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The Mandalorian’s latest chapter, titled “The Siege”, is a strange beast.
It plays like a filler episode, but sneaks in a one-two punch of a reveal that could drastically change the show’s future. And it never quite solves the problem of its own tone – is this a light romp? A foreboding chapter in the lives of our heroes? Or does it only matter that The Child gets to gobble up things he shouldn’t? Nothing here quite gels.
We’re robbed of the opportunity to meet a live-action Ahsoka Tano, now another surprise for another week, as Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) decides to make a pit stop at Nevarro for repairs – or, to be precise, repairs of the repairs from last week, as seaweed cannot apparently withstand the stress of space travel.
Who knew? And that’s only after Din decides to indulge in a little child labour, as Baby Yoda is left to poke around in the Razor Crest’s wiring, risking tiny, adorable electrocution.
A return to Nevarro means, inevitably, a return to Cara Dune (Gina Carano) and Greef Karga (Carl Weathers, who also directed the episode). The pair have done a good job of cleaning up the place. Cara is now the local marshal. The cantina where they held out against Moff Gideon has been converted into a school. There’s even a statue to IG-11 in the main square – a reminder of who really saved everyone’s skins in season one.
Watch: A recap of The Mandalorian S1
Din, inevitably, is roped into a mission, leaving The Child behind to cause more havoc (side note: are macarons now canon in the Star Wars universe? Is there a planet somewhere filled with French pastry chefs?).
Weathers does a slick job with what’s a fairly action-heavy episode. “The Siege” is, essentially, The Mandalorian’s Ocean Eleven, stuffed with all the right heist lingo – Din quips “let’s be fast. And keep the speeder running”, while Greef successfully keeps the New Republic off the scent. He casually calls Paul Sun-Hyung Lee’s X-wing pilot, who drops by for a visit, “officer”, in case there was any doubt these guys are now space cops.
But “The Siege” feels a little flavourless at times. We’ve been to this planet, we know these characters. When the crew start sneaking around an old Imperial base, it feels like we’re back in Rogue One (2016).
This is a classic heroes versus villains narrative, with little of the shading in between that’s become a hallmark of the show. “The Siege” even takes time to tease a Cara Dune spin-off (now highly unlikely given Carano’s own online endorsement of right-wing conspiracy theories).
But, if a key visual detail and a short musical homage are to be believed, The Mandalorian has just attached itself to the sequel trilogy in a way that’s unlikely to be popular with fans.
It’s a risky endeavour – if the connections are too clumsy, or the references too outright, this could implode the entire series like a well-placed shot into a thermal exhaust port. Let’s hope next week is up to the challenge.
The Mandalorian streams exclusively on Disney+.