The Mandalorian is owned by Disney
Directed by Rick Famuyiwa
I get the impression that a lot of people weren’t too pleased with the last episode which is astonishing because it had some really great moments in it including a fun part for Amy Sedaris, AND it was basically like every other episode we’ve gotten so far so I don’t see what’s worth crying foul about with that one. In any case, we’ve got a new episode look at so let’s see if they can pick things up a bit for those who are starting to lose interest. Does the show maintain the high bar of fun and excitement it’s set for itself within the Star Wars universe, or will the genre hopping antics will finally start to feel stale for me as well? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with… how about Al and Bud, arriving on some sort of space station which already sets this apart from other episodes in the series, and Al is out there to get another job so he and Bud can stay on the run for another day. He meets up with an old contact named Ranzar (Mark Boone Junior) who immediately becomes my favorite person in this entire series, and he lets Al know that it’s a five person job with him as backup and his ship serving as the SPACE GETAWAY CAR; more or less making him responsible for bringing this sorry sack of scumbags to their job and back again in one piece. Said scumbags include a devil looking dude named Burg played by CLANCY MOTHER FREAKING BROWN, an android with a bug head named Zero voiced by Richard Ayoade, a Twi’lek knife expert and former flame of Al’s named Xi’an played by Natalia Tena (think of the dynamic between Brock Samson and Molotov to get an idea of what’s going on there), and of course the leader of the bunch called Mayfeld played by comedian Bill Burr; trying his darnedest here to land a role in a Scorsese flick. See, this is why I have to respectfully disagree with anyone who’s getting bored with this show as it may be doing the genre recreation thing for every single episode, it’s still doing it in interesting and uniquely Star Wars flavored ways. Heck, I’m sure Clancy Brown has been in a dozen of these, let alone everyone else in the scene’s filmographies, and yet we haven’t seen a heist story like this in the Star Wars universe! Yes, Rouge One was about stealing plans, but that was still within the context of the noble rebellion fighting against fascism! This is just a bunch of definite Bad Guys committing crimes because it’s their job, and Al trying to justify taking this job to himself as necessary to keep his little boy Bud safe and sound. It’s immediately familiar and yet still compelling because the show continues to do such a good job of keeping Al interesting as a character as well as introducing new and exciting elements within the Star Wars universe!
So what exactly is this job anyway? Well an associate of theirs was arrested and thrown into a New Republic SPACE JAIL so they have to fly to the craft, break in without the droids on board knowing about it, find their way to the command center, and find out which cell to unlock so they can get their man out and bring him back safely. Sounds simple enough and good ol’ Ranzar seems to think these guys are competent enough to do the job, so what could possibly go wrong!? Well a lot of things right off the bat as apparently no one brought a SPACE BOOK or a SPACE PHONE to kill time during the commute, and so while Zero is flying the ship everyone else is taking pointless jabs at Al; making fun of his helmet and making light of his Mandalorian traditions. If there’s one flaw with this episode that’s apparent even this soon into the episode, it’s that we simply do not have enough time for this premise to live up to its potential, so while the rest of the crew are obviously going to be jerks who will try to screw Al in the middle of the operation, a full movie with more time to explore the characters wouldn’t make it that obvious and may even try to convince you that one or more of them are actually on the level despite the tough front they put up. That is definitely not the case here as none of them are the least bit subtle in their douchebaggery, and it only gets worse when one of them stumbles into a button that opens a door revealing little Bud in one of the compartments; looking adorable as ever and now in more danger than usual. Bill Burr is the first to grab the little bugger like some sort of rag doll and if that wasn’t bad enough the careless fool goes ahead and drops the poor baby right on his face which elicited an audible gasp from me louder than anything else in the series has managed to draw! AND THE DUDE DOESN’T EVEN APOLOGIZE FOR IT! Just go for the juggler, Al! I’m sure everyone will forgive you!
They eventually land on the SPACE JAIL and go inside to find it mostly empty save for a few droids that Al dispatches with relative ease in an action scene that once again proves how great this show is at making Star Wars action work on the small screen. They eventually make it to the command center to find THE BIG SURPRISE that every heist job has to throw at the criminals, and in this case it’s that the SPACE JAIL isn’t completely run by robots. There’s one person there (Matt Lanter) who frankly SHOULDN’T be surprised by the intrusion considering it’s his job to watch the cameras, but sure enough he is and he pulls out a gun as well as a tracking beacon and just about pees himself when none of them takes that as a sign to give up. The tracking beacon though does have them a bit nervous as one press from that button will apparently bring a New Republic squadron on their butts and no one wants that heat on them, especially since they still have a prisoner to break out, so Mando tries to talk the guy into letting them go about their business which is kind of a hard sell when Bill Burr and Clancy Brown are about to blow his freaking head off. Eventually things get heated with everyone pointing guns at each other until Natalia Tena throws a knife into the guy from Vampires Suck (yes, that’s the dude who played fake Edward in that movie) and he presses the button on his way down. The misfits now have twenty minutes to get the prisoner, get out, and fly a safe distance away before SPACE ARMAGEDDON rains down on their heads. They run through the halls, Clancy Brown blows stuff up, and they eventually find the cell containing the prisoner; a male Twi’lek (perhaps the first we’ve seen in the Star Wars universe?) named Qin who is the brother of Xi’an and I was ABSOLUTELY certain was played by Ed Skrine. He’s not though; he’s played by Ismael Cruz who’s done some TV work here and there and seems to have been a regular on Sesame Street. Not sure Grover would approve of his character in this though as he’s just as much of a slimeball as everyone else and this is also the moment when they finally spring their trap on Al; throwing him into the cell and locking the door behind them while they run off to escape on his ship.
Now you know better than to think a simple door will keep Al for very long as he escapes pretty much immediately in this rather gruesome scene where he lures a robo-guard to his cell and rips his arm off with an accompanying splatter of SPACE OIL to make it all the more disturbing to watch. Using the SPACE JAIL KEY inside the robots arm he escapes from his cell, goes back to the command center, and starts picking off the criminals one by one; separating them with the security doors and reminding them why he’s called THE Mandalorian! Clancy Brown gets outwitted by even more doors, Natalia Tena finds out that trying to stab a dude in magic super armor isn’t the best idea in the world, and Bill Burr gets it like a character in a freaking horror movie with Al even managing to teleport behind him just for the heck of it! It’s down to Qin who convinces Al to let him live and take him in alive so he can still collect his reward, and Zero who for whatever reason has been menacing itty bitty Bud on the ship so Al shoots him right in his robo-heart. I’m really not sure what that subplot was about as it seems like Zero MIGHT have learned that little Bud is a valuable commodity, but then why was he holding a gun to his adorable little face right before Al shot him in the back? I mean sure it creates a bit of tension for Al to get back to the ship as soon as possible, but like a lot of the character stuff in this episode it feels a bit rushed.
Al manages to get Qin back to Ranzar’s space station where no questions are asked about the missing crew members (I guess the first rule of SPACE CRIME is don’t talk about the SPACE CRIMES), and he gets his justified reward for having to go through such a hassle. However, it looks like Ranzar was in on the betrayal as well as he orders one of his crew members to destroy Al’s ship as it departs, but then we find out that there was ANOTHER double cross as Al had picked up that tracking beacon from earlier and discretely stuck it in Qin’s pants who finds it too late and the full force of the New Republic is upon that station right as Al heads in the opposite direction! Well… I say the FULL FORCE OF THE NEW REPUBLIC, but actually it’s just three X-Wings. For what was built up as an overwhelming threat that the crooks needed to escape from as soon as possible, it’s hard to feel anything less than SOMEWHAT disappointed that it’s just three people with decent ships. I mean sure they DO manage to destroy Ranzar’s space station, but that seems to underline how pathetic he is rather than the AWESOME MIGHT OF THE X-WINGS; not to mention that apparently the New Republic has a Shoot First Ask Questions Later policy when it comes to investigating distress signals. Kind of disconcerting considering these guys are supposed to be the BETTER ALTERNATIVE to the Space Fascists. Oh, and in case you were wondering Al didn’t actually kill the crooks on that prison ship; he just threw them all in one SPACE CELL which we see them angrily pace around it just as the episode’s credits role.
I started this recap saying that I couldn’t understand the frustrations of people saying they’re doing the same thing over and over again, and while I stand by my opinion that they are doing something new each week with what genre they’re recreating, it does feel a bit undercooked here as I would have greatly appreciated it if this was a two parter where we got to know more about these people before the mission so that it had a bit of impact when they inevitably turned on Al. On top of that, the break in was just kind of basic with no real twists or turns or even that many obstacles to overcome along the way. Just a few droids, one anxious dude in charge, and a ticking clock that ended on a rather odd whimper. Still, Pedro Pascal is still great as our Mandalorian and the Baby Yoda is as adorable to watch as ever so the fundamentals are still there from episode to episode, and I did enjoy the new cast even if they could have done a lot more with them if they had more time to work with. Bill Burr was a great pick to play the somewhat witty scumbag (i.e. the Moe of this band Stooges), and I always love seeing Clancy Brown no matter how small the part is. The standout though was Natalia Tena who I didn’t talk about much here but is going as over the top as possible being the femme fatale and infusing each of her lines with bitterness and deliciously acidic banter. Perhaps the most disappointing episode of the series since the gulf between what I wanted from the episode and what I got was rather large, but for what we got here it’s another solid entry in the series and not even what I’d call a real stumbling block on an otherwise great run of episodes; More like taking a familiar route when they could have taken a much more interesting detour.