In my review of the previous episode, I left off by expressing appreciation for the Mandalorian’s fateful encounter with Baby Yoda. Chapter 2, aptly entitled “The Child,” expounds upon their connection.
As the bounty hunter strolls through canyons reminiscent of Arizona, the camera briefly focuses on some scuttling, alien lizards. So far, I have appreciated the inclusion of various alien creatures (monster walruses, Blurrgs, etc.) in an effort to expand the Star Wars universe. I contrast this success against Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), which feels gimmicky in its attempt to stoke wonder via magical animals.
The scuttling quickly proves to be an omen: the Mandalorian is attacked and injured by a ragtag group of bandits. Although I still consider the Blurrg-taming to be poorly justified, perhaps this kind of danger is what Kuiil was referring to to when he insisted that the Mandalorian ride a Blurrg.
The bandit attack serves two important functions. First, the fact that the assailants possessed tracking fobs emphasizes just how many people the client hired to procure Baby Yoda. Second, it foreshadows Baby Yoda’s control of The Force: as the Mandalorian tends to his wounds, Baby Yoda twice walks over and gestures with Jedi-like concentration. I wonder how someone who has never watched Star Wars would interpret this scene. As a long-time fan of the franchise, I held my breath in anticipation as Baby Yoda prepared to show off some cool powers.
He doesn’t, and they return only to find that Jawa scavengers have plundered the Mandalorian’s ship for parts. I definitely furrowed my brow in concern when he nonchalantly left his ship unguarded in the last episode, and lo and behold: the ship was raided.
At least the chase sequence feels unique and original — a lone man trying to fight his way onto a massive moving fortress puts a welcome spin on the trite car chases in every other action movie. Although he fails to secure his parts, his determination shines, and he pragmatically chooses to revisit Kuiil.
I loved the expansive shots of the desert landscape as the duo treks through sand and heat. It is hard to complain about the repetitive desert imagery when the cinematography is so beautiful. The sand, the solitude, and the soundtrack (composed by Ludwig Göransson) help create the iconography of a lone warrior. Almost reminiscent of Creed (2015), orchestral sounds are laid on top of modern, semi-hip-hop beats in Göransson’s score. It doesn’t have the epic grandness of John Williams’s original theme, but it imbibes the Mandalorian’s gait with a coolness befitting of Pedro Pascal.
After a failed bargaining (interesting that the Jawa’s recognize the value of both Beskar Steel and Baby Yoda), the Mandalorian is tasked with retrieving “The Egg.” As it turns out, it is the egg of a mudhorn — yet another fantastic beast added to the expanding lineup. The brutality of the fight is well-executed. Without a human face to work with, the creators had to build up the direness of the situation in a different way: they cleverly utilize slow-motion, blurring, droning music, and an unfocused POV shot to emphasize the Mandalorian’s daze after being thrashed by the mudhorn.
It proves to be the perfect build-up to Baby Yoda’s moment of glory when he telekinetically lifts the mudhorn with The Force. Our anticipation pays off, the Jawas get their egg, The Mandalorian his parts, and after a cordial parting with Kuiil, he sets course to bring his mysterious juvenile companion to his client. Out in space, our tiny green hero finally awakens from his long slumber, and it’s on to Chapter 3.