Chapter 12 of The Mandalorian had the unenviable task of providing an entertaining adventure that would sate the appetites of plot-hungry fans, while clearly needing to wait a little while to introduce fan favorite Ahsoka Tano. Thankfully, it delivered and will likely provide some enticing speculation among fans for a while.
A lot of people were expecting Din Djarin to head straight to Corvus to search for Ahsoka this episode, but instead the show decided to step back and take a breath for a moment. This could have easily been branded as another filler episode, as so many fans accused Chapter 10 (though we felt it was setting up beats that will pay off the down the road). Fortunately, this episode included plenty of intrigue around the wider Star Wars lore and did just enough to move the main story along that it can’t be considered filler.
I’d say this episode was better than Chapter 10 – having Din team up with old friends to take on Imperials is always going to be more exciting than having him run away from a giant spider’s nest, as exhilarating as that was – without quite hitting the heights of Chapters 9 and 11. It couldn’t benefit from the same ties to Boba Fett and Bo-Katan as those episodes did, but it was still a great episode regardless.
Carl Weathers also made his directorial debut in the show, and did an impressive job. As I said up top, this episode had a tough job to do following the last chapter which moved the plot along so significantly, but Weathers did well blending together an episode full of action, tension and intrigue with a bit of unexpected humor thrown in throughout.
From here on in, I’m going to go into spoilers. If you haven’t seen the episode yet, watch it first before continuing.
The episode opens on the Razorcrest, with Din Djarin enlisting The Child’s help to try and fix the ship after the Mon Calamari’s dodgy patch job on the moon of Trask. It’s a nice bit of humor to open the show with; The Child is usually cute and funny whatever it does, and I was initially impressed with how quickly it seemed to be picking things up. Then, you see that it’s only barely able to grasp the complexity of the job required before electrocuting himself.
It reminded me of the scene between Groot and Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, where Rocket tries to instruct Groot on how to set off the timer on a bomb without detonating it immediately, except this time The Child ultimately failed to understand Din’s instructions to amusing results.
This is followed by a brief moment of them both sipping tea together, with Din openly talking to The Child about what they should do next. It’s a touching moment, and a nice reminder of how far these two have come together. Last season, Din would usually only talk to his foundling when it was misbehaving, and now he’s casually chatting like a real father would with his own child.
Ultimately, Din decides they need to visit someone he trusts to repair his ship properly, and so they head back to Navarro to enlist the help of Grief Karga. I didn’t expect the show to return to Navarro so soon, especially after the last episode, but it makes sense that Weathers would direct the episode that his character appears in.
We then cut to a scene reintroducing us to Cara Dune, who has become the new marshal for the town on Navarro, not unlike Cobb Vanth in Mos Pelgo. I won’t be using this review to discuss Gina Carano herself, as her controversial relationship with fans has been well documented recently by Anthony Breznican for Vanity Fair. However, Cara herself has a good showing in this episode. We’re treated to a fun action scene where Dune takes out some Aqualish thugs in a darkened room, which gives Carano another opportunity to show off her MMA skills. It seems Cara Dune is well suited to her new job.
When the Razorcrest touches down on Navarro outside the town, Karga and Dune are both there to meet them. They’re understandably happy to see Din again and Grief is particularly ecstatic to see The Child (who wouldn’t be?). We quickly see that Navarro is thriving under Karga and Dune’s leadership now that the Imperial presence has been forced out. There are market stalls in the previously empty streets, with vendors selling their wares, and the planet looks friendly and prosperous. The town has seemingly erected a monument to IG-11 for his sacrifice in the Season 1 finale.
Grief sets two engineers to work on the Razorcrest and asks Din for some help while repairs are made. He wants to rid the Imperial presence on Navarro once and for all – we learn that the Imperials have remained on the planet since Moff Gideon’s defeat, with a base on the other side of the planet. Karga wants to destroy the base once and for all by deactivating its shielding so it gets compromised by lava and explodes. Mando seems reluctant to get into another fight with Imperials again after the last job he did with Bo-Katan, but agrees.
He leaves The Child in a classroom (where we’re treated to a delightfully funny scene where the baby steals another child’s snacks for himself) and they head to the base, along with Horatio Sanz’s Mythrol character (if they revealed his real name, I didn’t catch it) from the very first episode. I confess I never expected to see Sanz’s character return, so this was a welcome surprise. I expected him to be the main source of comic relief for the rest of the episode, but thankfully he is used sparingly as Weathers creates comedy in other, unexpected places.
I very much enjoyed the break-in scene, where Mando jets up to the landing platform and we hear him take out some Stormtroopers off screen, before one plummets to the ground in front of the others. This gag is revisited as Weathers uses the same trick when they escape the base later, to great effect. The chase sequence is electric, but the tense drama is well punctuated by the shot of the Imperial Troop Transport crashing on top of the landspeeder. It was a welcome burst of laughter amid the high stakes action.
It’s also very cool to see how our heroes handle themselves in this sequence without being able to call on the Mandalorian’s help, who has to jet back to the town to secure The Child. They handle themselves well until a TIE Fighter squadron tails them, at which point Din has to step in. This gives us an exhilarating dogfight in Navarro’s upper atmosphere, wonderfully complemented by The Child cackling away as the Razorcrest somersaults through the air and destroys the remaining fighters.
I’d be remiss to mention the hint we get about the true purpose of this facility. We discover that this wasn’t a military installation after all, but rather a laboratory. We get our best hint yet about what the Empire really wanted to do with the Child. The Imperial scientist from last season reappears via a holo message, revealing that he managed to extract samples from The Child before Din rescued him in service of… something. We then see a deformed humanoid being floating in a tank.
I imagine I’m not the only one who saw this and immediately thought of Snoke. While not a direct confirmation, it certainly seems that the Empire were already trying to figure out ways to create a clone of Emperor Palpatine, and they needed a being strong in the Force like The Child in order to do it. We know that this project eventually succeeds, so one wonders if Moff Gideon will indeed get his hands on The Child again one day, if only briefly.
Speaking of Moff Gideon, the episode is bookended by his first appearance in the flesh aboard his starcruiser. We learn that one of the engineers repairing the Razorcrest was a spy and managed to plant a tracking beacon on the ship, which is surely a vital development that will bring Gideon back into the story.
Will we see him attack Mando and The Child on Corvus? It certainly would be a great way to reintroduce Ahsoka by coming to Mando’s rescue. We also see Gideon studying some Imperial troop armor – I’m unclear if this is for an entirely new and formidable type of Imperial trooper, or just the pilots’ armor, but it made for an ominous scene nonetheless.
The stage is set for Moff Gideon’s return, hopefully next week.
Some other notes from the episode:
- I appreciated the scene between Grief Karga and the Republic pilot. Karga might be an upstanding citizen now, but he still regards the new lawmakers with suspicion, as a former criminal would
- The following scene between Cara Dune and the pilot was appropriately tender. For all we know, this is Cara’s first interaction with a Republic soldier since she left, and we really get a sense of just how devastating the destruction of Alderaan was for her. It seems this interaction leaves the door open for some more stories to tell with Cara Dune, though this was written and filmed before Gina Carano fell out with Star Wars fans so who knows if this will be followed up
- I enjoyed the meerkat-like species that befriends Cara and is presumably native to Navarro. One of my favorite parts of Star Wars is getting to see all the strange fauna on each planet, so this was a welcome inclusion
- Horatio Sanz’s indignant “There’s no guard rail!” brought a hearty laugh from me, as one of surprisingly few characters to comment on the lack of handrails in Imperial architecture
What did you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below and be sure to watch The Mando Fan Show tonight LIVE on our YouTube channel at 8:30 ET where John, James, and Lacey will discuss the episode!