So, now that we're past the first date, does Episode Two of The Mandalorian show us the true colors of the flagship original program of Disney Plus? We're going to shake things up here, pivoting from Episode One's review to a mix of recap and review, because this week's events need to be broken down in greater detail, to possibly give you a better sense of what The Mandalorian has to offer.
So, beware spoilers. They're here, and in abundant supply. I figure if you're trying to avoid spoilers and just find out if this show is worth your time, you'll just stick to my original Mandalorian Episode One review.
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The big story of Episode Two, as stressed by its title — "The Child" — is that this tiny li'l Yoda-like being might be as important to the show as its titular character.
The other thing I noticed up front, though is that we've got a shorter running time, with a total of 32 minutes and 55 seconds, down from Episode One's 39:37 episode. And of that run time, the first 55 seconds in Episode Two are a skippable recap, and the last 4:35 is taken up by end credits, with those neat hand-drawn-looking images recapping the episode you just saw.
So, this edition of The Mandalorian comes in at less than half-an-hour, and definitely feels like less of an experience for it, giving me a vibe that Disney didn't want to batch release episodes of this program for a reason. This show may be less of a series, and more of a feature-length film broken into digestible bites.
The more positive spin I can put on this episode is that it could be seen as the other half of the pilot, introducing the major supporting character, who might be crucial to the series.
Watching The Child
Just like The Mandalorian (voiced by Pedro Pascal), we still don't know what exactly we should call the 50-year-old Yoda-like being that our hero found in the pod at the end of Episode Two. In both the opening title, and in the show's subtitles, its name is listed as The Child, written with upper-case T and C, as if to suggest it's a deity of some kind.
Episode One showed us that our titular bounty hunter can be kind of cold, up until its ending, where he terminated the IG-11 droid that wanted to ice The Child. We saw a little more of the humanity of Mando — thank Kuiil (the Ugnaught played by Nick Nolte) for giving our titular character a nickname, I was running out of things to call him — as he led the tot's pod around with the window open, giving the kid a chance to breathe and see the outside even though it exposed the bounty to any passing fiends.
I started to wonder about The Child's powers early on, as their pod seemingly moved on its own, following The Mandalorian around. My thoughts changed, though, when the bounty-hunter dealt with an ambush, and directed the pod around the attacking baddies.
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Throughout all of this, I consistently oohed and aahed at how adorable this tiny Yoda-like being was as it cooed. My positivity dampened, though, when those pesky Jawas showed up.
I'm not sure if The Mandalorian intended to create fan service moments with the scenes where its protagonist shot Jawas to dust, but I was practically applauding in my seat. But then, as Mando jumped onto the Jawa Sandcrawler, and narrowly avoided getting smashed against a wall, we got another tease of The Child's abilities, as the pod followed our anti-hero along.
Oh, good, a side quest
And then The Mandalorian winds up becoming Animal Crossing for a bit, as the Jawas demand he delivers an item called The Egg in order to get the ship parts he needs to get off this planet.
These scenes where we learn of their demands aren't without merit, though, as they give Nolte and Pascal a bit of time to get solid one-liners off, with Kuiil managing to get laughs out of "I thought you were dead," while The Mandalorian's request to keep his gun during bargaining with the Jawas — "I'm a Mandalorian, weapons are a part of my religion" — made me rewind as I chuckled, so I could write down the exact words.
Quickly, we discover Mando's been given a fool's errand, as The Egg is guarded by a Mudhorn: a massive, hairy and horned beast that doesn't take kindly to its property being taken. Then, we see that The Mandalorian can't win every fight, as the Mudhorn kicks his butt around the pit, leaving him shaking and holding a small knife.
The Child can see that its protector is in jeopardy, though, and begins to start to raise one of its tiny hands into the air, recalling Yoda using the force to lift Luke's X-Wing out of the mud in The Empire Strikes Back. The Mandalorian brushes this off the first time, but when he's about to get obliterated by the Mudhorn, The Child raises its arm into the air again, and apparently uses The Force to stop the beast, and open it up for The Mandalorian's stabbing attack. Fortunately, Mando's found the one spot to make the critical blow, and the Mudhorn falls in defeat.
Then, we get a couple of laughs — look at all those rescued ship parts on the back of a skiff — before Kuiil and The Mandalorian part ways nobly.
As The Mandalorian and The Child speed off at the end of the episode, we get another tender little moment between the two, and start wondering about where this show will go. Clearly, The Mandalorian will be forced to decide between The Child and a big, valuable pile of Beskar steel. Can he stand up to Werner Herzog's villainous character?
I'm not as desperate to watch Episode Three as I was to see this episode, mostly because of how it kinda felt like a build-up to the moment with The Force and the Mudhorn. Could they not have gotten to this reveal with less effort and time?
See you back here next week for a recap of The Mandalorian, Chapter 3. Just a reminder that unlike Netflix which releases entire seasons at once, Disney Plus will dole out a new episode of The Mandalorian on a weekly basis — you can find a schedule of when future Mandalorian episodes will appear.