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.
Greetings, Mandalorian Monday readers. I genuinely hope you had a lovely weekend, because I didn’t. Why? Well, I forgot to start Taysom Hill in my fantasy league. In case you don’t know who or what that is, the New Orleans Saints had a quarterback issue this week after the franchise’s longtime starter, Drew Brees, broke his ribs: Start Jameis Winston, he who threw 30 INTs and 30 TDs last season with the Bucs, or start Taysom Hill, the tight end and former BYU quarterback. They went with the latter, which means I could have played two quarterbacks in my line-up last week, but I plum forgot. And then Hill decides to do shit like this while pounding the crap out of the Falcons:
So, yeah, I fucked up. You know who didn’t fuck up, though? Carl Weathers, that’s who. The dude wasn’t content with just playing Greef Karga on The Mandalorian — he had to go out and direct a solid-ass episode called “The Siege” for your viewing pleasure. Let’s break it down, y’all.
If you’re a fan of cold opens, well, you’re in luck: This week we get not one, but two vignettes to start off the episode. The first is roughly what you’d expect, given where we left off Din Djarin and Baby Yoda last time around: They’re stuck in space, trying to fix the miserable state of the Razor Crest so that they can make it to Corvus and reunite Baby Yoda with Ahsoka Tano, who will presumably know what to do with him better than Anakin Skywalker knew what to do with her. Mando’s manning the controls in the cockpit, and Baby Yoda’s deep inside the walls, working with some of the cords and circuitry. In a scenario familiar to both children and parents all over the world, Mando tries to guide Baby Yoda through what should be a relatively simple process — plug the blue cord into where the red cord went, and vice versa, but be sure not to touch them together because they’re going to shock you if you do — and sure enough, the little one does it wrong and mildly electrocutes himself in the process (this might be my personal pick for cutest Baby Yoda moment in the entire damn show, and it’s definitely the funniest, with the little green guy acting like a YouTube electrician). Over a bowl of broth with his boy, Mando realizes this repair is just a bit above his pay grade, so he plots a course for Nevarro to call on some old friends.
The second involves the Mandalorians’ old hideout on Nevarro, which is currently occupied by a bunch of Aqualish raiders — you know, the same kind of motherfuckers as Ponda Baba, who was relieved of the burden of his blaster-clenching hand and forearm by Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Mos Eisley Cantina — who are soon ambushed themselves by Marshal Cara Dune (and, since this is the first time I’m really writing about Gina Carano, here’s where I tell you to go watch Haywire as soon as you are physically able), making her return after a three-episode absence. As expected, the former Rebel Shocktrooper easily murks all the dudes in the room, without once plugging her Parler account. But, before she can leave, she makes friends with her own little cute companion — a little Lava Meerkat, who was once going to be dinner for the Aqualish — whom she gives a little food to before setting to the main task at hand: Cleaning up the dead bodies and getting stolen property back to its owners. Cue the theme music, and “The Siege” is fully in swing.
The Razor Crest lands with a thud on the outskirts of Nevarro City, where, just a few months earlier, Mando’d nearly killed his way through the Bounty Hunter’s Guild alongside his Mandalorian brothers to save Baby Yoda’s life. Oh, how times have changed: The man who led that very charge, Greef Karga, alongside the Marshal he appointed in the aftermath of them clearing the Imperial Remnant out of the city together, greets Mando and Baby Yoda with a hearty hello. Karga puts his best repairmen on the job of restoring the Razor Crest, and tells Mando that his credit will absolutely suffice. The town square’s a bit different since the shootout that brought Moff Gideon to the surface — there’s a statue of IG-11 in the center of it now, commemorating his bravery and sacrifice — and the bar, which was shot to pieces by the Imperials, has now been converted into a classroom. A Protocol Droid is instructing a group of human children (listen closely to the droid’s dialogue — there’s some very fun lore stuff there), and Dune tells Mando he can leave the child there with them. He objects, but Dune says it’s safe, and, besides, no one would want to bring a kid where they’re going. The Child is placed in a desk chair, and he immediately begins causing some trouble. The kid next to him is eating some beautiful-looking blue cookies, and the little one wants one. The kid says no, and Baby Yoda force-grabs the package like he’s Jane Jetson heading out for a shopping spree. What a card!
Karga, Dune, and Mando head back to Karga’s office, where, surprise surprise, the Mythrol (played by Horatio Sanz, who apparently has found a role in which he can perform well without corpsing) that the Mandalorian captured and froze in carbonite all the way back in the very first episode of the show, is crunching numbers at a desk. Turns out the Mythrol’s been Karga’s longtime accountant, and he still likes his work enough to keep him around even though he tried to cook the books and skim a little off of the Magistrate’s financials. As such, the blue-skinned alien will be working off his debt for the next 350 years — a decent enough deal, given that it means he won’t be killed or sent to prison — but he’s still pretty terrified of Mando. Apparently, the dude still can’t see out of his left eye because of the time he spent in the Carbonite, and he doesn’t want to replicate that experience any time soon. But they’re not there simply to reflect on old bounties — Dune and Karga want Mando’s help with a job. See, there’s still a small Imperial forward-operating base at the tip of a canyon’s ridge on the back half of the planet, mostly abandoned with a skeleton crew maintaining it, and he wants the threesome to knock it over. Karga wants to raid the base for two reasons: First, he wants the last vestige of the Imperials off of his planet, and secondly, some of its equipment might be worth something on the black market. Mando agrees, and the four make their way to the base in the Mythrol’s land speeder.
As they get closer to the base, the Mythrol begins to get a bad feeling about the whole enterprise and tries to avoid being any closer to the action than he has to. Karga negotiates with him — get them close, and he’ll knock time off of his debt, or they’ll take his speeder from him and the water-based Mythrol can walk home, provided that the humidity vest he’s sporting will keep him alive long enough. Upon leaving the speeder, the foursome discovers that the base’s basement elevator’s blast-doors are shut, and the controls have been fried by the lava flow. The Mythrol sets about trying to bust into it with a blowtorch-like tool, but Mando’s got a better idea: He jets to the top of the base, murks the Imperials up top, sends one crashing to the floor near Dune, Karga, and the Mythrol, and sends the elevator down to them. The three hop in, and once at the top, they discover that, well, there wasn’t a skeleton crew there after all: Whatever was here, it was important enough to be well-staffed at all times. They pass through the base’s garage, stacked with speeder bikes, TIE fighters, and one tarp-covered heavy vehicle, which Wookiepedia says is a Wexler Marauder, and the Mythrol starts to drool over it, even as he’s quickly reminded that it’s gonna go up in flames with the rest of the base.
Speaking of flames, Karga’s got an idea about how to proceed with their controlled demolition. Over a huge lava deposit, there sits a control panel (just like the one Obi-Wan used on the Death Star in A New Hope) that maintains and manages the flow of coolant into the lava. Fuck with that, and the base will go boom, just like Diet Coke and Mentos. After murking an officer (rear-naked choke, Dune) and a number of troopers (blasters, all of them), they make their way to the panel, and the Mythrol’s sent out on to the thin platform over the lava in order to disable it. He succeeds, and the countdown is on: The four have 10 minutes to flee the base before they go boom too. But, on the way out, when trying to avoid a pair of stormtroopers that are calling in reinforcements, the group stumbles on a pair of Imperial officers doing what any good toady employed in the service of a fascist government does when their misdeeds are about to be exposed — destroying all and any evidence of what happened in the base. After a brief shootout, the small-time Mengales fall dead, and our heroes discover some truly shocking stuff in this particular room.
Lined against the wall are a series of bacta tanks storing the disfigured remains of a series of strand-casts (basically genetically-modified clones altered to have force-sensitive powers) looking like that Alien Autopsy that they aired on Fox in the ’90s, and Mando realizes that this isn’t actually a FOB, it’s an SOB — a scientific operations base, which is also what Moff Gideon will do when he realizes it’s destroyed. The Mythrol hacks into the systems and discovers a message sent from Doctor Pershing (the same scientist Mando spared last season when he rescued Baby Yoda) tell Moff Gideon of his experiments in attempting to place Midichlorians from the Child into these organisms, which stuns the group, given that they’d assumed that the perfectly-mustachioed evildoer died after his TIE-Fighter crashed at the end of last season. Dune tells Mando to get the hell out of there and to get the Child, and he splits off while Karga, Dune, and the Mythrol shoot their way out of the facility. The three hijack that Wexler Marauder that the Mythrol went all googley-eyed for, and drive it off the side of the canyon to the valley below, crushing the Mythrol’s speeder in the process. Meanwhile, as Mando takes to the skies, a bunch of Scout Troopers on Speeder Bikes make their way down the canyon’s cliff face after the heavy vehicle. Dune and the Mythrol are behind the controls of the Marauder, while Karga takes control of the heavy turret mounted on its back.
Karga’s weaponry and Dune’s driving make short work of the bikes, but a few TIE-Fighters are scrambled right before the base explodes, and it looks like Nevarro’s finest are about to be chewed up by green blaster fire. But look! Something shot down one of the TIE-Fighters! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s TheRazor Crest, fully restored by the handy-dandy work of Karga’s men, with Mando at the controls and Baby Yoda, still carrying his captured cookies, strapped in one of the passenger seats (he really needs a baby seat!). Din does some fun fancy flying in order to take out the remaining fighters, and Baby Yoda reacts like he’s on a first date at the amusement park: he has a ton of fun going through the motions, but when it slows down a bit, he tosses his cookies and spoils everybody’s fun.
Karga radios Mando and asks if he can buy him a drink, and Mando tells him that he’s got to get back on the trail of Tano, though after he cleans up the cockpit a bit — blue puke won’t get itself out easily. So, the Razor Crest makes its way out of the system, on to the next adventure, and sometime later, on Nevarro, a New Republic pilot asks Karga some questions about the incident, to which the Magistrate pleads the Fifth. On the way out, the pilot encounters Dune, who is tossing some food to her little Lava Meerkat pal, and says that the New Republic could really use her help. He even brings up Alderaan, which, well, is kinda cheap, but seems to work, somewhat. He leaves behind a badge (or a beacon?), and fucks off, presumably to hassle some Twi’lek breaking public decency laws on Coruscant with her too-low top.
But wait! There’s more! Aboard an Arquitens-class command cruiser, an Imperial officer receives a holographic transmission from the surface of Nevarro — it’s from one of the mechanics who repaired the Razor Crest, who has been working as an Imperial spy. He’s placed a tracker on the ship, to which the officer responds joyfully. She leaves and makes her way to a bizarre corridor in the heart of the vessel. There she finds Moff Gideon and tells him the good news: They know where Mando’s going, and that The Child is with him. Gideon smiles, knowing that he’ll be able to open a new Los Pollos Hermanos franchise location on Corvus, and the camera pans out to reveal a detail that will cause any ’90s Star Wars fan to start choking on their 3-PO’s: Gideon is apparently standing overcharging docks for fuckin’ Dark Troopers, dude. Hit those credits!
I’m gonna be a little controversial here: if I could go back in time, I’d drop the four-Jango rating I gave to “The Heiress” down to a three. Because this is the epitome of a four-Jango Mandalorian episode. It’s sturdy on all sides, has fun little hints of bigger lore revelations to come, and doesn’t bog itself down in Clone Wars stuff or bad wigs. Again, this season might not be following the progression that some fans want it to, but, honestly, fans don’t know jack shit. And yes, I include myself when I say that, because if I ran Star Wars, it’d probably looks something like this:
So, I give this four decapitated Jango heads out of five. And please, Kathleen, get back to me about The Adventures of Gonk Droid. It’ll be a hit!
There’s no way that this is going to anyone other than Carl Weathers, who, in addition to being one of the coolest motherfuckers who has ever worked in Hollywood — he fought Rocky, got killed by the Predator, traded jokes with the Bluths, and now hangs in a Galaxy far, far away — is a swell director, and this episode only shows how great he is at crafting excellent entertainment. This is probably one of the most thoroughly-fun episodes of the show, and that vibe makes it significantly better than, say, anything with Bo-Katan. And he acted in it, as well! So, congrats, Mr. Weathers: You’re this week’s MVP, and everyone should go rent Action Jackson to celebrate.
Star Wars Fan Film of The Week:
This week, I’m going Lego on y’all. Here’s an excellent and insanely violent Brickfilm called, aptly, “Darth Vader vs Rebels,” which dropped a few months after Vader tore through motherfuckers at the end of Rogue One and its creator decided that two minutes wasn’t enough to truly strike fear in one’s heart. So, here’s an orgy of blood and violence so chaotic and wild that it would make Mickey Mouse vomit, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s the kind of thing that you’d call the principal over if you discovered one of your students drawing in class, but, in this context, it totally fucking rules.
This Week’s Weirdest Piece of Baby Yoda Merch:
Yes, that is a Baby Yoda Waffle Iron, which is the kind of bizarro tie-in that makes absolutely no sense in any context — does anybody associate Baby Yoda with waffles? Is he Belgian? — but exist somehow because the license is valuable enough. But if you’re incredibly persuasive and have a particularly gullible person living in your household, we’ve got one hell of a prank for you to pull. It’ll require another waffle iron, but it’s worth it. Tell the said victim that you’re going to start making waffles for breakfast every day, and make one from each maker without them noticing. Serve them the Baby Yoda waffles, and eat the plain ones yourself, and when they ask you why Baby Yoda is on their waffles, pretend to be shocked. Now, you have to hide this waffle maker really, really well, but do it with frequency over the next couple of weeks, and your victim may think that they’re receiving Baby Yoda stigmata, straight from God (or Darth Sideous himself).* It’s normally $40, but you can get it for the low price of $31.99 at your local GameStop.
Next week, we’ve got a Dave Filoni-directed episode, which means, if you don’t know who that is, that we’re probably going to finally see Ahsoka — he created her, after all, which means he’s probably going to shepherd her into the live-action realm as well. Let’s hope Rosario has a good time, under all that make-up, too.