What Star Wars did I just watch?
All I know is Star Wars: The Mandalorian’s second chapter was really badass. After the first episode of The Mandalorian, I didn’t want to fall in love too fast. That’s how you get hurt. But it really is feeling like this show is the one. All I say about the second episode directed by Rick Famuyiwa is it was very even and consistently delightful. I watched the episode with my two children who were constantly sighing over the cuteness of “the baby Yoda” (a Minch maybe?) or screaming over the Jawa battle. It was brilliant. Also, I started Jedi Fallen Order tonight and I think I saw those lizards that stalk The Mando and the baby in that game, but it might all be running together at this point.
The “baby Yoda” is so cute that baby Groot is about to become yesterday’s news, develop a drug problem, and end up in all kinds of tabloid trouble. We’ve seen how this goes.
Trando Versus Mando
The first fight with the Trandoshans was a little lackluster. I did appreciate how The Mando was forced to use his arsenal of moves and gadgets to continuously move the bassinet around as if he were a Jedi. You do feel his character is essentially as formidable as one through Batman style gadgets and I really liked how Famuyiwa and Favreau used The Mando’s entire arsenal throughout the episode. When chrome-dome uses his weapon to kill the final Trando running towards the baby, I guess that’s what Darth Vader meant when he told Boba Fett “no disintegrations!” The first skirmish of chapter 2 is really to show us our hero still has the fob, which is putting the child in danger and he still has the intentions to turn the little green baby over so he can complete the bounty.
The end of the first chapter made it seem like his icy Mandalorian heart was melted by the little green gremlin. When we start the second episode, our Mando is not putting his little finger out for the 50 year old baby to play with. It felt a little like a restart from the vibe at the end of the first chapter. But at the same time, it speaks to the friction between serving the Mandalorian people, his armor quest, and his humanity. Without that conflict, we don’t really have a story so I quickly forgave the episodic reset we’re so accustomed to on television.
After the skirmish, The Mando and the little critter enjoy some quiet time as he licks his wounds and he attempts to fix his malfunctioning armor and gadgets. It is very clear the child wants to heal him but he keeps dismissing the baby’s very presence and using his tool to save himself.
Jawas: You Poor Bastards
The episode really comes to life about five minutes in when the bounty hunter returns to his ship, bounty in hand, to discover Jawas stripping it clean. What ensues is easily one of the most delightful Star Wars experiences of all time. It was like Famuyiwa and Favreau brought my early nineties SNES Super Star Wars adventures to life. How many dreams were realized in these sequences? We saw inside a live action Sandcrawler! I love how many humiliating rides our hero has to take over the course of these two episodes.
It also looked like R5-D4 is still being shaped around by Jawas who can’t sell that piece of garbage with a bad motivator. While that makes me laugh now, it didn’t even register against the antics of The Mando Versus The Jawas battle. A Jawa tries to shield himself using a piece of scrap but The Mando is like the honey badger and he doesn’t give a shit, that little fool got disintegrated. The Jawa’s robes flew in the air as they were blasted away and it was so messed up but so freaking hilarious. Words cannot express the vindictive happiness I felt watching the Jawas exploding in live action.
When the Jawas all load up into the Sandcrawler, the crawler actually peels out as the wheels turn too fast for the treads (also listen to the sound of the flying trash and you’ll smile). It was one delightful beat after the next as the Mando chases a clunky Sandcrawler with a “baby Yoda” floating behind him. I also think there was a slight homage to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’s tank chase as the crawler grazed the side of a cliff, threatening the hero’s life.
Super Star Wars: A Disney+ Original Series
I can watch Jawas throwing trash at people for hours. The little red eyed devils poke him with cattle prods as he walked up the side of the vehicle, Adam West’s Batman style! The Mando retaliates by throwing one off of the tank ruthlessly. It was crazy. It is nuts this exists and I’m grateful Famuyiwa, Favreau and Filoni know what they’re doing. I was afraid this series would deny Star Wars’ eccentricities but Star Wars: The Mandalorian takes it a step further and it full embraces them against a very serious hero and I am endlessly amused by it. The SNES Super Star Wars analogy further fits as he reaches the top of the vehicle only to fall down and essentially have to start over. I’ve been there, Mando. I know your pain.
As The Mando lays there, the child is shot much like Gizmo in first Gremlins film. I was taken back to the nostalgia of Gizmo shaking his head as he pitied the hardships of the world. Famuyiwa captured that magic in the shots of the little green guy looking at his defeated defender and captor.
I found it strange in the first episode when Horatio Sans’ character opened the weapons closet on the Razor Crest but doesn’t take any of the weapons. I figured he figured he couldn’t shoot a Mandalorian so he passed. But in a clever way, the first episode set up exactly what was lost when these Jawas ripped him off and he opens the doors to the closet and all the weapons are gone. I respected how that detail from the first chapter paid off in the second chapter. They even stole the Razor Crest’s toilet and when you see the Jawa’s haul later on in the wagon, you can see the toilet hanging there.
Pigs in Space: Stripped Not Destroyed
I was pleasantly surprised to see Nick Nolte’s Ugnaught “Kuiil” return in the second chapter. The look on his face when he sees what the bounty is was priceless. The following moments where see the “baby Yoda” playing with and then eating a frog was a quintessential moment of the series ‘living in the universe’ in the most delightful way without actually wasting screen time.
Nolte’s character continues to be a mentor to The Mando as he is taught that Jawas don’t destroy, they should not kill the child, and that the Jawas can be bargained with. Kuiil knows this valley and his guidance is invaluable to the survival of The Mando. Kuiil teaches him that if he does not put his weapon down, he’s not getting his parts back, regardless of what he believes his “religion” to be.
Everbody’s Working for The Reekend
I appreciated that the chapter did not stew on the ‘lesson to be learned’ for too long. As our hero and our mentor sit cross legged to broker a deal, the Jawa insults The Mando’s mastery of the Jawa language and he uses his flame thrower to send the Jawas scrambling. The Jawas get serious after that and decide to send him after “The Egg.” At first I thought it was going to be a krayt dragon’s egg, however, it was a Reek type creature’s egg it has hair and different horns so it probably has a different name but for all intents and purposes it is the same thing to me). I thought this was was a cool idea because it was a Reek that messed up Jango Fett’s rocket pack, allowing Mace Windu to kill him in Attack of the Clones. While Jango wasn’t really a Mando, I did feel he was kind of avenged in a weird way as The Mando enters in a knockdown drag out fight with the beast.
However, before the fight I was cracking up at the Jawas shouting “The Egg!” for what must have been hours for The Mando and Kuiil. When The Mando approached the Reek cave, my four year old daughter thought it was the dark side cave Rey enters in The Last Jedi. I thought it looked like Tatooine’s asshole (turns out it is actually Arvala-7’s asshole). I think after the fight, The Mando felt like he’d been in the planet’s butt and it was solid exploration, action, and adventure.
While I did love the battle and how messed up our hero gets, I found the slow motion moment to be kind of tacky looking as he’s going down in the fight. The giant butthole cave doesn’t offend me in the slightest but the slow motion moment looked like something from a fan film. The moments after were beautifully shot which makes it all the more offensive to me. It reminded me of the tacky shot from A New Hope when the camera zooms in on the Princess Leia’s mind probe, a sour note in a masterful symphony.
I loved what followed. The zoom shot in on the Mando’s helmet as it sparks. The slow zoom towards the child. The ARP synth playing to the dazed state of the hero. I loved the directing, the editing, and the aural tapestry the filmmakers put together for the moments before the child reveals its true nature. I became a huge fan of composer Ludwig Göransson in these moments.
It almost felt like an 80’s wrestling match, the way The Mando is defeated but holds his knife up, because heroes never give up. Only in this match, he doesn’t get a second wind and unleash Mandomania. Instead, the child uses the Force to subdue the beast so our hero can slay the “dragon.” When The Mando puts the knife into the monster’s jugular, he gets pretty brutal with the wounds he inflicts. This then allows him to remove the egg from the nest.
I found it a bit strange that the egg was the prize and they ultimately destroy it. Does it symbolize the taming of the wilderness? Is it meant to show us that the galaxy is ruthless and it will literally consume the children so our “baby Yoda” isn’t out of the woods yet? Am I overthinking this? Either way, I laughed at what The Mando had to do to give the Jawas an egg they simply destroyed and bathed in senselessly.
You Need a Montage: Peace to the Valley
It was a wise choice to have Kuiil ask about the child after the encounter. I like how he constantly makes The Mando confront his humanity. Both men proclaim they don’t understand what actually happened. But this is important to The Mando realizing there’s more at play here than his occupational hazards. Kuiil refuses to take payment for a second time, juxtaposing his sense of purpose and morality against the Mando’s. We also learn that in the past he has been in the servitude of others but will no longer do so for money, only for his own honor as a gracious host.
Kuiil does express that the child should survive and bring The Mando “a handsome reward,” he had spoken. It is clear in that moment the repayment he wants is decency and for the child to live. It would seem The Mando, indebted to Kuiil, now has to keep the little gremlin alive as he ascends back into space with his ship intact and his bounty in tow. He shakes the child’s bassinet to make sure it lives because he’s human under his mask and I found that to be such a strong moment for director Famuyiwa to include.
The second chapter was a cool follow-up to the first one that proved there was a lot more to the series’ potential that we could see from one episode. In the first chapter, our hero is tested when he has to learn to ride a blurrg. But before that, he’s got life mastered and he’s in his element. In the wildness and in the second chapter he’s put through the wringer. The Indiana Jones homage is rather apt because for most of this part of the story, he’s like Indiana Jones; in over his head but still somehow making it through and ultimately succeeding thanks to a little bit of divine intervention.
Two episodes in, I am convinced that The Mandalorian is the real deal.