"The Mandalorian"
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The latest installment of "The Mandalorian" brings promising pieces into play.

(Editor's Note: The following review contains spoiler for "The Mandalorian" Season 2, Episode 4, "Chapter 12 – The Siege")

"The Mandalorian" had its ups and downs, but when it all clicks, the best episodes of the popular Disney + show feel like live-action love letters to fans of Dave Filoni's acclaimed "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" and "Star Wars" an animated series of the rebels. This is the case with the fourth episode of the second season, which is an exciting premise for later and at the same time offers more than enough action and humor to now stand on its own.

Mando (Pedro Pascal) and The Child, aka Baby Yoda (aka Puppet) start the episode and try to make some much-needed repairs to the razor crest while they meet up with ex-Jedi Ahsoka Tano. Unfortunately, Baby Yoda isn't a great mechanic – Mando's unfortunate attempts to get his community to distinguish red and blue wires are really lovely and fun to watch baby Yoda do more than just emote in a corner.



So the duo return to Nevarro to meet up with some of the characters from the first season and have their ship repaired. The detour means fans will have to wait a little longer to see the live-action debut of favorite fan Ahsoka, but the trip to Nevarro turns out to be substantial nonetheless.

Nevarro has changed rapidly since Mando helped depopulate the Imperial planet in Season 1. There's now a bustling market full of smiling people, a classroom with a protocol droid teaching teenagers about the galaxy's trade routes, and anti-masking and electoral conspiracy theorist Gina Carano, who as Cara Dune keeps the peace as Marshal of the Planet. Aside from real-world problems, these small pieces of the world structure help make “The Siege” feel like it is in a living, breathing, and constantly evolving universe, which was also the case with the similarly strong episode last week. Hints and Easter eggs on the broader "Star Wars" canon are abundant, but they're never so noticeable that they turn out to be pandering.

Returning cast members include Greef Karga (Carl Weathers, who also directed the episode admirably) and unexpectedly the unnamed Mythrol (Horatio Sanz), which Mando recorded in the first episode of season one. I'm in the way over my head “Shtick is still fun – serve as an engaging slide for the ever-stoic Mando, and all returning characters will have plenty of time to be in the spotlight.

"The Mandalorian"

© Disney + / Lucasfilm / courtesy Everett Collection

Mando's ship repairs will take some time, so the title protagonist agrees to take part in a siege (!) Of the planet's last imperial base. Action takes place, and while the various Stormtrooper massacres feel very familiar at this point, the shootings are nonetheless well carried out – It's especially nice when the Mandalorian surgically eliminates a handful of soldiers off-screen. The visually breathtaking chase towards the end of the episode, in which a handful of scout troopers on speeder bikes and TIE fighter pilots can be seen, does even better and makes for an adrenaline-filled finale.

As solid as the episode's battle scenes are, it is the revelations about the true purpose of the Imperial base that are most likely to resonate with viewers. The Imperial Base is actually a laboratory where test subjects are infused with Baby Yoda's blood. (It has a high midi-chlorine number and could hypothetically make people compulsively sensitive.) The revelation answers the long-standing question of why Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Esposito) wanted to purchase Baby Yoda in Season 1, but it also opens the door to new questions and fanatics -Theories.

Are these tests for creating artificial force sensitivity a kind of prelude to how Snoke was exposed as an experiment in the film "The Rise of Skywalker"? Are they the show of the Dark Troopers, the formidable antagonists of the Star Wars media of the 90s? The latter theory seems possible, since the episode ends with Moff cracking an evil smile on Gideon while interviewing a group of particularly evil-looking soldiers that his lackeys are tinkering with.

No matter what they mean, the teases promise to up the ante for Mando and Baby Yoda even further. Between Moff Gideon's shameful plans for Baby Yoda, Mando's mission to reunite the creature with the Jedi, and the Mandalorian politics and unfinished business with the Darksaber hinted at in last week's episode, there are plenty of interesting pieces to play for brought into play remaining episodes of the season. It took a while for "The Mandalorian" season 2 to peak, but it's making an impressive start to the second half.

Grade: A-

New episodes of "The Mandalorian" Season 2 debut Fridays on Disney +.

Random thoughts:

– Even most Baby Yoda-reluctant viewers will have trouble not smiling at the little guy's antics during this episode. Baby Yoda raises his arms in delight as Mando battles TIE Fighters and uses the Force to steal a student's candy while visiting the classroom. Sure, it's slaughter and theft, but it's very cute slaughter and theft.

– The protagonists presumably planned to use the Mythrol speeder to escape the Imperial base, although they noticed that it would inevitably be swallowed up by lava as they sabotaged that base. It sure is a coincidence that they managed to steal an Imperial vehicle at the last minute to escape!

– Cara Dune tells a New Republic pilot that she is "not a carpenter" towards the end of the episode. It may be a coincidental phrase, but "carpenter" were the names of the various people included in the beehive of the insectoid Killik species in old Star Wars Legends / Expanded Universe media. There's no other indication that the Killik are returning, but it would certainly be interesting to see such a diverse alien species emerge in future "Star Wars" projects.

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