuiil returns to his now-peaceful land, while our protagonist jets off into space with a sleeping kid by his side.
Under Famuyiwa’s guidance, Episode 2 is definitely funnier than the first. The Mandalorian really takes a beating for much of this story, but we can’t help but chuckle every time it cuts to one of the Yoda’s quizzical expressions. We finally get to see more personality out of the Mandalorian and it makes you wonder what he’s going to do at the end of his mission. Will he just hand the kid over? There’s also A LOT that happens in just 32 minutes, yet the plot is very straight-forward. It also feels like the end of a chapter, and the beginning of a bigger, more dangerous part of the narrative. I hope in the last remaining 6 episodes there’s time for at least one more self-contained episode like this.
The next episode of The Mandalorian arrives on Friday, November 22nd.