Editor’s Note: Welcome to Mandalorian Monday, when Vanyaland film editor Nick Johnston recaps last week’s episode of ‘The Mandalorian‘. It runs — you guessed it — every Monday during the show’s second season, so you have the chance to watch it over the weekend and he can write about it without having to put a big SPOILERS warning atop the page.
Happy Mandalorian Monday, everyone. So, because I operate on Slowpoke time, I’ve finally gotten around to watching Star Trek: Picard, and boy, if there was ever a TV show to show you what not to do in contrast to The Mandalorian, it’s that one. Look, it’s weird when you hear characters around Patrick Stewart throwing out “fucks” and “goddamns” and shit. It’s the far-future! They probably don’t even actually have sex! But yeah, that’s what happens when you put a dude who’s besties with an anti-government 9/11 truther like Bob Orci behind your fucking Utopian Government science-fiction show: you get baseless, dumb conspiracy plotlines grafted to a medium that absolutely abhors them. Look, CBS: all anyone wants is a new show where a crew of a starship explores strange new worlds and seeks out new civilizations. They don’t want Data-like robots blowing up Mars, or bad Romulan intrigue: they just want fun, single-episode stories! Hell, they don’t even have to be fun! People love Deep Space Nine! Maybe it gets better. Maybe Discovery really is worth my time, but I’m worried, y’all.
Anyway, this week’s Mandalorian episode is called “The Heiress,” directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, and boy does it have a whole lot of good stuff for you Clone Wars nerds out there.
So, we pick up almost exactly where we left off at the end of “The Passenger”, with Mando, Baby Yoda, and the Frog Lady chilling in the only part of the Razor Crest that’s still able to be pressurized — the cockpit — on their way to the water planet Trask, where the Frog Lady will hopefully reunite with her husband and Mando will find more of his kind. They’re all asleep when Trask comes into view, and Mando realizes it’s going to be a rough landing, as his guidance system isn’t working. So, we get an Apollo 13-style fiery re-entry, which is a fitting tribute from Howard to her dad, and it’s actually pretty cute when you think about it.
Thankfully, the Razor Crest is able to land, though it does fall into the harbor’s waters, and, after being lifted out of the water by an AT-AT crane, Mando tasks a Mon Calamari mechanic with fixing up the ship. Frog Lady finds her husband and utters what I’m assuming is “here come dat boi” to which her husband responds “oh shit whattup,” though his unicycle is suspiciously out of frame. They thank Mando for his efforts and direct him to the local cantina for more information on where exactly he can find his counterparts, though they’re being watched by a suspicious figure, played by Boston’s own Sasha Banks. Upon entering and taking a seat, the bar owner gives him some guff when he only orders chowder for Baby Yoda, but Mando wants information, which is worth even more than what it costs for semi-liquid food. The owner directs him to a Quarren (best known to Gen Xers as “Squid Heads”), who agrees to take him on his fishing vessel to find his people. Meanwhile, Baby Yoda gets attacked by a squid in his chowder, and Mando admonishes him not to play with his food. I’m honestly a huge fan of these Bond-esque one-liners our dude has been given this season, so this was pretty fun.
Cue the Pirates theme! Mando and Baby Yoda board a Quarren fishing vessel, which is transporting a Mamacore, which I was legitimately surprised to discover isn’t an indie subgenre that’s basically Dad-Rock for people who love their jeans high-waisted, their shirts pastel-colored, and their glasses oversized. It’s actually a big ol’ fuckin’ creature who likes to eat lots of fish, held in water in the center of the ship covered by a giant cage-like door. Turns out that it’s a trap — you’d think one of the Mon Calamari would have shouted that out, given that it’s basically their species’ motto — and the lead Quarren hockey-pucks Baby Yoda’s floating stroller straight into the Mamacore’s maw. International waters really are a bitch, aren’t they?
They knock Mando into the drink as well and close the cage atop of him, though the Mamacore doesn’t seem interested in him, given that she’s been given the equivalent of a force-sensitive in-shell pistachio, and stab at him with their fishing tools, admitting that they’re after his Beskar armor. You have to wonder about the efficacy of dressing like in his particular kind of work — how many times have motherfuckers tried to steal his armor at this point? — but, thankfully, the calvary shows up. Three blue-clad Mandalorians blast into the ship and fuck up the Quarren, and free Mando from the trap that he’s in, and one of the three hops in, blasts the Mamacore and rescues Baby Yoda, who is fine aside from the fact that his pram has been basically destroyed. At that point, Mando starts to talk with his rescuers and reveals to them the purpose of his mission to them, but they offend him by taking off their helmets. Turns out he’s been saved by Bo-Katan Kryze, played by Battlestar Galactica and Power Rangers fan film star Katee Sackhoff (who also voiced her in the Clone Wars and Rebels), and her crew. Bo-Katan tells him not to worry so much, given that Mandalore is home to many different cultures, and that he also belongs to a cult. Understandably, Mando’s pretty mad, and he jets off.
Later that night, Mando and Baby Yoda are stuck up by the brother of the fellow who tried to kill him for his armor and a group of assembled Quarren thugs (what’s the appropriate word for a group of squids? A squidward?), and are rescued by Bo-Katan and her pals once again in an astonishingly short firefight. The three… apologize, I guess, and ask Mando for his help in robbing an Imperial Cruiser that’s scheduled to take off with a boatload of high-powered weapons. If he does, Bo-Katan will tell him what he wants to know — where to find the Jedi — and he’ll soon be off on his merry way, and Bo-Katan will be one step closer to her ultimate goal: Reclaiming the Darksaber from the icy-cold grip of Moff Gideon. Mando agrees and, seeing that a raid on an Imperial ship is no place for a little fellow like Baby Yoda, hits up the Frog Family for babysitting services. The pair are having a great time, it seems, given that Frog Husband has Released His Kraken all over his wife’s eggs, and they agree to watch Baby Yoda, who suddenly realizes that his favorite snack might have contained little bits of life inside of it, given that a tadpole emerges from one of the eggs as he stares hungrily into the container. Welcome to Veganism, Baby Yoda. Your distant cousin Yaddle would probably be proud.
The Mandalorians jet onto the cruiser when it’s still at low altitude, waiting to be given clearance to rise into the upper atmosphere, and they make short work of the Stormtroopers guarding an unsecured hull-door (they even joke previously about how useless those bucketheads are at shooting anything with a blaster unless it’s directly in front of them). What follows is basically a massacre, where Bo-Katan, her henchmen, and Mando make their way to the cargo hold, blasting troopers left and right, while, in the cockpit, the cruiser’s captain (played by Bosch himself, Titus Welliver) gets updated about the raid from the boots on the ground. He demands that his pilots take them into space, perhaps so that Imperial reinforcements can help.
But it’s too late — the Mandalorians have made it to the cargo hold, after a particularly stupid Imperial officer decided to trap them in the control room for the cargo hold without realizing that, he, himself, was still in the loading bay, and is subsequently sucked out into the air when the Mandalorians open the bay’s doors. Bo-Katan and her pals start lusting over the guns, and Mando tells them to hurry up, because he wants to get out of there. Bo-Katan breaks it to him that, well, she actually wants to take the ship instead, and that she’s altered the deal. Mando’s very frustrated about this, but there’s not too much he can do, and Bo-Katan hits him with a mega-burn, telling him that “This is the way.” Meanwhile, the Captain’s contacted Moff Gideon, who, when presented with the fact that Bo-Katan is trying to steal his ship, tells him that he knows what to do, deep down inside. The captain blasts the pilots and puts the ship on a collision course with the sea.
The Mandalorians realize the ship’s going down and make a last-ditch effort to try and get to the cockpit, where they’re confronted with an assload of white-clad troopers, who are guarding the sealed doors. The blaster-fire is too intense, but Mando realizes that he’s got to act, or they’re all gonna die. So, he tells Bo-Katan and her men to cover him and grabs two of his sticky detonators. Much like Kyler Murray said yesterday, it’s time for a Hail Mary. He charges the troopers, and as blaster bolts bounce off his Beskar armor (well, I guess I answered my own question, huh?), hurls the bombs at them. It blows up real good, and Mando survives his brief brush with death. Bo-Katan’s impressed, too, but there’s no time for that — after all, they’re careening to the ground with a lot of speed. They break in, Bo-Katan grabs the Captain, and Mando and one of the henchmen take the controls to try and pull the cruiser out of its rapid descent. Bo-Katan demands to know if Moff Gideon has what she wants, and the Captain tells her that she already knows the answer, given that she’s even asking the question. He bites down on a tooth and is shocked to death, which is pretty fucking metal — the Star Wars universe officially now has an equivalent to the cyanide-filled teeth in the mouths of Soviet Spies — and Mando and the henchman manage to save the day. Mando realizes he’ll have to pay the babysitter extra if he doesn’t get home in time, so he presses the other Mandalorians to let him leave. After offering him the chance to join up with their squad (which, he’s got a quest!) they agree, and Bo-Katan tells him what he wants to know: He needs to go to the city of Calodan on a planet called Corvus, and that he should seek out Dave Filoni’s favorite daughter, Ahsoka Tano, in order to get the Child reunited with its people.
Finally, Mando returns to the Frog Family, who are bathing their young child, as Baby Yoda watches and giggles. See, Baby Yoda? Frogs are friends, not food. Baby Yoda wants to keep it, but Mando sarcastically tells him that “he already has enough pets.” Ha, Din, you absolute card! They make their way back to the Razor Crest, which somehow looks in worse shape than it already was in, even after the Mon Calamari mechanic put his back into it, but Mando’s just ready to get back on the road anyway, so he’s not too bothered. A squid comes dangerously close to hurting Baby Yoda while Mando’s got his back turned, but Baby Yoda’s seen Oldboy, and he knows just what to do. The pair depart for Corvus, with bits and pieces flying off the Razor Crest as they head into hyperspace. Cut to credits!
“The Heiress” was short, sweet, and to the point, and boy, is there so much lore for people to chew over. There’s a whole universe of nerds who were rightfully scared away by the ugly-ass animation of Clone Wars (I’m sorry, guys; I just will never, ever be able to get the taste of seeing that movie in theaters out of my mouth) who are going to be introduced to the wonderful and weird world of Mandalore and its surprisingly vast lore because of this episode, and I think people will find it really intriguing, even if they have to just listen to it, given that they’ve ripped their eyes out having to stare at that Peak Lucas Style. Howard directed the hell out of it, all things considered, and, thankfully, we haven’t had a real misfire all season. Well, yet. Now that I say that, the next episode is probably going to be “The Boss,” and it’ll be a three-hour Ken Burns style documentary about Boss Nass’ rise to power on Naboo.
I’m going to go with Bryce Dallas Howard here, who has directed some solid-ass episodes of this show so far. “Sanctuary” was an excellent episode in the first season, and, hey, it gave us the Baby Yoda-drinking-broth meme, so that’s something. But, really, she has three solid action sequences here that make up the bulk of the episode, and each is handled smartly. They’re all clear and concise, and stress just how badass Bo-Katan and her crew are. She’s the main reason this episode is a ton of fun, though Sackhoff comes in at a close second. Seriously, they’re separated by a wig. Like, had Bo-Katan changed her style up in the 30-odd years since Rebels, I might have gone a different route with this MVP. Alas, she did not, and boy is that thing hideous.
Star Wars Fan Film of The Week:
This week, we’re revisiting one of my personal favorite fan films of all time, which is this incredible TIE Fighter anime done by Youtuber Otaking77077. This got some crazy attention a few years back, and guess what: It’s still just as good as it was back then. It’s basically what would happen if the folks behind your favorite Gundam series decided to make a tie-in series to Star Wars: Squadrons, and it’s just as glorious as you’d respect. Plus, this might be the most humble dude on the planet. Confronted with all of this attention, he says this:
“Don’t support me on Patreon, because I don’t have one! (actually, as of Jan 13th 2017 I do, but only to pay the rent T___T) And don’t donate to my Kickstarter, because I don’t have one of those either. Instead, if you enjoyed this, give someone at your workplace, uni, school or whatever a random bar of chocolate or can or Coke or something. Seriously, it’ll probably make their day. That would totally make my day.“
Ain’t that sweet? Here’s to you, Otaking77077, you absolute legend.
This Week’s Weirdest Piece of Baby Yoda Merch:
Ever want to pretend you’re performing open-heart surgery on Baby Yoda? Better yet, have your kids ever wished that they’ve been able to stick scalpels and pokers into the various cavities of Star Wars‘ cutest creature since Wicket the Ewok? Well, you should probably be on a watchlist somewhere, and so should your children, but Hasbro Gaming has the product for you: A Baby Yoda-themed edition of the classic board game Operation. So, you’re not actually pretending to do surgery on Baby Yoda — I sincerely doubt that Disney would ever go for something like that — but the core of the game is the same: Remove fun little bits from holes like you’re a Civil War-era barber surgeon pulling shotgun pellets out of a man’s leg while trying not to touch the sides. It’s currently $15 at Amazon, and will make for a fantastic stocking stuffer, especially if you’re encouraging your children to go to medical school or to become a serial killer.
So, bets on when we’ll see Bo-Katan again? I think she’ll be back by episode six, and we’re gonna get an Ahsoka episode next week. Or maybe Favs and company will tease us again and we’ll get an episode about Mando herding nerfs with some losers on another planet, guest-starring Demi Lovato and Demi Moore. Call it “The Two Demis,” and get Carl Weathers to direct it, and you’ve got yourself a hell of a half-hour.