By Thomas L. Kelly (@WriterTLK)
As a note, this review contains spoilers for The Mandalorian Chapter 1 and mild spoilers for Chapter 2. I would recommend watching before diving in.
If there is one thing made absolutely clear in The Mandalorian’s inaugural episode, it’s that the titular character excels at his profession. That exceptionalism makes him inclined to take on assignments that may come with exorbitant risk.
When he chooses to accept the shadowy offer by the man known as the Client (Werner Herzog), he’s entering into the relative unknown—an uncertainty that extends far beyond the lack of a bounty puck.
Turns out, the ambiguous target was a species of mysterious origin—one whose ilk, Yoda and Yaddle, have historically possessed considerable power. The discovery, and his subsequent choice to preserve its life and ice IG-11 (voiced by Taika Waititi)—the competing bounty droid—will carry consequences that can’t fully be calculated.
The Mandalorian Chapter 2 does give us a further glimpse into those repercussions, but only subtly. If IG-11 was a safety net, he’s likely not the only one. The Client clearly trusts no one person to do what he’s tasked them with. And despite the Mandalorian’s (Pedro Pascal) decision to close out the first episode, the viewers can’t yet be certain what his intentions moving forward are either.
That fateful moment, though—where he again comes face-to-face with the man who hired him—remains on the back burner here. The bulk of Chapter 2 is a diversion from the central narrative.
What it does provide is crucial character development—specifically for the Mandalorian and his inconceivably child-like companion—and another delightful jaunt through the fringier sections of Star Wars lore.
In giving us characters like Kuiil (voiced by Nick Nolte), The Mandalorian is creating its own niche; the hermit, who has a stated admiration for the bounty hunter and who cares for little else than peace and utilizing what the land may provide him, fits so nicely into the western motif the show has crafted. He and the Mandalorian have a palpable chemistry. Their interplay, however understated, has been a highlight.
Along with the return of Kuiil, Chapter 2 reintroduces us to the Jawas—a race that has largely served as background filler since their charming debut in A New Hope. If that film gave us a glimpse into their way of life, this episode extrapolates on that in integral ways. It would be underselling them to label them simply as thieves.
And the nomadic tribe of junkers steal, quite literally, every scene they are in. I won’t spoil it, but the way Chapter 2 utilizes their Sandcrawler in its action was a sight to behold. It didn’t quite top the magnificence of IG-11 going William Munny on steroids at the outpost, but it did provide further evidence that the scale of the set pieces will not dwindle as the episodes progress.
The spotlight they and their beastly vehicle are afforded is why The Mandalorian continues to be so engrossing. This is its own tale, set off in its own small slice of the galaxy. There is something indescribably liberating about that. Two episodes in, it’s debatable where in the known timeline this adventure even falls. Sure, one could approximate, but just having that internal dialogue is rewarding.
That’s also why this brief side quest felt so fulfilling. The show is building who the Mandalorian is, bit-by-bit. He was still reserved in Chapter 2, and he certainly remained unafraid when confronted with a fight, but his integrity was on display, as well. He, like Kuiil, is a man of principle.
Thus, even when burdened with a situation he finds to be unjust, he honors a code that he may not necessarily understand. Having seen that reveal at the end of Chapter 1, one must wonder whether a deal bound by dirty money cracks under the pressure of a more righteous path.
I have spoken…
The Mandalorian Chapter 2 Score: A