After getting off to a rocky start, the second episode of The Mandalorian is stunning. It leverages nostalgia but maintains its own distinct style.
At the end of The Mandalorian premiere, the main character made a tough decision – kill his fellow bounty hunter and return with his target, a little baby. Why is this baby important enough for people to pay a high bounty for? And just how far will the Mandalorian go to ensure the baby’s safe return to The Client? We find out in the second chapter of the Disney+ show.
The appearance of the ‘asset’ in the previous episode has already sparked debate on the internet. The little green alien looks like Yoda, so is he the great Jedi master re-incarnated? Or is he another of Yoda’s kind? Yoda was always a mystery, and let’s hope he maintains that through this show. For now, as the Mandalorian wanders through the desolate plains of an unknown planet, fighting off indigenous aliens in his attempt to keep the child safe and return to his ship, we can only wonder if the significance of this asset lies in its latent ability to wield the Force.
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It’s obvious that the little baby sees some good in our protagonist. When the Mandalorian attempts to heal his wounds and fix his armor after a fight, the baby clambers out of his floating cradle, reaching out to our hero. It looks, to the uninitiated, as though the baby is trying to console the bounty hunter. But is the baby attempting something else?
Baby Yoda (I’m going to call the baby that, because… he looks like it!) is so adorable, you can’t help but squee every time he’s on screen. It’s also adorable how the Mandalorian keeps picking him up and placing him back in the cradle, even though we can tell the bounty hunter is exhausted and in pain. Without a word being said, it’s evident that the protagonist is caring and affectionate.
The Return of the Jawas
When the bounty hunter returns to his ship, he finds a sandcrawler parked next to it, and a gang of jawas milling around after ransacking his ship. Immediately the Mandalorian shoots at them, incinerating several before the rest disappear inside the sandcrawler and drive away.
Incensed by the jawas’ thievery, the bounty hunter chases after the sandcrawler, evading rock walls and falling debris to climb as high as he can to stop the jawas. Somehow, he is unsuccessful. The jawas taze the bounty hunter and he falls to the ground. It takes a while for him to wake up. By then, the jawas are gone.
Despondent that his ship is unsalvageable and his arsenal is gone, the Mandalorian returns to the only person he knows on the planet – Kuill. How impressive is it that ten whole minutes of this episode has gone by without a word being said? Director Rick Famuyiwa and writer/creator Jon Favreau leverage the style of old westerns, where the actions of the hero always spoke louder than words.
Kuill agrees to help the bounty hunter. He speaks fluent Jawa and negotiates with them to trade with the Mandalorian. The jawas don’t like our hero, and him vaporizing their kin has a lot to do with it (okay, we don’t blame them for that; couldn’t he have just scared them away instead of killing them?). They ask for the hunter’s beskar metal armor – that’s a no-go, it’s sacred to the Mandalorians. Then they try to take the baby; that doesn’t sit well with our protagonist at all. So, what’s left?
The jawas finally decide that the Mandalorian can have his parts back if he can bring them the Egg. Jawas are weird!
Rescuing the Egg
The jawas take the Mandalorian to the location of the Egg. I love how the bounty hunter will not leave the child – he drags the cradle along with him everywhere. But he has the forethought of not taking it down the crater where the Egg is buried. And good thing too, because the crater has a living creature inside it and it doesn’t like being disturbed.
The creature looks very similar to the reek that Anakin, Padmé, and Obi-Wan fought in the Geonosian arena in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. It attempts to maul the Mandalorian to bits, in a scene very reminiscent of the film. Just when it seems that the bounty hunter’s a goner, Baby Yoda steps up. He uses the Force to levitate the creature, giving our protagonist enough time to regain his strength and find the sweet spot that will end the creature. Given the exertion, the little baby falls back in its cradle, fast asleep.
The Mandalorian then recovers the Egg, which is nothing but a giant delicacy for the jawas. The dude nearly got killed for that snack! Not that he’s complaining. The Mandalorian has his gear back, and with Kuill’s help, his ship is back in form.
Despite the Mandalorian’s offers of rewards and a place on his crew, Kuill declines, preferring to remain in his valley especially now that our hero has brought it peace. It’s still a surprise to come across such a kind character in any universe, so one can’t help but be a little suspicious of Kuill. Perhaps he simply is an old person wanting to enjoy some quiet time, or maybe he’s working with the bad guys. We’ll keep our eyes peeled over the course of the season.
The episode ends with the Mandalorian leaving the system with Baby Yoda. It takes a while for the child to wake up, but he finally does. All the while, it seems the bounty hunter is wrestling with his mission. Will he really give up this innocent creature to The Client? But if he doesn’t, how will he obtain the rewards he seems so desperate for?
This episode was far superior than the last, but some of the dialogue is still clunky. Lines like ‘I’m a Mandalorian, my weapons are my religion’, sound tone-deaf in a world wracked by gun violence. It also seems out of character for the protagonist. He’s a man of few words, he wouldn’t need to explain himself. The music by Ludwig Göransson has its own distinctive style, but once again, it’s far too melodramatic during epic scenes.
When Baby Yoda uses the Force, we would have preferred a throwback to the tunes from the original trilogy, rather than a melody that is desperate to pull at our heartstrings. The show simply doesn’t have the kind of emotional pivot that the music wishes it did. At least the central character is an arresting figure with incredible dimension. We can’t wait to see more of Pedro Pascal’s character in the rest of the episodes.