When last we left Mando and The Child, they were sputtering helplessly towards the tentacled embrace of one Ahsoka Tano. This week’s literally explosive episode begins with The Razorcrest, buckling under it’s Mon Calamari refit, forced to make a stop on Navarro.
Navarro, of course, is the lava-pocked planet where the gut-churning and triumphant denouement of season one took place, and it’s also where Mando left his two erstwhile friends, Greef Karga (Carl Weathers) and Cara Dune (Gina Carano). It’s hard not to admire Carl Weathers, whose last truly prominent role was playing an utterly insane variant of himself in Arrested Development, and who did a truly bang-up job directing this episode.
And it’s hard not to feel a little ick about Gina Carano, whose habit lately of sharing anti-mask and anti-lockdown conspiracies on Twitter, as well as sharing Trump’s claims that Biden “stole” the election is frankly kind of gross.
The Mandalorian – The Siege Review
The promos and posters for this season of The Mandalorian have championed his two allies, so seeing them pop up wasn’t surprising at all. What was surprising, however, was seeing the return of Mythrol, his first quarry in the debut episode of the show. Remember Myrhtol? Blue guy, complained a lot? Got frozen in Carbonite? Well, in Greef and Cara’s new and thriving Navarro, he’s been given a second chance: he’s their bookkeeper, and his role in The Seige as reluctant (if not downright whiny) assistant provides a nice signifier on just how far Mando has grown.
The basic premise of The Seige is this: there’s a big chunk of Navarro that is safe and profitable. But on the far side of the planet, there’s an Imperial base. The same base, in fact, which provided all the troops which almost ended our heroes journey last season. Greef and Cara want Mando to help them blow it up while he waits for his ship to get repaired. Sounds like a side quest, right?
And for a while, it feels a little like one. Until that is, they sneak into a vintage Death Star style base, complete with a power generator hovering above a looming chasm (Mythrol’s complaint at a lack of handrails is a wonderful jab at Palpatine’s demise). Once inside, and after a skirmish with some Stormtroopers, they find a secret lab. And in that lab? Vats full of mysterious, deformed, floating bodies, and a holographic message revealing that Moff Gideon has been using The Child’s harvested biological matter for some kind of “transfusions”.
So now, Mando knows Gideon is alive. More than that, however, we now know there’s a very specific reason Gideon wants The Child (although to be honest, Gideon would do well to stop trying to kill the little guy, and instead secure his lucrative merchandising rights). My theory? These are the frankly munted clones of Palpatine, and they need force-sensitive stem cells, or DNA, or mojo, from The Child to grow properly.
At least, that’s what I did think until the final shot of the episode, which has Moff Gideon grinning demonically inside a bay structurally quite similar to the lab. But instead of vats of blue goo with ruined hunks of flesh inside, the walls are lined with… black suiots of armor? Are these robots? Dark Forces-style Shadow Troopers? Are those wrecked floating bodies, which clearly need The Child’s DNA, going to pilot these suits? God knows. But it’s intriguing nonetheless.
Our heroes’ escape from the exploding facility is a terrific sequence, by the by. Whilst I’m still not entirely convinced Carano is nailing her performance, having her and Weathers ferrying a blue man who won’t stop complaining through a charred ravine whilst being strafed by speeder bikes and TIE fighters is classic Star Wars, as is their last-minute rescue from a now fully restored Razor Crest. God, I love that ship. It feels like now, finally, Mando has everything operating at peak efficiency – not just his ship and his armour, but his compassion, and his ability to lean on allies rather than work alone.
Navarro is proof of what happens when our hero trusts other people and helps them out. And whilst living on a ruined, ashy lava planet isn’t my cup of tea, the place looks a far cry from how it did last season. Hell, there’s even a classroom where The Child gets left to cool his heels (and now, finally, we know that macarons exist in the Star Wars universe).
Will we see Ahsoka next week? I truly cannot wait to find out.
The Mandalorian is streaming on Disney+.