It’s worth remembering that Baby Yoda is supposed to be 50-years-old. However cute he (or she?) might look, gurgling away inside a little floating white space egg, they’ve actually been around for decades. Parenting a Yoda then, must be tough, which is something the Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) finds out in ‘Chapter 2’ – having to push the Child (Baby Yoda’s official name) through a hostile desert planet while he fights off the rival bounty hunters that are all after the same prize.
It’s a full 10 minutes into the second episode before a single line of dialogue is spoken, and the script for the whole show could probably be written on one side of A4. It’s a ballsy move from director Rick Famuyiwa, and one that pays off to take The Mandalorian even further into Spaghetti Western territory. If the pilot didn’t make it clear enough already, this is a show that leans hard into the references that originally made George Lucas’ Star Wars so unique – part cowboy movie, part samurai epic – unafraid to stage its action in the seediest, weirdest, most photogenic parts of the galaxy.
Talking of seedy and weird, the Jawas are back. The little hooded gnomes from A New Hope get a decent chunk of screen time in ‘Chapter 2’, stripping the Mandalorian’s ship of its engine parts and driving off in their Sandcrawler. It’s a setup for the show’s second big set piece as the Mandalorian chases them down and tries to jump on board (with strong vibes of the tank scene in Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, another nod to the Lucas-verse). Plenty of Jawas get squished but most get away, leaving only one sensible option: trade the ship parts back for the hairy egg of a giant alien rhino.
The second half of ‘Chapter 2’ plays out like a slice of vintage sci-fi TV – with nothing but a muddy pit, a hero in a ripped shirt and a big-ass monster to fight. The Mandalorian needs to kill the “Mudhorn” (nicely rendered in CG, despite so much of the rest of the show being made with puppets and real visual effects) to get the egg and buy back his engine, but the fight seems to be pretty un-winnable from the start. Enter Baby Yoda.
So far, the show has distanced itself from the wider mythology of Star Wars and ignored any mention of the Jedi. But with one wave of a podgy little paw, The Force makes its first appearance and The Mandalorian starts revealing its bigger arc. Whilst it briefly felt refreshingly grown-up to watch a Star Wars story that didn’t involve space wizards, the strands of magic that have now woven themselves into the plot don’t feel too out of place yet – and the dirty little electric guitar chords that accompany the big reveal make the moment feel every bit as cool as it should.
Rhino defeated, egg (disgustingly) slurped, and ship repaired, that’s it for another short slice of Star Wars that feels much bigger than it actually is. Two episodes in we’ve only been watching The Mandalorian for an hour but it already seems like we’ve spent a lot longer with these characters. The Mandalorian still hasn’t taken his helmet off (will he ever?), Nick Nolte’s scrapper sidekick Kuiil has been and gone, and Baby Yoda has levitated an entire rhino and fallen asleep already. Then again, he is 50-years-old.
‘The Mandalorian’ Episode Two streams on Disney+ in the UK in the Spring 2020