I’m Starting to Get a Little Worried About ‘The Mandalorian’
The second episode of The Mandalorian is 33 minutes long. But if you boiled down the important plot points, you could summarize everything that happened in “Chapter 2 - The Child” in about five seconds: “The Mandalorian’s ship gets broken by Jawas. He fixes it and flies off.” There are a some fun moments, a couple cool shots, and Nick Nolte’s alien character makes a welcome return for a few scenes. But mostly “The Child” felt like The Mandalorian was stalling for time, and this is only its second episode. That honestly has me a little worried.
Yes, it’s cool to see the Mandalorian in action, here facing off with Jawas in an attempt to retrieve the parts they’ve stolen from his ship, and later with a archetypal Star Wars monster in order to grab an egg he can use to exchange for his ship’s missing pieces. The design of the bounty hunter, his arsenal, and the world around him is exceptional. Pedro Pascal moves with a real confidence and fluidity under all that armor; it’s an impressive physical performance, if nothing else. His connection with this mysterious baby will probably develop into something interesting. Still, after the 33 minutes of “The Child,” there’s nothing new learned about the Mandalorian or why he makes the choices he makes. There’s certainly no glimpses of the guy under that helmet of his.
And, sure, that’s what his race of aliens does. When Boba Fett wore a variation of this look, it made him this mysterious, alluring supporting character. In The Mandalorian, Pascal’s not only the main character, for long stretches, he’s the only character. And he’s a guy who keeps his face completely covered and almost never talks. At least when Clint Eastwood played The Man With No Name, you could study his eyes, read his face, and try to intuit his motives. In “The Child,” the Mandalorian mostly squares off against some weird alien critters who also don’t speak (at least not in English) except when the story absolutely demands it. So while the action and special effects are far above average for a television show, the drama, stakes, and characters, are all lacking.
The two most fun players from the premiere — Werner Herzog’s mysterious client and Taika Waititi’s IG-11 — are absent from this episode. A character as stoic and insular as the Mandalorian needs sidekicks to bounce off, and right now the only one he has when Nick Nolte’s craggy Ugnaught Kuiil isn’t around is a baby. Presumably, the baby’s backstory will be explained eventually. At the pace The Mandalorian is moving right now, that seems like a long ways off.
Of course, next week’s episode could be incredible; every episode from here on out could be thrilling and compelling. But when you’re releasing a show like this weekly, it helps to hook viewers with some kind of mystery or cliffhanger — or even a character whose survival they feel invested in — and right now, I don’t feel very much of anything. Disney+ has a lot of wonderful vintage content; yesterday I watched The Reluctant Dragon and an old episode of Walt Disney’s The Wonderful World of Color. But if this was all I was signed up Disney+ to watch, I’d be starting to feel a little frustrated.
-Episode 1 of The Mandalorian was called “Chapter 1.” Episode 2 is called “Chapter 2: The Child.” Did they just forget to throw a subtitle on the premiere?
-At this point, I might be happier if Kuiil was the protagonist of this series, and not the Mandalorian.
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