The Mandalorian has his bounty and it’s not what he expected. But now he has to get it and himself off-planet. After making his way back to his ship, he unfortunately finds the vessel ransacked by a group of jawas who have stripped it for parts. If he wants to get them back, he’s going to have to do more than catch up with their transport… he’s going to have to find something of equal value to swap.
Fortunately, the jawas know exactly what they want. Unfortunately, getting it might be more trouble than its worth…
The Mandalorian, for all its decent production values continues to feel a little like extended fan-service DVD extras, interesting and fun supplemental bonus material akin to the Short Treks that Star Trek has produced, albeit a little longer – the kind where you smile knowingly at a quick reference or an easter-egg. However this second episode barely runs to half-an-hour and anyone who has opted for Disney+ may be wondering just how long the average weekly episodes are actually going to be? (Some reviewers got the first and second episode together in one longer outing, which makes more sense…). With this amount of money and time spent on it, it’s surprising that more thought hasn’t been put into that structure.
If the first episode was an unapologetic love-letter to Sergio Leone, then the second fully embraces Monty Python, with a manic side-mission that has elements of …The Holy Grail, a Jawa-Transport taking on the qualities of the The Crimson Permanent Assurance and also a shameless nod to another classic Lucasfilm outing with our hero pulling an Indiana Jones escape from an oncoming rock formation. The short brown-robed scavengers essentially essay the ‘Jawas that say Ni‘ and with the warning that ‘death awaits you with large pointy teeth…‘ replacing the vicious rabbit with a slobbering meld of a mammoth and rhino (indicating that someone in the design department is also having way too much fun with a creature-creator in The Sims). It’s a fun romp, but one that’s there less to advance the story than feature a range of creature cameos and solid fight choreography.
With the reveal that the object The Mandalorian has been hired to retrieve is actually……… spoilers……….. a Baby Yoda Clone (or something of a similar hue), the diminutive-force-wielder ups the shameless cute factor and switches the Lone Wolf and Cub or El Topo motif dangerously close to Muppet Babies territory. And this could be the problem… because the series needs to stop meandering between crowd-pleasing but abstract call-backs and be more than a collection of different homages and touchstones. There’s so much to do in a galaxy far, far away that it’s disappointing Jon Favreau’s script merely seeks to be a tribute side-act to the existing material. If that sounds dismissive, it’s not meant to be – The Mandalorian is fun enough to watch in and of itself and the CGI is as sharp as ever, but it’s also just a tad self-referential and self-indulgent and so brisk in its telling that the story-telling sometimes feels more like an abridged version of itself.
Ultimately, the first two episodes of The Mandalorian continue to be less ‘event’ television and more ‘diverting’ than truly essential viewing. It needs to pick up the pace and establish a singular identity for itself, otherwise everyone could end up with egg on their face…