Naturally, there are spoilers here.
Hollywood legend Carl Weathers (who plays Greef Karga) takes control of the fourth episode of The Mandalorian season 2. “Chapter 12: The Siege” sees Din Djarin pulling into Nevarro for repairs. He asks Greef Karga and the new marshal, Cara Dune (Gina Carano), to help fix his ship so he can move on to the next phase of his mission.
Naturally, in return, they ask for his help in flushing out an Imperial outpost leftover on the planet. It’s the last bit of Imperial presence and they can’t figure out why it hasn’t been abandoned.
As they infiltrate, they discover that it’s not an old outpost, but a secret science facility. They manage to blow their way out with fragments of the secrets they seek to discover. After a lengthy chase, they’re able to blow the base, free Nevarro, and send the Mandalorian on his way. Unfortunately, the repair personnel entrusted to repair the Mando’s ship were loyal to Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) and he’s planted a homing device on the Razor Crest.
This sets the stage for a major showdown in the next episode, where Din Djarin hopes to find none other than Ahsoka Tano. With the Imperials on his heels, it seems like the eventual showdown will be explosive.
Carl Weathers is no stranger to directing in television. He’s been directing off and on since the mid-‘90s and puts together a well-constructed episode of The Mandalorian. It’s pretty clear that Weathers was heavily influenced by A New Hope more than any of the other Star Wars properties, but there’s a deep affection on display for Return of the Jedi in the design and even some of the aesthetic.
More than anything, though, this episode cycles through so many of the beats of A New Hope that it could almost be compared shot-for-shot to the Death Star escape sequence. The station over the lava where the Mythrol shuts down the cooling core feels like a stand-in for Obi-Wan turning down the tractor beam on the Death Star. The four TIE Fighters chasing our heroes on their escape. Even the homing beacon leading the Empire to a place of safety comes right from this sequence of the film.
There are other moments, too. As we find ourselves in space, cutting to Moff Gideon’s ship, the slow pull back across the bottom of the ship to the engines evokes the opening scenes of A New Hope.
There’s something about the red and blue control screens that evoke the feeling of Return of the Jedi, making the choices for these pieces of equipment actually feel like they’re from a different era of the Empire than others. It’s a really remarkable thing for the design to have that much attention to detail.
The Empire Strikes Back gets its big homage moment at the beginning, though. As Din Djarin tries to affect repairs on his own, his bickering with the child is reminiscent of the terrible job Han and Chewie made of repairs at Echo Base. The child getting electrocuted also evokes memories of Jar Jar Binks, in positive ways.
When we learn that the Imperial base is actually a science facility, pieces start falling into place. The recording of Dr. Pershing (Omid Abtahi) and the cloning-like vats imply a story that ties into the larger world of Star Wars, particularly things we learned in The Rise of Skywalker.
Though Pershing is vague, he references needing a blood donor with a high “M” count, an oblique reference to midi-chlorians. Midi-chlorians are a microscopic life form that reside within all living cells and help beings hear and control the Force. (Contrary to popular belief, they are not the Force themselves, nor a replacement for it.) If Pershing requires a donor for these experiments with a high midi-chlorian count, it’s conceivable that this is a continuation of the program that produced Palpatine’s “children,” Snoke, and even the reborn Emperor himself.
We’ll need more information as the show goes on, but this is certainly a direction the show could head. It wouldn’t surprise me. Many felt that Dave Filoni’s work on The Clone Wars helped rehabilitate the image of the prequels. It would not be surprising if this is the unintentional end game of The Mandalorian: to do the same thing for The Rise of Skywalker.
What to look out for
The phrase “dank farrik” gets used again in this episode, this time by Cara Dune. It seems like it might just be this show’s equivalent of “karabast” on Star Wars Rebels – a catch-all swear word that will, sooner or later, find its way into the Star Wars lexicon and occasional use.
Cara Dune becoming the marshal is a nice touch and seeing her clear out the old Mandalorian covert of Aqualish ne’er-do-wells makes for a compelling pre-credits action sequence. The sequence subtly implies that the armorer likely moved on. Only the ghosts of the Children of the Watch remain. The aliens that Dune attacked were of the same species as Ponda Baba, the creature who has his arm cut off by Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope. These Aqualish had distinctly human fingers, though some have sucker hands. Ponda Baba somehow had both.
The scene in the classroom is an adorable distraction for the child, but if you listen carefully, you can get a very important lesson on galactic geography and politics. The droid calls out the old capital of the Republic, Coruscant, but also the current capital, Chandrila. Chandrila is Mon Mothma’s home world and was the first world chosen to host the capital on its new basis of rotating around the galaxy in a bid to fix the stagnation of the old Republic. The protocol droid teacher also calls out the Hydian Way, which has been an important hyperspace route in the Star Wars universe for a long time. First mentioned in canon in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, it’s been referenced repeatedly since then. The teacher also takes the kids through the geography of Kessel and the maelstrom there, as we learned about in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
I think it would be great to see more Horatio Sanz on the show. His Mythrol character is funny and him evacuating his neck-sacs (or whatever he did) like a scared squid as soon as he saw the Mandalorian was nothing short of comedy gold. Let’s hope he comes back. His reference to the Trexler Marauder being in “mint” condition is a joke about that vehicle’s genesis as a toy. The Imperial Troop Transport was created by Kenner and was the first toy they released in the Star Wars line that wasn’t actually in the film. It saw a resurgence in popularity after it was featured in Star Wars Rebels and again after it was featured in the first season of The Mandalorian.
This episode brings back Paul Sun-Hyung Lee as Captain Carson Teva and makes me wonder if the New Republic will have a larger role in future episodes and seasons. He talks to Cara Dune about her background as an Alderaanian, which is a touching moment, but also makes me wonder who the hell asks someone whose planet was destroyed if they “lost anyone.” Of course she did. After intruding on her pain and apologizing for her loss, he gives her a service medal with a Rebel symbol on it and walks away. It’s unclear if this was his service medal to honor his time on Alderaan, or something else, but if that’s the case, it would make for a touching moment.
Another thing to look out for: the troopers that Moff Gideon is overseeing at the end of the episode. It’s not quite clear what they are. Could they be souped-up TIE Pilots? Some sort of Death Trooper? Or could they be the result of the scientific experiments and be a new kind of Imperial super soldier? With all of the Nazi science references plowed into the Empire, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it were the last of those. Whatever they are, I imagine we’ll find out soon enough.
Carl Weathers brings what could only be described as “big grandpa energy” to this episode. The treatment of the child is filmed almost entirely through this grandfatherly gaze and the Child benefits significantly from these moments. The scene in the school and his scene trying to help repair the ship are some of his best bits this season. Weathers brings the goods.
The other sequence that stands out is the big chase. The speeder bikes coming down the hill is thrilling to see and watching the odds increase against the escaping transport makes for fantastic action. It blended new and old in a way that seemed fresh and Weathers brings a real energy to it behind the camera.
The thing some might scoff at in this episode is how quickly the repairs are affected on the Razor Crest. The ship goes from a floating death bin to good-as-new in the matter of an afternoon with only two techs working on it. Pablo Hidalgo once remarked that hyperspeed works at the speed of the story, and I think it’s important to think of the repairs in this episode as the same way. This is still a space opera fairy tale about bounty hunters becoming unlikely heroes in a universe where space wizards carry laser swords. Repairs can happen at their own speed.
My only complaint is that there are moments in this episode that simply don’t feel fleshed-out. It’s like Weathers doesn’t give them the close-ups they needed, as it were, and so the questions raised are muddy. What is that medal the Carson gives Cara? What are those suits of armor that Gideon is hanging out with? What was in that tube? Are the experiments and the armor related? Hopefully we’ll get more clarity soon. Just a little bit more explanation could have made these moments a lot more meaningful. Instead, we’ll have to wait for future episodes or sourcebooks.
In any case, this was a fun episode, but really just a trip to the gas station on the way to the real destination.
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