The second chapter of The Mandalorian took began shortly after the first episode left off. The episode starts with the western trope of the lonely gunslinger walking through the expanse partnered with whomever he is defending. I mentioned in my review of the first episode that I loved the Space Western feel of the world and the show in general. Chapter Two builds upon this feel.
While the music doesn’t have the same dusty, strolling, saloon feel as the Fillioni’s offering in the first installment, Rick Famuyiwa’s episode visually and thematically allowed for a similar feel. When the Madalorian returns to his ship to see it being stripped of it’s parts by Jawas (more on that later). Famuyiwas and Favreau give us a rail road heist and battle worthy of a Red Dead Redemption storyline mission. The Jawas escape their heist in their Sandcrawler while the Mandalorian hung off the side of the vehicle. “Mando” climbed and blasted his way toward the top of the vehicle before ultimately failing his initial attempt to get his property back.
Seeing Jawas brought a smile to my face as the lovable, demonic, scurrying creatures instantly brought me back to a time in my childhood when I first discovered them in A New Hope. The Jawas provided the audience with an obstacle to our hero while allowing for levity and providing the show-runners with an opportunity to weave depth into the Star-Wars Universe. The moments of levity are truly important as it gives the show a true “Star-Wars” feel. The Jawas mock the Mandalorian’s command of Jawa language and send him on a quest to retrieve a Mudhorn’s egg which is later revealed to ostensibly be a giant Cadbury Cream Egg. However, the appearance of the Jawa also caused some confusion as the creatures have often been linked to Luke Skywalker’s home planet Tatooine. For this reason (as well as the moisture farms seen in the background), many viewers thought that the first couple of episodes took place on the iconic planet.
However, it does appear as the two episodes have spent the bulk of their time on another outer-rim planet known as Arvala-7. Both Kuill (the “I have spoken” character portrayed by Nick Nolte) and the Mudhorn (the giant space Rhino) appear to be natives of Arvala-7. What is interesting about this is this means that for years many who have enjoyed the Star Wars galaxy have been perplexed that certain intelligent species (in an epoch that allows for space travel), appear to be locked to specific planets. The two planets seem to have much in common so it does seem possible that the scavenger species were divided and some settled on a similar planet to the one that they are most notably associated with. Further proof comes from a leaked action figure that describes the creatures as: “Off-World Jawas”.
The Off-World Jawas also seem to have access to Sandcrawler vehicles and The Mandalorian gives us our first peak into the familiar vehicle. The inside seemed to have a cockpit that required several Jawa to operate. This was somewhat cute and a touch practical as the Jawa’s small stature would make it difficult to operate such a complicated transport. So points scored for the production team for showing us the inside of the Sandcrawler. It has been the subject of my imagination for years. This is another great example of the show paying fan service without shoe-horning original trilogy characters and tie-ins.
Another such example is the Trandoshan Bounty Hunters who also seem to have been sent on the quest to retrieve or kill “the child”. Trandoshans are most familiar to us in the form of Bossk. Bossk was a Bounty Hunter first seen in The Empire Strikes Back. This was yet another moment where I smiled with nostalgia because Bossk was such an interesting character that, as is typical, was not totally explored by the movies (though his treatment in the animated shows and other media have done a better job). The ensuing fight scene also gave us our first view of the Mandalorian’s weapon.
It appears to be an electro-staff, a blaster, and a sniper rifle rolled into one. This allows for one more Easter egg. Whenever the “phase-pulse” blast connected with a foe the enemy disintegrated upon contact. I chose my words carefully here as this seems to be a call back to a scene where Darth Vader warns Boba Fett “no disintegrations” in the Empire Strikes Back. Again, just a cool throwback that adds to the tapestry of the Star Wars universe without getting in the way of the story or jeopardizing the story telling. This also lends to the theory that this “blaster staff” seems to be a modified Tusken Cycler Rifles that we’ve seen destroy a Pod-Racer in The Phantom Menace.
So I’m done burying the lede. There are two things that absolutely need to be discussed if this is to be a true review of The Mandalorian Chapter 2. Firstly, “Mando’s” name seems to have been revealed. I know, it didn’t happen to be in the episode but, for those who don’t spend hours researching and synthesizing lore, legends and cannon and all sorts of relevant media into a two page review, I figured I’d share the information. The actor who portrays The Mandalorian revealed in an off-hand comment in an interview that his character’s name is Din Jaren (spelling to be comfirmed). So we should learn that that is his name in upcoming episodes. Remember that scenes are not typically shot chronologically so often actors will slip up when it comes to small spoilers such as this.
So far there is no information relating to whether or not this character has any history that can be traced back to anything from Star Wars cannon. This is somewhat expected as we’ve gotten a glimpse of what seems to be a traumatic history in Chapter One. This is very exciting to me as I postulated that this show was the perfect opportunity for the show to break from the original trilogy and give us a peak into the larger Star Wars universe.
Finally, there is all revelations related to Baby Yoda. We are aware that this isn’t likely to be a time travelling Yoda and there is no information yet to confirm or deny that “the Child” shares a lineage with Yoda. However, the show has yet to give us a name of the character or the species as a whole. So, as such, the internet has spoken. Baby Yoda has become internet vernacular and it has spread like wildfire. People love Baby Yoda! We should know more soon but for the moment there’s plenty of room for speculation.
What we now know is that Baby Yoda is force sensitive and seems powerful. While it did drain the child completely, the episode sees Baby Yoda using the force to save The Mandalorian in its fight against the Mudhorn. The Mandalorian then reveals to Kuiil that he does not understand what had happened and the Arvala-7 native also does not know. This show takes place about 8-10 years after the events of A New Hope. At the time of A New Hope the Jedi Order had long since fallen and the Jedi were often referred to as legend of a lost religion or tricksters and hustlers. The Sith also wielded the force but as they sat atop the Empire’s hierarchy and many regular citizens (bounty hunter’s or otherwise) would have little reason to cross path with them. The legend of Luke Skywalker and his aid of the rebellion has of course become something heard throughout the galaxy and he has certainly started to rebuild the Jedi Order but this was still likely not common knowledge at this point in the Universe’s history.
As for the baby itself (we do not yet know the gender). This can go a few different ways. Firstly, the character may be directly related to Yoda and/or Yaddle. Yaddle was a female that appeared to be of the same species of Yoda that appeared in The Phantom Menace but was notably absent from the Jedi council in Episode II. Some have theorized that her absence may have been related to a pregnancy (either current or prior) and that would have gone against Jedi Principles (famously, Jedi weren’t supposed to bone). Is this the love child of Yoda and Yaddle? The love child of Yaddle and yet another of this mysterious species? There is also the possibility (and I’m hoping the show goes more in this direction), that does not have The Child as a member of the Yoda/Yaddle lineage(s) but will lead us toward understanding and exploring the little known speicies and why it appears that each time we are introduced to a member of the species that they appear to be force sensitive.
What is revealed is that the show seems to continue on its path of slowly unraveling layers of Star Wars Universe depth. It looks like we’re going to have a series of adventures that feel distinct and not quite “monster of the week” format while weaving in and out of the central plot. I’m definitely along for the ride and now wake up every Friday morning eager in anticipation.