The Mandalorian is owned by Disney
Directed by Rick Famuyiwa
We’re back with another episode of Star Wars After Dark; which admittedly is still pretty family friendly considering its being made on Disney’s dime. That said, the first episode did establish a tone for itself as a less goofy and more grounded interpretation of this universe and was quite good on top of that! Was that episode a one off fluke, or does Disney really have something here that’s worth paying attention to? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with THE MANDALORIAN… okay, I’m not gonna keep calling him that, so until they give him a real name let’s try out a different one each episode. Let’s go with… Jim for this one! So Jim (Pedro Pascal) is taking the Yoda Baby with him after “rescuing” it from the “bad guys” last time (it’s still unclear whether they were good guys or not) and it’s unclear what Jim plans to do with it once he gets off world. Will he take it back to the DEFINITE BAD GUY Werner Herzog, or find a Space Orphanage to drop it off at? These are questions that will have to be tabled for the moment as Jim gets attacked by a bunch of… I guess they’re Tusken Raiders, who try to smash his head in with sticks. Jim manages to fight them off however in a really well choreographed action scene, and after the dust has settled he notices that one of his attackers had a tracking device on him. The same one that Werner Herzog gave to him to find the Yoda Baby. So yeah, if being played by WERNER HERZOG wasn’t enough of a clue, this pretty much cements it that Jim is working for the wrong team. They didn’t even give him a chance to find the baby before handing the job off to someone else, and I guess that begs the question of just how many more people are after this little green brat? Speaking of whom, the little bugger is actually a pretty impressive effect. They LOOK like a really good puppet with CG modifications, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re just a REALLY good CG effect. While it can’t talk or seem to communicate with Jim, it seems to be much more aware than a typical baby would be (considering he’s fifty years old, he BETTER have picked up on a few things) but Jim has no time for such things as he ignores it like any good surrogate father figure does in the first two acts of a story!
Eventually the duo make it back to Jim’s ship which would normally be good news, but as it turns out a Jawa sandcrawler has happened upon it and the little jerks are currently stripping it for parts which Jim doesn’t take too kindly and starts shooting at them. They scurry off at the first sign of danger and try to bail in their sandcrawler with whatever parts they have, but Jim doesn’t take too kindly to that either and tries to chase it down. The show is still knocking it out of the park with the action as this scene where Jim chases the sandcrawler is really well made and does a much better job of blending grit and comedy than we got in the last one. Jim eventually jumps on the side and starts climbing with grim determination and ruthless skill while the Jawa’s are scrambling to knock this guy off of their truck; throwing trash and hurling insults like space soccer hooligans. He somehow manages to crawl his way up to the top of the sandcrawler and is ready to bust some heads, but he didn’t stop to think that MAYBE a bunch of them would be waiting up there for him and sure enough he gets blasted with enough stun weapons to fall over the side like a sack of space potatoes. Well that didn’t go too well all things considered! With the Jawas now far off in the distance with a bunch of the ship’s parts, Jim has no choice but to go back to the guy who helped him out in the last episode (Nick Nolte) and beg him to find them a way off planet. His solution is pretty simple which is to go back to the Jawas and ASK them for the parts back which is a plan Jim doesn’t seem to fond of, but sure enough it actually seems to do the trick as they agree to return what they took as long as they do something for them. There’s a creature in a cave not too far from here that has an egg the Jawas want. If Jim can get the egg, he can have his parts back. Not too shabby a deal considering how many of them he’s already killed, but hey! Why let a wee bit of murder get in the way of perfectly good transaction!?
So Jim goes off to get this egg and for some reason brings the Yoda Baby along which doesn’t seem like the BEST of ideas. I mean sure, he wouldn’t want to leave them with the Jawas who already stole everything else he had, but he couldn’t trust that baby with adorable alien dude Nick Nolte? Oh well, it can’t be THAT dangerous right? I mean everything else on this planet has been pretty small, so how big could this creature be? Turns out; quite big! Imagine a rhinoceros the size of a Wampa and you get the idea, and for Jim this is less than ideal situation as the creature bashes him all over the place; knocking his weapons away, pretty much destroying his armor, and presumably with far fewer bones intact than when he went there in the first place. Then something MAGICAL happens! Seemingly by some sort of… shall we say… FORCE, the monster starts rising several inches off the ground and hangs there mid charge. Surprising Jim and literally no one else, it turns out Yoda Baby can use the force and just barely saved Jim’s life as well as keeping the animal still long enough for Jim to jab a knife in its neck in a particularly grim moment in the series. Jim grabs the egg, brings it back to Nick Nolte and the Jawas, and he finally gets the parts he needs to put his ship back together. Well… for NICK NOLTE to put his ship back together at least. Seriously, I understand being neighborly and all that, but considering he pretty much rebuilt this ship from the ground up for absolutely no fee, I’m starting to think that Nick Nolte is less the Ned Flanders of this planet and is actually hiding something here and which is why he wants Jim to go away as fast as possible. And so ends the second episode of THE MANDALORIAN as Jim and the Baby say their goodbyes to Nick Nolte and ride off into the stratosphere with uncertain futures and probably more than a few targets on their back.
What really came together for me while watching this episode is that it seems to be taking inspiration not just from the other films and some of the lore, but from Genndy Tartakovsky’s more serious works like Samurai Jack and even that Clone Wars show he did. This episode is light on plot and dialogue but excels at setting its scene, establishing clear and straightforward goals for its characters, and showing off some flashy action on top of it. I’m not sure if every episode will be this way now that we’re presumably going back to the more talkative and character based world of bounty hunters, but it was a real treat to watch this episode unfold and I’m glad they’re willing to just let some of the story speak for itself instead of filling it with redundant dialogue or pointless subplots. Sometimes all you need is a guy in a helmet, a desert planet, and a force sensitive baby of unknown origin who can lift monsters with their mind! Keep it simple!