The Mandalorian has premiered on Disney+, bringing a ripple of excitement in the Force. Nerds on Earth will bring you a recap and review of each episode. Episode 1 is here.
Recap of “The Child”
The 2nd episode of the Mandalorian opens on our mysterious protagonist making his way through winding, Tatooine-ish canyons. We know he’s being tracked because of the shadows playing on the canyon walls and the reflections in his helmet, but we don’t know who (or what or why).
The tension is broken by an attacking band of Trandoshans. It’s quickly apparent that these Bossk-alikes are less interested in the Mandalorian than they are in taking/killing his bounty, the mysterious Yoda-baby.
Their vibroblade staffs are no match for his armor but manage to gash him deeply on the arm. He dispatches the Trandos, disintegrating one just as it’s about to kill the child.
Left in the pile of smoking cloth is a tracking fob like the ones we saw in the first episode. Who else is tracking our crew?
As night falls the Mandalorian and his bounty rest, and he applies a painful healing technique to the wound on his arm. The Yoda-baby (it can walk!) approaches him with hand outstretched and eyes squinched in concentration.
Will it use the Force to heal him? We don’t get to find out—the Mandalorian has no interest in the child’s mischief and puts it to bed for the night.
When the bounty hunter returns to his ship (a Blurrg would be very useful here!) he finds it literally coming to pieces. A troop of scavenging Jawas has stripped his ship of every wire and piece of electronics and equipment they could rip off it.
After disintegrating a couple of the small statured thieves the Mandalorian takes off in pursuit. His attempt to recover his stolen equipment fails when he is stunned en masse by the Jawas off the top of their sandcrawler.
Having no other option, the Mandalorian returns to Kuiil, the peace-loving Ugnaught from the first episode. With Kuiil acting as mediator a trade is agreed upon: if the Mandalorian will bring the Jawas “the egg,” they will return his stolen equipment. Obtaining this prize is easier said than done, however. It turns out “the egg” belongs to a very territorial, very angry, very large mama beast that looks like a rhinoceros crossed with a very muddy wooly mammoth.
Our hero is no match for this creature. This isn’t a battle so much as it is a mud-colored version of that bear attack scene in The Revenant—the beast tosses the Mandalorian around like a toy and smashes his armor like tinfoil. He survives these attacks thanks to his tricks and weapons, but it’s obvious that the creature will kill him eventually.
Death is imminent when the child intervenes, and we see what it was trying to do earlier. It can use the Force, apparently quite well; to the astonishment of both beast and bounty hunter, the Yoda-baby lifts the enormous creature clear off the ground. The Mandalorian regains his feet just as the child faints from the effort.
The bounty hunter seizes the opportunity to kill the creature (literally twisting his knife for good measure), retrieves the egg, and returns with the unconscious child to the Jawas and Kuiil.
From this point the episode wraps up quickly. The Jawas are delighted to have their long awaited snack, the Mandalorian obtains his stolen ship equipment, and he and Kuiil repair his ship (teamwork montage time!).
The bounty hunter, obviously moved by Kuiil’s kindness and hard work, attempts to pay the Ugnaught and then offers him a place on his ship. Kuiil, uninterested in returning to the servitude he’s “worked a lifetime” to escape, gently turns him down.
As the Mandalorian leaves Arvala-7, the Yoda-baby regains consciousness. Cut to black!
Review of “The Child”
The episode description for “The Child” reads, “Target in-hand, The Mandalorian must now contend with scavengers. But who are the scavengers?
- Are they the Trandoshans who attack at the beginning of the episode? They definitely look to be stealing his bounty.
- Are the Jawas the scavengers? They are notorious for their light fingers and desire to acquire all manner of technical and electronic treasures.
- Or is the Mandalorian the scavenger? He certainly looks like a sorry, beat-up scavenger as he drags his half-dead, muddy carcass back to the sandcrawler with egg in tow.
While I’d like to think that Rick Famuyiwa (the episode’s director) and Jon Favreau are making a deeper comment on the nature of bounty hunting with the scavenger motif, it’s hard to tell at this point in the show. The show’s characterization of the Mandalorian continues to be pretty vague.
Famuyiwa cuts to beautiful, extreme close-ups of the Mandalorian’s helmet throughout the episode, but I’m not sure what he wants us to take from these glimpses of the t-visor.
The bounty hunter has maybe ten lines the whole episode, and his most interesting line comes when he tells Kuiil that he won’t give up his weapons when negotiating with the Jawas: “I’m a Mandalorian. Weapons are a part of my religion.” That’s about as much as we get in terms of character development in “The Child.”
“The Child” succeeds the most when the Jawas are in frame. The hooded tinkerers and their sandcrawler really get a chance to shine here. The sandcrawler chase evokes the classic tank chase in Raiders of the Lost Ark, even paying homage to the the looming-death-by-rock-outcrop moment from Raiders.
Pedro Pascal’s acting conveys the sheer exhaustion he must be feeling in this moment, and he faces the Jawas with the same wry sense of humor of Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones facing yet another truckful of Nazi goons. He’s trying so hard, but he just can’t seem to get a good thing going! The remarkable part is that Pascal does it in full beskar armor and helmet. His acting gives me hope for the character in future episodes.
Quick hits and notes from “The Child”:
- The Trando ambush is a great callback to the famous bounty hunter scene in The Empire Strikes Back that arguably is the reason this show exists at all.
- Our hero is no match for the eight or ten ion blasters (all of them mismatched and pieced together from scraps), proving that the Mandalorian is awesome but not invincible.
- The Yoda-baby might be cute, but it wolfed down that frog creature like Joey Chesnut on the Fourth of July. Color me green (though watching it toddle around was the cutest thing ever).
- Nick Nolte plays Kuiil, but just his voice, right? Yet the prosthetics on the actor playing the physical Kuiil look oddly like Nolte. It’s weirding me out, man.
- Who would’ve ever imagined seeing the inside of a sandcrawler’s bridge, much less see it used for a delightful bit of physical comedy bit later? The Jawas and their obsession with that gooey, yolky egg is hilarious.
- The sandcrawler bridge scene is an example of an issue I’ve noticed in the first two episodes. At this point The Mandalorian is relying more on world characterization—nods to the Star Wars mythos, unexpected glimpses of the galaxy, and the lived-in aesthetic George Lucas pioneered—than actual character characterization. I’m not overly concerned yet, but it’s worth noting.
- We get a good look at some more of the nifty tech packed into the Mandalorian’s armor during the egg-acquirement scene: a very effective (if short-lasting) flamethrower as well as the nasty grappling rope from episode one.
Overall, “The Child” is a solid episode. Following a great or interesting pilot is always tough, and this episode makes up for a lack of story/character building with some great action pieces, unexpected bits of humor, and glimpses of what The Mandalorian may become. I give it a 8 out of 10 Nerds. I have spoken.