Warning: Spoilers for Season 2, Episode 3 of "The Mandalorian" below
Disney seems to be doing a good job of ensuring that "The Mandalorian" is enjoyable on multiple levels; catering to an audience on Disney Plus (opens in new tab) that might not be particularly knowledgeable in the expanded "Star Wars" universe and at the same time incorporating multiple layers that fans with an encyclopedic level of understanding can also appreciate.
Last week's episode resulted in a mixed reaction when the Child, a.k.a. Baby Yoda chose to chow down on some eggs that belonged to a character known only as Frog Lady. The reaction caused Lucasfilm creative art manager Phil Szostak to speak out on the matter. In a now-deleted tweet he said, "For the record, Chapter 10 of #TheMandalorian makes it clear that the Frog Lady’s eggs are unfertilized, like the chicken eggs many of us enjoy. But obviously, chickens aren’t sentient beings and the Child eating the eggs is intentionally disturbing, for comedic effect." He added in a follow-up and also now-deleted tweet, "Fans of horror know that disturbing things make some of us laugh and some of us squirm, or both. Your mileage may vary."
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There is an entertaining theory that the Child "might regurgitate the eggs David Blaine-style as it turns out he wasn’t really eating them but protecting them." We shall see.
Funko Pop, makers of the sought-after pop-culture collectables are already all over this, with a "Child with Egg Canister" figurine (opens in new tab), announced as part of this week's Mando Mondays promotion, a weekly release of products inspired by the TV show. It's currently listed for $30 on Funko’s online store (opens in new tab) where it’s also listed as sold out. However, on Amazon (opens in new tab), it’s listed as available to pre-order and will release on Dec. 31.
The Mandalorian, a.k.a. Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), along with Frog Lady (portrayed in costume by Misty Rosas with a voice performance by Dee Bradley Baker) and Baby Yoda barely escaped with their lives from the planet of the ice cavern-dwelling, carnivore, space spiders, now positively identified as being Maldo Kreis — which is also the planet where the very first episode of "The Mandalorian" began. And so we pick up for "Chapter 11: The Heiress" immediately after, as the Razor Crest limps to the estuary moon of Trask. In fact, it's so badly damaged that the landing is something of a disaster and the Razor Crest plummets through the atmosphere and ends up in the drink.
From the moment the Mandalorian's ship begins reentry, it looks amazing, especially on a big screen. Trask is a new addition to the "Star Wars" universe and already it looks gorgeous. The aesthetic of this sci-fi franchise is — and always has been — retro tech: a production design that opts for a very used, lived in, rough-around-the-edges look and feel. Consequently, it makes everything look interesting, as opposed to the more empty, glossy, sterile polish adopted by another sci-fi franchise currently airing.
After the opening credits, which are refreshingly kept short on this show, we see a giant AT-AT-style crane lifting the Razor Crest out of the water. This undoubtedly a nod to the urban myth that the giant gantry container cranes at Oakland docks in San Francisco inspired the now-legendary Imperial All-Terrain Armored-Transports first seen in "The Empire Strikes Back." We get a brief glimpse in the background of something similar during the speeder chase in "Solo," but this is a much more significant and obvious reference. Plus, they're a pretty cool idea.
Djarin has arrived at what appears to be a large shanty town-style fishing port. He pays a Mon Calamari dock worker, complete in his knitwear and waders, to repair the Razor Crest as best he can and Frog Lady darts off into the crowd to find her mate, which she soon does. It's a genuinely touching moment. Upon being reunited with his mate, Frog Lady … er, Frog Gentleman fulfills his end of the deal and tells Djarin that he'll find more information about finding his own kind in the tavern. This is (always) the way. Meanwhile, someone is watching the Mandalorian's movements from the shadows.
The tavern proprietor informs him that others who wear beskar have been through there and a Quarren tells him that it's only a few hours sail and that he can take him to them. Meanwhile, the Child is struggling with his cephalopod chowder in its usual incredibly cute and adorable way.
Interestingly, this episode was directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, daughter of Oscar-winning director Ron Howard. She also directed one of the worst installments of the first season, "Chapter 4: Sanctuary," thankfully though, it seems like her skills have improved and this is a considerably better effort. While the official budget figures for the second season aren't yet available, it is known that Season 1 cost around $15million per episode and clearly the production values have been taken up another gear, setting yet another, new benchmark for TV sci-fi.
There's even a subtle homage to "Apollo 13 (opens in new tab)" directed by her father that she's acknowledged on Twitter.
Nice catch!! 100% correct:) https://t.co/J1LSdvetYJNovember 14, 2020
The estuary moon of Trask is gloomy, gray and gorgeous. The "Star Wars" universe tends to favor single biome planets and we haven't seen an "ocean planet" in any live action since Kamino in "Attack of the Clones." It's a beautiful piece of world-building, with its Massachusetts-fishing-port-meets-dirty-industrial-docklands aesthetic. It feels as though it's always been there and we've just never seen it until now. Given how groundbreaking the visual effects are on "The Mandalorian," it's hard to tell where the CGI ends and the practical effects begin, but it flows seamlessly, looks beautiful and is best enjoyed on a really big TV.
Even the Quarren fishing vessel looks amazing as it ploughs through the waves. For some logic-defying reason, they keep an enormous creature onboard called a Mamacore, locked up in a water-filled hold in the middle of the ship. As they swing across and open a net full of fish into the water, one of the Quarrens turns to Djarin and asks, "Have you ever seen a Mamacore eat?" And a huge circular mouth with row after row of razor sharp teeth is just visible under the surface of the water as it scoffs the seafood. (We half expected to see "Venture" painted in faded Aurebesh on the hull as the ship's name.)
Then, without so much as batting an eyelid, the Quarren wallops the Child's carrier — with the Child in it — with his fishing pole, knocking it into the water. Equally without a second thought, Djarin dives straight in after it. His helmet may pack infrared and telescopic vision, but it ain't watertight and to make matters worse, the Quarren close the metal grill over the water pit.
Shouting things like, "The beskar is ours!" and "We're rich!" they try to poke and stab him with their fishing poles, when totally unexpectedly, three Mandalorian warriors all wearing coordinated armor descend onto the ship's deck with their jetpacks and annihilate the Quarren fishermen with an impressive display of fighting and shooting skills. They open the grill, pull Djarin out who, coughing and spluttering, points to the pit exclaiming that there's a child still in there. Selflessly, one of them immediately dives in to rescue it.
"Don't worry brother, we've got this," another reassures Djarin as gunfire can be heard from deep in the ship's hull moments before the waterlogged warrior emerges clutching the Child.
Relieved and extremely grateful, Djarin begins to explain that he's been quested with returning the Child to its race when … the three Mandalorian warriors all remove their helmets, revealing Koska Reeves (Mercedes Varnado), Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) and Axe Woves (Simon Kassianides).
Bo-Katan of Clan Kryze has quite the history in the "Star Wars" universe and was an important character in both "The Clone Wars" and "Rebels." She was leader of the Nite Owls — an elite Mandalorian unite — and a lieutenant in Death Watch, a terrorist group and later during the Imperial Era, she became Mand'alor — the sole leader of the Mandalorian people and once wielded the Darksaber, which as we saw at the end of the Season 1 finale, is now in the hands of Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito). Katee Sackhoff is perfect casting as she actually voiced the character in "The Clone Wars" and it's really great to see her in some quality sci-fi once again, the first since her epic portrayal of Cpt. Kara "Starbuck" Thrace in Ron Moore's truly brilliant "Battlestar Galactica" and no, "Another Life" does not count and nor does "Riddick," since both are utterly dreadful.
Somewhat startled, Djarin automatically assumes that, like Cobb Vanth in the Season 2 premiere episode "Chapter 9: The Marshal," these are just non-Mandalorians who happen to possess baskar armor since they've removed their helmets. "Where did you get that armor?" he asks. "You do not cover your face. You are not Mandalorian."
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Bo-Katan steps forward and tells him matter-of-factly it's been in her family for three generations and that she was born on Mandalore, something even Djarin can't claim. And once upon a time, this used to be the determining factor in being considered a Mandalorian, but this show has redefined that slightly, suggesting that Mandalore is as much of a creed as it is a race.
"And you are a child of the Watch," she says. "Children of the Watch are a cult of religious zealots that broke away from Mandalorian society. Their goal was to re-establish the ancient way."
"There is only one way," Djarin angrily retorts, "The way of the Mandalore," and off he flies into the gray, overcast sky. The Death Watch were the ones who rescued the young Din Djarin and made him a foundling. The Mandalorians who lived and were massacred on Nevarro followed this way.
Back at the docks now, in the darkness of night, a Quarren approaches Djarin and accuses him of killing his brother. Quickly, what was just one Quarren is now a lot of Quarren and the Mandalorian is soon surrounded. The situation looks dire when Reeves, Bo-Katan and Woves jetpack once again just in the nick of time. Needless to say, short work is made of their squid-faced foes and they sit down to talk in the tavern.
Trask is a black market port for weapons bought by Imperials with the plunders of Mandalore. The three former Nite Owls are attempting to seize those weapons so they can use them to retake their homeworld. And once they've done that, they'll seat a new Mand'alor on the throne. Djarin wants nothing to do with and instead is focused on returning the Child. Then Bo-Katan drops the big one, she can lead him to one of its kind…in exchange for his help to board and raid an Imperial Gozanti freighter. He reluctantly agrees and gives the Child to Mr and Mrs Frog to temporarily look after as we nervously bite our bottom lip watching the Child's eyes open wide in delight as it spies the eggs once again.
What follows is a beautiful set-piece as the four Mandalorian warriors assault the freighter. They only have a limited window of opportunity to attack, while the freighter is still making its way through the shipping lanes, before it gets to orbit where it will engage hyperdrive. Everything seems to be going according to plan, but there are a lot of Imperial Stormtroopers. The officers on the flight deck seal it off while others try desperately to repel the boarders.
The Captain (deliciously played by Titus Welliver) orders his pilots to break from the shipping lanes and make for orbit immediately. One over-confident Imperial officer informs the Captain that he has the threat contained in the cargo deck control area. The Captain's face drops as he realizes what's coming next and we see the cargo deck's main hatch open and a handful of Imperial troops and officers are blown out. (This most excellent moment could've really benefitted from a Wilhelm scream.)
Bo-Katan alters the deal with Djarin and tells him that they're taking the freighter intact so they fight their way to the bridge. The Captain contacts Moff Gideon who instructs him it is necessary to make the ultimate sacrifice if the ship is lost. Without hesitation the Captain blasts his flight officers and takes the freighter into a nosedive just as the four Mandalorian warriors burst into the cockpit. Djarin and Reeves leap into the pilot's seats while Bo-Katan pins the Captain to the wall and holds a knife to his neck.
"Where is it?" She demands. "The Darksaber, does he have it?!"
Teeth clenched, the Captain replies, "If you're asking, you already know."
Rather than tell her where she can find Gideon, he bites down on a cyanide tooth-style device that delivers a fatal energy shock instead of poison. Djarin and Reeves just about manage to pull the freighter out of its nosedive before it crashes into the ocean below, narrowly missing another vessel, which we would've really liked to have seen get blown across the water by the wake turbulence.
Knowing that the Captain would've sent a distress signal, Bo-Katan orders that freighter be taken immediately into high orbit and then hyperdrive. She invites Djarin to join them, but he insists on remaining on his mission. Then another "Star Wars" universe reveal is made: Bo-Katan tells Djarin to take the foundling to the city of Calodan on the forest planet of Corvus, and that he'll find Ahsoka Tano there, adding, "Tell her you were sent by Bo-Katan."
Ahsoka Tano is another important character from the expanded "Star Wars" universe, featuring prominently in "The Clone Wars" animated series. She's a Togruta and former Jedi Padawan who, after the Clone Wars, helped establish a network of rebel cells against the Galactic Empire. It's long been suspected that she'll be played by Rosario Dawson and hopefully next week that will be confirmed.
Djarin bids the Nite Owl trio farewell, gathers the Child and returns to his ship that now resembles more of a seagoing craft rather than a spacecraft.
With the exception of "Rogue One," "The Mandalorian" is probably the best thing to happen to "Star Wars" since the original trilogy. Season 2, so far, has not had a poor episode — in fact, it's getting better each week and this installment is the best so far. The attention to detail is microscopic, the production design is phenomenal and the Razor Crest aerial sequences are amazing.
In other "Star Wars" news, according to GamesRadar, we may be getting Season 3 next year. A new advert on the Slovak Disney Plus' YouTube channel shows what movies and TV shows are coming to the service in 2021 — and the list includes The Mandalorian seasons 1, 2, and 3. We already knew that a third season was in pre-production, but hopefully this means it could be on our screens much sooner than expected.
"The Mandalorian" airs every Friday on Disney Plus (opens in new tab). The first season of "The Mandalorian" is on Disney Plus, which is available for $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year in the U.S. and in the U.K., it's £6 a month, or £60 a year. It's also available in Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, India, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, France and Japan.