The Mandalorian S2: "The Siege" Spoiler Review
How do you top an episode that brings beloved Clone Wars era character Bo-Katan to life in live action? Well, you don’t. But what you can do is take 39 minutes to give the audience some cinema-level action and advance the story by epic proportions. Now, all that being said, as much as Chapter 12, The Siege, spills the tea on some very important overarching plot points and foreshadows the promised connections to the Sequel Trilogy (we’ll get to that in a moment) it is not the best episode of the season.
Din Djarin’s Razor Crest is still showing signs of serious damage after its last two missions. As much as he is eager to take The Child to meet this mysterious Jedi named Ahsoka Tano, he knows his ship won’t get him there so he travels back to where it all started: Nevarro. He is greeted cheerfully by Greef Karga and Cara Dune. Greef puts his “best men” on the job of repairing the Mando’s ship. As they get to work, the camera holds on a very “Ochi of Bestoon” looking character blatantly foreshadowing something sinister.
Upon entering the town, once again the Mando is asked to go on a mission by his friends Greef and Cara. The town is cleaned up since Din left and they drop the Child off at a school with local kids and a protocol droid who is teaching hyperspace routes. It was cute, but every time Din leave Baby Yoda somewhere, my anxiety accelerates. We are treated to some premium level cuteness from The Child as he covets the snack of a nearby student.
The episode then falls into the classic video game pattern it has regularly since season one (and every episode this year): the old “you need something, we can help you, but there’s a mission you need to perform for us to get the reward.” Apparently the only thing keeping Nevarro (Greef’s planet now) from being free is one lone Imperial outpost. All they have to do is destroy it and it will be mission accomplished. The mythrol, the blue first bounty of season one, has been released from carbonite and now works as a bookkeeper for Greef. Cara, Greef, the Mythrol and the Mando make their way across the lava flats to the base and proceed to undertake the necessary mission steps to blow it up.
At this point, the episode started to feel very formulaic. And while I was excited to see a troop transport, a bunch of poor aiming stormtroopers and a control-panel call back to the Death Star, I was starting to feel like I had seen this all before. Until they turned a corner and we saw a pair of men dressed in the same uniform as Dr. Pershing from Chapter One. After shooting first (and never getting to asking questions later), they enter what appears to be a lab of some sort and, in it, half a dozen tanks with what appeared to be malformed Snokes. That’s right SNOKE from the sequels. It is never overtly confirmed but careful examination and freeze-frame-ology exposes that the cloudy bodies in the liquid have similar head gashes to Supreme Leader and a similar face. The additional evidence is the score that supports the moment: it is suspiciously similar to the music used in the Snoke scenes in the Episodes VII & VIII.
Our heroes realize this is no normal lab and they discover a recorded message from Dr. Pershing to Moff Gideon explaining that the experiment failed and that without more Baby Yoda blood, “the volunteer” will meet the same “regrettable fate” as what we see in the tubes. Pershing references “M-count” which can only be assumed to be the return of midi-chlorians to the Star Wars universe. Interestingly, during the holographic image transmission, Kylo Ren’s theme rises on a single violin.
At this point, we immediately fear for Baby Yoda’s safety and Din reflects our panic. In a call back to Luke’s realization in A New Hope (“if they tracked the robots here they may have learned who they sold them to…”), he jettisons away on his back pack to go to him. The Mythrol, Cara and Greef give us a movie-quality chase scene as they are pursued in the Kenner Troop Transport by speeder bikes and then TIEs through the canyon. As they arrive back to the town, the TIES are still close on them. Suddenly, the Razor Crest (seemingly fully repaired) arrives on the scene and dramatically destroys the enemy fighters.
They thank him and the Mando indicates that he is off to the mission he started at the end of the last chapter: to take The Child to Corvus. We then get two epilogues. The first features the return of Carson Teva (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee), the X-wing pilot who let the Mando go after he and Trapper Wolf (Dave Filoni) chased him down on the spider world two chapters earlier. He is apparently still trying to track down the Crest and Greef does a phenomenal job of creating plausible deniability. Carson leaves but not before talking to Cara Dune and tries to recruit her to the New Republic. In another nod to the Sequels (and The Last Jedi specifically), Cara says “I’m not a joiner” and refuses the call but not before Carson leaves her a Republic badge.
Then, there is a cut to an Imperial cruiser where we see an officer receive a transmission from the (telegraphed) suspicious looking mechanic on Nevarro saying that the tracking beacon has been planted on the Razor Crest. He is promised that he’ll be well rewarded in “The New Era.” She then proceeds to find Moff Gideon on the ship who informs him that “The Asset” aka the Child is on board. The camera then pulls back to reveal a host of dark armored soldiers - it is unclear if they are clone, droid or something else. They sure evoke memories of Dark Troopers from the Star Wars: Dark Forces video game! Gideon is clearly up to some evil stuff.
Overall the episode was very strong, continuing to drive the story forward and answer some key questions left from the first season while adding new levels of mystery. Was that Snoke? Were those Dark Troopers? Will the Mythrol pay off his debt (kidding)? But, in fairness, while the action sequences were phenomenal and the story surprises epic, Gina Carano continues to portray Cara Dune with all the believability of a grade school holiday pageant actress. The episode beats are becoming predictable and after four weeks in a row, I expect it will change for the second half of the season.
The "clan of two" aspect of the show continued to build making the decision to give him up to Ahsoka when the time comes that much more painful. The Child was played to perfection, between spitting up blue macaroons as a result of some turbulence on the Razor Crest, his attempt to help repair wiring and his cooing and expressions. The Mando and his "son" bonded over ship repairs and we almost saw Din remove his helmet to eat.
Walrus Men - we saw an Aqualish gang get broken up by Cara Dune. Boy, are they nasty looking, sounding and, I bet, smelling.
Curses - Dank farick made it’s return this week coming from Cara’s mouth this time.
Homage to a Hero - In a blink and miss it moment, viewers will find a statue of IG-11 in the town square outside the school, a salute to his heroism in Chapter 8 no doubt
Midi-chlorians - While not stated out loud, M-count has to refer to the midi-chlorian count we learned of (and tried to forget) in The Phantom Menace
Speeder bikes - Unlike the clumsy speeder bikers we saw last season, these guys were full on Return of the Jedi good (which is to say, looks cool and dies epically)
We went from all expecting Din and The Child to simply “find” Ahsoka in Chapter 13 to setting up for an epic event that may stretch over the rest of the season. If Gideon is tracking the Razor Crest, not only could he find the Child, but could come face to face with Ahsoka Tano. Almost as exciting is the prospect that if Ahsoka is with Sabine, she could battle to get it into her hands for the second time since Rebels.