Warning: Spoilers for “Chapter Two: The Child” and the premiere of “The Mandalorian” follow.
“Chapter One” of “The Mandalorian” did a great job of setting the stage for the series, primarily in what to expect from the protagonist and the pacing of the show itself. “Chapter Two” buckles down on the format, but in an even more contained and focused way. Really there are only three characters in the episode: The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal), Kuiil (Nick Nolte) and The Child. It works though with the series’ slow and methodical way of presenting itself.
First things first, we’ll talk about what I didn’t get to in my first review because of spoilers: The Child. When I first saw it revealed at the end of the last episode, I was in genuine shock. Seeing a baby of Yoda’s species was the last thing I expected from this series. I think I love it though, with my hesitations lying in where exactly they’ll go with it. If it is anything to do with the actual backstory for Yoda then I don’t want anything to do with it. The main piece of Yoda’s character is the mystery of his origins and I am hoping they stay that way for the rest of time. Now diving into his species is a different matter, but even initially I was hesitant about it until I remembered Yaddle was a thing that existed (I don’t even want to touch the Yoda and Yaddle theory). Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau are at the helm though, so I am more than willing to put my faith in their vision. Plus, he's just too darn adorable.
This episode follows a short chain of events, starting with The Mandalorian returning to his ship with The Child (who will be referred to as such until given a proper name) to find it being stripped by Jawas. After some disintegrations from his rifle, he gives chase to the Jawas now hauling tail in their Sandcrawler and not without a few shouts of “UTINI!” This sequence is really well-done, with the suspenseful music matching the action very well. I got “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” vibes from it, as that film's similar tank chase scene finds Indy barely hanging on. It’s nice to see some Jawas in action finally after all these years, as well as see The Mandalorian brutally eliminate some of them. For the first part of the chase, I will admit I was only thinking to myself “WHERE IS THE CHILD” until thankfully the camera turns back to a shot of him happily following behind in his pod.
When his attempt ultimately fails, The Mandalorian seeks help from Kuiil. Their course of action takes to bargaining with the Jawas but not before an awesome shot of Kuiil on his blurrg towing The Mandalorian and The Child behind him in the rain. It is done in the intro as well, but the sense of journey you get from these characters in just a few really-well done shots is great. Riding in, the Jawas are of course a bit hesitant to deal with the guy who just disintegrated a few of their colleagues. Their settlement resolves with creating a deal of giving the parts to his ship back in exchange for “the egg.”
This big climax of The Mandalorian versus the mudhorn beast (who I first thought was the same species as one of the three in the arena battle from “Attack of the Clones”) is excellent from start to finish. Similar to his fight with the Trandoshans at the start and his chase with the Sandcrawler, they all have a real sense of physicality to them. This is mainly thanks to the stunt work and actual environments, making it all the more authentic. Much like Indiana Jones or Captain America, part of what I think makes The Mandalorian so great is even when he gets the daylights beat out of him, he gets back up. Even with his armor well-beaten and caked in mud. The use of slow-motion when he falls definitely felt reminiscent of Luke in the wampa cave in “Empire.” The Child ultimately saves the day, picking up the beast with the Force and allowing The Mandalorian to finish it off with his knife. Again, I wasn’t really expecting to get any sort of Force usage in this series but I am here for it. I felt a sense of dread through when the cute fella collapsed into his bed after the strenuous act.
Coming back to the Sandcrawler with the egg in tow definitely develops that western tie further as the lone cowboy rides back into town with the day saved. The Jawas opening into the egg’s contents is a bit unsettling, but I guess its nice to see what those weirdos are into. Kuiil helps The Mandalorian repair his ship while The Child sleeps in a cool and unlike "Star Wars" montage. With everything fixed, Kuiil sadly makes his goodbyes. I really hope we get more of him later in the season because Nolte just brings an incredibly wise and humble aura to the character. His response to The Mandalorian’s job offer is perfect though: “I am honored, but I have worked a lifetime to finally be free of servitude.” I respect this and hope Kuiil remains with this happy ending. The two make their goodbyes and The Mandalorian gets into space, with The Child finally waking from its well-deserved slumber.
A part of what made this episode so excellent was the dialogue. There isn’t much, and it is really only done between two characters excluding the Jawas, which gives it all the more weight when The Mandalorian or Kuiil speak. Even if there isn’t any real dialogue spoken until the 11-minute mark of the episode, I still felt like I learned much more about The Mandalorian himself through his actions. I can see some being turned off by this slower pace, but I personally love it.
Overall, the visuals of this episode were even better than the last. The Child is easily the standout, as what I am fairly positive is an actual puppet and not CGI. It looks incredible and its cute portrayal made me fall in love with it. There is a behind-the-scenes feature from “Attack of the Clones” that goes over how the crew handled animating Yoda for the first time ever and analyzing “Empire” and “Return of the Jedi” for all the subtleties of the puppet such as the way his ears twitch. The designers for The Child’s puppet definitely did their homework similarly, as the alien feels very believable as a baby of Yoda’s species. On a similar note for attention to detail, the initial Trandoshan encounter is a great example of this. With my first viewing I only spotted the one’s shadow leap across the cavern, but if you look closely at The Mandalorian’s helmet when he realizes something is up, you can spot the reflection of them jumping as well. When the episodes are slower like this one and more impetus is put on the visuals, stuff like this can go a long way to making it feel more real. Also, like much of “Star Wars,” it gives individuals like myself a reason to rewatch to see what else we can spot (as if I really needed one).
Ultimately I found this episode of “The Mandalorian” to be a solid continuation of the seeds the premiere planted. I like the more contained look at The Mandalorian, The Child and Kuiil though I am very sad to see the latter depart. I am excited however for new characters to pop up and what role they will play in The Mandalorian’s tale. I’ll be curious to see whether he will turn in The Child to the Imperials, or if this season will jump off into him protecting the cute boy from them (as if we all wouldn’t do exactly that). One thing I spotted and loved from the credits is Carrie Beck and Doug Chiang’s inclusion as co-producers on the series. Beck was heavily involved with animation stuff like “Star Wars Rebels” and Doug Chiang is the man responsible for many of the iconic designs from the prequels and even for the sequel trilogy and Galaxy’s Edge -- kind of like the Ralph McQuarrie of recent “Star Wars” beginning at “The Phantom Menace.” Seeing them involved makes me all the more optimistic for where this series is headed with the talent involved. One last thing, would it kill you Disney to throw in some prequel elements into the show intro? I’m biased but I would love to see a battle-droid head, clone helmet or maybe Darth Maul along with the other iconic headshots that pop up. Anyways, you can catch the next episode of “The Mandalorian” when it drops on Disney Plus next Friday.