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TV Review: The Mandalorian S2E4 “Chapter 12: The Siege”

 THE MANDALORIAN S2E4 "CHAPTER 12: THE SIEGE"

Mando checks in with some old friends, The Child heads to (pre) school, there’s a couple twists on some old Star Wars set pieces, and honestly, everyone ends up in worse trouble in The Mandalorian Season 2, Episode 4 ” Chapter 12: The Siege“, written by Jon Favreau and directed by Carl Weathers. With its planet/adventure of the week plot structure, The Mandalorian doesn’t have an ensemble cast, but it does have a couple of interesting recurring guest actors. Weathers and Favreau use them nicely in this episode and also provide more commentary on the post-fall of the Empire universe as the New Republic struggles to connect with the Outer Rim (Even though its greatest hero is from there!) and the remnants of the Empire engage in a very Star Wars form of eugenics to try to get back in power.

In this episode, Mando goes to the planet Navaro (Where the pilot and a bit of the previous season took place.) to finally get the Razor Crest repaired and travel to Corvus to meet the last scion of the Jedi, Ahsoka Tano. These days, Navaro is pretty law abiding thanks to Marshal Cara Dune (Notable transphobe, anti-masker and general conspiracy theorist Gina Carano) and Magistrate Greef Karga (Weathers). There’s a school, commerce, and Karga has even employed former Mando bounty, Mythrol (Horatio Sanz) as his accountant to work of his debts. (Think Suicide Squad, but number crunching.) However, on the other side of the planet, there’s an Imperial base with a lot of heavy weaponry, and while Mando is waiting for his ship to be fixed, Dune and Karga rope him into blowing its reactor and bringing peace to the planet with Mythrol acting as hacker, lockpick, and getaway driver.

Mythrol’s getaway driver status is short lived when the team discovers that the base isn’t your run of a mill, but a lab where Imperial scientists are running very unethical tests and experiments on subjects using The Child’s blood. However, they’ve run out and need to recapture him again so this episode becomes a lot more complicated than blowing up a base over a lava pit and going home. As soon as Mando hears The Child is in danger, he jets off to protect him while Dune, Karga, and Mythrol end up in a speeder chase in the Star Wars equivalent of a Ford F-150. You can feel Weathers and cinematographer Matthew Jensen‘s glee in this sequence, which goes full Grand Theft Auto and escalates to TIE fighters and wraps up in a very A New Hope way.

My favorite part of “The Siege” was the adrenaline-filled third act where Imperial scout troopers actually behaved cleverly for once and may have actually gotten the upper hand if they weren’t so fanatical. (See last episode’s cyanide pill popping.) However, Carl Weathers and Jon Favreau spend the first bit of the episode showing the change and growth that Mando, Dune, Karga, and even Mythrol have gone through since last season. Dune has gone from a mercenary and prize fighter to a sheriff, who can keep the peace with her blaster and physical combat skills while Karga is back to his old respected government job ways instead of running numbers and bounties. However, he’s got a little bit of edge as evidenced by making Mythrol take all the big risks during the Imperial Base caper. Mythrol is still cowardly and wants to make an extra buck, but his new job keeps him in line. Dune and Karga’s goals have gone from trying to make a buck and forget about their more traditionally noble or heroic pasts to helping others and creating a safe “green zone” on where folks can live a life free from New Republic policing and bureaucracy and Imperial fascism.

And Mando has changed the most. He’s gone from treating the Child like a bundle, nuisance, or McGuffin to straight up treating him like a son. For example, in the beginning of “The Siege”, Mando tries to walk The Child through fixing something on Razor Crest because the little cutie can fit in tight spaces. However, this is a little advanced for him, and honestly, Mando should have just let him do the sci-fi western equivalent of holding the flashlight. Weathers and Favreau even riff on the dread “first day of school” when Karga tells Mando to drop him off at the classroom while they go on their mission. Weathers inserts a lingering shot of him looking away as The Child immediately gets into mischief and uses The Force to steal a classmate’s snack. Mando’s motivation is keeping The Child safe, happy, and hopefully one day, reconnected with others like him. This is a hell of a thing to build a TV show around and demonstrates why so many folks have emotionally connected with The Mandalorian.

 THE MANDALORIAN S2E4 "CHAPTER 12: THE SIEGE"

The Mandalorian Season 2 continues to be in conversation with previous iterations of Star Wars, and after last week’s detour to Clone Wars and Rebels, we’re back to the original trilogy. Carl Weathers and Jon Favreau go full fanboy (But not in a toxic way.) and insert in all kinds of goodies like the aforementioned speeder bike chase, blowing up a reactor a la Endor, the classic gunner heads up display used in Vader’s TIE fighter and the Millennium Falcon, and in a touching moment even though Carano doesn’t quite sell the emotion, Alderaan. The inclusion of these elements create a nostalgic reaction in viewers that helps some of the themes that Favreau is exploring go down easier like the Rebels transformation into New Republic beat cops. I mean, we go from Han Solo and Wedge Antilles to some protocol spouting guy in an orange jacket using the death of all of Dune’s friends and relatives on Alderaan to recruit to “join the force”. I find the politics and tension of this era of Star Wars history really fascinating, especially when Favreau gives us this boots on the ground view although the information about Mandalorians is interesting too and places Mando in a larger context beyond “lone badass with a soft spot for a cute, occasionally bratty kid.”

“Chapter 12: The Siege” has a tense chase scene, a pleasant performance from Carl Weathers as Greef Karga and continues to show the bond between Mando and The Child in a sweet, occasionally funny way as it’s interesting to see Pedro Pascal change his body language and movements from sharing some soup with him to gunning down stormtroopers and pulling off crazy maneuvers in good-as-new Razor Crest. However, Jon Favreau undercuts this fancy flying and uses the last moments of the episode to have Giancarlo Esposito’s Moff Gideon raise this season’s stakes with a slight eyebrow movement. He’s a great villain, Mando knows he’s alive now, and I can’t wait for their rematch down the road.

Overall Verdict: 8.4

Super-Articulate: This is the Way

Just last week, I wrote in my piece on “Toy Grails” how I was a big fan of Star Wars toys from the word “go.” If you allow me to quote myself, I led off the Jawas section with . . .

I was born in 1973. The first movie I clearly remember seeing in the theatre is Star Wars. And I was ALL IN. My parents got me the Early Bird Certificate package. I got the first four (Luke, Leia, Chewie, and R2). When the figures got to the Zayre in Terre Haute, IN, they had a freaking rope-line and a 3-to-a-person limit. My mom took me and I’m pretty sure I got Han, Vader, and C3PO first. Mom went back later that evening and picked up Obi-Wan, the Tusken, and a Stormtrooper. The Death Squad Commander happened later in the week, if I’m not mistaken. But . . . there were those damn Jawas. Not only did we not get the Jawas right away, it was weeks. When Mom finally ran across them, she bought two out of spite.

I was pretty hardcore from then onto the early stages of the Return of the Jedi figures. By 1983 into 1984, my attention was divided between Star Wars, G.I. Joe: ARAH, Super Powers, and Transformers. I didn’t pick up the rest of the Jedi figures, dropping out at around the 77-backs, and I got zero of the “Power of the Force” range. When the figures returned in the mid-‘90s, so did I. Adult collector me got plenty of figures and vehicles up through AOTC. By that point, I’d hit burn-out again. When The Black Series began, I almost got back in. Recently, I did, part of that spurred by the recent films and the arrival on Disney+ of The Mandalorian.

Before we go any further, I would like to thank Hasbro for providing the Mandalorian, Cara Dune, and Supreme Leader Kylo Ren figures free for the purposes of review; the Best Buy exclusive Heavy Infantry Mandalorian and IG-11 figures were my own purchases.

The Black Series in general: If you don’t know, The Black Series encompasses 6-inch figures (in a comparable style to Marvel Legends, with the increased detail and articulation), 3.75” figures (dubbed the “Vintage” style, given their equal size to the original Star Wars line), vehicles, Force FX Lightsabers, and Helmets. My personal preference is for the 6-inch scale, as the bulk of my collecting since the late ‘90s has turned in that direction. Which brings us to today, and these very recent figures . . .

The Mandalorian: Presently sold out on HasbroPulse but available on Amazon (for a mark-up) and for regular-priced pre-order at various fan-channel outlets, the star of the new hit series comes in his original set of armor from the first couple of episodes. Right out of the box, this is a GREAT figure. It gets a number of little details just right, including the Mandalorian sigil on the shoulder. The poseability is pretty strong and it has a great overall look. The two accessories are his blaster and disintegration-rifle (great for wiping out Jawa figures). The blaster fits into the sculpted on holster (with can be latched and unlatched) and the rifle can attach to the figures back. The little bits of wear and damage on the armor enhance the overall look a great deal. It simply looks very cool. I totally expect that we’ll see a new version in the updated armor in the very near future; that makes this one a pretty solid grab for historical purposes, aside from just being well-done.

Cara Dune: Presently sold out on HasbroPulse but available on Amazon (for a mark-up) and for regular-priced pre-order at various fan-channel outlets, while also still appearing in major retailer re-stocks, like Walmart, the Cara Dune figure faced a little bit more of a challenge in that it needs to capture the likeness of actress/kicker of real-life and fictional asses Gina Carano. Dune has become a bit of a fan-favorite since her debut, and I don’t think the figure is letting them down. Aside from doing solid work with the likeness, it’s just another cool looking figure. The tattoos are TV-accurate, the costume detail is present, and, like Mando, there’s a workable holster. Dune comes with her repeating rifle, blaster pistol, and a dagger. I find the color work to be pretty nice, and I appreciate the little armor blemishes that given the character a lived-in look. As you know from my various Marvel Legends reviews, I’m interested in Hasbro’s increasing facility for doing hair well on the figures; I think they did another good job here in capturing Dune’s style. Mando and the forthcoming Child figure would be cool by themselves, but I feel like Cara Dune is pretty essential to a good collection of this iteration of the Star Wars galaxy. The figure is made well, looks great, and is, yes, very cool.

IG-11: I always dug IG-88 from the day, so I thought it was fairly awesome that we’d see a similar droid in action; the fact that he’s voiced by Taika Waititi only increased my interest. While not precisely as dynamic as the other two, it’s still a damn good version of the character with enough bits to make it appealing to a variety of collectors. As noted, this is a Best Buy exclusive and still available as of this writing. While the character does, out of design necessity, have some limited poseability, it does have arm joints that allow the arms to extend straight out to the sides as they did in the shootout from the first episode of the series as well as elbow, knee, and ankle joints. It comes with a blaster pistol and blaster rifle which are styled with peg-holes to be held by specific hands (see the pictures). There’s also a holster on the back and bandolier straps. It has, thus far, not self-destructed on my shelf.

Heavy Infantry Mandalorian: Let me get this straight right now. I really, really like those first three figures, but this guy is fairly incredible. You can tell the character made an impression on the show and in figure form because he’s currently sold out at Best Buy and getting higher and higher prices on eBay. This dude is just great. So, the main accessory is the jetpack with the attached heavy blaster and a line that can plug into the flamethrower on the left hand. The figure has some size and bulk to it, and the color and detail work are just fantastic. I hope for the sake of the people that didn’t get it on the first go-round that it gets a re-release, because this is top-notch work all-around.

Supreme Leader Kylo Ren: Still in theatres in SW:TROS, this is the Kylo from early in the film. The figure has the fused mask that the character dons in the movie, giving it a distinctive look from previous Ren figures. You also get a detachable pair of hood accessories; both attach to the cape with different “hood up” and “hood down” looks. Hasbro also included an ignited and unignited saber, with should honestly be a regular thing for Jedi/Sith figures. The larger cape itself is detachable, and you can see the varied articulation better that way. The tunic is well-sculpted with some detail suggests both a leathery look and feel. I think I might prefer this one without the cape, but I haven’t quite decided yet. Regardless, it’s another fine figure of a major character.

Hasbro has the new generation of Star Wars characters (and fans) well in hand with these releases. With The Child up for pre-order and Toy Fair just around the corner, I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing more Mandalorian offerings in the very near future. I know that there’s already vocal fans that want to see Kuiil, Greef Karga, Fennec Shand, and Werner Herzog (I mean The Client) represented, and you’d have to be crazy to not want a figure of The Armorer. I have a spoken.