What They Say:
The Mandalorian teams up with an ex-soldier to protect a village from raiders.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Mandalorian turns in its longest episode yet at 41-minutes, 2 minutes longer than the first episode, and it has probably one of the most standard episodes yet. This is the kind of episode you expect after the big (and highly rated) episode we just had that went deep into the action and Mandalorian history. A step back to slow things down, add some nuance and exploration to the story, and a little color. In a lot of ways, this was an episode that you’d see with any serialized 70s or 80s ongoing action/drama property about a drifter or wanderer. There is a strange comfort in seeing this series play to the very things that made the original film so appealing, which in itself leaned on similar classics from serials and films. It’s one of the reasons that you know Favreau and Filoni learned the lessons over the years in what makes Star Wars work as producers and writers on this. This episode brought in Bryce Dallas Howard to direct and it’s one that does exactly what it needs to while breathing some new life into it all.
Having survived and gotten away, the plan is to find some backwater world to hang out on for a few months and let things cool down a bit. That has them heading to Sorgan where there’s no real population of note, no ports, and generally just a couple of small places with local humanoid villagers and the like. There are some minor towns as well, which is where he heads to first in order to get a feel for the place. It’s here that we get to meet Cara Dune, as played by Gina Carano. Initially, he thinks she’s a bounty hunter and is wary of her and the two have a really good hand-to-hand tussle that again showcases the strength of this show. But the reality is far more interesting; she thought he was there for her as she’s an ex-Rebel commando, one that fought on Endor and after the main fall of the Empire worked on displacing a lot of Imperial Warlords. But as it turned more towards wetwork and some really ugly missions that felt like it wasn’t what she signed up for, she hauled off and ended up here to hide out for a while and just exist.
Since the Mandalorian isn’t exactly keen on hanging out in the same place with her as they draw too much attention together, he ends up through a bit of luck in an outlying village when some locals attempt to hire him. He actually uses it as an excuse to hire her to do some good as well and it’s everyone heading off there. It’s a simple tale that has no grander scale other than a village of fishermen that are being attacked regularly by Klatoonians that steal everything and kill a bunch of them. This has all the hallmarks of the old western and samurai episodes of a wandering being paid or wandering in and helps a town save itself from some bad guys. There’s the fun of getting the locals to fight for themselves, figuring out defenses, and setting it all in motion. There’s also the discovery that this group somehow got their hands on an AT-ST, which made me laugh because if Cara Dune had fought on the moon of Endor, she likely at least heard about the Ewoks that took out these kinds of machines.
There’s not a lot of story here when you get down to it and the show handles the familiar well when it comes to what it’s all about. It’s light and breezy enough but with the weight of the locals lives at stake giving it what it needs. This is largely seen through one woman who is worried for her daughter’s future as played by Julia Jones. It’s a simple role but Jones owns it well after her time in Longmire and a brief stint in Westworld. I like to think that’s where she learned to shoot since she was the most competent one here. We also get a great little appearance that’s uncredited I believe with Eugen Cordero playing one of the farmers. This is a deep cut for some but he plays Pillboi in The Good Place and it feels transcendent to kind of think of Pillboi being in both of these things. It’s just so down to the accent and style of speech but it just takes you out of it in a good way for a brief moment.
Of course, the biggest scene-stealer here is the Child. The initial time on the Mandalorian’s ship is just adorable as he plays with the controls or when they land and he tells him to wait on the ship while he goes to explore only to have the Child right next to him. The two have clearly bonded and the Mandalorian knows better at this point. There’s something about the Child that absolutely should not work – it should be too much – but at the same time it’s something that people had never thought of and clearly love beyond words. We do get to see some good material with him playing with some kids, exploring some of the village (was that a Lothcat?) and just generally interacting with people, something I don’t think it’s been able to. This also plays into how the Mandalorian reveals a bit more about himself without truly saying anything, such as when he took on the armor and the lack of taking the helmet off in front of others (as opposed to at all; dude has to shower sometime). It’s small moments but watching him watching over the Child at play is just utterly endearing.
The Mandalorian has what’s basically a bottle episode here but these are the things that made The Clone Wars so good. It’s the expansion of the greater storyline as it introduces us to more of the worlds, cultures, characters, aliens, and more. Cara Dune is the main takeaway here and I imagine this is just to setup a future appearance for her character in this season or the next but regardless, what she brings to the table helps to flesh out some of the post-ROTJ storylines that can be told. There’s a lot of great potential here just in what that one character briefly offers that if done in a series similar to this would be just as exciting. Everything is firing on all cylinders and once again The Mandalorian has grabbed a high spot on my weekly viewing of things that just make me excited as hell.