The Mandalorian Has His Work Cut Out For Him in Chapter 2: “The Child”

The Mandalorian aired its second episode just days after the premiere, so we’ve already got more to munch on. It’s time to talk about “The Child” and all the troubles it brings. It’s also time to revel in the fact that Jawas will always present problems to anyone looking for a problem-less day.

[Spoilers ahead.]

Summary

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

The Mandalorian has a baby now. On their way back to his ship (on foot, as Kuiil got to claim all the blurrgs for himself), they run into two Trandoshans who try to snatch away the prize. They are both defeated, but when they arrive back at the Mando’s ship, it’s being stripped clean by Jawas. The Mandalorian disintegrates several of them and tries to board their crawler while it’s in motion, but that doesn’t go well for him. Kuiil finds him again and says that they can barter for his ship parts. The Jawas first ask for his beskar armor, then the baby, but they agree to give him his parts back for “the egg”.

The Mandalorian goes to a cave where a giant horned beast lays in wait. It attacks him several times and almost gets the best of him—but baby Yoda uses the Force to raise the animal in the air, giving the Mandalorian a chance to get his bearings and kill it. He finds the beast’s egg and brings it back to the Jawas, who promptly begin eating the thing. He gets his parts back, but the ship is a wreck. Kuiil insists that they could get everything working quickly if they work together, and they get the Razor Crest up and running in no time. The Mandalorian offers Kuill work on the ship, as the fellow is extremely handy and he doesn’t know to repay the Ugnaught. But Kuiil is happy where he is, and the Mandalorian must depart with only his gratitude on offer. Now he just really has to figure out how he’s going to handle his Force-baby…

Commentary

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Baby Yoda is going to be a death of me. I shriek every time it appears. It’s just rude, okay, asking me to deal with this for what will probably be every episode? I don’t know how I’m supposed to review something coherently when my every other comment is actually “Look, the baby Yoda blinked. The baby Yoda ate a frog-lizard whole while the Mandalorian scolded it. The baby Yoda raised its hand. The baby Yoda squeaked because it has very tiny vocal cords.” I have no other thoughts. They are all with baby Yoda.

Speaking of which, he might actually be baby Yoda. If you go back over the first episode, the doctor desperate to get his hands on the kid is wearing an emblem worn by all the clone troopers on Kamino. So either this guy is a clone himself, or he works for Kaminoan cloners and they’re looking for some sweet Yoda genes. Maybe they cloned Yoda as insurance of some sort? If the baby Yoda is 50 years old, that puts its birth around the year that Anakin Skywalker was born—and definitely by the time Emperor Palpatine had started in on his galaxy dominating schemes. So perhaps he initiated a “clone Yoda” plan at the same time that he started thinking about clone armies and so on. Maybe this was the first project he had the Kaminoans complete on his behalf.

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Either way, the kid has the Force, and watching him squinch up his perfect fuzzy green face to try and help his new guardian is one of the episode’s highlights, as far as I’m concerned. This episode was even shorter than the last, which is still a sticking point for me. I definitely want more at once, though labeling them as “chapters” is apt, as they do feel very chapter-like. Favreau’s scripts are still a bit underwritten sometimes (he tends to reuse words when he doesn’t need to), but when he hits it, everything comes together. The show is really keeping up with it’s big sweeping landscapes, outlining the titular character in every establishing shot like he’s the only person in the galaxy. Well, him and the baby.

I’m hoping people actually take the character at his actions rather than his tropes, though. To be completely honest, I don’t like most cowboy narratives because they frame their central figures as near superhuman dudes whose only powers are often just wanting to be left alone. The guy is strong, silent, and the best of the best (who wishes he weren’t the best so everyone would stop bothering him). My favorite thing about the Mandalorian so far is, sure, he looks cool—but he’s not cool in any actionable fashion whatsoever. He’s a dumpster fire, as we term it. He spends an entire action sequence trying to climb a Jawa Sandcrawler, makes it to the top after being pelted with trash, and still has to take the thirty foot drop from the roof. He goes mud skiing trying to battle a beast so that said Jawas can have a tasty snack, and almost gets himself killed. He complains about how long it’ll take to fix his beloved ship while his Ugnaught buddy snorts and gets to work.

He’s trying so hard. But he’s a mess.

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

This just so happens to be my favorite type of hero—trash fires with legitimate skills who can’t ever seem to get a leg up. They’re so put upon. They’re so tired. Everything is always set against them when they’re just desperate to survive. And if you need any proof that he’s really just a marshmallow encased in Very Special Armor, baby Yoda is doing all the work for us. Baby Yoda is protecting its protector with the Force. It didn’t protect the Jawas or the Trandoshans, it’s taking care of the Mandalorian because he may he an amazing warrior with vintage taste in spaceships, but he’s also clearly a very Soft Friend Who Has No Idea What’s Going On.

Do you have any idea how long I’ve waited for this?

There are some gaps in the storytelling so far; it’s weird watching a montage of spaceship repair when there’s very little reason to linger on it. Is the point that the ship is better off than it was before it got taken to pieces by Jawas? Because if not, I’m not seeing a reason why we had to stick with that drawn out sequence. It’s a little bit “look we ticked the sci-fi boxes” for me. But I’m not bothered overall because this series is delivering on something that we’ve only gotten from the cartoons in recent years—a show that truly means to highlight just how weird Star Wars is.

We’re probably going to go into plot overdrive next week, as the Mandalorian is finally going to have to decide what he’s really prepared to do for this baby, but until then, we got to watch him make a friend, get saved by a toddler, and grumpily negotiate with the galaxy’s cruelest hagglers. Vestiges of the Empire will have to wait until next week.

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

Other asides and highlights:

  • It has been pointed out all over the place, but the Mandalorian’s look and primary weapon are similar (though not exactly the same) to Boba Fett’s very first canonical appearance—before the Special Edition added him into A New Hope as a member of Jabba’s entourage—in the Star Wars Holiday Special animated segment. Which leads me to wonder if we’ll get to see him riding a beast that looks like a wonky dinosaur, since that’s how he appears in there.
  • Obviously, these episodes are full of easter eggs and surprises, but the best is probably seeing the use of the disintegrator that Vader gave Fett hell for using in Empire. It is terrifyingly effective.
  • The Mandalorian having to swing up onto the sandcrawler to avoid getting crushed by rock outcroppings is a straight up homage to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
  • While there are grappling hooks in play with the armor, the thing that the Mandalorian uses to keep baby Yoda close to him appears to be some form of invisible energy “lasso”, which makes its Western influences that much more obvious.
  • The comment that weapons are a part of the Mandalorian religion is a grouchy oversimplification on our lovable Mando’s part, but it is correct broadly speaking; beskar armor is a signifier of familial heritage and a second skin for many Mandalorians. Because the armor is commonly so kitted out with personalized weapons, it is a really big deal asking a Mandalorian to disarm. (And as we see, asking them to drop a blaster or two is never enough.)
  • It amuses me to no end seeing the Trandoshans as yet another sci-fi alien that has transformed from a big rubber lizard suit to a human wearing a bunch of prosthetics. If I’m being totally honest, I kind of prefer the big rubber lizard suits? But I imagine I’ll get used to it. For those not in the know, Trandoshans are a species of hunters, and many of them take up bounty hunting. Star Wars fans first saw them in Empire Strikes Back, standing in the array of bounty hunters on Vader’s Star Destroyer. That particular Trandoshan’s name was Bossk.

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

We have to wait a whole week for the next episode… but I’ll be right back here on Friday. See you soon!

Emily Asher-Perrin would like a baby Yoda around to save them from big beasties. You can bug him on Twitter, and read more of her work here and elsewhere.

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